I never saw my father raise a hand to hit on my mother, or any woman; in fact I never saw my father hit on anybody, man, woman or child. Were my parents happily married? Maybe not in the heart pumping sense, they certainly had problems and many of them were really bad but physical and verbal abuse was never part of their lives. At least not to my knowledge and I was close to both of them. At the time of my father’s death they had been married for about fifty-three years, but I never saw my mother cry or bruised from a beating by my father.
But I saw domestic violence in all its ugly colours while I was still young. I lived with a family that was abusive. The man would batter his wife, and then turn on me and beat me up too. Sometimes I was beaten so badly my life was in danger but I survived and lived to tell my story. Being exposed to that level of violence so early in life left a lot of scars (mental and emotional). I swore I would never have anything to do with an abusive man as a husband.
Then I got married to a man so gentle, he found it traumatizing to kill a roach. Five years into the marriage we got into an argument in the car. It was a teriible argument and he was driving. In a fit of rage I’d never seen him exhibit before he hit me across the side of my face as soon as he parked the car. I was stunned! The first words out of my mouth were, “I am leaving you.” And I meant it. Hit me? All my childhood memories of domestic violence came rushing back and even though he immediately started apologizing and swearing that it was a mistake, all I felt at that moment was a sense of relief that at last I was going to leave this marriage that was causing me pain.
He pleaded and pleaded and I knew he was sorry and was not likely to ever want to hit me again but I dressed up, went for a meeting in Church and after the meeting I went straight to my Pastor’s wife and reported that my husband had hit me. She looked at me and I felt shame wash over me that I was “reporting” my husband. Then I started to make excuses that it was the first time. I will never forget her response as long as I live. She said, “if he does it once and gets away with it he will do it again.” Then she assigned an older couple to go home with me and deal with the situation. When I got home at 9pm with the couple in tow, my husband visibly shrank in shame and fear. They took him to the cleaners and back. As they left my home later that night, I knew that wife-beating had been permanently erased from my husband’s CV.
That was almost twenty years ago and he never raised his hand again in my direction.Today we are both trained marriage counselors and I tell every woman I counsel to raise an alarm the first time it happens or else it will happen again. If it happens more than once then please leave the home and encourage the man to go for help. If it becomes a pattern, know for sure that your life is in danger and start making every effort to leave for good. Seek help from the right sources.
Don’t listen to those who tell you that God hates divorce; he hates murder too. I’d rather be divorced than dead. Even if you have nowhere to go to and no money to move out, try to reach out to somebody. My ten-year old son says there is no problem without a solution. Don’t pray for him to change while you are in the home, run away first then pray for the change. Look for a solution centre; check online if your immediate network is unsupportive. Whatever you do, or do not do, stay alive and embrace yourself!