A friend of mine contacted me last week asking for information as how to obtain a divorce in Nigeria. I have not practiced in over 2 years but I dealt with a lot of divorce matters in my time. I was able to tell her what she needed and directed her to a lawyer. I was very curious but I knew I couldn’t ask. This young lady got married last year and just had a kid five weeks ago, so I was praying it was not for her. I forgot about it until yesterday when she contacted me again asking for more details, specifically grounds for divorce. At this point, I had to ask if she was ok. She replied that she was not. She then went into the sad but familiar story of domestic violence. Her husband had been using her as a punching bag for months now and she had endured it, according to her, for the sake of the pregnancy (which made little sense to me, because her being pregnant even puts her at more risk, but to each his own). She said one month after her caesarean, he beat her up again in the presence of his mother and she knew she could not deal with it any longer.
I asked her where she was and she said she was at her aunt’s home with the baby. Bewildered, I enquired why she was not with her parents and this was her response (I have her permission to quote her verbatim. I removed all my questions to her for easy reading)
Ayee, sometimes I think my head is not good (she said it in Yoruba. It is like a proverb to depict bad luck). My dad is just an animal. Since I was a child, I have seen him beat my mother continuously. kicking, punching, slapping in our presence. For him, a man should be allowed to discipline his wife. My mum was always having swollen eye or face all the time. He also beat up his other wife, but my mother suffered well. I think he finally stopped in my twenties. I had sworn that I will never ever ever end up with a man like him. You know Ayee, I dey dump boyfriends when they shout for my head. But Tolu (not real name) never yelled or showed me any sign. If he is angry with me, he will walk out or tell me in a calm voice why he is angry. I swear to God, I didn’t see a sign. I know the signs na. I lived with my father for years. The painful thing is the reasons I get beaten are so ridiculous like salty food or forgetting to mention that something finished in the house before I informed him.
Yes, when I left Tolu’s place, I went home o. You know my father told me that I don’t have any bruises on my body. That is it ordinary slap that is making me run back home. I should know that daughters of the Alade (again fake name) clan don’t return to their father’s houses. I should go and beg my husband for forgiveness. No, my brothers are still abroad and the last born is in school. So only my dad and mum were at home.
Babe, na my mama pain me pass. You know when my dad was talking, I got very angry and I told him he was a very bad husband and father and if it was my dead body he wanted to see, he will not get the satisfaction. At the point I left, my mother followed me outside and chided me for talking to my father like that. She said that if she can go through it, why can’t I? That she is sure that whatever beatings that my husband is giving me cannot be as bad as what she received. If she can endure for our sake, why can’t I? A man beating his wife is no big deal. That I have not seen serious beating. That if I had been seriously beaten, I would have lost the baby or that my CS line wold have ruptured, so I should not make a big deal with all the ‘baby baby beating’. I looked at this woman with so much hate and disgust eh….I just continued walking with my load and my baby. I went to stay with my aunty, my father’s cousin. She is God sent and has even called my dad and my mum and talked to them very seriously. My brothers sent me money for the divorce and to help me sustain until I can wean the baby and get back to work.
My heart breaks for her. It is very sad that domestic violence is still quite common (any party can suffer domestic violence but women seem to be at the receiving end more). Many women adopt the suffering and smiling approach to this matter, not realizing the damage that they are doing to themselves and to their kids. It takes a lot of courage and confidence for a woman to come out of a situation of domestic violence and such a woman does, she needs support, not condemnation, and NOT Pray and Endure . Now I am not concerned about the father. A person who drinks heavily will tell you that there is nothing wrong with drinking. This has been his way and he doesn’t know any better. Obviously, he never saw anything wrong with his act, maybe based on upbringing. I find hard to criticize him because he is ignorant. But the mother, I don’t understand. She was beaten up for some 20 something odd years and is ok with her child continuing the circle of violence? Does she not remember all the pain and anguish she went through? How could she, a victim not be outraged that it is repeating itself with a child she carried for nine months and raised with so much love?? I don’t get it.
I am just happy that she has the support of her siblings. it is good that her brothers did not grow up thinking wife battery was ok and are giving her the support she needs. God bless the aunty too.
Drop your comments and let me know what you think of this issue.