Thursday, July 2, 2009

Interview Thursday:"No one tried to help me when I was raped.I tried to reach out to my best friend at the time but she completely backed off"- Adaeze

She is poised and elegant with a dream of making a huge impact in her generation. Her rape experience did not deter her from thinking and believing in herself and in others, though traumatized, she has heaed. I am happy to have Admirable Adaeze share with us on "Interview Thursday"
Tell us about your origin and your love for Nigeria.
My origin is complicated, to say the least. There are so many mixes in there that I can’t keep track.I have Jewish, Hispanic, French and Scandinavian blood in me to name a few. I grew up in Norway, my mother grew up in the US, Netherlands, France and England, and we always travelled a lot. I’ve always been viewed as a foreigner wherever I go. People can never determine where I’m really from and I've gotten the weirdest suggestions..some people think I'm carribean, others think I'm brazilian, others think I'm arab, lol. I believe all my experiences and the fact I do not have a single place to call “home”, has given me a unique perspective on culture and nationality.
I’ve learnt how to view people for who they are and never let religion and nationality cloud my judgement. I think it’s also made me very open-minded and humble. I tend to see people’s common ground rather than their differences and I am always everyone’s conflict-solver. Where other people see problems I see possibilities. My love for Nigeria stems from the fact that I feel it is the first place I’ve ever stayed that really received me with open arms. I feel at home there and take it as my home now. Sure, there are downsides like there is in every country, but I have met so many loving, strong and amazing people. People are warm and alive and in touch. I love that. I can only pray that the political future of Nigeria is better than the past, so the full potential of her people can really be tapped into.

What is marriage to you?
Hmm.. Ideologically a marriage should be a journey between two individuals. They should both keep their individual identities but also have a third identity of "us". Being unified is incredibly important to me.
Marriage is not a perfect dance on roses, but a journey. It's about growing together in parallel curve. It's about respecting each other equally. It’s about rediscovering yourself on another level and learn from each other. Discover your weaknesses and strengths and know how to come strong where your spouse comes weak. No one is born with a built-in manual on how to succeed in a relationship. Life is never easy for anyone, but your marriage should be that safe haven where all the worst trouble goes away. Your spouse should be the person you want to come to whenever you get too tired to keep up the facade for everyone else. Marriage can be a journey of patience, but should be balanced with sense.

Though marriage, relationship and its expectations defer from culture to culture and some people feel respect is when you feel subservient to your spouse, do you agree with this and if not, what is respect to you?The way I interpret the word subservient my answer is no, I do not think subservience is equivalent to respect. To me subservience is abject obedience. My husband will never benefit from me lying to myself about my own opinions only to “agree” with his. Respect is a lot of things. There are many fine nuances. In marriage, respect is accepting that your spouse may not agree with you on absolutely everything. Respect is allowing your spouse to be themselves and do things they need to do for themselves even if you do not understand. All with sense of course. Respect is restraining and controlling yourself if you’re about to lose control out of frustration or anger. Respect is making something important to you just because it’s important to your spouse. Respect for your spouse is also respect for yourself.In my marriage I’ve found out that it has to do with standing my ground on things that are extremely important to me. If I didn’t do that, my husband would lose me. By losing me I mean, the woman he knows as his wife would no longer exist. He fell in love with my originality and individuality. I can’t bargain on my principles. However, this does not mean I will never let him “win”. If something is very important to him and I disagree, I’ll bail, as long as it doesn’t go against my core principles. I expect him to do the same. If not – my flexibility would be reduced. Luckily that’s never happened with me. If my man had opinions against my core principles we’d never get married in the first place, no be so? Respect is also about talking in a nice manner to one another even in the heat of an argument. True respect to me is also when you are willing to set your own views aside and honestly consider the other persons point of view.


Domestic violence is a big issue world over, though it's more prevalent in some countries than the other, what is your view about domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a problem that persists in all countries regardless of class, religion and ethnic borders. A common denominator is that statistically, chances are that most of the cases of domestic violence are not even recorded. It’s incredibly common. I think that it stems from a various number of problems. People don’t learn how to communicate well enough, especially men who are not used to talking about their feelings. Men without good role models (read: absent or violent fathers) but also women who never learnt their worth. I guess domestic abuse can also be more accepted in certain cultures and in these cases that acceptance is a huge contributor.


