Siju Yusuf


‘I like you’ He said as he pressed his lips against hers so swiftly as if to meet a timeline.

The slap that followed the unsolicited ‘lip pressing’ was even swifter.
‘How dare you?’ She asked in a tone so lethal, one would think the soft spoken naive girl had just been possessed by the forces of darkness.
Her eyes narrowed with disgust as she clenched her fist tightly in a bid to restrain herself from further physical expression.
She would never have thought she was capable of defending herself with an assault so publicly.
How could she have known he would harass her this way?
She’s just a fresher at the university and her friends brother was supposed to help her settle in while he concludes his extra year.
She has just been reduced to her body or was it her lips? She has been defiled. Violated. Molested.
Isn’t this rape? Only without penetration?
Oh God, why her?
Why anyone? What did she do wrong?
She has been scarred. That girl too. Oh the boy. And the other one. On and on.
Rape victims, they are scarred. Emotionally, physically.
You do not pray to be violated. How can anyone make light of such an occurrence. An evil act that is forever etched in the memory of the victims.
Silence doesn’t mean consent! What is happening to morals and values? We deliberately flushed them down the drain?
Any non-consensual sexual acts or actions against a person either by physical force, coercion or abuse of authority is violation of rights and a clearly defined case of rape.
For the sake of emphasis, a person who is incapable of giving valid consent due to unconsciousness, age, intellectual disability and is engaged in the act, is being raped!
A person who therefore knowingly makes light of these actions is an enabler who aids and abets and whose punishment should be as severe as the perpetrators. Or what other intents does an enabler have?
Many organizations are working tirelessly to reduce the statistics on rape reporting which as at today is a grossly dark figure of 91.6%. Actions of enablers, such as; stigmatizing victims, making jokes out of the act, silencing or encouraging victims to remain silent are reasons why the efforts of these organizations are perceptibly futile.
Individuals are joining walks to stop rape yet some other persons are belittling their efforts, perhaps, more interested in making it a parody.
Rape is not a joke!
Victims should not be stigmatized!
Victims should not be mocked!
Enabling is as evil as perpetrating!

Things are looking up, thankfully so.

Attention is being drawn to cliche… attitudes we erstwhile thought patriarchal though we know they are downright unacceptable.

I wish though that focal lenses would beam on coercive control, not only that, recognize it as a criminal offense and treat it as such.

We grew up in the same neighborhood oh, how sweet she was. She was that person that knew and called everyone by their middle names, generously dishing out mouthfuls of smiles as her eyes thinned from a kindness that wells from within.

”I think Lois has her number, I will check. But you will be in luck if she picks. She’s only allowed her phone at certain times during the day”

This was the response I got when I allowed my mind travel down memory lane and I felt that longing, the one that suggests I have missed her and I made attempts to reach out.

A frown burrowed. What does he mean by ‘allow’. That choice of word could have been considered more carefully I thought… too delicate to use that loosely.

Then I dug further, she’s also not ‘allowed’ to work. She’s mothering her kids (and her partner) round the clock.

Not too many people have her number, not when she’s constantly changing it. Oh! Stressful!

This, my friend is happening in 2019 and I ask myself, are we still so gullible to interpret deliberate isolation, deprivation of independence as love… at the worst, we have termed it obsession.

Brrrh! We surely should start calling a spade exactly what it is, A SPADE!

It is no longer news that domestic abuse is not always physical. When a persons independence is being sabotaged and threatened by their partners (as a result of previously deprived rights) that, is coercive control.

Such a relationship is hard to exit!

The call is to urgently appraise your situation to identify any trends as those (there are a lot more) above.

And, to raise awareness on the pressing need to not only treat coercive control as a criminal offense but to encourage survivors speak up for victims.

Credit: Siju Yusuf

One of academias most intractable problems is gender distribution and representation.

The number of accomplished women though appreciably increasing in recent year is a barb, compared to their male counterparts.

Even in religious circles, restrictions are enforced on the extent to which a woman ‘owns’ the space.

And the list is endless…

This discovery is not new, I am only jostled by recent research outcome on women participation in seminars.

Findings reveal that women ask the least questions.

This makes me wonder and think about the struggle against patriarchy.

