Marriage should be a thing of joy and a dream come true for any single lady looking to settle down but mine was a Nightmare from day one. People asked why I stayed for ten years since the pain was as long as the marriage, all I did was give excuses for his monstrous cruelty.
Initially, I thought it was as a result of his Joblessness and I did everything within my capacity to help him secure a job. Luckily, he got a job paying better than mine. This never alleviated my pain but rather aggravated it. I was in the marriage praying for my life to be spared as each day passed. I made different attempts to quit the marriage but every move proved abortive. I was considering suicide at some point, but, the love for my children kept me on. My children were the reason all attempts to leave him failed because he was always abducting them each time I left and security agents would Not do anything since he is the father of the children. I will return to him after leaving; crawling and apologizing for leaving the house.
We were living in Ilesha then, on 24th March 2014, I left with my children and my credential after another round of severe beating. It started on the night of 23rd and while my pastor and his wife pleaded with him but he told them to take me away or else he will kill me overnight. My pastor hastily adhered to his advice and took me to their home. I slept there and in the morning I returned home because my children were with him. He continued with the beating and threatened to kill me. Fortunately for me, he got a call and left the house at that moment. I hurriedly packed my credentials, wore school uniforms for my children as if I was taking them to school. We took a bus and landed in Ibadan wearing bathroom slippers. I left all I ever worked for including landed property which he sold eventually.
I was able to secure a transfer from my office and he didn’t know where I and the children were. At work, I changed my name all in a bid to avoid being found by him. After a year he finally got to know where we were and he came looking for us. Afraid he would take the children away from me, I agreed to get back with him. I thought I would only have to endure him as a weekend husband since he worked out of town. Things turned for the worse, he came home one night threatening to kill me as usual. I had to hide somewhere within the compound, hoping he will get tired and go to bed. When he couldn’t find me, he started hitting the children against the wall and as he was about to throw the youngest off the balcony upstairs, my neighbors ran to our rescue and saved my two years old baby. The older two didn’t struggle with him because they were used to his abuse.
I found myself sleeping in police stations, uncompleted buildings, the frontage of locked shops at night while trying to escape from his beatings. On the 7th of January 2017, I left my house, after another round of beating with bruises all over my body.
A friend called to say “No pain No gain, if you want to stay alive you have to let go of these children”. I had to do something and so I decided to hide my children somewhere. I was wearing a hijab(headscarf) to cover my head and face so that he won’t spot me while I kept the children away from school for a term since he was using them as bait.
After a school term, I took them to boarding school; the youngest was only three years old then and it really broke my heart, but that was the only choice I had at the time. At that point, I was ready for war; I realized he was only leveraging on my weakness and timidity. One day, he came to my office and he asked for the children, I boldly asked him to sue me for keeping the children away from him. He went away and started begging.
I later went to court to file for divorce, a process that showed me how painful and slow the Nigerian judicial System could be. I later withdrew my children from the boarding school when I realized the coast was clear and I was strong enough to stand up to him.
In all of these I am sure someone would be wondering what my offenses were to deserve the beatings, let me list them:
When he wanted me to borrow money from my friends and colleagues and they declined.
When my salary was delayed for like a week
He must not knock the door twice before I opened or else according to him I was trying to hide a man
My phone must not ring for too long when he calls
When I didn’t wash his shoes because I stayed late at work
When I refused to give him the children’s school fees
I bought a car which he claimed, so whenever the car had issues and I dIdn’t have money to fix it, then, I must be ready for another round of beating; mind you I was not allowed to learn driving let alone driving the car.
When I refused to apply for the third bank loan because he could not account for the first two loans I obtained for him even though he earns more than I do; to mention but a few.
Finally, I got my self-esteem back and I realized life could be beautiful. It’s all in the past now, I do tell myself every time that I AM BOLD, STRONG AND BEAUTIFUL. I now strongly believe that I can go places if only I see myself doing so. My children and I are one big happy family. Trust me: I am loving my life. I have risen above my hurt and pain and gladly facing the future with boldness and determination.
Abuse stops when you say so and stand up for yourself. Stop excusing your abuser! Do not wait until one of you gets killed!
Adebisi Adetunji (C)