‘I thought he would change ‘… That is was the first word from Naomi’s lips, when she told me to write an elaborate piece of her story for publication. with a shrunken emotional side eyes I could trace the invisible pain from that expression, I met Naomi in Kampala Uganda I was on a friend house warming party, I was working on different media blogging projects in Kampala through a friend’s connection to a certain magazine house,.
“why women stay with abusive partners”
… “Domestic violence is incredibly complex. those who haven’t
experienced it first-hand always say, ‘why didn’t you just leave?’ ” There’s no simple answer to that question. But in my case, my case my first husband made me believe that I couldn’t survive without him.
“I was 17 when I met Ezra. He was 32 and a manager at the local radio station. Getting attention from this grown-up, Charismatic, successful man was flattering. Within a year, we were engaged.
” with hindsight, I can see how he used his maturity to assert control over me. Because he was older, he knew best about everything.
“my parents didn’t approve of the age gap, but I was a headstrong teenager who wasn’t about to do.
” The physical violence didnt start right away. What I didn’t realize that I was being subjected to a subtle campaign of emotional abuse. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s like a dripping tap, wearing down your confidence and self worth until everything is stripped away and you’re incapable of standing on your own feet.
“Ezra was moody and bad tempered, and it was always my fault. I was constantly walking on eggshells and apologizing for my wrong doings even when I didn’t know they were.”
no way out
“One evening I told him I was thinking of getting a part time job. Having finished school I wanted to do something worthwhile and earn my money.
“This did not go down well. he said I was being selfish and shortsighted, that I should be supporting him and his needs. How was I do that if I was to take a petty job as an office messenger girl?
” I was dragged pushed and slapped. Any object to hand was thrown and smashed. My instinct was to leave but I was cornered at the door. ‘Leave this house,’ he said, ‘and I’ll take a knife to the dog.’
” The day after the first attack, I was meant to go wedding – dress shopping with my mum. I fed her with an excuse and stayed at home.
” I didn’t have the excuse and stayed at home. “I didn’t have the strength to pull out of the perfect traditional wedding that was being organized for us from the buganda Kingdom. I felt like it was too late to admit I’d made a mistake.
” we married in 1986 (omg I wasn’t born by then I made a joke haha) she was 19. ” Like most victims, I soldiered on, hoping life would get better. But the abuse continued. Pinches, punches ands slaps. A kick in the back or a bucket of water to get me out of bed.”
“He tore stripped off everything ~my intelligence, my efficiency as a wife, my appearance and even my ability in the bedroom. He threatened to burn my livestock, to reveal my father’s love life to the papers or ruin his business. He callously picked on all that was precious to me.
“Our house bore the scars of violence – a cracked fireplace, broken plaster, ruined wallpaper. He ruined countless ornaments, gifts and heirlooms. I stopped having people over, especially my family. I didn’t want them asking questions I was too ashamed to answer.
“Ezra eventually allowed me to get a job at the radio station he was on management team. Now he was the boss at work and as well as at home. ” I don’t believe any of my colleagues had the first idea what was going on. There were never any bruises that they could see, but putting on a brave face at work was physically and mentally exhausting.
” It was living two lives – one under a big black cloud no one else could see. The happy, strong-willed, confident young woman I once was had slowly been destroyed. I felt incredibly alone.
” I was cut off from my parents and sister. They sensed I was unhappy but had no idea about the abuse.
” I walked out of him once, but it only took one phone call to coax me back. ‘ I’m sorry’, he said. ‘I need you’,
“Victims go back because women want to see their abuser’s good side and make it work. We want to believe them when they say, I shouldn’t have done that. I love you and I want to make this right. ‘we cling to the hope that they will change, that we haven’t made a mistake sticking by them that one day we we’ll be happy. But there is rarely a happy ending.
“In the end, after five years together, Ezra left me. I was devastated and, despite everything, I was the one begging him to stay – an example of the hold he had over me.”
.…. A NEW LIFE
“BUT despite having an overwhelming fear of being alone, I didn’t fall to pieces. I found a fantastic lawyer to assist with the divorce. He me write down everything, which enabled me to confront what I’d been through.
“To finally open up was immense relief. I no longer had to carry this shameful secret around with me. My family and friends came back into my life and my confidence soon followed. My life started the day Ezra left.
” a lot of women who have suffered domestic violence will tell you that the mental and emotional abuse is far more damaging and difficult to recover from. I believe that after five years with Ezra, it took me another 8 years to recover.
” It wasn’t until I met my wonderful husband Jim in 1997 that I really got over the anger and the desire for revenge. We have three kids Zara nine, Zach six and zuri three.
Now I am a mum, I can only imagine what I put my worried parents through.
” I was so deep that I couldn’t admit I’d married a monster. You don’t have to put your hands up and say your marriage was a mistake.
I don’t enjoy reliving this part of my life. But if by talking about it I can give one woman hope or the strength to pick up the phone and get help, then it’s worth it “.
Naomi is working with a publisher friend of mine now in Kampala Uganda.
By: Paul Masidza, (http://alasiri2013.wordpress.com) Bungoma.