A seminar is a for-all kind of participation except if there are specific dictates against it. Particularly in the academia where participants are not only learned, but also usually have strong arguments and opinions on issues.

I am forced to think, that as much as we favor patriarchy in discourses of gender relations and participation in various fields, perhaps, there is an innate disposition of a woman, to be less confrontational.

This line of thoughts amongst other more acclaimed arguments bordering on physical attributes, emotional relations etc sits to juxtapose all reasoning of gender equality.

As research evolves, new line of thoughts are provoked. Maybe the fight to adopt in this present time is the one for human rights.

Gender equality in all its complexities continues to unveil limitless dimensions.

While you are sweating it, trying to convince the unlettered, perhaps, your argument would hold more water if there’s a human right slant to it.

#Bloom is a hashtag my friend recently started using when discussing (with) women and I understand perfectly why she has become obsessed by the need to see the womenfolk flourish.

Yesterday, I was further steered into analyzing what exactly my friend is on about. I was watching a movie, of a flourishing woman, who would rather be relegated and have her partner take the limelight. She wished, prayed and acted. Consulted all sorts of people to make this happen.
Women deal with a lot of unhealthy emotions and now, thoughts. It is perfectly okay to wish well for others but do not, I repeat, DO NOT wish any less for/on yourself.
 ‘Love your neighbor AS yourself’- This was said with the expectation that you have loved yourself first and foremost.
Do you know the saying that the sky is big enough for all birds to soar? It’s literal meaning is not only in birds but also humans (notice how this is human and not gender specific?)
It beats me to see women lurking in the shadows or wanting to.
To you, woman;
You are created with enormous potential. Your powers are phenomenal. Your wisdom is unprecedented. You are not an after thought creation, you were created to fill a palpable, conspicuous void. You are created with a purpose.
Stop lurking in shadows. Stop taking the backseat when the best has been reserved for you. Love yourself!
Approve of yourself. Bloom woman, bloom!

A goal yet to be identified cannot be tracked. That said, the journey of keeping the eyes on the goal starts with identifying what the goal is. May I also add at this point that a goal only ruminated upon usually does not enjoy actuation. Write it down! Again I say, WRITE THE VISION DOWN!

The crux of this article is not on why you need to write the vision down, hence my not dwelling on it however, for the sake of emphasis, write your vision down, you can run faster when you see your template.

Keeping your eyes on the goal… First off, having identified your goal (s), how about identifying your priorities? One of the grounding forces of your success is the ability to identify what is expedient per time, more like, what is needful. A lot of businesses/endeavours with potentials have suffered demises simply because the anchor did not focus on priorities.

Distractions will always come. I do not only mean distractions in the capes of unimportant issues, I am talking about distractions in the sense of pertinent matters but that are not supposed for the present. Things that will propel you but are not supposed to be the focus at the time.

May I also call your attention to a form of distraction strikingly common when you are pressing towards a goal? Other people’s self-limiting beliefs. Now, I do not want you thinking all these people are evil and do not want you to be successful because, some are only operating on fear… fear of the unknown. They would rather you remain at the ‘familiar’ zone. However/Whatever is the basis for these projected beliefs, know that often times, people are projecting the struggles they have within. These struggles are not yours. They are the inadequacies and fears of these people. Again, IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS. Out of fear/love/hated/envy and so forth, people will try hard to distract you, convince you that your plans are too lofty, that your plans are not feasible. You can choose to listen or ignore in which case; the latter is ultimately workable when you have identified your goals.


Siju Yusuf is a relationship counsellor and writer whose articles have been featured in several online publications and websites. She currently works as a social media influencer and a contributor for several marriage and women based online magazines.

She is passionate to see people live out God’s plan for their relationships and marriages. Her debut book  Happily. Ever. After. Life, is a book on actualizing the fiery happily ever after life is targeted at unmarried partners and married couples.

