‘Rape: A near miss’ by Guest Contributor Sasha

Before this week, I thought rape was some far-off concept, an event that only happened to the blonde girls in movies or women who walked alone at night. Never would I have guessed that it could happen to me and by someone I knew and trusted for years.

The back-story: I am an American woman living in Accra. I completed my master’s degree at the University of Ghana last year when I met Professor Kwame* through a mutual friend. After our initial introduction, Professor Kwame and I quickly became friends and colleagues. Though based in different departments, we would have lunch or dinner monthly to discuss life, academia, and campus gossip. I admired the fact that the professor-student hierarchy ubiquitous at Legon did not pervade our relationship; he treated me like an equal, not like a student. As our friendship grew, I began to edit articles Kwame submitted for publication while he offered me advice on how to complete my graduate research.

I completed my master’s program in August 2012 and returned to the US. Professor Kwame, on sabbatical from Legon, was also in the US and we maintained regular contact. This March, I decided to return to Ghana from the US. Upon my arrival to the country, Professor Kwame invited me to dinner at his house with his wife, in-laws, and family in Accra one Sunday afternoon. After meeting his family, I marveled at how two people of the opposite sex could have such a great friendship and professional relationship.

Soon after, Professor Kwame’s demands for my time increased. Instead of our normal monthly lunch, Kwame began to want more. He complained that I was not spending enough time with him and called constantly throughout the week to ascertain what free time I had available. I thought Kwame’s new behavior was strange but dismissed it as signs of a friend who truly missed my company.

Last week, Kwame and I planned to eat lunch on Saturday. Our schedules conflicted, so we rescheduled for Monday. Monday came, and I stood up Professor Kwame. Feeling bad, I suggested we go to dinner on Wednesday. I met Kwame on campus and we drove to our usual dinner spot. This evening, however, Kwame seemed distracted and in a hurry. We ordered our food and after waiting for a couple of minutes, he suggested that we get it as a take-a-way. I thought nothing of Kwame’s request; I assumed he needed to get home in a hurry. It was not until we were in the car heading to my house that Kwame suddenly decided that we should go see a movie in a movie house.

The scene of the crime: Hearing Kwame’s suggestion of the movie house, I felt a little uncomfortable. I had never been to one, but I remembered my Ghanaian friends telling me that people go to movie houses to have sex. “It’s just a movie, nothing will happen,” my mind insisted while my gut insisted otherwise. Upon entering the movie house, management ushered us to a room in the back of the complex, with a big TV on the wall, a couch on the back wall, and washroom in the corner. Kwame locked the door, and I realized it was a very intimate set-up for two friends but I thought I would be fine.

The movie started, and all was well. Kwame and I were both seated on the couch with a foot of space separating us as our eyes were glued to the TV. Twenty minutes into the movie, Kwame’s demeanor changed. He started talking and asking questions about the movie to divert my attention away from the screen to him. As I responded to his fourth question, Kwame replied, “It doesn’t matter. We will have to watch the movie another time”. Before I could ask, “Why,” Kwame’s arms suddenly enveloped me as he pulled my body close to his to kiss me.

“Stop it,” I yelled, as my pleas fell on deaf ears. Kwame was a man on a mission, a mission to enter my pussy with or without my permission. I struggled to stand up, and as soon as I was successful, Kwame pinned me down to the couch trying to push his torso in between my legs. I crossed my legs fervently and pleaded with Kwame that we were just friends.

Distracting him, I explained why I would not have sex with him. Fixated on my mouth, Kwame’s attention moved from my body to my words while I wrestled myself free and stood up. The distraction was over. Seeing me stand up, Kwame pinned me up against the wall and tried to kiss me again. I turned my face away from him as he planted unwanted kisses on my lips, face, and neck. I screamed and protested for him to stop, but he continued his journey south. Reaching inside my dress, he grabbed my right breast and proceeded to suck it. Though normally a man sucking my breasts is a turn-on, Kwame’s fondling disgusted me, and I realized that if I did not fight back harder, my pussy would be his.

Seizing the moment, I pushed against Kwame, releasing myself as I frantically looked for my purse. I found it and ran towards the door. Kwame blocked my path again and pinned me against the wall. Ignoring my protests to stop and let me go, he inserted his tongue into my ear, as if I were a willing participant who needed to be turned on before penetration. As if his forced kissing was not enough, he gyrated his hard-on down my legs so that I could feel the depth of his intentions. I pleaded with him again and again, and he finally let me go. I left the movie house and went home. Finally I was safe.

