Nigerian Actor, Stephanie ‘Calabar Chic’ Isuma sits with Chude Jideonwo, host of #WithChude on a recent episode on the show to discuss how she was brutally raped at 14, kidnapped by herdsmen in 2018, with a 50 million naira ransom demand, getting diagnosed with a fibroid on a regular visit to the hospital and how has she survived a life with such trauma and pain.
“Comedy was a way of escape from my own realities, I had it really tough growing up. I have been running from my problems and at one point it became a point of healing. I do these things to make people laugh, and when people laugh it makes me happy and I laugh at myself. When I watch my videos, I crack up. I was just an upcoming actor; I had run away from Port Harcourt to Lagos. I started attending auditions and comedy just came. And that was the beginning of ‘Calabar Chic’. I didn’t name myself, ‘Calabar chic’, people named me that and I just decided to stick with it,” she shared with Chude.
Speaking about how she ran away from Port Harcourt to Lagos, “As a 14–year–old, I was sexually assaulted, brutalized, beaten, and a guy had his way with me. I was just a teenager. So, dealing with all that, I felt that this town had taken from me, coupled with the fact that I lost my friend, who was the only person I could confide in. I don’t have a biological sister, so that was like my sister, and she died because of domestic violence while I was in Port Harcourt. This time, I had just started my youth service. This was around 2013/2014. She was young, but she died at the hands of her husband. So, I felt that the town had really messed me up, then I ran to Lagos. My elder brother at the time was in Lagos. I stayed for a while, and then I went back to Port Harcourt. My parents kept calling me to come back because they felt I was doing nothing in Lagos. They wanted me to come back and get a job. I had never pictured myself working in an office or for anybody. I just love the creative space, and I just wanted to do something in that space. When they said to come back home, I had nowhere to go, no accommodation, I saw shege in Lagos. I slept in offices, on the tables. I would lay a cloth on the table and sleep on it. In the morning, I will leave the office so they can resume work. I said ‘all die na die, I go dey here this Lagos. I’m not going back, so I stayed.”
“While I was 14, people were speculating something was wrong with me mentally, while I was dealing with the trauma. I stopped school because I was angry, and I stabbed someone. I was so angry, angry to the point that I hated myself. I wanted to die. I attempted to kill myself one time and my mum walked in. She cried so much, and she begged me” she added. “I remember as a fourteen-year-old, when I wanted to take my life, I thought it would be better off just going away. At least my parents won’t have to suffer. I saw them suffering, but they held it together for my sake. So, I thought that the only thing I could have done at that time was to kill myself and then let them bury me so we could be done with this. Every time there’s nowhere to escape to, the only escape in my head is to take my life. But I don’t want to die, I want to be here.”
Speaking on her process to heal, she shared, “It’s really difficult talking about this, but I’m trying really hard to heal. If not for therapy, I’ll probably break down here. I always have my stress ball with me for days like this. So, therapy has helped me. I think until I started therapy, I always ran. It was my coping mechanism. When there’s a problem, I always want to run. When there’s nowhere to run to, I want to die. I would feel like, “Let’s just end it all and get over with this so that everyone is fine”. Like I say and tell God, ‘there’s a reason for me to be here’. I’m still here for a reason. I don’t even feel like I’ve achieved half of my purpose here. I mean, I’ve done a lot of things, but I feel like I’m still scratching the surface. This is because, time and time again, when I come close to taking my life, something stops me. It’s not even me most times, it’s from others who just call randomly or my mum just walks in on me. She never misses church for any reason, but on a particular day that she went to church, she came back because she said she wasn’t feeling too fine, and she found me.”
Watch the excerpt, here.