The case of the murdering Mr. Arowolo, the stabbing Hausa woman, the Hon. Ambassador Wigwe has brought domestic violence to the forefront in the Nigerian media and on blogsville recently. I don’t have much to say about them - I have had my say on Mena - God bless her heart has been following the story like a bull dog with a bone, Till my dying day, Myne and Sisi Yemmie’s blogs - except to pray that justice prevails.
This post is a response to Simply Oroque’s blog about Domestic violence. He said,
“While everyone i know seems to remember a family friend or acquaintance or friend or cousin who used to be beaten by a spouse or lover, nobody has told me when the victim of the abuse ever walked out of the marriage or divorced the spouse. it always ends with, "she stuck it through for the sake of the kids", "she told her parents and they called him to order", "she prayed and fasted for him until he stopped much later". not once did i hear, 'and she moved out and filed for divorce”.
I wanted to respond on his blog but story too long.
Well Oroque, I do know one who moved out and filed for divorce in Lagos. A lovely Aunty friend whom we shall call Cherry.
She got married after a whirlwind romance and we all thought she had hit it big (she being in her late 30s and all). He lived in the States so his visits were irregularly regular; like 2 months on 2 months off. Something like that. The guy was all over her. Tall handsome hunk of a man. He had the body of a mid-weight boxer; actually he confirmed that boxing was a pastime of his in the States. He was all soft spoken; courteous and nice to all the neighbors. He was always with her. When he is in town, he comes loaded with suitcases of clothes for her, drives her to work and back and generally doesn’t let her out of his sight.
We thought it was love. In the house, Cheery was never far from the kitchen preparing delish meals. Pounded yam and fresh fish nsala etc. All that glitters was gold or so we thought.
2 years on, we had nicknamed them the golden couple, till one night about 1.20am, Aunty’s Jnr sister ran out of their flat and came banging on my sister’s door, Aunty help! help! He wants to kill my sister’ help’. Her cry woke us up and got us running out, the man in the flat upstairs too. Mr. wife beater got into his car and drove off. My sister took Cheery into our flat and as she comforted her, the stories came out; of how he used her as a punching bag. Taking her to work and back was just for surveillance purposes. ‘Why were you talking to this guy?’ slap. slap. beat. ‘Why did you smile at that man?’ beat. beat. ‘You dressed too provocatively today’ kick. kick. Most of the clothes he bought, he had also destroyed at some point in his rage.
You need to put this in perspective – my Aunty was 5’2. Maybe weighs about 135lbs -58 kg. He is 6’2. Maybe weighs about 190lbs. No, it was an unequal match.
That she took it all this time was amazing. and I don’t know how much longer she would have endured all that sh#t, but I thank God for her sister that came out running that night – honor be damned- and let the secret out. I think this gave her the freedom she needed to take a long hard look at her situation. Within the next 12 months she filed papers and they got divorced.
I heard he has since remarried, within months of the divorce actually (there are always girls). This time he and his new bride live in a detached bungalow.
I can’t help but think "All the better for beating you my dear, without neighbours poking in". Good luck to his new bride.
The next two stories are not about victims that moved out…but they sorta found their way around the abuser.
This is another neighbor. Her husband is a violent man. He doesn’t hide it. He shouts at everybody in his household and typically beats the boys who help him run his shops.
He also beat his wife. Stopped her from working cause while she was working, he was either beating her for ‘talking to other men’ or for what ‘she wore to work’ or for not ‘picking their son on time from school’ etc’. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the time he hit her when she was pregnant for the second kid. He beat her and kicked her in the stomach and poor girl got hospitalized. She didn’t lose the her life nor pregnancy, but the story finally got to her family. A meeting was called during which her father preached peace and she remained in her marital home..usual.
Now the story gets sweet; her hotheaded brothers could not take the story lying down. They organised their friends from school and one day waylaid our guy on his way home. They pummeled him thoroughly and warned him that the next time he touches their sister it’s the grave for him.
The legacy of that beating is the misshapen index finger on his right hand which did not heal properly. Why I am not ecstatic about her situation is that her victory was only in one aspect: The beatings. He hasnt beaten her again after that but he is now doubly abusive to her verbally. When he is having a tirade he refers to it ‘’you see what your brothers did to my finger?” “Evil woman”, “I don’t know why I married you” etc etc’.
Moreso, their home is still a tense one cause he lets out his steam on everybody else including his two kids whom he beats as a proxy knowing that hurts her very much. But, she is free of beatings.
My third story – In this instance, the husband used to beat her at the early part of the marriage
(she bears the scar of a wound from a pestle on her head). She finally got the gumption to fight back so he stopped. But there were other insidious forms of abuse – Verbal abuse. Social isolation. Loneliness.
Example 1 - After a typical quarrel, he gives her the silent treatment: One week, three weeks. She learnt to give back as good as she gets. In fact when he calls a truce she ignores him and gives him a day or two or week jara (extra).
Example 2 - He would lock up the gadgets in the house – TV, Cooker, stereo, Video. Fridge. She countered as much as she could. Bought other TV sets, other cookers. At a stage in their house there were two sets of everything.
Example 3 - Sometimes he deliberately refuses to contribute his quota to grocery buying. So she cooks only what’s in the house deliberately. If it’s only the bag of beans remaining, she cooks beans morning, afternoon and night till he is sick of it and sick of eating outside.
Example 4- And like the guy above, he also used the kids as a beating proxy. She countered by ignoring him and ‘his kids’ when the beating starts. Her notion was not to show she cared in other to ameliorate the beating they received. But this only caused him to be more cruel to the kids in other to get her attention.
Fifteen years on, he is finally tired and they have a better marriage. I mention this situation cause it is also different. The wife became an agent in her own deliverance from abuse. She didn’t leave but she didn’t take it lying down….without her counter agency things could have been worse.
But one wondersat the psychological toil it took on these kids. Was staying in the marriage really worth it? Can an abused partner ever truly forget those bad times? And for the kids, 15 years of their formative life was spent watching you and your husband/wife get your act together…do we really think that they will find it easy to re-adjust their concept of what marriage is about and the role of respective partners in an abusive marriage?
Sigh…all of a sudden I don’t even know how to conclude. What do you think?
P.S. Have you noticed the link below my picture on the sidebar which says – SICKLE CELL STUDY; HAVE YOUR SAY? Biko, Ejoo, I beg, Please, I really want to know your perception of sickle cell disorder. The survey is strictly for bloggers of Nigerian origin. It is anonymous - I don’t know who is saying what, so please feel free. Be candid with your commentary.
I am also officially taking permission to place the link on your blogs when I comment. If you too can help me spread the link/word, mucho appreciated. I need at least 400 participants. I am still on the 30 mark. Please help…
I know that some of you my blogfriends might be more sensitive to this topic than others and I'll understand if you won’t want to participate. On the other hand, your voice is very key in this study. Do give me/us a chance. At least look through the questions before you change your mind.