Do you think the victim, mostly women is to be blame for any kind of abuse they receive from their spouse?A woman is never to blame for abuse. Never. Although I completely understand why women end up staying with abusing spouses, unfortunately THEY are as adults responsible for choosing to stay in the relationship. It’s their job to be strong and protect their children if they have to, and get away. I think unfortunately, sometimes women unknowingly enable men to be more violent because they show them no consequences for their actions. But every case of domestic abuse is different. It’s not always a woman CAN do anything at all. I know what it’s like to be afraid of a man and I do not blame women for being too terrified. I think it’s impossible to give one straight answer to this question. Sometimes women need to stop kidding themselves and stand up, other times they are left powerless. That is why we need to fight this in all local communities


What are ways to prevent domestic violence?First: DISCLOSURE. We all need to talk about it. Secondly, we need to bring the men into the discussion. Women need to stop discussing this alone. Men need to join the battle for their sisters, mothers and daughters and stop thinking that this is not their battle to fight just because they themselves aren’t abusive. We need to create a zero-tolerance for domestic abuse and make it less taboo for men to be open about their problems. I think abusing men coming out to talk about their issues could help others. We need to understand what’s going on within them too. This is where all our non-abusive brothers can help out. We need to create awareness and educate everyone on the terrible long term effects domestic abuse has on everyone in the family. We also need to do damage control on children who has lived/lives in abusive homes.


You are passionate about women's human rights, what steps are you taking to contribute your qoutas?So far I have not been able to do as much as I want to, but I am a young woman. I have plans for the future. When I finish my education and grow older I would like to start up a centre in Nigeria for abused women and their families. But I’d also like to work on disclosure as mentioned earlier. Work on a tactic to get men more involved. I think that will be harder because Nigeria as a whole is still such a male-dominated country. But we have to start from somewhere. My mother’s best friend has worked with violent men and rehabilitation for many years – I think I am going to ask her for advice! Another way I keep working on contributing with my quotas is motivating all women around me to know their rights and their worth. All of this can not be stressed enough.


There have being a lot of criticism on feminism work as well as the women's right defenders, do you think the movement is unnecessary that there is nothing to fight for?Absolutely not. The whole world, including all the “developed” countries still have a long way to go. I have been privileged to grow up in a country with a huge focus on equality. Still, here we have problems to fix. We need more equal salary, we need more respect for a woman’s wish to have a family and not let that result in any repercussions career- or job wise. More importantly, other parts of the world have a long way to go in recognising women's rights. Women deserve to not be viewed as only a vessel to carry children into the world. I say this because I know even today, a woman who for example is infertile will be looked down upon. Her husband might go and find another woman to bear children. I don’t think this is right. It’s hard enough for a woman to suffer the loss of fertility. Women also need to become more dominant in leaderships positions both politically and on the private market so that they can fight for better practices and laws concerning women’s rights.


What does culture mean to you?
Big question! Culture means to me…a pattern of belief and behaviour, a set of values and social practices, combined with language, music and art. It is incredibly important to maintain the wonderful diversity we have on earth. First of all, lack of diversity is boring. Secondly, we would probably lose some perspective as we would have no one to compare ourselves against. It’s important to have perspective so one can criticize aspects of culture that needs improvement. The dominant way is not always the best way. There are things I like about western culture, but western culture also lacks some very important features that for example a typical culture for a less developed country has. Examples of this are caring for the elders and family values. We all need to get off our high horse to learn from each other and get the best of both worlds. That is what I have always viewed my intercultural marriage to be- we get to take the best from each others cultures, blend them into one lovely mix.


In any cuture, do you think there are necessary things to keep or expunge, can you identify them?I think language is incredibly important to keep. . Language is important because language is the link to your culture and your forefathers. There are certain things that could only best be said in your own language. If we allow English language to completely dominate the entire world, their culture would take completely over (which it already has) and people lose part of their roots. When people lose their roots, they sometimes lose meaning as well. Imagine this; an Igbo family moves abroad – they don’t teach their kids Igbo and their kids don’t feel as strongly connected to their homeland as they should. When they in turn get kids – how connected will their kids be to the land of their grand-parents? Language is crucial when it comes to understanding.Any practice that doesn’t hurt anyone, I think should be kept. But old, traditional nonsensical ideas based on ignorance should of course be expunged. I think the challenge lies in combining renewal while at the same time maintaining culture. Examples of things that should be expunged is circumcision on women, marriage based on ethnicity/kinship, superstitious beliefs and practices (example ogbanje) etc etc. But there’s nothing wrong with masquerades and ancient tales being told to future generations, traditional marriage celebrations or other harmless traditions.


You recently posted a touching story of how you were raped at 14, did anyone try to help you get through the bitter experience?No one tried to help me. I tried to reach out to my best friend at the time but she completely backed off. But in everyone’s defence, there’s no how I could have gotten help because I was afraid to tell anyone. My mother, once she found out 2 years later, wanted to help but I was in so much distress at the time that I did not let her.

How can we help younger girls from getting raped?
Again, bring in the men. And bring in the women when it comes to taking responsibility in raising their children. I see so many girls getting kids for all the wrong reasons with the wrong men. They aren’t too stupid to see the man is never going to care. Often I see that they end up not caring either, however that is possible. I always look at the cute little boy and girl and wonder how they’ll end up. Every rapist has a mother and once used to be an innocent little boy. 