She loves to listen and share real-life experiences with friends. She runs a blog where she typically shares her personal experiences in mundane every-day life, with the aim of identifying to her diverse audience and inspiring hope. She is married and blessed with a son.
In this interview Siju shares her passion and the reason why the increasing rate of divorce and bad marriages inspired her to write a book. In her words “I believe in relationships, I believe in marriages, I’m a big fan for love stories and happily ever afters”

Childhood Influence
I talked a lot as a child, I talked so much my parents said I would ask from time to time, ‘Am I talking too much?’ I guess my parents noticed the strength of a communicator in me and they encouraged me. They answered almost all the questions that I asked. They also invested in novels. I read a lot as a child and I remember writing a novel at 9 where I used big words like ‘Soliloquize’. I cannot remember in what context now. My friends thought it was too big to be relevant.
Also, I remember as a child, I loved giving people a sense of being, a sense of belonging. I seemed to always have the right words to cheer people on so even though I talked a lot, I also listened a lot, which are both key to what I do now.

Meet Me!
I am Siju Yusuf. A writer, a social media influencer and a passionate women health (psychology) activist. I have two masters degrees; one in human relations and the other in media and communication. I am an optimist and very passionate about drawing virtue even from mundane things. I am a wife and a mum, most importantly, I am a child of God. House flies are my greatest phobia (lol).
My Passion
I inspire. I speak. I write. I write on topical issues to influence rational thinking with the aim of inspiring a better people.

Why I wrote  “H.E.A.L”
Happily. Ever. After. Life, all about? In 2016, I woke up with a burden on my heart. There seemed to be so much divorce in the land and I knew the marriage institution was under heavy attack. Happily Ever After life is a book that marries real life experiences with the biblical illustration of marriage. It aims to help readers align, re-align to the intent of God concerning and also to wake up to the lies as postulated by the devil in this age. It’s available on amazon in ebook and paperback and a must have for every family especially newly weds.

Culture of reading as a challenge
The challenges are age-long. Interestingly because of my background, I tend to have majority of my audience from my home-country, Nigeria. The general belief is that Nigerian’s would rather watch than read. We prefer visual to textual. I am quite happy though that this is fast changing and more converts are arising. Writers are also finding new ways of interpreting graphics into texts.

 Quitting the banking sector for Media…
Interestingly, the move was not something I planned for. I knew it would happen, but not at the time it did. I was on my one year maternity leave when I returned to my first love (writing). It is safe to say many things happen when our minds are freer. I was on the phone to my life coach when she said ‘Siju, your maternity leave ends in a few months, why don’t you write something?’ I remember that night, when I ended the call, I wrote 19 full articles. It was as if I had been unleashed. After my leave. I tried to go back to banking (for the money) but obviously God has other plans.  I don’t regret it one bit. A lot has happened since then that would not have happened if I was still a banker. My life has been much more impactful. Purpose has been redefined and I am maximising potentials.

Other Projects & Activities
There is HUG Initiative. A non-profit organisation established to support people psychologically and materially.  I run a blog and also contribute on other blogs.

Greatest Reward
Thank you! The look of fulfilment and the gratitude in the words ‘Thank you’ is enough to push me to do more.

Where I see my brand in 5 years
I honestly cannot put into words the visualised 5 years. The vision is beyond me. The feat that I have achieved today is not something I would have thought of a few years ago. I know the vision is big and we are very prepared for whatever is ahead.

Not Giving up
Giving up is relative. I have felt dejected sometimes but never to give up. I am driven not by physical strength but by psychological awareness. I am quite aware about the strength of our minds. Whatever is cooked in that space channels the course of our actions therefore, I pay a lot of attention to what happens there.

Inspired by Purpose
The realization that I am supposed to live purposefully and to impact others. There are a lot of women I admire their strengths. Too many to mention.

What makes me a woman of Rubies
Crisp. My renewed mind.

Final words
My message for women most times stems from the obvious, the patriarchal nature of the world we live. Rather than fight this fact, rather than expend energy on unnecessary debates, let us renew our minds. The freedom women seek starts from their minds.

It was a women-only meeting, one of those organised by the women leader (usually the Head Pastor’s wife) to empower other women. 

The agenda on this occasion was to inspire attendees to be more. To unlock potentials and harness their strengths.

I cannot remember what led to this conversation or the question that followed. However, I remember quite vividly how this beautiful unassuming woman stood up to ask a question, the question that changed the course of the conversation for that day and opened my eyes to the reality of some other women.

