How I Was Sexually Molested As A Child –Tosin Allen | Independent Newspapers Limited
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How I Was Sexually Molested As A Child –Tosin Allen

Posted: Sep 27, 2015 at 12:02 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Tosin Wemimo Allen is a Senior Business Development Manager for a top brand and also an events consultant. In this chat with Hazeez Balogun, the Proprietor of Audrey Allen Foundation  speaks about her work and how she was sexually molested as a child.



What is Audrey Allen about?

Audrey Allen Foundation for Children is affiliated to 25 other child-related NGOs. Our interests include HIV/AIDS, Polio, child prostitution, autism, Down Syndrome, domestic abuse, leukemia, heart related diseases, cancer, trafficking and a host of others. AAF is saddled with the burden of sourcing for funds for our partner NGOs using entertainment – Music concerts, Movie productions, Comedy and fashion shows, Print Media publications and other special events to raise funds and other resources. This is to help execute their various projects.

Tell us about the projects you done in recent times

We have a couple of projects lined up waiting to be executed once we get the attention of the new administration and certain corporate organizations. Some of the projects include a social developmental movie called A Cry for Help. Nollywood John Njamah is Directing Aanu Michael of Good Morning Africa and Femi Brainard have both extended their goodwill by turning an amazing true life story into a very positive screen play, Hadassah studios it is producing while Olumide Edevie is handling post production.

We have also been in music studios around Nigeria recording a music album of 18 tracks by various Nigerian Artistes. Some of the people we have worked with include Kelly Hansome, Djinee, Tunde of Styl plus, Mish etc. We also have a memoir of an abused 16 year old that we are looking to publish and distribute to secondary schools.

While we wait for the new administration to settle in, we have been partnering with Naija Pickin, an NGO owned by Kevin Pam, the first Nigerian to win Big Brother Africa. We have been using our personal funds to buy and distribute relief materials such as food, clothes, mosquito nets, etc. to the North east of Nigeria, we have visited about 6 distress camps in that area.

AAF has also visited over 30 orphanages in the last two years across Nigeria. We have also partnered with JCI to fund debates in secondary schools promoting girl child education and condemning any form of abuse.

Why did you decide to create an NGO?

That’s an easy one,I am very passionate about children. I see them as fragile and I would do anything to protect and provide for anyone that comes my way especially the orphaned and the helpless.

You once talked about childhood molestation, what really happened at that time?

Yes, I was sexually abused when I was barely four years old. My dad had just died and my grieving mum put us in care of trusted people. You would be shocked by what close people can do to your children. So many friends have commended my bravery for being able to share this story while some have condemned it saying I am riding on self-pity and I’m trying to gain sentiments from people, either ways, one can never please the world. I am always willing to share this part of my personal life so that people can beware of perpetrators.

Parents due to very busy schedules and other unavoidable challenges these days overlook a lot of things. For instance, why employ a male help when u have a house full of female children? Why not pay attention to a child coming home to tell you after school that her male teacher put her on his laps during play time? Why would it not matter that your child suddenly withdraws from everyone? Sex offenders are usually the closest to you, they usually start by touching or making you touch their genitals playfully and then proceed to exposing victims to illicit pictures and pornographic movies making them aware of their sexuality.

Every parent must start to be worried when a child starts to act out inappropriately in a sexual way with toys and other home objects, when a child starts to have sleeping problems or consistent nightmares, when he/she suddenly becomes withdrawn or clingy, unusually secretive, regressing to younger behaviours, e.g. bedwetting, unaccountable fear of particular places or people, changes in eating habits, frequent outburst of anger, talk of a new older friend and unexplained gifts, self-harm(wrist cutting, burning and other harmful activities). Any one sign of these is explainable but several suggest one must begin to ask questions and also consider seeking help. In my own case, I wasn’t that lucky because the entire family was mourning

Did you tell anyone about it?

