Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has revealed that she was sexually assaulted at the age of 17 by a “powerful man in the media” who she has not named.
The writer, who has been a prominent supporter of the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct, shared her story in a speech at the Stockholm Forum for Gender Equality in Sweden:
“There was a powerful man in the media who I knew would help with this book launch, and so I found my way into his office in Lagos and I told him about my book. Would he please support the book? I asked. He was very impressed, he told me. While other teenagers were hardly reading at all, I was serious enough and focused enough to have written a book.
He was pleasant, avuncular, warm, and then he got up from his desk and walked around to where I was seated and stood behind me, and in a move that was as swift as it was shocking he slipped his hand under my button down shirt, under my bra and squeezed my breast. I was so taken aback that I did nothing for seconds. Then I pushed his hand away but gently, nicely, because I didn’t want to offend him.”
She described the loathing and anger she felt after the assault:
“Later that day I broke into a rash – on my chest, my neck, my face. As thought my body were recoiling. As though my body were saying what my lips had not said. I felt a deep loathing for that man and for what he did.
I felt as if I didn’t matter, as if my body existed merely as a thing to be done with as he wanted, yet I told no one about it and I kept talking to him, being polite, hoping he would help with my book.”
Reflecting on the effect the assault had had on her, she added that she had been a feminist “long before she knew what the word meant”.