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Survival after trauma: Lillian's story of healing and living.


"On the evening of 8th March 2021, my sister and I had just returned from school when she proposed that we break curfew to go dancing later that night at an on going function in the neighborhood. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and we waited until our parents had gone to bed before we ran off to the dance.

At the dance, we were enjoying ourselves when suddenly, I could not find my sister who had ran off to be with her friends. While I looked around for her, the party deejay approached me and asked to have a word with me. At first, I was hesitant, but he seemed nice, and he assured me that he would not take much of my time, so I accepted.

He led me away from the crowd and into a small hut so that we could talk privately and locked the door behind us as soon as we got in. His face and tone began to change and threatened to “deal with me” if I screamed. He then instructed me to wait for him since he was still playing music for the crowd at the party and locked the door behind him. I spent my time in the room trying to escape but all in vain.

At about 1.00am, I heard the door unlock and a man squeeze his way into the hut- the deejay had returned. He pinned me on the bed and forcefully had sex with me. I cried and begged him to let me go but he only shut me up and continued to abuse me. He went on all through the night, raping me about four times and kicked me out at about 5.00am in the morning.

Outside and alone in the morning light, I looked down at my body and it was covered in blood. I was too afraid to go straight home so I decided to hide in the nearby bushes for a while until around 9.00am. I hoped by the time I got home; I would find my parents gone for the day. To my dismay, I found everyone at home as they had been looking for me.
My father approached me in anger demanding to know where I was coming from at that time of the morning, but I was afraid to say a thing because I was afraid that he would beat me up.

When he insisted on knowing, I lied and said that I had spent the night at my aunt’s house. Unconvinced by my story, my father decided to drag me to Alero police post hoping that I would be prompted to tell him the truth from there.
After interrogation from the police officer, he concluded to my father that my behavior and attitude was typical of a girl who had had sex with a man, besides, he had also noticed me trying to cover up the blood on my dress.

Together, my father and police officer decided that I betaken for examination at the nearest health center. My examination report from the health center confirmed that I had indeed had sex. I could not lie to my father anymore, so I told him the whole truth.

My father reported back to the police officer who advised him to press charges and have the man arrested and this was done with the help of other members of the community.”

Lillian’s father narrates
The police instructed me to have the 21-year-old boy arrested with the help of a few people, making sure that he was not harmed. Since I did not have money to hire a ‘boda-boda’ (motorbike) for the police officers to effect the arrest, I had to do it myself.

Fortunately, on our way back home from the police station, we saw the suspect in the trading center and as instructed, with the help of a few men around, we arrested him and took him to the police post where he admitted to committing the crime.

The police officers asked me to pay a sum ofUgx.40,000 (USD11) to document the case and I complied. I was then asked to pay another sum ofUgx.20,000 (USD.5) to hire a 'boda boda' (motorbike) that would transfer the suspect to the Central Police Station in Otwee.

With all the payments I had had to make, I could no longer afford to facilitate the medical examination for the suspect and another transfer to Nwoya district where the case was to be tried.
With all these limitations, I was not going to get justice for my daughter until the police officer in charge referred me to the ActionAid Gender Based Violence shelter in Amuru.

The police officer in charge was given facilitation at the ActionAid shelter to hire 'boda bodas' and pay the medical examination fees for the suspect. The shelter staff also ensured that our transport to and from police post was provided and also met the cost of transport to transfer the suspect to Nwoya for the case trial.

Our transport to attend the two court sessions in Nwoya was facilitated by ActionAid up until the day of sentencing when the perpetrator was given 3 years in prison for his crime. Even though I was not pleased with the few years of conviction, I thought it was at least better than having him go free which would have happened because of my financial challenges. Special thanks to ActionAid for the support, both financial and psychosocial. My daughter is fine, and I thank God there was no pregnancy, HIV infection nor any kind of sexually transmitted disease.

On following up with Lillian, we found that she was in a better place with a more positive outlook to life.

“I am back in school. I have continued to receive counselling services from the ActionAid shelter and great support from my father and are now in a better place.” she said.