At that time no, I didnt even know what it meant because I was very young. I just remember crying a lot because each time it happened I bled and it hurt. Like I said, no one paid attention, the perpetrators were very close to the family, they had a way of cleaning up their mess after them. The damage therefore was gradually inflicted psychologically as I grew older. I spoke about it for the very first time a couple of years back to my mum and a psychologist while we were searching for damage control, I was a very rebellious teenager and it took a moment for my mum to understand why. I looked for love in the very wrong places. Because these perpetrators where still close to home, I ran away often. It took a lot from me mentally and emotionally. It stalled school and my relationship with people. I was a very angry teenager. I had no regard for people or life itself. I only lived for each passing day. No ambition no aspiration

It must have been devastating for you

That is an understatement.

How did you get over it?

Healing from sexual abuse is a gradual process and that process looks different for everyone, for some it may take just days, some weeks, others may take a life time. For me, I’m still getting over it. It’s a working progress. First, I sort for the face of God in prayers. Recently, I rededicated my life to Christ and the Bible has been my solace and strength. I also have a life coach who from time to time puts me in check with the help of inspirational materials. I have learnt to love myself and this new strength is my reason for wanting to help others out of the same situation with campaigns through movie projects, inspirational songs and other educative materials.

After going through such ordeal, it must have taken you time to trust men again. How has your love life been?

Not only men, everybody. The effect of sexual abuse messes up your mind in a lot of ways. Sometimes it makes you believe that you are a victim thereby making you feel less perfect, you experience anxiety, fear, depression, anger, negative self-worth, low self-esteem. There was a period of my life that I became an alcoholic, I drank heavily to get through the day and even more to sleep at night. I ate junk uncontrollably without respect for my body and then gained massive weight. More depression set in.

I was rude to people and would inflict same pain I was feeling deep inside me through very offensive things I said to them. I was totally unbearable. How could I trust anyone in this situation? The only friends I kept at this period of my life were enablers, not the types that would try to help out. Granting trust at this time of vulnerability had its own could have turned out well or go the opposite way so to be on a safe side, I remained very evasive and unapproachable.

As per my love life, it’s been a hell of a roller coaster, until recently that I started working on myself, I was extremely paranoid. I quickly withdrew from people with signs of being control freaks and attacked those with signs infidelity. I was quick to judge and I had a hard time believing anybody. No man likes to be nagged at, that was a constant thing for me. You know you must love yourself first before you can give room to be loved.  Now that I’m in a better place, I have learnt acceptance, patience, submission and the ability to study people and treat them just as they are positively.

Are you in any relationship at the moment?

I’m in love with God, only He satisfies. I’m not in any relationship, I’m very single and waiting on God to send me a true friend who can accept baggage’s from my past, and afford me the opportunity to re-introduce the new me, a man with Gods values, one who would support my mission to help others through my foundation. Trust me, that has been hard.

What advice will you give to young children faced with similar circumstances?

It depends on what age they are. There are the ones that can’t even speak about it like it happened in my case because they are too young to even understand what is going on. Parents should pay attention. For those who are aware, they should learn to speak up without shame or fear of being perceived in a certain way. Going through this experience alone and not seeking for help at an early stage leads to a lot of psychological problems that’s for those who are even lucky to be alive because many have also lost theirs to suicide or permanent mental illness.

How do you think the government can help victims of such?

It’s a sensitive topic that is hardly ever mentioned due to our diverse cultural and religious beliefs especially in this part of the world. I believe the government can step in through implementing special programs in schools both for parents and children, more media awareness and publicity through its many institutions directly related to these issues, seminars, etc. It won’t be a bad idea to include it the school curriculum. There should also be clinics that would offer free confidential services for victims, these could include testing for sexually transmitted diseases, treatment if any and advice by a professional to help heal. Religious and corporate institutions should also pay attention.

So is this part of what your NGO is doing?

Yes, we organize sessions for those who just want to talk.