Meet the Dajus’ (all names have been changed to protect their privacy).
Larri – Husband Mary – Wife Larri Jr – 8 year old son
Rebecca – 2 month old daughter
The Dajus’ are my friends. I knew both Larri and Mary before they got married. Everything seemed fine in their marriage, so it surprised me when Mary disclosed the abuse she is suffering at home. She reached out to me because she wanted to tell her story, so we went straight to the point. I also had a chat with Larri and Larri Jr, in order to get a balanced account of the wars in the Dajus’ household. Here is Mary’s account.
When did the abuse start?
I can’t say exactly when the abuse began. I started seeing the scary side of Larri when I was pregnant with Larri Jr. He came home one day, and I was sleeping on the sofa. He slapped me on the leg, and asked why I was ruining his furniture. He screamed so hard in my face and told me that he would hit me if I slept on it again. The next time I saw him that angry was after Larri Jr was born. He was very angry because I couldn’t stop the baby from crying. He went into a rage and hit me across the face. From then on, things went downhill. He beat me at every opportunity. Even when I was pregnant with Rebecca, he punched me so much that I couldn’t go to work. I couldn’t put a point forward without him seeing it as rudeness. He verbally abused me and called me names in the presence of the children.
Did you tell anyone?
Initially I didn’t. I was ashamed. I later disclosed the abuse to my friend “Yanda”. We came from Nigeria together and we are like sisters. She immediately asked me: “What did you do to annoy him to that point?.” “Did you insult his mother?” “Did you cheat on him?” The same questions resonate every time I tell friends and some family members that Larri abuses me. I find it strange that they fathom that anything could justify the abuse. That hurts me more. They support me as much as they can, and they advise that I stop arguing with Larri for peace to reign. I’ve been told to hang in there for the sake of the children.
I also disclosed the abuse to my friend at work. She is English, and we usually see certain things differently. I was taken aback when her first questions were “did you ring the police?” “Do you realise that he has no right to abuse you?” The words ‘police’ and ‘right’ stood out to me. How on earth did she expect me to ring the police when Larri is not a criminal? More so, who told her that as an African wife I had the ‘right’ to challenge my husband? I expressed my dismay at her suggestions, and made a mental note never to discuss my issues with her again.
So how do you cope?
I’ve literally gone into isolation. Although I keep in touch with people, I have a part of me that no one sees. The frightened woman. That is the part that is abused by Larri. The part that cries at night. The part that isn’t emotionally strong enough to be the mother I ought to be. The part that is lonely in a world full of people. Last year I discovered Facebook, and got in touch with old school friends. It was nice until I shared my photograph on it. Many friends made comments about my “stressed” and “changed” looks. That did it! I basically shut down afterwards. It is now work – home – repeat.
Why are you still with him?
People ask why I don’t leave, why I’ve stayed in this situation for eight years. I don’t know. Maybe I am scared of being on my own. I have no money. I have isolated myself from my friends. I’m not telling my family anything anymore. There is pressure on me to remain married for the sake of the children, and to maintain family honour. Maybe it is the stigma associated with being single. I don’t know. All I know is that one day, I will wake up, pick up my children and leave.
Next is Larri’s account…