I call it a question because even though she presented it factually, I ‘decided’ it should be for her, a question. It was the most dramatic statement I had heard by then.

She said and I quote ‘When we get to heaven, our husbands will ‘face’ God on our behalf. Men will give account for the women-folk because they are our heads.

Saying I was dumbfounded is putting it extremely mildly but as one of the major participants of the event, I painfully had to snap out of my reverie. I mean, how beautiful will it be to carelessly dump my failures on HIS head at the end of time, I may as well start now. It will indeed be convenient to say the reasons I haven’t met deadlines and delivered or accomplished to the measure of expectations is because of a man/my husband.

Where ever this woman got her idea from, I may never know and honestly,  it is irrelevant. The fact that she ‘lived’ (hopefully not anymore) with this idea carefully balanced in her head is what baffles me till date. I haven’t stopped wondering how many more women live with such ideas as this.

I may not even be as keen as talking about the end of time but I am so interested in how much influence, authority and rule we give men over us. Some ideas are as short changing as they are deadly.

To think we are not living up to the measure of our talents because ‘only men’ are expected to be talented is mind bugging. 

An able bodied woman refuses to add value to herself because she believes women do not need to. Only men do. How lazily ridiculous! What books are you reading? What companies do you keep? Where do you get your ideas?

Snap out of the day dreaming for one, it is a bad dream and two, you are designed to do more; be more.

You may not be looking at making history like Michelle Obama but you need to be an example to the generation coming after you. 

Stop shortchanging yourself with ridiculous excuses. 

Stop applying the bible out of context.

Stop letting in junk.

Guard your heart with all diligence.  These are the issues of life that we are talking about.

Whilst both men and women go through depression, it becomes a lot more amplified in women because of a number of reasons/causes. Below are some of them;

Changes in hormones. Onset of puberty may bring about these changes which in turn may be accompanied by other growing-up issues like identity crisis, parental conflicts, added responsibility to shoulder at tender ages while the male counterparts seem to yet enjoy blissful ignorance etcetera.

Menstruation also comes with its snag; anxiety and irritability for the larger percentage of women.

A study even shows that 3-8 percent of women suffer a particular kind of disorder-severe depression 1-2 weeks before their cycles (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. PMDD).

While some women may not have been diagnosed yet and some others do not know a disorder as this exists, it doesn’t assuage its presence or intensity.

Off the top of my head, I can count quite a number of women who would have to take some medication or even stay few days in the hospital during their cycles. This deals in no small ways with their mental health.

On a more personal note, I have lost count of how many times I have been in the middle of a conversation and I have had to drift into my own world mentally checking if my clothes are soiled or I could still take on one more hour of chatter.

Social Causes and the need or the pressure to live up to societal expectation is another huge cause of depression for women. The emotional built of women make them more likely to rehash negative events, worry over finances, worry over relationship issues, have a teetering work-life balance, loss of a loved one etcetera.

Where the male counterpart would be able to snooze or fall into a deep sleep in a matter of minutes, sometimes seconds, women  will naturally take longer. For some, until the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted, their minds will be in a state of unrest.

Pregnancy and the super dramatic way it’s hormones changes a woman’s erstwhile planned and packaged life is another huge reason.

So much happens in pregnancy or during the attempts at getting pregnant that I may not be able to adequately articulate in this write up. Take for instance the early pregnancy miscarriage scare or even the outright miscarriage.

Post partum depression is another cause. For some, no amount of preparation for the imminent change is enough. Some would experience crying spells and others would be angry or generally irritable. Aside the hormonal fluctuation side to Post partum blues, it can be as a result of birth complications, breast feeding problems etcetera.

It’s been said that depression is twice as likely to affect women than men.

The call is to look out for ourselves and our loved ones.

A bubbly spirit does not mean a happy spirit. It may actually be a cry for help.

Symptoms to watch out for include;

Loss of interest. This could be in new activities or even those that were formerly pleasurable.

Persistent feelings of exhaustion and tiredness. Goes hand in hand with loss of interest.

Forgetfulness. When that friend or you begin to ask the for the same details repeatedly, it is time to look inwards as their may be a greater problem.

