I was scared. Why was I scared? I was scared to leave. Not because I was not tough but because I wasn’t prepared for whatever consequences I was going to face. People were always quick to judge me but most people will never understand your situation until they have experienced it too. I was asked so many questions like: “Why didn’t you leave?”
They would say things like: “If I were you, common slap sef would have made me quit that relationship!”
I laughed within me. It was a sad laughter. It was easy to say when you felt nothing for your abuser. What they didn’t know is that even love could make you soften up towards a beast. I have made up my mind several times that Raymond was not really a bad person. He was just going through some hard times and he didn’t know any other option of letting out his anger besides unleashing them on me through his fists and his words. He had spewed venomous words at me that had completely stripped me of my self-worth and made me feel lucky that he loved me. I was stupid, yes, but I was also helpless.
I could have a black eye every week and everytime I was asked, I would cook up some flimsy excuse like I hit my face against the wall. I was thankful that they couldn’t get to see the scars on my body because my clothes hid those well. I was in love with a man who derived pleasure from hitting me and I couldn’t leave him because I was financially handicapped. Who would take of my needs if I left Raymond? Who would cater for the needs of my child too if I fled. Other men might want to help me out but they would definitely want something in return and that would be sleeping with me and I was definitely not ready to start sleeping around to take care of my needs so I made up my mind that the devil you knew was better than the angel you knew nothing about.
What excuses did I not give for Raymond when my landlady discovered that he hits me. I gave excuses most women being domestically abused would give, like: “I was the one who angered him, if I had been a good girlfriend and had done everything he wanted me to do, he wouldn’t have hit me.”
I practically made myself believe that I deserved what was being done to me. After all, he is a man and a man is always the head of the family. I was too stubborn and Raymond was only looking out for me by trying to make me submissive so that I could be a better wife in the future. If I talked back at Raymond, I got a slap that could render me blind for seconds. If I refused to do what he asked me to do, he sucker-punched me. I once lost a tooth from the punch he gave me but thankfully, the tooth had come from the corner of my mouth which can hardly been seen.
He had cut me off from anyone who could have probably come to my rescue; my siblings, my friends and other acquaintances. He had made me delete my Facebook, WhatsApp and any social media with an excuse that those apps would corrupt me. I was pretty much alone and had no chance than to become a dependent slave to him. He had sex with me whenever he wanted to. He doesn’t listen to my complains about using a condom or not cumming inside of me. I had gotten pregnant for him four times and have aborted all.
I was his slave. He enslaved me emotionally, physically and psychologically. I cleaned his house, cooked his meals and gave in to his sexual demands even though I was sick. He brought different girls over to the house and I was made the house help. I would cry all day and night and sleep in the living room while I heard the other girls moan from the bedroom. I served the other girls breakfast, lunch and dinner then those who stayed over the weekend, I did their laundry. I did this all for love and I was made to dwell on the stupid like that when a man beats you, it means he loves you dearly and since he has beaten you during the course of dating him, it means he wouldn’t beat you when he marries you.
On the course of our three-year relationship, I fell pregnant again and had no choice than to keep the baby since the doctor had advised me against undergoing any form of abortion again. I was not being taken care of by Raymond, I was depressed and I was a complete emotional mess. Raymond would beat me up during my pregnancy then sweet talk me the next day into forgiving him. I realised that what made me stay glued to him was because I loved him. That senseless emotion which was oblivious to my pain made me keep enduring the bullshit Raymond put me through.
One evening, three weeks after I put to bed, I was breastfeeding when Raymond came back from work. He stared at me for a moment and refused to reply to my greeting. Suddenly, he bent, reached down and roughly pulled my nipple out of our son’s mouth. I was surprised and my baby began to make sounds of discomfort as he blindly searched for my breasts with one of his hands.
Swallowing hard, I guided my nipple back to my baby’s mouth but Raymond suddenly pushed the baby’s head and removed my nipple from his mouth again. This time, my baby burst into tears and began to wail.
“What’s wrong with you?!” I shot at Raymond.
“Drop that baby and let’s have sex.” He ordered and began to undo his belt.
I wanted to tell him that I was not in the mood but I knew that saying that would only earn me a beating so I opted to say the truth. “Raymond, the doctor said we shouldn’t have sex until I have fully recovered from child birth.” I told him.
“Why not?” He asked with a scowl.
“Have you forgotten that I had a vaginal tear during child birth? I’m still healing.” I answered with a pout.
