The Lagos State Government has concluded plans to start a compulsory premarital counseling exercises for intending couples in its latest bid to prevent and eradicate domestic violence in marriage,

The plan was announced by the government during a one-day engagement program for the state’s marriage registrars, organized by the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence agency (DSVA) in conjunction with the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.

Read Also: My Domestic Violence Experience

Kikelomo Sanyaolu, the permanent secretary for the ministry announced this as a measure to prevent domestic violence across the state. Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, the executive secretary of the DSVA expressed her concerns about the gap in professional pre-marital counseling in the country and how it could have prevented most of the domestic violence cases because over 60% of victims saw the signs before getting married and still went ahead no thanks to inadequate counsel.

The event which had notable facilitators like Tinuke Odukoya, the Executive Director, Center for women’s health and information, Mr. Oladele Emmanuel, Founder, Institute of marriage administrators and counselors of Nigeria also had in attendance Mr. Praise Fowowe of the Institute of Family Engineering and development who had worked closely with the state in designing the 8 module pre-marital counseling program.

Read Also: Facebook Introduces Paid Leave For Victims Of Domestic Violence And Sexual Assault

Mr. Praise Fowowe shared a data driven approach to curbing domestic violence through effective pre-marital counseling sessions. He commended the Lagos State Government for this initiative and entertained questions from the registrars on the challenges they have been facing and how to resolve complex marital issues.

Mrs. Titilola Vivour- Adeniyi announced a 3 – day training for the registrars to introduce them to the curriculum and train them on how to facilitate effective pre-marital counseling.

Read Also: How to report a case of domestic violence

The registers took time to express their gratitude to the State Government for this laudable initiative which will promote a healthy family life within the state and a peaceful society

Like a phoenix, Oluwatobi Raji  is rising from the ashes of adversity and inspiring others to do so through her story. She  is a Gender Based Violence (GBV) Advocate with focus on child safety,  and has over 6 years work experience in the humanitarian field. She founded Every Child Initiative in 2019, a nonprofit that educates the public on preventive measures to child sexual abuse and rape of minors using social media and grassroot advocacy as a tool to disseminate her message. Oluwatobi was raped at age 8 by her maternal uncle and survived multiple counts of rape, ten times by ten different persons between age 13-19 years. She as well ensures safe space for vulnerable children living on the street via her partnership with 1 to 2 orphanage homes spread across 36 states in Nigeria.

The  bachelor’s degree holder  in International Relations  and Diplomacy from Iscom University, Cotonou, Benin Republic also earned a Professional  Higher Diploma in Aviation Management from Lagos Aviation and Maritime Business School, Lagos, Nigeria and graduated with distinction. Oluwatobi worked as a Survivor Advocate/Field Officer with Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), Ministry of Justice, Lagos, , with successful effective arrest of domestic and sexual violence offenders in Lagos State, Nigeria.

She currently work as a Volunteer Project Manager at School On The Street Initiative ; a nonprofit that provides access to quality education for orphans and underprivileged children with an establishment of a free tuition school at Iyana-Ilogbo, a rural community situated at Ifo Local Government, Ogun State, Nigeria.

She has impacted over 3000 parents, teachers, guardians and over 5000 children via her house to house sensitization, rural rugged campaign, community sensitization program and face to face counselling. She has taken child safety advocacy to over 5000 households and 20 communities. Oluwatobi volunteers with over 7 local and international non-governmental organizations and this has added to her wide wealth of knowledge in the humanitarian field. She also works as an on-call Professional Caregiver with Flying Doctors Nigeria (FDN), to specifically care for COVID-19 patients. She shares her inspiring story in this article.


Childhood Influence

Growing up wasn’t  really fun, though I had a pleasant time with myself as a child. I grew up in a family of 5, with a father whose religion was love for all. I am the first child of my family but my experiences as a child are the passion for in depth love to serve humanity. I grew up having a father, whose only language was love. As a child, the only language I grew up to understand is humanity while my religion is love. After my father’s death, life became hard and miserable with nothing and no one to lean on. We were left in the hands of close friends, who only gave their best as they could to assist us. My childhood experiences made me vow to ensure adequate safety for children in my little capacity.

Inspiration behind Every Child Initiative

Every Child Initiative is a nonprofit founded in January 2019 and advocates against child sexual abuse and rape of minors. The initiative’s primary focus is on ;preventive measures using social media and grassroot advocacy as a means in disseminating my message. The passion was born out of my concern on child safety and my personal experiences. I realised creating safe space for every child is everybody’s business, so the need to speak about child safety was very necessary. In January 2019, we carried out an house to house sensitization, educating parents and children preventing meausres to child sexual abuse and rape. Also in January 2020, I called upon some concerned individuals and advocates to join me in facilitating a Rural Rugged Campaign.

The campaign was organized in strategic local communities of 7 States in Nigeria, same day and time using indigenous languages to disseminate our messages. I have also facilitated the rescue of at least 3 persons off the street to a safe place, 2 children with a pregnant youth inclusive between March 2019 and October 2019.

