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Anwulika spoke to the Truth Project about being abused ‘to find some way to put it behind me’

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Anwulika was sexually abused by her father and physically abused by him.

She says the best part of her life was when he was out at work.

Anwulika’s family comes from West Africa. During her early years she lived with another family in an informal fostering arrangement that she says was quite common in her culture. 

She says her time there ‘was lovely’, but it was only after she went to live with her real family that she realised this. She used to cry to go back to her foster mother.

She describes what life was like with her family. ‘My mother was cold and cruel and couldn’t show love. Dad was a bully – always angry.’ She and her sister were always in trouble. ‘We could do nothing right.’

Their father’s brutal treatment of his daughters included whipping them with wire. Anwulika says ‘I hated him; it was all-consuming’. She adds that her mother was completely subservient to her father, and says ‘She was the last person I could go to’.

Anwulika’s father sexually abused her from when she was about 11 to 16 years old. He would only refrain from abusing her when she had her period. On the last occasion he did it, he threatened to rape her. 

Finally, Anwulika told a female family member about the abuse. Her aunt supported her and came to speak to her parents. She ran to a police station and says ‘I really, really wanted to tell them but I couldn’t’. 

Anwulika and her sister left home within a few days of each other. ‘Thank goodness it’s all over and we escaped with our lives’, she says.

Some years later when Anwulika tried to talk to her mother about the abuse, all her mother would say was that she had ‘had it worse’.

Anwulika gives an account of the many ways she was affected by the appalling abuse by her father. She used to wet her bed and this continued until she went to university. 

She has suffered anxiety and depression, she has flashbacks and has had suicidal thoughts. She has no relationship with her mother and finds it difficult to make friends. 

Anwulika says she is at her best at work, where she has a senior position, because she likes the structure. She also finds comfort in her faith, and she mentors other people and wants to make them feel valued. 

She feels that if abuse is reported or suspected, this should always be acted on, and that there should be recognition of how hard it is to know what is going on in private homes.

Finally, Anwulika says it is essential to give victims and survivors the freedom to speak about their abuse and know they will be listened to. She thinks the ‘Me Too’ movement shows how powerful this can be.

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