Though a week has passed, this fateful night keeps replaying over and over in mind. How could, Kwame, someone I trusted try to rape me? What did I do to deserve it? What could I have done differently? These are some of the questions that plague my conscious. Though I know that I am not at fault, some part of me thinks that I somehow brought this on myself. Maybe I’m too attractive or maybe my clothes are too tight insists my misogynist side.

I know that I did nothing wrong but the memory of the event depresses me. After confronting Kwame via email on Friday, he showed up at my house Saturday morning demanding to speak. We spoke, and he apologized but I was left with a sinking hole in my soul. I laid in the bed for two hours after his departure blaming myself, ridiculing my body, and crying out to my God.

I was frozen in my bed. I couldn’t move; I was hungry and thirsty but found no comfort in facing the world again. In the still of the morning, I knew that I could not let Kwame win by hiding in my room and hiding the story of the attack.

So here is my story, the rape that almost happened. I write today for my spirit, that my soul will be healed over time and I will one day be able to trust men again. I write for women and men who have been victims of sexual assault and are afraid to bring their assailants to the light. Finally, I write for women like me who think rape or attempted rape only happens to silly women.

Rape is a painful event that violates your body, your soul, and your mind. I am not a victim but a survivor, a storyteller, a daughter, a friend, and a lover. I pray that one day the thought of sex will lose its putrid taste, and I can willingly give my body to a lover again.

*I use a pseudonym.


27 comments On ‘Rape: A near miss’ by Guest Contributor Sasha

  • @Sasha – Sending you hugs, and healing vibes. A part of me wishes you could report this man to the authorities but I can see how that may be too much stress for you. Have you considered seeing a counsellor?

    • @nanaD and Zanze: One issue that has been continually raised here and with my close friends is reporting to the police or the University. I have thought about both options, but honestly I am not 1.) ready to recount this to men in authority who may see this as my fault and 2.) sure that reporting will bring about any consequences. The feminist in me agrees with you, Zanze, that I should do something to stop him from attacking another woman, and before this incident, I would have advised a friend to do the same thing. The attack has made me lose a lot of confidence in myself, and honestly sometimes I wish I could erase it from my memory and pretend like it did not happen.

      I realize pretending/hiding something is not the best coping mechanism. Writing about this openly in this forum has been a better mechanism, and Nana I think seeing a therapist is definitely a needed next step for me.

      • @ Sasha: please don’t be too hard on yourself. it’s absolutely normal for you to feel reluctant about recounting the incident to other people. you’ve just been through a very traumatic incident & it’s even brave of you to talk about it. Don’t feel rushed or as if you HAVE to do anything. Sure, it’ll be great if you can report this foolish guy so that other girls don’t suffer but you have to think about yourself first & make sure you’re in good condition before you think about protecting other people etc. A good place to start is with the therapist. Please try and see a therapist as soon as you can to work through your issues. You may be severely depressed and not even know it or going through ptsd etc. Then after you’ve worked through stuff with your therapist & regained your confidence, you can sort out the other issues and decide how to deal with the idiot. Everything will be ok 🙂

  • How could he misuse your trust?
    Bcause he wanted.
    And it is easier, if the victim trusts the offender.
    This is offenders attitude.
    Be carefully allways and dont hesitate to stop the offender hardly.
    there was a german author who write: how to flash someone a hammer – you take aim to his nose.
    he gets the hammer or not: it is his business!

  • Stop. This. Violence. Against. Women!!!! This article just made me cry. Some of us weren’t so lucky. I pray for you the strength to bounce back. You will. Hopefully, sooner than later. You’ll probably find it harder to forgive yourself more than him too. Aaaaaarrrggh!!! You remind me of so much pain. It is well Sasha. Someday, like you, I may also find the strength to share. Sending lots of love your way.

  • I think you should send this story to his wife. Asshole.

    • She should send the story to his mother so she can beat the breaks off her son. I know I would if he ever pulled a stunt like this!

      • In Ghana, 2013. Even if she sent the story to his wife or mother there’s a high chance that one or both will decide its a LIE. Or that she seduced him rather and later changed her mind. The things that still happen in Ghana with no possibility of progress or change have caused me to be less proud of my nationality.

  • This contribution just broke my heart. I am so sorry that a man you trusted took advantage of you in this way. As hard as it may be, please do not be too hard on yourself, being beautiful, friendly, trusting or wearing a certain outfit doesn’t not mean that a man can “choose” to act like an animal and get away with it.

    If you can, report him to the authorities – police and university. The African justice system does not always work but sometimes it’s good to try so that these people don’t take advantage of someone else. The next girl might not be as lucky as you to get away.