The Journey so far

It has been quite demanding with several responsibilities, which includes mental tasks, physical energy and financial contributions. The journey so far comes with so many responsibilities, which sometimes results in self-denial of basic needs/amenities. There are moments of discouragement and loneliness but my focus to achieve a set has indeed given me continuous push never to relent.

Being a survivor of sexual abuse, and finding closure

I was sexually violated (Raped) at age 8 by my maternal uncle (My mother’s younger brother) and was threatened by my mother not to tell anyone, which continued till I was  14 to 15 years of age. This horrible and shameful experience opened and gave access to other perpetrators, as I was raped again by 10 different men, 10 times between the ages of 13 to 19years. It wasn’t easy at all for me, each passing day at those points in my life, my only wish was death. I attempted suicide over 5 times as a child and same as an adult. I never received any medical or psychosocial support, which later led to post traumatic stress disorder, depression, low-self-esteem, emotional and hormonal imbalance, suicidal thoughts, aggressiveness, anger and failed relationships. I was able to pull through, when I found my voice to speak out after 22 years of silence. I got support from an ex-partner, he introduced me to his doctor, who later recommended a psychologist and a reputable medical facility to seek help. Just like others, the relationship with this fellow also went down the drain due to the above mentioned and some other contributing factors. Sincerely, I am still healing because I lost everything in my life including family and loved ones, due to the past event in my life.

Volunteering for several organization & giving back during the pandemic

I currently work as a Volunteer Project Manager at School On The Street Initiative; a nongovernmental organization with an establishment of a free tuition school for underprivileged children at Iyana-Ilogbo, a rural community close to Ifo in OgunState. The free tuition school was set up during the Covid-19 pandemic to give back to the community. Also during the Covid-19 pandemic, as a trained member of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, I volunteered to sensitize the community on preventive measures to infectious disease. I also got relief materials of 100 cartons of Lifebuoy &Lux soap from Unilever, Lagos to give out to the community members of Abule-Iroko, as well as sensitize them on personal hygiene. I also received textbooks of about 400 from a reputable non-profit organization, which was donated to 530 underprivileged children in the community. Again during the Covid-19, I was able to impact a life by fundraising for an underprivileged pregnant lady to get delivery items and other baby resource materials.


My Certifications, fellowship and momentum

I am a trained anti-corruption personnel from Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) Nigeria in conjunction with and Foreign Corrupt Practices Commission, a Global Youth Ambassador (GYA) with Their World (United Kingdom) 2018 – 2019, African Changemakers Fellow, 2018, United States Government, Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI RLC) 2017 Fellow, Accra, Ghana, African Young Leader Fellowship Program (AYLFP) 2019 Fellow, Accra, Ghana, Young World Leader For Humanity, 2018, My Body Is My Body Ambassador, Sheffield (United Kingdom), conferred Ambassadorial Honor at the International Youth Diplomacy Conference (IYDC) 2019 Accra, Ghana, Ambassador for Africa Project Against Suicide, 2020, World Literacy Foundation (WLF) Ambassador, Colombia, 2020 &am 2021, World Peace Icon Ambassador, at World Institute For Peace 2021.

I am also a member of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Lagos State branch. She is an Advance First Aider by rank with successful records of emergency response, as a trained emergency first aid team (EFAT) member such as pre-hospital care, flood, fire, accident, election standby, Ebola virus, measles and the COVID-19 pandemic. I was a frontliner (Ebola Response Staff) during the Ebola epidemic in Nigeria and worked with the Federal Ministry of Health (PortHealth Services) for 1 year at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos. I was also a frontliner during COVID-19 outbreak and worked as a Community Search Volunteer on contact tracing with the Federal Ministry Of Health at Alimosho LGA, Lagos State.

On the society and how to treat survivors of Domestic Violence and Rape

The society has so much concentrated on what we call The Blame Game rather than condemning the evil act of rape. 80% of the society still believes that survivors are the architect or causes of their problems. Some people even say to survivors, for this to have happened to you, then you are possessed. This myopic reasoning has empowered perpetrators to develop growth and expand their territories. Survivors of domestic violence and rape must be given adequate respect, regardless of whoever is involved. Domestic Violence and Rape is no longer joke and should be treated with zero tolerance. Until society takes up full responsibility for condemning the act, we won’t achieve a goal or victory.

To Young Girls who want to speak up but scared of being judged

My advice to young girls is to associate with positive minded individuals, whom they can trust well enough to discuss their issues with. They can also reach out to organizations who have existing structures and professionals who can attend to them.

Challenges of my work

As a child safety advocate, I advocate for both boy and girl child. This is due to my understanding that both genders are vulnerable, while the girl child has the larger percentage of vulnerability. When I started advocacy against rape, some people reached out to me to stop talking, so my chosen career won't hinder me from getting married or make friends and family dissasociate from me. This and so many sayings only fuel my energy in doing more. I have been threatened both offline & online social media, I have also received threats of being kidnapped, gangraped and making it public to shut me up. It has been a journey of the last breath, meaning I vowed to ensure my best is invested even if it means giving my last drop of blood. I see this to be a service to humanity, which I have never seen any man who serves humanity in vain.


