I am one person.

I am one story

How many more are out there?

How many more get lost in the noise?

As a result of our silence

I am ashamed

I am shamed.

I am not alone in this shame.

How many more are out there?

Am I lost forever?

My body bears a map of my pain

My soul the territory of my torture

You see the scars; I live with them.

They run the stats, I am the stats.

But I survived.

Am I whole?

Am I whole? I ask.

Do I want to exist in the bubble of a world you’ve created?

Do I belong?

In this society that sleeps on my tear stained pillow,

That drinks from my blood stained cup,

That feeds on my mental decay.

But I survived.

How many more are out there?

Is help on the way?

Will they survive?

I hope you see I am not the plague

The plague lives with us.

It is evident in the black eye,

It is evident in the sobs of the woman in the torn clothes at the back,

It’s evident in the once bubbly girl who now refuses to laugh.

The plague is us.

You wonder why I say so?

We mute the midnight screams of our neigbour,

We distance ourselves from victims

We shame and ridicule survivors

We are the plague.

The perpetrators roam free,

Emboldened by our waves in the streets,

Free to carry on as usual,

No justice for the afflicted.

Yet we survived.

It is time to excise the plague,

To give consequences to actions,

To bring justice to the survivors

To give meaning to their survival.

To make this world, a place they matter,

A place we all matter.

A place we all not just survive but thrive.

By Benedicta Baidoo WiLG Tribe Member, Law graduate

Twitter https://twitter.com/BenedictaBaido2

Join @WiLGNigeria and take a stand against sexual assault and any form of Gender Based Violence (GBV). This piece was written by @BenedictaBaido2 in honour of Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2021