Hi, my name is Doubra. I am a victim of domestic violence. I would like to share my survivor story simply because I want it to be an eye-opener for other women out there who may be going through the same experience. The truth is, I would never even wish an enemy to go through what I experienced all in the name of marriage.
I met my husband Adonye in 2010. We are both from the same state. We met at the naming ceremony of a friend’s baby. I am the only surviving child of my parents but he had 6 other siblings. He is also the last born and only male child. As at when we met, I was a secondary school teacher, while he was a civil servant.
Adonye wasn’t earning much when we first met but I chose to be with him amongst other eligible suitors because I felt he had a potential to be successful and also possessed some other qualities I wanted in a man. He seemed so gentle at first and not one given to domestic violence.
Unexpected pregnancy and forced marriage
Our marriage was kind of unplanned given the circumstances behind it. I had gotten pregnant for him and wouldn’t have an abortion so Adonye sent words to my people and my bride price was paid. My dilemma started when we began to live together. Things turned drastically after we got married. My husband began to show me a side of him I never knew before.
First, Adonye started controlling me in every way, including my finances. Suddenly, my dress sense didn’t seem to go down well with him. I now couldn’t go anywhere without his permission.
At that time, I was being paid 40k at the school where I taught. I told my husband that now that we were married, we would soon have more mouths to feed. based on this, I felt that I should get a better paying job but he didn’t approve. He insisted and asked me to stay put where I was for convenience.
The funny thing was that this husband of mine was helping friends, neighbours and some of his sisters secure well-paying jobs. Some were even at federal government establishments, yet he hindered me from advancing in my career just because he didn’t want me rising above him.
For peace sake, I adhered to his instructions while he continued to lord it over me. My meagre salary was what our home was being financed upon. Whenever my salary finished, he would refuse to bring out any money for feeding. When I asked what his money was for, it only got me beaten, so I learnt to keep quiet and endure.
At some point, I began to think that maybe I was cursed or my case was spiritual. How could my husband hate me so much that he would rather die than see me smile or succeed? Some neighbours even suggested I seek spiritual help which made me frequent different churches just so I could enjoy my marriage but the more I prayed and fasted, the more my problems grew.
At that point, I thought I was the problem. I believed that it was within my power to stop the domestic violence and victimisation.
Advised to stay on and endure
I couldn’t tell my parents what was going on in my marriage. They had warned me against befriending him but I had refused. I had told them he was my choice and they let me be. The few times I complained about my marriage to a neighbour or friend, I got the same advice. I was told to endure. I was advised that every marriage had its own ups and downs.
Some people told me that they were the ones financing their homes as well. I was told that marriages were like that and domestic violence was the general norm. A friend advised me to not listen to people telling me to abandon my home. She advised me that it was only for a while. That my husband would change with time. I was told that It was my duty as a good wife to weather the storm.
Second pregnancy and hell on earth!
Through this, I got pregnant with my second child. I could not go to work after a few months because the pregnancy was troubling. It was as if I saw hell and heaven during those times I stayed at home. I was at my husband’s mercy. I and my son could go a whole day without eating. Sometimes, it took the help of neighbours before we could get anything.
My child wore used clothing given to us by our church welfare department, I also got baby things for our unborn child from the welfare unit as well. At some point, my pastor intervened in the situation and called my husband to advise him. That was when I learnt in a bitter way that reporting Adonye was to my own detriment.
Not quite after the pastor left, my husband launched an attack on me. He started by slapping and yelling at me. Adonye said that I wanted to spoil his name. He began beating me despite my pleas with him to have mercy on my unborn child. Enraged, he said he was going to beat the baby out of me and he sure did. I had my first miscarriage that day.
Hospitalised from beating and miscarriage
Truly, I had never heard of domestic violence that was this bad. At that point, I was fed up as the beating was too much. I felt I deserved some happiness. Nowhere did I sign up to be a statistic in the data on domestic violence and spousal abuse.
Adonye beat me so much that I started to bleed. Even then, it took the intervention of the neighbours before I could be rushed to the hospital. That man sure was wickedness personified.
At the hospital, I kept telling our neighbours to call my parents, I didn’t want to go back to Adonye. Rather than help me, They begged me. They said that my husband was remorseful. They claimed that he had learnt his lesson and would no longer beat me.
I guess I believed them and went back. Actually, I really had nowhere to go. Additionally, my child was still too young for me to leave him behind. In my young mind, all I wanted was a reprieve. I was tired of being abused.
My dilemma, however, became worse. Asides being subjected to domestic violence by my husband, I was now being abused by my in-laws. They felt I was behaving discontented and that I was too demanding. I learnt to not complain to them about their brother’s behaviour.