3 women who inspire me to be better and why

There are amazing women I encountered their stories not-in-person but online, such as Dr Helen Paul (Nigerian Comedienne) whose birth was from rape. Joyce Mayer who was raped repeatedly by her father, Pastor Terry Gobanga (Kenya) who was kidnapped and gang raped on her wedding day. These three amazing women stories inspired me to live above my past, impact in lives and make living worthwhile. I also decided not to dwell in the past, make lemonade out of life given lemon which will in return produce beautiful fruits.

Being a Woman of Rubies

Oluwatobi is a gold that has gone through the process, she is a rare gift and unique being. My calibration carries a special identity which fosters so many happenings in my life (No Regrets). I only found mercy and grace in the sight of my creator, which made me stand out despite my rough journey.


On  educating children early

Educate children on the identification of body parts from age 3, Educate children on the correct names of body parts from age 3, Teach children identification of a sexual perpetrator and sexual abuse, Teach children keeping secret of any form is wrong, Educate children that, their body belongs to them, no one has a right to see or touch and same thing goes to them. Educating children early enough will not only preserve but keep them safe from this heinous crime.


In recent times, the rate of reported domestic abuse and death by intimate partner cases have skyrocketed. The raging pandemic has even become a fuelling agent as 80% of the report incidents took place during the Covid-19 lockdown. The internet, especially Twitter, also recorded the largest reports of domestic abuse and deaths in recent times as victims had tried to seek help and justice against their abusers. Agencies that provide sensitive services and help to victims of domestic and sexual violence also testified to the alarming increase rate of calls received since the pandemic.

The head of Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, DSVRT, Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi testifies to the fact that since the beginning of the lockdown on 30th March 2020 in Lagos, the agency now receives an average of 13 calls per day for just one of their hotlines compared with the 8 -9 they have been receiving before (extracted and translated from an article on BBC Pidgin). The absence of excuses to leave the vicinity of their abuser further heightened the situation. Before the lockdown, the victims had a little ‘protection’ or ‘break’ by going to the office, school, running errands, or other excuses that took them from the house.

Though many victims are just realising that there is no shame in sharing your ordeal with organizations that can help, many still, for the fear of being judged, embarrassed and ridiculed, keep their ordeal to themselves, hoping to still make things work. Unfortunately, very few of such people make it alive of such relationships if they eventually decide to leave.

In May 2020, the hashtag ‘#whyIdidnotreport’ trended and thousands of women shared their various reasons for staying in a toxic relationship. A large number had said their partner had pleaded over and over after each abuse; some might go as far as threatening to commit suicide if they left. Others had said they had devoted their lives to making the relationship work and did not know where to start over again. For many other women, especially the ones with children, they had chosen to stay for the sake of their children and because they didn’t have the financial capacity to care for themselves and their children. While some others chose to stay because they have been told over and over again that “it rains everywhere”, they only had to endure and manage their own storm. These women in their own rights had valid reasons for choosing to stay.

This article is to help us help our friends escape a toxic relationship, and help them get justice. Feminista Jones, in her article published on Zora “What to do if your friend is being abused” said

“Being a good friend means being mindful of how you speak about domestic and intimate partner violence around others because you never know if someone you love is being abused. Saying, “I don’t get why they just don’t leave. How stupid can you be?” can alienate your best friend who goes home to an abuser every day and you have no idea. Instead of expressing frustration, focus on empathy, and supportive language. “It’s so hard to leave abusive relationships. I hope you know that if you’re ever in this situation, you can come to me. No judgments.”

That’s the first step to getting them to open up. Assuring them of our love, understanding, and support without judgments.

Taking a peek at the unfortunate news of the gruesome murder of beautiful and bright Olamide Alli Omajuwa, the founder of The Pearl Academy, by the hands of her long-time lover and the father of her children, who then cowardly took his own life, evading the consequences of his actions. The horrific details of her murder sent shivers down the spines of many Nigerians. Days after her death, a WhatsApp chat, and VN had been released by a close friend. The chat indicated her doubts about the relationship and oncoming wedding, though she hadn’t gone into details of the causes of her doubts. Had the friend known things would turn out the way they did, she would have attempted to do more; have sort help on her behalf from the right places.

Educating yourself about laws and procedures as well as agencies that help people in abusive relationships cannot be overstated. Sometimes, calling the police may not always work as such cases may be treated as a family affair which can be settled amicably until the issue escalates enough to demand their attention. Agencies such as Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative(WRAPA), Society to Heighten Awareness of Women and Children Abuse (SOTHAWACA), Project Alert on Violence Against Women, just to mention a few, have helplines that are available all around the clock. Some platforms like Amnesty International Nigeria (@ainigeria), Women at Risk International Foundation (@warif.ng), also have seasoned professionals willing to help, while Women of Rubies (@womenofrubies), a platform that tells the tales of an everyday woman, can help refer to counsellors and therapists.

Another way to help is by encouraging your friend to discreetly take pictorial, audio, or video evidence of times the abuse occurs. For instance, your friend could take an audio recording of her partner threatening or hurling verbal abuses. Pictures of injuries sustained after a physical abuse or even a video of your partner in rage will be very useful in making a solid case. This of course has to been done discreetly, because if discovered, this could lead to more abuse. A journal with dates, time, and issues leading to the abuse should also be kept. This will serve as documented evidence, should she eventually decide to take the legal route.

