(Inspired by a true life story [DVRCV])
I am one of those lucky ladies who have taken a trip tol hell but was able to trace my way back. My journey to hell and back began accurately Ten years four months ago. I met Kenny on my way to pick my kid sister from school some months after I had graduated from school awaiting the regular Nigerian routine of One year Service after school.
He was so cute that i couldn’t resist, he had me hook, line and sinker, a real charmer. He was a rebel, and life became fast and exciting as I fell for the temptation of moving in with him. Parties, dancing, drinking and then more drinking. Invariably we begin couples, enviable ones at that.
And then soon after the real drama started although I didn’t saw it coming. One day, we went out with some of his old school mates and he had been drinking all day, and then his old girlfriend arrived. I was upset because she sat on his knee and he comfortably kissed her right in front of me with no remorse. So I went to sit in the car. He came bellowing over, so I locked the door. He put his fist through the passenger window then dragged me through it. After receiving a punch in the head, one of his friends drove me home.
At home I tended to my sore head, scrapes and bruises, but what hurt most was that it happened at all. The next day when he arrived at the flat he was full of remorse – things would be different, he wouldn’t drink and he would never hurt me again. This is one regular traits of abusive relationships, Promises that won’t last.
I believed him; things did improve for a while. Soon I discovered I was pregnant, he seemed over the moon with the news. A few months later he came home drunk, and after arguing he punched me in the stomach. I ended up in hospital with a ruptured cyst on my ovary. The baby was all right. Returning home I gave him an ultimatum – his mates or me. He chose me.
However after our baby was born the drinking continued, and the abuse continued. Most times when i cook late or make some little mistakes he seizes the opportunity to hit me, he would squeeze my throat so hard until i was choking. I stayed, as I could not see a way out.
Brief times when he was sober, things seemed pleasant. My way of life became moving from one house to another with him, as people became aware of my situation (the domestic abuse), although I had learnt to hide the bruises and he was good at not leaving them where they could be seen. Over the years I took out several Intervention Orders on him, which I then dropped when he made his promises and sometimes, even, threats against me.
On our child’s birthday he received a gaol sentence of several months for drink driving and assault on a police officer. I still didn’t leave. During his time in gaol I visited often – he made more promises: no more drinking, no more abuse. When he left gaol, things were great for a while, and I hoped that his time in gaol had changed him. I got pregnant again, this time with twins.
When I was pregnant we moved again, this time to be closer to his family, as I was going to need help and support with twins on the way. This was a move I should never have made. His father also had a drinking problem; they were a bad influence on each other. During my pregnancy he abused me again and again. Another time I pulled a kitchen knife on him and he laughed, as he knew I would not use it, then he spat in my face. There were times when he was at the hotel with his parents, I would pray that someone would knock on my door and tell me he was dead, rather than face him coming home. I was trapped; the only people I knew were his family. I had no way out.
Once our new babies were born, things remained the same. I looked after the children; he went to the hotel or to smoke dope with a mate. Life was tough and often there was no for food. I stopped eating so what we had would go further. As long as he had his beer he didn’t care. He would complain when the babies cried and tell me `to shut them up or else.’ Every day I lived in fear, never knowing what his mood would be.
One day I left him to care for the twins, so I could collect our eldest child from daycare. I returned home to find one of the twins was cold and shaking, I was horrified. It turned out they had a dirty nappy and he had put them in the bath with a cold shower running, in the middle of winter. A few weeks later when collect one of the twins from her cot I found she had a blanket was over her, and a shirt was wrapped around her head and shoved in her mouth. Quickly I removed it and she gasped for breath. I was shocked and angry. How could he do this to his own child? I confronted him and rang his parents for help. When his parents arrived, his father was drunk, saying `it’s alright son, I know she’s bullshitting’. He swung a few punches at me, then left to go to his parents for the night.
I was distraught, frightened, and knew I had to protect my children. I found the phone book and looked under ‘Domestic Violence’ in the front. I got several phone numbers; I started with the first. The first few refuges I rang were full and asked if I could wait.
Finally I rang a non governmental organization here in Nigeria that I thought could take care of this kind of issue, and an elderly man answered; I don’t know how he understood me through my many sobs as I tried to tell my story. He said `not now, tell me when you get here, do you need help, how soon can you get here?’ my reply was` we are on our way.’ I grabbed my box of photo albums, a garbage bag of clothes for the children and myself, and took my dog, which had been a loyal friend for many years, and we left.
Driving early that morning, I was a little scared of the future, but not like I had been every day for the last five years. The eggshells I had been treading on were gone, my children could cry and I didn’t have to shush them. I was determined to turn my life around and I did.
Twenty months later, Kenny contacted me. He pleaded with me to believe that he had changed, he been to counseling, anger management and much more. He was real convincing – the old charm was back. I never agreed to give it a trial, but said that things would have to go slowly. I had this strong feeling he had not change and was right.
One weekend he was staying with us, he started drinking. We argued and I asked him to leave, he refused. I went to phone the police. He hit the phone out of my hands and pushed me to my knees. He put one hand around my throat and squeezed. I was able to break away and I ran out the front door. He caught up to me in the neighbour’s garden, pushed me to the ground and started punching and kicking me. I thought he was going to kill me. A female voice called out that she had called the police and he fled. I believe if it wasn’t for the intervention of a stranger, I’d not be here today!
He was charged to court but was released on bail. I am still disappointed in the legal system in most of our African country and the way the dish out sub- standard justice against Female folks.
Many victims of domestic abuse feel they lack the appropriate support to enable them to positively alter their situation, but having finally taken steps to free myself and my three children from repeated ongoing abuse I know it is possible.
My advice to others is don’t be afraid ask for help, even if you have to swallow your pride. Believe in yourself, don’t give up and use the chance to change your destiny, although it may seem difficult. Everyone has the right to live in dignity in their own home, free from fear of violence or harm. I have felt angry, mystified and somewhat jilted by the justice system, but I haven’t given up. I am still fighting.
Say No To Domestic Violence!