Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Oroque made me do it: DV and self agency

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 dayMyne 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 wonders at 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.

Thank you

23 comments:

  1. Hallo,

    Nice post. Just filled you questionnaire. You might wanna make it more catchy as I scrolled past it twice before I noticed it. That may be why people aren't seeing it.

    All the best with it!

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  2. The sad thing is that we can preach all we want BUT quite a lot of girls are so desperate to be married that domestic violence is tolerated.

    Girls make excuses for boyfriends because they dream of the 'big wedding'

    'Marriage' and 'wedding' are 2 different words...but, girls pour all their efforts into planning the perfect wedding day. If they consider the type of marriage they desire - they will put more effort into ensuring the man is good marriage material.

    BTW...I find it hard to believe a man can become an abuser overnight. In my experience, the signs are always there.

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  3. all the air just escaped my lungs...i almost wish you had one more example of this chilling scourge. i cannot believe how wide spread it is in 2011, when everyone has access to everything. i can however understand why anyone would be quite in the face of abuse...you want the life to continue but you want the pain to end. too sad.

    props to you ginger, for bringing life to my thoughts in this amazing post. i will look for the survey and participate. please paste the link on my blog. oroque

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  4. I feel bad for those kids that are being abused by proxy. I can't even imagine how messed up they could possibly be psychologically from all of that. smh

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  5. I agree with NIL,see ehn God forbid oh,I can yhur infidelities but please don't hit me,don't,it's one solution for me-DIVORCE.
    girls make excuses for their BFs coz of chin chin and sharwama and bum shorts and BB,they forget that a poor can even make yhu more happier with his attitude and mannerisms than a violent rich man,some women prefer to look like pumpkin sellers to please their husbands than stand up to their greatness and rights,it's a pity that they condone these barbaric attitudes instead of seeking for help,every woman needs an awareness on this issue oh,abrg
    I've filled yhur form.
    P.S please do check ut my blog,thank yhu.

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  6. yeaaa,real men beat eggs not women.

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  7. As much as its an uncomfortable truth, i'm with NIL on that.

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  8. If we women don't stand up for ourselves and get out of abusive unions, it will never stop. We need to empower ourselves and learn to defend one another.

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  9. This is just sad and NIL has said it all.

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  10. The survey take style long sha, but I filled it. Now this topic of domestic violence and rubbish-type marriages really vexes me. And this is what they are pressuring young women to enter? God help us all.

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  11. mehn i remember when I was younger and heard about these things. I used to have a list of things I would if I were the one. now I am older and I cannot truly tell you what I would do! I would probably spend most of the time in shock... trying to figure out how someone i loved and I thought was the best thing that happened to me could turn around and be a monster!

    All I can say is prayer - like my mum says, she has no one on this earth but God, me too I have no one but God. that is the only person I look up to and I pray he will help us make the right decision at the right time

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  12. as for the survery, feel free to put a linkw hen you comment. i hope it helps.x

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  13. My heart was just boiling one minute and breaking the next as I read your anecdotes. Chai!

    Now let me go answer your survey. I'll put a link on my next post too.

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  14. Please, can i ask- is it by force to be married??? even if there are kids, must you withstand physical and verbal abuse? Chai!! Please oh, i can't wait for the marriage to reach 10 years before everyone gets tired then stops. I'm out!!!

    Adiya
    http://museorigins.blogspot.com (formally The Corner Shop)
    http://museorigins.com

    P.S I actually started the survey but didn't finish and then forgot. I'll get to it kay

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  15. lol @ the real men beat eggs pic. Thats exactly what real men should be doing: helping out and not beating up their women. DV has always been in existence but it seems its even getting more violent and because of media these days, its easier to hear about it. I know people who have fallen victim and stuck it out like you mentioned. Most of them are our parents age mates. Its nowadays that people have started walking away from it. I don't even want to dwell too much on it cos its really depressing especially with the most recent DV turned murder of dear Titi. Truth be told though, women have to be empowered and we need to show men that that isn't the way.
    Btw, i've filled your form too...

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  16. Very sad... I still don't understand how a man can stand beating his wife - the woman you claim to love... It is well sha.

    But wait o... why do we always talk about one side of DV... aren't there women that domestically violate their men? Maybe not in terms of beating... u know? We should balance it when talking about issues like this one. thanks

    - LDP

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  17. Until our community stops stigmatising the women who leave abusive marriages, domestic violence will remain an issue in the Naija community for years to come. We need to stop being judgmental about the choices other people make for their own lives. The naija community is just too damn conservative, judgmental and inflexible for its own good. My two cents.

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  18. I think it's very important for any woman to leave an abusive situation. Staying "for the sake of the children" is doing your kids a dis-service. Children will learn that this kind of relationship is "normal" and it is not. Any man who wants to be with his woman constantly has control issues. Being married is not worth it. You can certainly be single and happy. Many people are. Never accept physical or mental abuse from anyone. There really is no excuse for it.

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  19. .....very insightful & interesting....it was a topic of discussion btw i & my friends & we came to the conclusion that SOME of the women are not financially independent....coupled with 'keeping status'...if not, believe me, MANY women would be single parents in Nigeria.....becox it does not worth the stress!

    I then asked; IF HAVING A CHILD OUTSIDE WEDLOCK & HAVING SEX OUTSIDE MARRIAGE WAS NOT A SIN AGAINST GOD, WOULD WOMEN BE INTERESTED TO MARRY AT ALL?? ..........NO! we agreed, one said, she noticed that single parents live longer than married women becox they are free from both husband & in-law troubles....how true, i don't know .....but it rings an element of truth.

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  20. Just read all the comments...9jamum ...*thumbs up*

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  21. Just wanna say: It's never right to beat a human being. Never right for a man to beat up his wife. I hope women get out of an abusive relationship--doesn't always happen because it's a rather complex psychological relationship between the abuser and the victim, but I do wish and hope and pray that abused women will find their way out.

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