It is not sufficient that your friend keeps these pieces of evidence as anything can happen. The abusive partner can find them and destroy them, having your documentation as a backup will make a strong case, Times you felt your friend sounded off and she dismissed it as “coming down with something”, other times you notice a bruise or swelling and she just says she tripped fell or mistakenly ran into the wall. Recordings of times she trusted you with what was going on. Each insult, each punch, each blow, note them down and keep it in a safe place. Better still, send to the Cloud, that way, even if you lose your phone, you still have your evidence. This may seem invasive, but as long as you’re doing this with the right intentions, you are on the right track. It is also encouraged that these evidences are backed up to an online storage service like Google drive or Microsoft one drive.

Many women in abusive relationships, especially those with kids, find it difficult to leave due to the inability to provide for their kids and themselves. This is a great advantage to their abusers as they will dwell on this fact. Also bear in mind that most abusers would isolate their victims, stop them from associating with family and friends so that they have no one to share their ordeal with or even seek financial assistance to escape the abuse. Financial preparedness is a huge factor in leaving an abusive relationship. As a good friend, having a piggy bank designated for supporting your friend’s escape will be a step closer to helping her gain her freedom. Independently saving a thousand a month till your friend takes the bold decision of leaving the relationship. Just like every other escape, a bag containing a new phone, sim card, some clothing items, important documents, some cash, and some other things will be a valuable gift when the time comes.

Remember, just like opening up about an abusive partner is not an easy task, so is the decision of leaving an abusive partner. This is because they had earlier shared some good times and a lot of emotional manipulation may have been put to play. It takes a lot of strength to leave a toxic partner because, at some point, you begin to doubt yourself. They may wonder if things would change if you exercise a little patience, or perhaps give them some more time to change. The victim’s trust in you to open up is enough, unless it seems really dangerous, don’t push them too hard. The essence of   evidence is not to make the decision for them yourself, but to support them legally when they are ready, to help them get justice.

Lastly, don’t forget to fervently pray for them. That they are strengthened enough to walk away. That they see their value through God’s eyes and act on it. Then pray for their healing. May their healing be swift.

Written By: Olabisi Animashuan


Works cited:

Jones, Feminista. “How to Support a Friend in an Abusive Relationship” Medium. Zora. 28th May, 2020. https://zora.medium.com/how-to-support-a-friend-in-an-abusive-relationship-5d58b5bcb392

BBC: “Coronavirus domestic violence: Surviving lockdown wen you dey trapped with your abusive partner”.  BBC. 10th July, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/pidgin/tori-52675405





The students were informed that sexual harassment is both a civil wrong and a criminal offense.
The students were also reminded that rape and sexual assault by penetration carry life imprisonment, while sexual harassment is three years imprisonment.

In a bid to ensure continuous sensitization of students on sexual harassment and safety on campus, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team recently engaged students of both the University of Lagos and Lagos State University. The sensitization was done during orientation program for fresh students who have recently been enrolled into the two higher institutions.

The team spoke on the topic “Prevention of Rape and Sexual Assault on Campus.”

The focus on fresher students is key, as statistics have shown that they are at a greater risk of being sexually abused on campus, due to perceived naivety and an initial lack of safety awareness within campus or red flags they should be wary of.

They were also informed of what consent entails and understanding that consent is freely given, reversible and specific. The team also used this opportunity to address the criminality of sexual harassment, making it clear that students should report lecturers and people in authority in the respective institutions who solicit for sexual favors, or make unwelcome sexual advances that affect the students’ educational opportunity, or create intimidating, hostile or offensive learning environment. The students were informed that sexual harassment is both a civil wrong and a criminal offense.

The students were also enlightened on the appropriate channels through which reports of such acts can be made. Conversely, students were advised to report immediately to their course adviser, counselor or the Dean of Students Affairs. The orientation expatiated on the legal provision on sexual abuse in Lagos State. The students were also reminded that rape and sexual assault by penetration carry life imprisonment, while sexual harassment is three years imprisonment. The presentation also elaborated on the safety measures to take on campus, in social settings, and the steps to be taken if a student unfortunately falls victim to the vices. The students also received information, education, and communication materials with relevant contact details and quick steps to take in case of an emergency.

Titilola Vivour Adeniyi is a Legal Practitioner with over nine years of experience in Public Service. Having served in various capacities in the Lagos State government, in 2014, she was appointed the Pioneer Coordinator of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT). Since her appointment, she has facilitated the ratification of two landmark executive orders by the Governor of Lagos State- the Sex Offenders Register and Mandated Reporting, and the Lagos State Safeguarding and Child Protection Programme.

Additionally, she was actively involved in drafting of Policy Documents and Manuals on Investigating and Prosecuting domestic violence, mandated reporters manual, safeguarding the rights of a child, and other awareness process documents on handling of child abuse, domestic violence and rape which have been useful in creating awareness and sensitizing members of the public.

Driven by being able to make a positive impact on lives, she speaks on the Domestic Awareness Month (DAM), the body’s upcoming domestic violence awareness symposium this month and how to seek help.

