Fatou Jallow, who won a beauty pageant in Gambia in 2014, says she was raped by Yahya Jammeh, then the nation’s president. Credit Tara Walton for The New York Times

Dear Toufah Jallow and All Sexual Assault Survivors,

If I have a Nobel Prize I will give it to you. You deserve much more. I salute your steely courage for speaking out about your abuse; many try to disconnect themselves from what has happened to them.

It must have been very traumatic for you, bottling inside you that unbearable pain and experience for many years. More traumatic is the betrayal; to be sexually abused by someone you trust, someone you looked up to as a father figure, someone who was supposed to the numero uno protector of people. He betrayed your trust. Do not blame yourself for his actions. You never deserved such a treatment; no one deserves such.

You have shared your story with the world, to bring to our attention the debauchery and Lucifer lifestyle of Yaya, how he lured and sexually abused unsuspecting young ladies. We are grateful; you have done the nation a great service by speaking out.

Some will believe your story; others will be sceptical and might question your motive. How people react to your story is outwith your control or power of influence and so I beseech you to not lose your sleep over their reactions. They are inconsequential and should not define you or how you handle yourself.

It is not their story; it wasn’t their suffering. It is your voice and story and let no one silence those. Stay strong. Be strong for yourself.

In the struggle between victim and perpetrator, many sit on the fence; many side with the perpetrator and many more ridicule the victim. “They jest at scars that never felt a wound”. They side with the perpetrator who doesn’t understand the processes grooming, the role of power and how it is abused by perpetrators and status differential and all. However, there are many shoulders you can lean and I bet they wont betray your trust. You have their back. Stay strong.

Below I send you my words of support. I trust your story and I stand by you:

“Don’t blame yourself; it is not your fault. You are not responsible for what happened to you. We are with you and will stand by you. We believe your story and need no further evidence from you; your oral testimony is enough. Raise up your head. The healing process may be difficult but you will over come, like all survivors…. Coming out to speak is way to healing…”

It is your voice the Doubting Yankubas want to silence, to subdue you, to pin you down into voicelessness, to make you feel ashamed and helpless, to make Yaya feel victorious. Hear Maya Anegelou,

“I thought, my voice killed him;
I killed that man, because I told his name.
And then I thought i would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone”

Don’t let them kill your voice. Your voice will kill the many