I am sorry you had to go through something so wicked, has this in anyway affected your feeling for men?It definitely has. I am quick to get scared. The other day my co-worker was dropping me off at the bus station, he took an alternate route and my mind started wondering if he was going to stop in some hidden area to do something to me. I felt so bad for thinking that because the man is totally innocent and good minded. For years it was easier to generalise and think everyone only wanted sex. That is still an impression I have because whenever someone hits me up it’s always about sex. It’s made me think that far more men than I thought are capable of rape. It’s made the relationship between my husband and I more difficult because of my fears and insecurities, because of my memories. It’s made me less of a dare-devil with the most trivial things like amusement parks. Anything that brings that tingly feeling of anxiousness I tend to stay away from. Mentally it’s been and still is a big battle for me to win. I used to be very confused before. The rules of my world had been turned upside down and I needed to find out again what is right and wrong. It’s easy to devalue yourself and start seeing yourself as what they see you as – just a piece of meat. But I thank God I never gave into that voice in the back of my head.

22 comments:

Sassy Trends said...

First time in...
your post are really lengthy...nice blog though

xxx

StandTall-The Activist said...

@ Sassy Trends: thanks, I wish you could just spare a little time to read some of what Adaeze said in this interview epscially the one on the rape issue.

aloted said...

nice interview!! i didnt realise u had soooooo much different blood in u...wow

Adaeze..u r truly an inspiration...

so can u speak ibo? where did u meet ur hubby? he is ibo right?

Standy..well done o

StandTall-The Activist said...

@ Aloted: thanks my lady. Long time. I will leave Adaeze to answer you but yes she cn speak igbo but I dont know how fluent she is. And her hubby is igbo...

Avartsy said...

wow, she is so right at Nigeria being a male dominated society, but I do think sth can be done and like she said, we wd have to include them on some level so they can understand the magnitude of the damage being done.

a rapist in south africa just recently apologized to his victim for the damage he had caused (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8115219.stm)

though it's sad, i think when she does start sth to that effect, i think she will be a very powerful catalyst seeing as she has been through that herself, so it will be easier for those in that situation to come up to her knowing she knows exactly how they feel.

StandTall-The Activist said...

@Avartsy: you are right about her using her experience to help others.
I am off to read the news you mentioned.

Just to mention this, we have some nigeria male youth and men talking nd fighting against rape.

Lolade said...

Thanks for bringing such a touching story to light...I carry yansh for you o, you dey try. How far?

Gee said...

nice one standtall!
it was only today i even read about the rape on adaezes post o...at first i thot it was a joke or my eyes were deceiving me o...rape??
kai...dat one is tough.
I think she is pretty strong and I believe at this stage she shuld try hard so there r no difficulties in her marriage as a result of the rape..
ild like to commend her stil for her sincerity and passion for abused women..keep up!

LusciousRon said...

Wow! Adaeze is remarkable! Another lovely interview StandTall. Weldone

Robyn said...

truth is i no longer get any update info from this blog...but still that doesnt get me off the Hook.
am really sorry dear i havent been here more often still doesnt mean you thro a brother out lol.
This interview is touching.
Thank you for the good work.

temmy tayo said...

That surely musthave been a terrible phase in her life. She is a strong woman to be able to talk about it. I admire that.

FFF said...

dis interview makes sense on all levels, on all levels mehn. wow. raped @ 14!!!!! daz deep. na wa oh. Lord knows if na me, i for no recover. adaeze is 1 strong mama. God bless her!

StandTall-The Activist said...

@ Adaeze, hope you wont mind replying these comments.

Tigeress said...

another nice interview ST.
Adaeze, waow, based on ur blog name i always thot u were full Nigerian.

Buttercup said...

Wow..what an interesting mix she is. She sounds very intelligent, compassionate and strong. Admirable in one word. I can't imagine going through what she did. Well done, Standtall :)

Artsville said...

Adaeze must be very strong to speak up on this. Kudos to her and hope her story and her strength inspire other females that have gone through similar experiences. This interview made me feel very hopeful. well done Standtall and Adaeze.

Artsville said...

Please what's your email address. I can't seem to find it on your blog.....

StandTall-The Activist said...

@Artville: it's tadonline@gmail.com do or do you mean Adaeze's?

Adaeze said...

Aww it's nice to hear so much positive feedback.

@ Aloted - Yes my husband is igbo and i can speak quite a bit but I still have some way to go, lol

@ Avartsy - thank you for your encouraging words!

and @ Gee - thank you for that appreciate it

my computer is acting up so its hard for me to reply to the comments!

But I want to say THANK YOU to everyone for all your encouraging, beautiful words...for validating me, for making me feel useful and for making me feel like my experiences will not go to waste. Thanks also for taking the time to read.

Grahamn Kracker said...

Tough story - brave lady.

Omoteejesu said...

Sad past but fulfilln purpose. hope i will av some time 2 meet u someday so more pple cld be helped thru ur story. Only God makes such a drastic n complete change from a broken past.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

so good to learn more about Adaeze. She really is a brave woman. I agree with her stance as to respect in marriage - "My husband will never benefit from me lying to myself about my own opinions only to “agree” with his."

Keep doing what you do!

My Passion, my focus, the change that I want to see in the world - is my propellent factor.

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