Why was the month of September declared Domestic Awareness Month (DAM)?
Asides from the need to designate a special month in which we drive special awareness on this topic, DSVRT was actually established in September, on the 9th of September, 2014 to be precise. We are grateful to the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode for approving the designation of the month of September as the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Month.

Would you say there has been any impact on domestic violence so far from the yearly symbolic walk held by the state governor?
Oh most definitely. There is greater awareness, people are more aware of support services available; they are better informed of steps to take to report cases. Some people say, ‘you people are always walking when would you stop?’ We would not stop walking, because we know there are millions of residents who still don’t know about the different services available and do not know that we are ready to stand by them. Similarly, we have continued to see an increase in reporting made by good Samaritans, mandated reporters, whistleblowers, who would before now, turned a blind eye, but are now rising up to their roles as effective bystanders and speaking on behalf of the most vulnerable in our society. We must never underestimate the impact of political will, when an entire state’s leadership embarks on a mission and passes a strong message, this message subconsciously begins to reside in the minds of the populace that we mean business on this issue of fighting Domestic Violence.

According to statistics released by your office and the Commissioner of Justice, DV is on the increase, with numbers already doubling that of last year. Why this surge?
The truth is that we are now witnessing a rapid increase in rate of reporting, and not necessarily that acts of domestic violence and sexual assault have increased that significantly. We need to appreciate that the concerted effort on advocacy, not just by DSVRT by the way, but also by NGOs, some celebrities who have consciously used their platform to speak up, setting up of a special court for quick dispensation of Justice, and then all of these backed up by the strong political will power displayed by the state Governor. All of these efforts have contributed to a situation where people are now more encouraged to come out of their shell and speak up. From our end, several initiatives we embarked on are now bearing fruits by virtue of increased reporting. We have introduced different channels for reporting. By leveraging on technology, we launched the *6820# USSD application, with support from MTN and Airtel. We have also improved our social media presence. A good demographic of our population is the youth; it therefore became imperative that our message is easily accessible for our different target audience. This has also informed our increased presence on social media and so asides from our hotline, and people that come into the office, we have increased access to justice channels hence the increase in reported cases.

Does these figures discourage you in any way?
I am far from discouraged; in fact I am optimistic that we are slowly breaking the silence that has for so long allowed these vices to perpetuate. Sexual and Gender Based Violence remains one of the most underreported crimes all around the world. In the past three years, we have seen a steady increase in reporting of cases. This year, we have started to see an average of 150 new cases monthly. We know that we are just scratching the surface. But with visible political will, cooperation of the society, and improved professionalism in the handling of these cases, we know we are well on our way to ridding this menace out of our society.

What new approach are you employing in actively fighting DSGBV?
We are tackling the issues from a holistic and more sustainable perspective. Partnering with marriage registries, health centres where we are able to reduce the chances of cases occurring by sensitising new couples, as opposed to counselling and responding to cases when the deed has been done. As regards children, we are infusing child-friendly awareness content into the school curriculum so that they are aware of their rights and those rights are properly safeguarded.

What are signs to look out for in reporting DSGBV cases?
Working out whether one is in an abusive relationship or whether abuse has occurred is not always easy. For Domestic Violence, some signs to be wary of include Possessiveness, checking on you all the time to see where you are, what you are doing, who you are with, tries to control where you go, and who you can see and gets angry if you don’t do what they say. Jealousy- when a potentially abusive partner accuses you of being unfaithful or flirting without any basis or evidence. Segregation- Isolates you from family and friends, often by rude behaviour. Issues threats, Put downs, either publicly or privately by attacking one’s intelligence, looks, mental health or capabilities. Constantly comparing you unfavourably with others. Blames you for all the problems in the relationship, and for the times they are out of control or violent. Whilst for Child Abuse some red flags to look out for in cases of physical abuse, questionable, recurring bruises or fractures, bite marks. For Neglect, persistent hunger, stealing or hoarding of food, abrupt, dramatic weight change, persistent poor hygiene, excessive school absences. For Sexual Abuse, age-inappropriate knowledge of sexual behaviour, unexplained fear of a person or place, unexplained itching, pain, bruising or bleeding in the genital area, venereal disease, frequent urinary or yeast infections.

Did you always know you would end up a crusader for women and children’s rights?
I have always believed public service, and public administration is one of the greatest vehicles for addressing inequality, justice and sustainable development. This is why I never take for granted the opportunity given to me to serve and make an impact.

What would you say have been your greatest achievements so far heading the DSVRT?
DSVRT was set up four years ago as the first of its kind in Nigeria. The fact that the Federal Capital Territory has replicated the DSVRT model and eight more states are toeing the same path, is proof that we are on the right track to providing a sustainable solution to a problem that has spanned decades or I dare say centuries in our country. This for me is our greatest achievement so far, seeing the success attained being replicated across the country and one day hopefully the multiplier effect spans across every part of Nigeria.

Have there been any experience(s) that made you want to give up?
When we first started, there was a lot of resistance by the society, and sometimes even from survivors themselves who are being pressured to drop a case(s). The fact that we were up against a cultural and mindset obstacle was initially frustrating and draining, however, it helped us redefine our approach and that has even taken us to dimensions we had not conceived when we initially started.