  • Ugh! I’m so pissed! This happens EVERY DAY in Ghana, I promise you. It’s the lowest form of human male behaviour, and it’s not secluded in one class or another. Tro-tro drivers, garden boys, professors, they are ALL guilty. As if forcing yourself on a woman will make her desire you at all. Nonsense.

    Look here, Sasha. Good on you for having the fortitude to fight back. He obviously thought you were a weakling, and you showed him different. Live your life knowing that you are NOT just a “survivor”, you are a champion and a fighter. Never let him take that from you. You walk with your head held high, ya hear?!?

    • I think it happens a lot because as a society (both men and women) we have a Madonna-whore complex. We believe that women can be either ‘bad’ or ‘good’- there’s no middle ground. The ‘bad’ ones (ashawo) like sex so much that they can’t be raped. That is why when a girl was fingered by several boys at legon some time ago & it was revealed that she stole a laptop, people started defending the boys (even the boys’ girlfriends and other legon students used to come to court daily to picket for the boys when the case was going on). Doing certain things put you into the ‘bad’ category- wearing certain clothes, being over-confident/ assertive, being unmarried past a certain age, going certain places with a man etc. So I guess this idiot of a professor just assumed that because she was willing to go on dinners & movie houses with him, she MUST have wanted sex. The sad thing is that there are a lot of women who’ll agree with the professor & blame Sasha & say Sasha ‘wanted it’. The first time that I told a church counselor (my pastor’s wife) that I was molested as a child, she said I should pray for forgiveness for allowing it to go on for so long. We have to try and change this.

      • Yadda, yadda, yadda and then I get to your what your pastor’s wife said and it opens up a flood gates of WTFs and GTFOHs.

        Some people have no business counseling others. None. Crazy woman. No disrespect meant, but that right there is CRAZY. I wish I could speak more intelligently on this, but every one knows how I feel about child molestation.

      • Kudos to you for pointing out unfair gender stereotypes that exist for women. I remember being in undergrad and reading about gender theory and concepts of the “good woman” and the “bad woman”. I thought I had overcome these outdated notions of femininity; yet, the night of the attack I began to blame myself (what I refer to as my misogynist side) as the cause of the attacks. Unfortunately, your church counselor and other women continue these ideas that victims of sexual abuse/assault are to blame. As women, we have to stop blaming ourselves and de-program our brains from the boxes society wants to put us in.

  • This is just wrong and since I went to Legon, I know the sexual harassment is everywhere. Thank God you got away. Some men are just selfish. BTW, I know a prof Kwame in Legon i unfairly pictured him while reading!!! But honey, never go to a private movie house with a man in Ghana if you do not want him intimately. I went to legon, Movie houses were synonymous with sex. Even being seen there by someone is bad enough. Don’t go!
    This will be hard for you to put behind you. You should write more about how you feel afterwards, It will help you heal.

  • Wehhh asha mon amie. I’m sorry this happened to you. I’m glad you decided to share your story, as this is one of the biggest parts of healing. I send well wishes and hugs your way, and a swift kick in the nuts to that Kwame character. God bless you.

  • Why not see a counsellor and work out a way to present your story to the authorities at Legon? You have an email in which you presented Prof Kwame with your reaction to the events.. It’s a beginning.. The VC of Legon today is progressive man, I believe, and the university was probably sensitized by the Amina scandal to the seriousness of these issues. As personally taxing as it might be, I think that the status quo remains the same if we are silent about injustice..

    • Before she presents her story to the authorities, she must be prepared to deal with whatever response they give her. Maybe this is something she can discuss with the counselor. It may wind up with ‘Prof. Kwame’ being sanctioned & maybe even being convicted for attempted rape. On the other hand, it could wind up with Prof Kwame turning around to accuse Sasha of being a whore who pursued him, everyone asking Sasha why she went to the movie house & exclusive dinners with Prof if she wasn’t interested, Prof Kwame’s wife standing by him & calling Sasha a temptress who wants to break up her home etc. There’s no law in Ghana that states that the identity of adult sexual offence accusers should be disguised (I stand corrected, my field isn’t criminal law)but from what I noticed in court & what I read in newspaper reportage of court news, the identity of child victims were protected but those of adult victims of sexual offences were disclosed. So Sasha should be ready for the possibility of her identity being disclosed after she reports. My friend had an emotional breakdown when her name was published in a newspaper in Ghana after she reported a guy for attempted rape. Her story was on the front page.I don’t want to be a pessimist and Sasha please forgive me if I’ve discouraged you in anyway with this response. That is not my intention at all. I consider you as a sister & wouldn’t want you to go to battle unarmed and unpleasant as it is, it is my duty to inform you about the whole situation so that you can prepare for it. Please talk to a counselor about all these things, prepare yourself & then take whatever option would be best for you. If you choose to report this matter, it may not be easy but I trust that it may help to restore back some of the power that he took away on that night when he forced himself on you. I really hope that you can heal from all this soon and be able to smile again. Wishing you light and love

    • @Kofi – True o, I hadn’t thought of the email trail as potential evidence. @Sasha he is right, if you feel you have the strength to deal with whatever emotional fallout, I promise to support you to the best of my ability…the annoying thing is that this is a man in a position of power over other students. The decision of course is yours…

  • First of all, I would assemble records of all emails and other communications (phone calls/texts/whatsapp), especially those from the crucial period leading up to the day of the attack.

