LAGOS, Nigeria – Oluwatoyin Falaiye, founder of Jewel Hive Initiative and author of the new book ‘Diamond in the Rough,’ recently appeared on the popular talk show #WithChude, hosted by Chude Jideonwo, to share her harrowing story of surviving sexual abuse and turning her pain into a powerful message of resilience.
Falaiye’s journey began in her small village in Akure, Nigeria. Fascinated by the bustling city life of Lagos, she made the decision to move in with her aunt. However, her dreams of new experiences quickly turned into a nightmare.
““At the age of 10, I was raped by a neighbour’s son,” Ms Falaiye recounts. “As a young girl who had just left her village and was new to the ways of the city, I had no understanding of what it meant to be a virgin or to experience bleeding as a result of rape. I just felt a boy had injured me.”
“After the incident, the neighbour scolded the boy and sent him away. The neighbour then cleaned me up and warned me not to tell anyone about what happened,” she continued.
“I wish my story ended there. However, two years later, my adopted father began to molest me, and that went on for seven years – night after night.”
Despite her daily terror, Falaiye was determined to keep her secret, fearing the threat of being sent back to her village and death if she revealed her abuse. She perceived her suffering as a necessary sacrifice to remain in Lagos and continue her education.
“It’s almost always unbelievable to explain to people that there was someone who came for your body for seven years. The days I escaped being abused were the days when I started menstruating, those were my days off from abuse,” she recounts.
“I’ve also had questions like, ‘Why didn’t you tell anyone?’ – Well, I was threatened not to tell anyone, and that if I did, I would be sent back to the village and would die after seven days. I didn’t want to die, and I didn’t want to go back to the village.
“Furthermore, despite attending a public school in Festac town, Lagos, I was already the bright student in my class. I always used to say, sexual abuse was the price I had to pay to get an education,” Falaiye shared.
The abuse continued until Falaiye was seventeen, driving her to attempt suicide at the age of fifteen.
“The abuse went on for seven long years and was killing me – I was dying slowly. I attempted my first suicide at the age of fifteen, I remember that day vividly,” she continues.
“It was the day of the Ikeja cantonment bomb and mummy (my aunt) wasn’t coming back that night. She had gone out and then there was news of the bomb blast, and she wasn’t coming back. It was just Daddy and me at home and the neighbours came around to assure us that she would be back the following morning.
“GSM wasn’t popular at that time so there wasn’t any way to reach her. That night, as soon as everyone left, I knew it was going to be doom’s day because this time it was just going to be Daddy and me and he was going to have a field day. And he did have a field day, this time on their matrimonial bed.
“The next morning when my mother miraculously returned, this man was the first person to rush to the door, give her a kiss, and hug her. I was shattered inside. Wondering how this person did a double role, I went into the kitchen and picked up a knife.
“I didn’t know what to do with it. One part of my mind said, ‘Stab yourself’ while another part of it said, ‘Go and stab him’.
‘I was still trying to make the decision, and I started slitting my wrist when my mum entered the kitchen. I quickly dropped the knife and told her I was trying to arrange the plates I washed earlier.
“That was the day I could define depression because I didn’t know I could die slowly. It continued until I was seventeen,” she added.
Despite her pain, she eventually found the strength to break free and rebuild her life. Today, she uses her experiences to help others through her organisation and writing.
Falaiye’s memoir, ‘Diamond in the Rough,’ aims to inspire and empower others who may be going through similar experiences. “The book, like I say, when you read it, you will cry for me, you will laugh because I try to not make it gloomy, then you will weep,” she said.
Falaiye believes that the adversity she faced taught her invaluable life lessons.
“The greatest lesson life has taught me is that life will never be fair and that God loves us in spite of all we ever go through. God knows all of it and at the end of it, it’s for a beautiful life and a higher calling,” she reflected.
#WithChude provides a platform for guests to share deeply personal experiences and has reached an average of 8 million people weekly. Past guests have included actor comedian and actor Ayo Makun (AY), Pastor Jerry Eze, Joke Silva, and producer Kemi Afolabi, who have opened up about their struggles and triumphs.
To watch the full interview with Oluwatoyin Falaiye and learn more about her inspiring journey, visit watch.withchude.com.