Credit: Guardian Woman

The 2018 report of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team of the Ministry of Justice, Lagos State, has shown a 134 per cent increase in cases of rape, defilement and domestic violence handled by the agency compared to the previous year.

The report indicated that DSVRT handled 2,356 cases in 2018 – 1,312 higher than 1,044 cases treated in the preceding year. In the year under review, the agency recorded 1,750 domestic violence cases, 279 child abuse cases, 78 defilement cases, 44 cases of rape, 51 attempted rape cases and 154 other cases.

While the number of domestic violence cases increased by 817, the incidence of child abuse and defilement rose by 251 and 37 respectively. Rape cases was 24 higher compared to the 2017 report.

According to the 2018 statistics, the office on the average received 166 new cases monthly and got 840 genuine reports via the 6820 emergency short  code.

The report stated, “The team recorded a major increase in the number of cases handled in 2018. A total number of 2,356 cases, including 1,750 domestic violence cases, 279 child abuse cases, 78 defilement cases, 44 rape cases, 51 attempted rape cases and 154 other cases were handled. It was discovered that the number of cases increased by 134 per cent in the year 2018.

“DSVRT has responded to 439 reports of domestic violence, 215 reports of sexual abuse and 186 reports of child abuse – all reported via the 6820 platform. What is most exciting about the platform is that it breaks the initial barrier of people not wanting to make formal reports at an office or police station. We are now able to interact directly with survivors and concerned witnesses and take vital steps in dealing with a case.”

The report  added  that DSVRT focused on children who experienced violence  at  the hands of close relations, noting that a total number of 2,646 children were exposed to domestic violence within the home. Some of the children were said to have been taken through counselling programmes to ensure  that their experiences  did not have permanent and negative impacts on them.

The report said, “From January 2018 to December 2018, the attention of DSVRT was drawn to incidents of child abuse in 19 schools. All the erring schools are under investigation by the Office of Education Quality Assurance in the Ministry of Education. All the defilement cases have been taken to court.”

Credit: LIB

Of the number, Alimosho Local Government Area has the highest number which was not diclosed.

Mrs Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, the Coordinator of the DSVRT, disclosed this on Thursday, October 18, 2018, at Roundtable with NGOs organised by the
European Union-sponsored Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme.

She said:

“The number of reports from the *6820# platform from July to September were 667.

“There were 179 domestic violence reports, 201 sexual abuse reports, 143 reports on child abuse and 144 actual cases.

“The local government area with the highest reports is Alimosho followed by Kosofe, Ikorodu and Ikeja.

“From July to September, the DSVRT attended to 442 clients, 41 of whom were male and 401 female.

“The statistics of the ages of the clients from zero to 17 years was 27; clients of ages 18 to 45 years were 378 and ages 46 years and
above were 37.”

Vivour-Adeniyi noted that the purpose of the roundtable with the NGOs was to create a synergy between the organisations and the
DSVRT in fighting gender-based violence.

“We need a forum to share our successes and challenges as well create a centralised database of NGOs,” she said.

Also speaking, Mrs Jibola Ijimakin, the Coordinator of ROLAC, highlighted the purpose of the organisation which is to implement
the work of the justice sector in Nigeria.

“This is to be done in collaboration with key Nigerian institutions and partners. The purpose of ROLAC is to enhance good governance in Nigeria.

“This is to be done by contributing to the strengthening of the rule of law and curbing corruption, reducing impunity and improving
access to justice for women, children and persons with disabilities,”
 she said.

Ijimakin noted that ROLAC conducted an assessment of the implementation of the Domestic Law in Lagos in June and realised it had
low level of partnerships with NGOs.

She added that the meeting was to bridge the gap between ROLAC and the NGOs.

“The assessment was to note the priority areas the ROLAC should support.

“One of the key findings was that we needed to have more collaboration with NGOs beyond the DSVRT to share information with
NGOs about what we are doing,” she said.

In her address of welcome, Mrs Biola Oseni, the Director of the Directorate of Citizens’ Rights, said the roundtable  was to highlight the importance of NGOs in tackling the scourge of domestic violence in Lagos State.

“In its response to Sexual and Gender Based Violence, DSVRT has taken cognisance of the fact that the NGOs are the first port of call
for most survivors due to its mien.

“We are therefore not oblivious of the roles NGOs and Civil Society Organisations play in addressing issues of domestic violence
in Lagos State and indeed Nigeria.”

Oseni said the Lagos State Government intended to create a directory of NGOs that respond to Gender-Based Violence.

It is our earnest desire that after this roundtable there would be an improvement in synergy between NGOs and DSVRT.

“We hope to also create a directory of NGOs that provides Gender-Based Violence Responses in the state,” she said.

Credit: pulse.ng

Olubunmi Ajai (Jopa’s daughter), is a campaigner against domestic violence (DV), she also fights for the emancipation of women from the shackles placed on them by harmful cultures and traditions.

She is a blogger, Influencer and founder of GREENLANDS HAVEN FOUNDATION, a NGO that helps victims of domestic violence with emergency shelter and financial empowerment in the form of loans, grants and skills acquisition.