“You must be mad!” He fired. “What’s my business if you had a tear?! Are you the first woman to ever go through child birth?! My friend if you do not stand up now, drop that baby and go into the bedroom, you’ll see the other side of me.” He threatened.
I ignored him and began to comfort my baby who won’t stop crying.
“I’m talking to you and you are still paying attention to the baby!” Raymond said then suddenly snatched my baby by the left foot, flung him into the opposite couch.
I screamed in horror. “Raymond!” My baby’s head was twisted in a kind of way and he kept crying and flailing his arms. I couldn’t believe that Raymond would treat his own child like this. If Raymond could treat a helpless baby like this, then we were not safe with him. Tears rolled down my eyes and as I tried to run to my baby, Raymond seized me by the throat and choked me.
“You are becoming disobedient, right!” He slapped me hard across the cheek twice! I could tell that he was furious. I started to apologize. I didn’t like seeing him get upset. “You stupid smelly cunt! You should be glad that I’m still keeping you because no man in his right senses will want you for a wife! Enter the room right now!” He shoved me towards the doorway of the bedroom. I staggered forward and turned to go back to my baby but this time, Raymond sucker-punched me which made me double over in agony. “Since it’s the baby that’s making you disrespect me, let’s see how you like this!” He grabbed my baby, and went to drop him on the ground outside the house. As I crawled and struggled with him to get to my baby, he kicked me in the head and quickly locked the door and there on the floor, he stripped me of my clothes and brutally raped me while I listened to the cries of my baby with the door between us.
When he was done, he unlocked the door, stepped outside, shifted the baby to the side with his foot then walked away. As I sat up, I gently carried my baby and sat down crying again as I wiped my nipple clean with my hand which had some dirt and sand particles on it since Raymond had raped me from the behind on the floor, squeezing my milk-filled breast against the floor. My baby soon quieted and began to suck again while I slipped my fingers between my thighs and saw blood. Raymond had caused my stitches to open and I had to go back to the hospital to get re-sewned.
Author’s Note: There are many women and few men battling domestic violence and they are scared to tell anyone because of what their abusers will do to them. Some girlfriends and wives may smile in the public but they are dying inside. Most of these victims have no means of being helped because their abusers have not only torn them away from the world but has also made them financially dependent on them so they have no means of getting out of the situation.
A few unfortunate women who were bold enough to leave their abusers were either maimed or killed. Some were doused with acid, some were set ablazed, some were beaten to death, some were pummeled, stabbed or shot to death when they even attempted to fight back or leave.
However, domestic violence does not only happen in Nigeria, it’s all over the world. What makes them prisoners to their abusers? Love, fear and despair. Most of you are quick to ask why didn’t they just leave? Some of you say it’s none of your business if the victim choses to stay instead of leave, but trust me, it’s not as easy as you think. Most abusers will beat up their women then start crying themselves then use the emotional-blackmailing words of “See what you made me do.” Some men actually grew up seeing their fathers hit their mothers and they now believe that’s the only way to show manly dominance and to correct a woman and as they practice it, they see nothing absolutely wrong with their actions till they end up in jail for killing their partners.
Some pastors tell women to go and pray and endure instead of helping them out. Help a woman today instead of judging her and calling her weak and stupidly in love, some women do not have the strength or means to fight their abusers. Support her and help her leave that abusive relationship or marriage before it’s too late. Remember it’s better to live for your kids or yourself away from your abuser or die because you keep making them an object of excuse to endure domestic violence that might eventually lead to your demise.
If you want to identify an abuser whether physically or emotionally,
1. He shuts you from the rest of the world including your family.
2. He doesn’t let you have friends or social media
3. He makes you quit your job or source of income so you depend financially on him.
4. He’s quick to call you degrading names and insults your family.
5. He’s overly jealous and possessive but says he’s just looking out for you.
6. He complains about everything you do and wants to change everything about you.
7. He doesn’t care about your feelings.
8. He measures you with his own standards and hardly gives in to your demands.
9. He makes you feel you are nothing without him and you should be lucky he’s dating you or married you.
10. He hits you. It progresses from verbal abuse to slaps, from slaps to choking or shaking, from that to beating and it gets worse and worse.
So ladies, if your fear for that person has surpasses your love for them, know that it’s time to get liberated and leave.
For those who wish to share their stories, you can hop in my dm… I’ll keep you anonymous.
© Angela Okoduwa