Unhealthy sleep life. Sleeping too much or insomnia- the inability to sleep.

Unhealthy appetite. Too much or too little.

Irritability, worrying, absentmindedness.

And the final one, suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Whatever the stage or symptoms or the cause is, woman, know that you are not alone!

Taking your life may seem like a very good deal to you but take a minute to think over yourself, see the people whose lives may be ruined by your actions. Your action may just go on to cause a ripple effect. You succeed at the suicidal attempt, your loved ones fall into depression because of you, they then take the same route, and their loved ones and their loved ones and on it goes.

You see it doesn’t solve anything.

Speak up.

Accept an embrace.

Do not go into any shell.

Believe you are not alone

And together we will beat this!!

In my deliberate attempts to diffuse or maybe polarize my age long belief of the patriachical world set up and with so much evidences suggesting the world is in fact a patriarchy society and in some veins also not, the struggle to reach exactitude is becoming so real.

Is the world indeed ruled by ‘fathers’? Is this an issue facing predominantly the third world countries? Is this just an empty uproar of women particularly in the wake of ‘enthroning’ the king of the United States (Reference- winner of the 2016 presidential elections)? Perhaps, it is an excuse to laziness and a cowardly escape from responsibilities.

Whatever side of the divide we stick with, an unintended service to ourselves will be to think that women are without the brawn to take on these positions that are assumed ‘too much clout’ for the female gender.

The queen, oh the queen. The queen of England is indeed one of such. We really do not have to backdate or search in the archives to get worthy examples. Okonjo Iweala and Beyonce are classical examples of ‘King Women’ albeit in different fields and sphere of influence.

The questions therefore are

– what are the limitations?

– why is the ration of men to women in influential positions still so ridiculous?

– is the world indeed patriachical or it is zone informed?

Again, I think about positioning….

Still my thoughts.

Aside the many hormones in overdrive, these journeys are one of the toughest a woman goes on. A return is not guaranteed. Even if there’s a return, the bearer is never the same again. Physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and social changes are inevitable.
The desire to birth children, becloud us so much so that our gazes are on the price, largely never on the process. A price not guaranteed.
I write not as a ‘spoiler’ or ingrate, I write rawly, a broken woman who has been through these journeys, and who has also lost people on these journeys.
I maintain, pregnancy is underrated. Making and growing a child is not a picnic. No doubt, the making for some is breeze but the larger percentage of women agree the growing is not a child’s play.
A jumble of events in your erstwhile organized life…
13 IVF’s after and finally, there’s a bun in the oven. 6 months of taking extra precautions, 6 months of palpitating breaths, 6 long months of endless night watch and vigils, 6 months of indescribable feeling of anxiety and excitement- the bun gets burnt not because of the length of stay in the oven, but maybe temperature, or is it just nature?
And you say this is not exhausting?
5 years after, luck crawls at the door and there’s another faint line on the stick or ‘Clearblue’ is gracious enough to pop ‘3 weeks’ on its screen. The tortuous journey begins. 7 long months of nausea and vomiting, nosebleeds, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, restless leg syndrome, gestational diabetes, cervical incompetence etc and the wee one decides to make an unannounced entrance. Several attempts at pushing results to forceps but for some medical reasons, the child decides against the world, it wanders far away in dreamland. Let’s say preeclampsia or placenta previa. Whichever one tickles your fancy. The Mum-To-Be then decides to go in search of the wandering child and both wander into beyond.
Regardless of medical competence, provision and administration these journeys and its trophy are not guaranteed and that’s why there will never be zero mortality rate.
My heart goes out to every family that has burnt a bun, lost a love, or buried instead of make merry in these processes. We would do anything to stop these endings if we could but hey, ain’t we just mere mortals?
To those that have been there and back with their trophies; I know you got your scars to remind you of the ‘hell-a’ job you did. May I also congratulate you once again and remind you to remain forever thankful and not to spare a hug for your trophies.
TTC and anticipating; Hold on there will you? It’s not guaranteed but it does happen. So may you have it if you want it that badly.
Arghh, I shudder at the thought of the oven or is it the kitchen? I guess more like the Builder who in this case also designs the journey.