A former Domestic violence victim herself, she uses her experiences to teach other victims that they have the strength to leave the abuse and live fulfilling lives through her campaigns on social media, using the hashtag #LeaveTolive, which has now become a movement. Olubunmi  is also an author and amazing mom .

She shares her journey with Esther Ijewere  in this exclusive interview .

Childhood Influence

My childhood did not prepare me for my advocacy. I grew up in a happy home. My father and mother were happily married till my mother died on her 46th birthday. I did not grow up knowing about Domestic Violence in anyway as my father respected my mother and my mother reciprocated the respect. I grew up in a sheltered home, what you would call an ‘ajebutter’ home.

My parents came to England in the early 70s to school and left me and my two younger sisters, Yemisi and Seun, to be with our maternal grandma. Before then, we had been living in my paternal grandfather, Papa Idunmota’s house and I grew up with a lot of family around din those first few years. Then, when my parents came to England, we moved to Maami’s at Surulere where it was just us three, Mammi and our step grandfather, Papa Macauley, Herbert Macualey’s son. That was such an idyllic time of my life.

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Most people who grew up with their grandparents will attest to this – grandparents spoil their grandchildren! I had an idyllic childhood but when my parents came back in the late 70s, I was brought up in a stricter environment. My mother was the shouter and beater while my dad was the quite disciplinarian.

Read Also: Before You Judge Another Single Mom

Inspiration Behind Greenlands Haven Foundation

I actually did not set out to do advocacy in DV. My initial NGO was set up to help indigent Cancer sufferers with their medical bills but it was difficult setting up a pool of fund. What I then started doing was to do fundraising here in England for charities that has to do with Cancer treatment.

My DV advocacy was a spur of the moment action. Yet another DV victim had been killed in Nigeria and it was trending on social media. I got tired of the talking and no action. From my experience, I knew that one of the factors that makes victims stay on is that they have nowhere to go.

A lot of families will not take back their abused children as it is  ignominy for the victims, usually women to come back home. For example, the Yoruba concept of ‘dalemosu’ – meaning someone who has lived with a husband and comes back home is highly discouraged. So, with the help of my Facebook friends, we raised N1m in one week and with that, we rented a flat at Ajah to be our first shelter. We then went on to have other shelters in Ibadan, PH, Abuja, Iju and Sur-lere.

We also tackled another thing that shackles victims – finances. A lot of victims, usually women are financially independent on their abusive husbands. It is pertinent to state here that abuse is not gender specific. A man may also be abused by his wife but our society discourages men from speaking out so, we have very few cases of men reporting that they are abused. The abusive husbands would have initially told the victim to not work or even barred her from working. In some cases where the woman works, some abusive husbands insist on being the custodian and spender of the woman’s money.

To eradicate this financial dependency, we gave loans and grants for business set up. We also trained victims for free in things like sewing, make up artistry and set them up by buying them sewing machines and make up kits. We now hope to set up a formal skills acquisition centre in Lagos where various skills can be learnt.

 Being A Domestic Violence Survivor And Advocate

I really cannot remember the exact moment that I decided to start speaking out about my DV experience. I evolved. When I left my ex, I did some soul searching and realized that I was responsible for some things that happened to me. One of which was that I was responsible for having accepted the abuse. I resolved to never be a victim again and to be the kind of woman that a man would not be able to abuse.

Read Also: I Was Sexually Abused By My Uncle From Age 7

Part of that involves being assertive. I have evolved over the years from being a timid woman who accepted abuse by all, not just her partner but also her friends to being an assertive woman who gives all in a relationship and walks away when that is not reciprocated by the other person in the relationship.

Olubunmi Ajai
Olubunmi Ajai

What And Who Inspire Me

Jane Tomlinson. She was a cancer patient who had been given the death sentence of having just a few weeks to live. She defied the odd and in the few years that she lived after that sentence, she did herculean tasks that healthy people could not do, to raise money for cancer related projects.

Oprah Winfrey. For her humanist approach to life.

Creating The #LeaveToLive Movement And Identifying With The Plight Of Victims

Ah… I have had to sort of caution myself as I became so invested emotionally in what these victims were going through. More often than not, the victims stay on after I and my team would have put things in place to help them so, I now, I try to rein my emotions in. I get a huge feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment when I help or hear that a DV victim have left their abuser. My advocacy is actually not totally altruistic as I do get a sense of pleasure and fulfilment in knowing that I have been instrumental in a DV victim leaving to live.

Greatest Reward

I have not yet gotten my greatest reward. My greatest reward would be that when I die, it would not just be my family and friends that would miss me. I want to be like Dorcas of the Bible. When I die and the whole world feels my absence, that would be my greatest reward.

Culture As A Challenge

Our culture. That is the greatest challenge that I have. Our Patriarchal culture. Timidity is also another challenge that I have. A lot of victims don’t know that they have the strength to get up and leave the abuse in order to live a great life. And of course, funding.

Where I See My Organisation In Five Years

I have registered a company limited by guarantee here in the UK. It is a kind of charity. In five years, I see myself being involved in anti DV activities here in Britain and in Nigeria. I see the NGO having a permanent structure for the skills acquisition.

