It was NE who summarized my thoughts in a few words. I didn’t even know that it was what I’d been thinking, but the minute he said it, it hit straight home. “In 2016, I don’t know what is going on, if it’s more publicity or more women speaking out but our men are cowardly and weak and they are seriously misbehaving”. I agreed. But it was while lying down and watching TV with Jaden Lee sitting on my head (he loves to sit on my head; he probably thinks it’s his personal stool. Lol) did it occur to me that this was a man stating the obvious. Not making excuses, not justifying what cannot be justified and standing with them in confused solidarity. Men like these are not many, I tell you. I should know, it’s the first topic of discussion with male folks these days.
When my marriage collapsed, that was when I realized that most women were suffering in silence. It was amazing how confident women became to share marital issues with me. It was strange. Now they can tell you the shocking truths about their marriage. Previously, when I complained, they’d tell me that all men were the same. I strongly disagreed; still do. Mind you, I did not say men were perfect but they were not all the same. There are good men and they are bad men. Wrong is wrong and right is right, simple! Then they would utter some vague words and unsolicited advice, majoring bordering on ‘bearing it’ and praying about it and telling you to work on yourself. I have little patience for that these days. I usually just shut it down firmly. I don’t have time for nonsense. No more. I took it for 2 years. But no more. Hug me instead if you have nothing useful to say.
The last time I took such utterances lightly was at Iponri Police station where I had gone to lay a complaint and ask for the arrest of Imoh. I remember the woman. Leaning lazily over the counter, she had this air of ‘I don’t care’ and threw condescending sideway looks at me while I complained to another officer behind the counter. I punctuated each complaint with tears. Imoh would have been shocked to see me cry. I never let him see me cry; I never gave him that satisfaction. I remained stoic through it all, defiant. I would break down and weep in the bathroom when he was done hitting me but never in front of him. It was not deliberate or a conscious action, I guess the essence of who I was refused to bow down to him or allow him break me. How he had hated that stoicism and dry eyes. Maybe I should have cried. Maybe that was my offence but I digress.
After a particularly lengthy pause in which I sobbed while my friend held my uncharacteristically quiet baby, she suddenly said, “My dear, better go back and beg your husband. Tell him to forgive you and forget. You are too young for divorce o. You don’t know what you are saying. Go back and beg my friend. All you young girls sef!” I looked at Omos and she looked at me. I asked “Am I also not too young to die?” “Na you know that one. Go and beg him. You will not die”. I was shocked. I was stunned. I was speechless. Me, a hyper, talkactive person just could not remember any sound. “Ehn? What? This is the reason men beat their wives! Is that what you’re telling me? You, a Police officer? How can you tell me that? For what?” I walked out of the station, shaking with anger and called the DPO.
Hmmmmm! Imoh had been right. He had said “if you like, go to the Police. I will deny everything. Is it not money? Is it not money that the Police want? Bring them. Go and call the police. All my friends beat their wives; it’s not a big deal. The wives know not to do stuff that will get them a beating. It is not a new thing. Stupid woman”. If the Police ask you to go beg an abusive man, then what help is there really? A police woman for that matter! Even as I write, I am still surprised. What was I expecting though? Compassion or sympathy? Did I expect them to swoop to the house and arrest him? Did I expect them to hug me and ask if I was okay? Should they have asked to see my bruises and injuries; old and new? What exactly did I expect them to do? In all honesty, I don’t know. I have never been beaten before now so I don’t know what I should have expected. I don’t know what I expected them to do but I sure did not expect them to ask me to go beg a man who had just beaten me till I passed out and continued hitting me as I laid on the floor, still and unmoving. A man who after I was revived by a friend brought a wire and wanted to flog me? The police asked me to go and beg him.
So yes! There’s a lot more publicity, thank God. There are a lot more women speaking out. A lot more people are involving themselves in issues like this, helping the woman and giving her a voice. In some cases, helping her find justice. For these, I am truly grateful. I am aware that a lot of women have died. I could have died actually. He told me he wanted to kill me; repeatedly and at different times! He’s squeezed my neck so hard I couldn’t breathe and had bruises round my neck. I thought I would when he shattered the glass window upstairs with my head and blood poured all over me and Jaden Lee whom I was carrying. He was just 4 months old then. He’d gotten angry that he’d been punching my head and that ‘it refused to break’. This my head! My head happily blocked and covered my precious infant son when it realised that some punches were falling on him too. Remembering Jaden’s screams and the blood all over him still brings tears to my eyes, even as I write this. Oh, my golden, precious boy, I am so sorry! But die, I did not. God knew the suffering that a motherless child passes through; I know because I am one. He loves Jaden Lee and I too much for that to happen.
I am aware that a lot of women are suffering same, not exactly sure who to contact or what to do. I didn’t either. You are not supposed to talk about these things. You are expected to stay silent; don’t let people know your business or what goes on in your home. You are expected to pray. A lot. A lot of women who chose to exit these bondages and have found life to be hard and unyielding. Some being asked, “na me say make your husband dey beat you?’ A lot, begging for sustenance for themselves and their children (in cases where the children were not taken away from them). Too many! Sadly, too many!
It happened to me! I married a monster and I thought he was a man.