    Second, I would find sympathetic lawyer (not easy, necessarily) but one who can advise on the right approach to the university: how to phrase your concerns, what you can realistically hope for, etc. The prof will have a different version of events, to be sure, but if you gather enough circumstantial evidence on your side, you’re more likely to be believed.

    It probably wasn’t Prof Kwame’s first time in this situation, and you might find other corroborating evidence through other sources, including the receptionist of the movie place.. The man will not want all his secrets out, and might be persuaded to accept some form of culpability and an undertaking not to harass anyone in the future.

    The University has its reputation to protect, especially in these days where it is opening itself up to foreign strategic partners and alliances.. lots of pressure can be brought on the University from a well-thought-through approach.

    Lastly, take advantage of Nana D’s offer.. find a group of like-minded people to help along (Ekuba makes lots of valid points, all of which need to be addressed as you go forward) this.. I really believe is the path to healing… Not easy, but…

    • I am glad your were able to escaped from him.
      I agree with Kofi,the only way we can stop such behavior is by exposing such people.I don’t know why some men think they have a right to a woman’s body just because you are friendly towards them? I was almost raped whiles on campus by a male friend back in the 90s,His excuse was that he thought ihad been friendly towards him for a while,so we had a thing going.
      I felt very disgusted about his action.Unfortunately i was too embarrassed to report him to the school authorities but I made sure anytime we met on campus I shamed him and even went to extent of warning my floor mates to keep away from him cos he was a potential rapist.
      I stopped after he apologized three years after the attempt.
      Please do not be too hard on yourself.

  • I know the University of Ghana has a strong anti-sexual harassment policy and a unit that deals with such cases which is CEGENSA. Shasha should have reported this case to the University authorities for action to be taken.
    Again the Domestic Violence Law in Ghana is working and people are prosecuted for such offences.
    It is not good to keep this to yourself and continue to live in pain.

  • I’d like to share a poem written by a 15-year old girl after she had been raped by a neighbour. She got pregnant. When she told Sally Armstrong what happened she said: “This happened to me on May 13, 2010. I will make sure this never happens to my sister.” I leave everyone with the poem:

    Here I come
    Walking down through history to eternity
    From paradise to the city of goods
    Victorious, glorious, serious and pious
    Elegant, full of grace and truth
    The centrepiece and the masterpiece of literature
    Glowing, growing and flowing
    Here, there, everywhere
    Cheering millions every day
    The book of books that I am.

  • Stories like this and other negative things that people aren’t willing to address or acknowledge are why my mother was so apprehensive about me moving to Ghana. Although she never said it, I know that in here times 40-50 years ago women had no rights, no voices and not even an ear to listen. But watching, just watching people in the 10 months I have been here have lead me to be less friendly, more vigilant and prepared to mutilate or mame someone at any point of danger. The law is not on our side, even in developed countries, so I certainly will not rely on that in Ghana. Its in our culture to do what we are told and any deviation from that makes you a bad seed… And at times, undefendable. I am soooo happy you got away before he could do more damage. If you make the choice to file a report of any kind I will go with you!

  • A good expose, if this story is indeed true. However, I’ll like to encourage the victim to report this matter to the Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee of the University in question. I know how ruthless they would be with the perpetrator, if his guilt is proven.

    • Even you @Candela are questioning whether this story is true. That’s why rape, sexual assault and attempted rape/sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes. There is no other crime where people’s initial response is to doubt the ‘victim’.

  • Hi,
    This must be a lesson to other women. To all the ladies out there, please never go to a movie house with a man u are not willing to have intimacy with. The private movie houses in our part of the world has come to be a place where men and women can have “quickies”, “sharp, sharp” etc. Your case is unfortunate but must be a lesson to all of us. I have worked in the hospitality industry as a manager for decades now . To all ladies out there ,pls, do not enter into hotel rooms or private movies rooms with men, unless they are men u would love to have sex with. U can have hearty charts with friends in restaurant n other public places not hotel rooms or private movie rooms

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