I see the NGO being an employer of labour and a source of labour for these victims and also helping them to be employers of labour too. I see the British charity and the Nigerian NGO working hand in hand with each other to bring financial independence to DV victims.

Read Also: 15 Signs You Are I An Abusive Relationship

Social Media As a Domestic Violence Awareness Tool And The Role Of Government 

I am glad that with social media, a lot of awareness has been created but there is still a long way to go. A lot of victims don’t have access to SM and don’t have the awareness of DV issues. I want to do a documentary series to be aired on TV in Nigeria showing real life victims like me who have left the abuse and gone on to have great lives. CULTURE still shackles victims.

The government, through it’s various commissioners of women’s affairs and of culture need to embark on a sensitization project to sensitize members of the Nigerian society about the dangers of living with an abusive partner. The government also needs to provide emergency shelters for victims such as the one that the British government provided for me when I fled.

Grants should also be made available to victims to enable them be independent financially. Victims, especially female victims also need to know their rights. A lot of women don’t know that it is only the courts that can grant custody, that custody is not automatically given to the man, and that the child’s best interest is what the court looks at. A lot of women are terrified of losing their children and thus stay on in the abuse for the sake of the children

Skills Acquisition Centre And Other Projects

Like I said, I want to set up a skills acquisition centre, starting with Lagos, and then spreading to other states in Nigeria. I also want to work with the social services here in England to  help DV victims, especially those of ethnic minority origins.

Giving up, never an option

No. Never. I do feel overwhelmed and wish I could do more than I am currently able to do but I have never felt like giving up. Infact, answering this question is the first time that I will be thinking of that as it has never even occurred to me. Like the singer sang, ‘we’ve only just begun’

Inspiration behind my book “Leaving to Live”

The book is called ‘Leaving to live’ and it is about how I left my life of abuse and went on to live a full live. It is a memoir and it serves two purposes. 1- that is to let people in abusive situations or even any sad situation know that they possess the strength to change their situation. If I can do it, so can they. The other purpose is to raise funding for my project – the setting up of the skills acquisition centre. The book is a honest account of my life with my ex, accepting my faults, working on them and how I then turned around my life by changing my behaviour to be able to earn respect ad find love and joy again.

Being a Woman of Rubies

I am not one for blowing my own trumpet so, I would like to leave that to the reader to decide if I am worthy to be called a Woman of Rubies or not.

Final Word For Women Who Are Presently Going Through DV But Are Afraid To Break Free and Speak Up

Please know that you have the strength to get up and go. Don’t give any excuses. Don’t stay for the kids. You deserve to be happy. Your kids deserve to be in a happy environment. If your enemy died of the abuse, your kids might be shunted around or abused. Stay alive for your kids. Stay alive for you. You can do it. Leave to live.

On the March 19, 2017, the Cece Yara Foundation officially opened its new, ultramodern state of the art Child Advocacy Centre at No 2A Akin Ogunmade Street Gbagada phase 2.

The event opened with a short press conference, where its Founder/Director Bola Tinubu, Assistant Director Grace Keteve, and Lola Vivour Adeniyi, Coordinator of the Domestic & Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) spoke about the foundation and its achievements thus far.

The press conference and brief address to various dignitaries and guests was followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony headed by the Director of Education Lagos State, Kehinde Azume, representing the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, the wife of the Minister of Works and Power Abimbola Fashola, Senator Oluremi Tinubu ably represented by the Commissioner of Police Fatai Owoseni, Acting head of service, Adesoye Folasade, and the Director Office of the Public defence Olubukola Rotimi.

The dignitaries, guests, and media personnel were given a tour of the state of art facility, and introduced to the in house team that handles the incoming cases to the centre. Facilities within the centre include:

  • A private calming room furnished with toys, games, and other age appropriate furniture where the children can play.
  • A forensic interview room is available where the child can make disclosures without the fear of being heard by their parents.
  • An observation room where the children in the forensic interview room can be closely monitored and observed by the parents, trained counsellors, police,  psychologist and medical experts behind the one way mirrors.
  • A medical examination room where preliminary tests can be carried out to verify the claim of abuse.

Built to effectively accommodate children and adolescents, the centre will cater to the physical, mental and psychological, needs of sexually abused children and also helping them and their families through the process of healing and rehabilitation.

The Cece Yara advocacy centre also offers legal advice and support to survivors and their families. Being a first of its kind in Nigeria, the centre provides a warm and child friendly environment where children can speak and express themselves freely in order for them to give as best a description of what transpired to their parents, counsellors and investigators.

The Cece Yara foundation and advocacy centre are a well thought out cause, aimed at especially catering to those in the grass root regions who do not have the ability to seek or get the help they need. The centre caters for the needs of children regardless of the age at which the abuse occurred, and also those who are adults now and were abused as children and are seeking counselling.

“The growing number of child sexual abuse in Nigeria is alarming and that is the reason why the Cece Yara Foundation was established. We assist in the investigative process of cases brought to us and promise complete confidentiality,” Bola Tinubu said.

See photos below:

Bola Tinubu

Bola Tinubu (M), Lola Vivour Adeniyi (R), and Grace Keteve (L)

Lagos Police Commissioner Fatai Owoseni and Bola Tinubu