“You see when people think about abuse they think of physical, but abuse is not just physical it is emotional and psychological and that is what I have been experiencing during my marriage. As strange it might sound I prefer if he had hit me at least those wounds would have healed but with the mental and emotional scars, those don’t go away.”
She was poised as she spoke, not emotional. We had agreed to meet at a quiet location, suggested by her and even though we only connected via social media she wanted to speak to me in person. She is 29 and separated from her husband. They have one child.
“I just had to like suppress my feelings and detach myself from everything to get to survive. He never wanted what was best for me but for the sake of my child I stayed and tried to cope mentally,” she continued, her back arched as she looked into the distance.
I asked her what she meant by mental and emotional abuse.
“He tried to kill my self-esteem. If I put on something it is always ‘you don’t look good.’ Or if I go to the salon and he picks me up, he would be like: ‘Is best you didn’t do your hair, look how that thing look,’” she answered.
“And then, I know people do things differently, but he would always like telling me how to do housework. I never did it to suit him. I don’t know if it is because he is much older than me, but it is like he wanted to have a sense of control over me like if he was Dad.”
I asked her how things were before they were married.
“I had some horrible experiences prior to the marriage, but my mother liked him. I went to my mother and I told her I don’t love this guy and she said eventually you are going to grow to love him. A couple of weeks before the wedding I had called it off and my mother did not behave too nice when I told her, so we still got married,” she said with a shake of her head.
“Before we got married and we went out I would have to pay for my meal and one time we had a misunderstanding and he put me out of the car and drove away. It is a good thing I had money to get home.
“Look, all the signs were there, the night before the wedding we were not even talking to each other. Imagine at the rehearsal, three times the guy who was practicing us forgot to tell us to walk up the aisle, that probably was a sign.
“Let me tell you, a marriage is over long before a person moves out. A person doesn’t just one day pick up and move out.”
I asked her if she loved her husband.
“I never loved him as a husband, but I loved him as a person. Maybe I would have loved him if he had treated me better. We got married in less than a year after we met, but it was like after we got engaged that it all started,” she said.
And if they needed more evidence that they should have not gone ahead with the marriage, she said, it came from the pastor who counselled them.
“Even the pastor who counselled us refused to do the marriage, he sent another pastor because he advised us not to get married,” she shared.
“And after we got married I was not working and he controlled me. I could not buy anything unless he said so. At one time when I was pregnant he lived overseas and if we get a misunderstanding he would say apologise or I would not send any money for you that is how he had me.
“When he came back, we lived together, and I moved out a few times, but I would return. The last time he put me out. He called my mother and told her to come and get us before the weekend and he actually did me a favour because I wanted out. He asked me to come back several times, but I said this is it. That marriage was hell.
“I remember one time I was thinking about killing myself and I said to myself ‘you need to get out of this marriage.’ At that very moment my son came and put his hands on my neck and kissed me and the thoughts of suicide just went.
“I have seen happy couples and I still believe in marriage, but I am not going back to that marriage, this is it. One time my mother told me to go back and I asked her if she wanted me to die and she did not answer.
“After I was not going back he started to get aggressive and he somehow knew my every move and he would call my mother and send me texts. Right now, he is not contacting me because I got people involved even the police, but he is walking and telling people all kinds of things about me, but I don’t care.
“We share custody of our child and we only talk in relation to our child no other conversation. I don’t want to keep my child away from him… I don’t ask him for anything for the child and he gives nothing. I stand all the expense when it comes to our child.
“We went to counselling several times with different pastors but he did not want to change, there was no happiness there.”
She appears to be strong and over the marriage. She did not come across as an angry woman and is open to being married again. I asked her what she wanted to say to other women and why she chose to speak to me.
“Well, if my story can help one woman to leave an abusive relationship then I want to speak,” she answered.
“And women if you are in an abusive relationship be it physical, financial, emotional or mental there is always a way out. It will be hard but make up your mind and the key is to never give up mentally. You can give up physically sometimes, you know, like get some rest and so on. But once you give up mentally then you will lose. And never stop looking for avenues to elevate yourself,” she advised.
“I am much happier now, I would love to get married again but I would not be doing like I did the first one. I have to get to know the person.
“Sadly, there were no good times in my marriage, I am moving on,” she said and signalled the end of our conversation by checking her wristwatch.
It was time for her to return to work and we parted with a tight hug.