TY Bello seems like the last person in the world who underwent sexual abuse as a child. She is so upbeat and successful, such an icon who has in her quiet but persistent way, changed the way women are perceived, nothing like promiscuous broken woman that Nigeria aggressively portrayed as the quintessential victim of sexual abuse.
But on Kemi Adetiba’s King Women where TY gave an exhaustive interview, she told us, after mentioning casually she would need to ask her husband permission for the cut to air, that she was sexually abused as a child.
She talks about having to pretend to be innocent, because she knew things children knew nothing about, had done things they would awkwardly stumble through a decade later. She talks about the weight of this knowledge drowning her, skewering her image of herself and preventing her from fully enjoying her childhood. She doesn’t say it explicitly but it is obvious her childhood was taken from her and only a coping mechanism as large and immersive as practiced Christianity helped her survive the abuse.
This was the first time in 30 plus years she was publicly speaking about her abuse.
In her secondary school she estimates 1 in 4 girls had suffered some form of abuse.
Such is the stigma around child abuse.
TY is one of the lucky ones who find a way to cope, who go on to live at least the semblance of a life. For most Nigerian victims of child abuse there is only blame, silence, isolation and destructive behaviour.
It can’t stay this way, it just can’t.