One told me I was the one making their brother violent and hostile towards me as I was not well behaved. Being females, one would have thought that they would have some form of empathy and pity. I mean they could see how badly their brother was treating me. The form of life I was being subjected to was also quite glaring. But no, they even made matters worse anytime they interfered.
Domestic violence escalated
My husband would starve me and his son but could afford to offset his sisters’ bills. When they came to him for help, he never hesitated. While I borrowed and begged to feed, my husband spent his money on looking good. I dared not question his judgment for fear of being beaten. My poor self had become an object of pity in our ‘face me I face you’ compound.
I remember one day that he had a quarrel with a neighbour. That day, the neighbour rained insults on my husband and called him a useless man who couldn’t take care of his family. Rather than face the abusive neighbour, my husband attacked me. He said I was the one telling our neighbours that he had been maltreating me. That day, I got beaten black and blue until our landlord came to my rescue.
I wish I could look back and point to one good thing about my marriage to Adonye. Hell no! It was really hell on earth. Adonye’s brand of domestic violence was special. I still don’t know where I found the courage to stay for six horrible years.
Some nights, when everywhere was quiet, I would go kneel in front of my husband and begged him to forgive me. I asked him if I had done something to make him treat me so badly. All he did in response was shove me aside or yell at me to leave him alone. He said I was troubling him and threatened to beat me up unless I moved away.
I continued living this life until I took in again. Mind you, this was my third pregnancy after my first child. Two had been lost due to miscarriages from stress.
On learning that I was pregnant again, I cried all day and night. I knew I didn’t want to bring another child into such a hostile environment. My first child could now sense some things as well. I was also worried about if we were raising him right.
On the part of my husband, he couldn’t care less if I was pregnant or not. His response to such news was usually, “are you the first married woman to get pregnant”? He would ask “why are you bothering me?” with that I would be left on my own.
Neighbours became my angels, some would cook for me and my child. I kept getting used clothes from the church. Sometimes, I roasted corn or plantain to sell and add to my income.
Beaten to a stupor
One day in the seventh month of my pregnancy, my husband came home from work in a furious mood. He first started by attacking me verbally. He said someone had reported him to his superiors at work that he wasn’t taking care of his family. They added that he was maltreating his wife and kid. He automatically blamed me for this report.
Sincerely, I had no idea who reported him but he wouldn’t allow me to defend myself. He began to rain curses on me accompanied by slaps. Intermittently, He would ask me to tell him whom I had reported him to.
All through this, I was screaming and trying to get away from him. This infuriated him and he kept pouncing on me. I sustained serious injuries that day. It was the neighbours as usual that came to my rescue. They asked him to take me to the hospital but he refused.
I still don’t know how I got carried to a clinic till date, I must have passed out from losing so much blood. It dawned on me that I was on the verge of dying. At the clinic, the doctor said my PVC was dangerously low. I had trouble breathing and was diagnosed with hypertension. I was also diagnosed with pregnancy-induced haemorrhoids. They found traces of blood found in my poop. In all, the doctor’s verdict was that it would be a miracle for me to survive that week.
Enough was enough.
I begged those who took me there to call my mum. I still can’t forget my mum’s wails as she rushed into the clinic ward that day. She came thinking I was already dead. On seeing me half dead, she began to rain curses on Adonye. I still remember that scene, especially, the tears running down her face.
At that point, I could only move my eyes as I was too weak and strapped to the bed. I felt really bad for myself that day. How did I become this person, who had no self-recognition? I realised that I could have just died like that for nothing. This for me was the full circle of domestic violence. I finally realised that it was going to get better.
The domestic violence – the beating, the battering and verbal abuse was only going to get worse.
My mum took me and my son with her the moment I got better and that was the end of the marriage to date.
The monster I married was unbothered by all I went through and even went as far as bringing another woman to stay with him while I was hospitalized. I learnt this from neighbours who came visiting.
Separation and freedom
It has been almost two years now. I still have bruises to show for those times but I’m in a better place now. It’s even funny how I have two men vying for my consent to start a relationship. Things are beginning to make sense and fall back in shape.
My son attends a good school courtesy of a male cousin. He felt bad that the family abandoned me in my trying times. In truth, I was the one who never reached out to anyone in the bid to save my marriage.
Now, I feel so bad knowing there are lots of women out there going through similar situations. Just like I was, they could be thinking it would get better someday. I’m sorry to say that it never would. Perpetrators of domestic violence never stop.
People should stop advising victims of domestic violence to endure. That is the worst advice anyone can give to a fellow human. Don’t condone the violence, leave as soon as it starts. Domestic violence never stops! Please learn from my experience and flee.
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