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IN HER OPINION: Abuse Is Abuse

“Madam, why are you filing for divorce? Did he hit you?”

“No.”

“Does he not take care of the children?”

“No, he doesn’t.”

“What?! You mean he doesn’t pay their fees or provide money for their upkeep?”

“He does.”

“Ha! So why are you divorcing him?”

“Because I’m sick and tired of the emotional abuse and neglect of myself and my children.”

“Emo-gini? So because he doesn’t spend time talking with you, na im you dey vex? You have your girlfriends for that nah. Abi you wan make im cuddle you every day? My dear, marriage is tolera –”

“Hey! Madam, hold it there. I didn’t come here to ask for your opinion or lecture. Is my file ready?”

*

I grew up in a home where Mum reached for the cane more often than Dad. Yet, for all the whupping I got from her, Dad’s quiet words had more impact. Like when I did something bad and he said, “I’m not happy with you” or “I’m disappointed.” I walked on the moon whenever they both said, “We’re proud of you. You did good. We’ve got your back.”

Words have power.

I used to have this neighbour who would quarrel with his wife for days. Anytime they fought, you’d hear his yelling. Only when you strained your ear would you hear his wife’s soft voice talking once in a while. I thought the man was a mean person, the way he always screamed at her.

Until one day, when I heard his wife quarrel with someone else. I was in shock. Her words had more effect than a double-edged sword. They cut and sliced and diced the spirit of the person she was addressing. And all this was done in a soft, gentle voice.

In that instant, I felt like crying for her husband.

The tongue is such a dangerous weapon, that it comes with several biblical warnings. One of my favorites is in James 3:18 and 26: “Let every person be quick to listen, SLOW TO SPEAK, slow to anger… If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile.

Abuse is abuse.

When folks speak of terminating a relationship because of abuse, they’re often likely to mean physical abuse. But physical abuse is often preceded by verbal and emotional abuse. And sometimes, you find a perpetrator whose tool of trade is emotional and verbal abuse only.

These two go hand in hand and are as bad as, if not worse than, physical abuse. You may get well after a slap or a blow or a burn. But what hateful, demeaning words do to a human spirit is worse than death.

You’re stupid. A fool.

You mean someone liked you? Is the person blind or stupid?

You can never do anything right!

What do you know? You know nothing.

I keep you around out of pity.

You can never be good enough.

You won’t amount to anything.

I know a husband who told his wife: “I married you out of pity. I sleep with you because you’re available, just there. The day I’m tired, I’ll do something about it.”

This was way before he started hitting her.

The list goes on.

You’re in a relationship where the person is never emotionally available. But this person never misses a chance to use you.

He never talks to you because he thinks you’re not smart enough.

He never asks for your opinion because he doesn’t value it.

He never spends time with you, because he thinks you’re boring. Or not cool enough. Or not worth the effort.

Your sadness actually makes him happy.

Every once in a while, he dangles hope in front of you, like a carrot in front of a horse. Something to keep you in line, praying he’s changed.

And someone thinks you’re being hasty in separating from such a person or leaving them behind.

Separation is shameful and God hates divorce. They want you to stay and fit the stereotype. After all, he’s not beating you. Or he’s not cheating. Or even if he is, don’t worry, all men cheat. Or men are polygamous in nature.

Or some such nonsense like that.

Pray. Fast and pray, they’ll say. Fast and pray and pray naked by midnight (this one is like God’s personal phone number. The naked prayer goes straight inside his ear). Be submissive. Do plenty sexual acrobatics. Remember that if you don’t, a thousand women are ready to do. Smile and say you’re fine. Make plenty “positive” confessions. Type “amen” on every Facebook prayer posts. Use the words “it is well” as often as you can. In fact, answer each simple greeting with it is well. As long as you don’t stir the waters, everyone is fine. As long as you “know your place”, everyone is okay.

Or some other such nonsense like that

Madam, don’t wait until he hits you.

If you’ve tried every avenue of conflict resolution and this person remains the same, there’s only one thing to do.

RUN!

Written by Eketi Ette


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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15 comments

  1. For me, part of the problem here is with the institution called marriage. We have made it compulsory, given it a large dose of social Polish. It has become a criteria for respectability and so it has become highly desirable. In order to be socially accepted and achieve some sort of self validation, even sociopaths who do not have the basic skills for harmonious co-existence with another human being, rush to locate themselves within the walls of a marriage. Foolish similarly is the idea that having genitalia automatically qualifies a person to be a parent. There are people who have absolutely no business with marriage and child rearing. Perhaps society reduces it’s pressure on people as regards marriage, some of these people won’t bother to get married and will save society tons of headache.
    There are other problems. For example we have made suffering in marriage respectable. People get praised for swallowing Crap. We have to acknowledge that this is contrary to nature itself. Natural organisms run away from pain. So if you feel like running, please run. And it is OKAY to run. Let’s make it OKAY to run and perhaps some people will remember that this person I’m abusing has legs and doesn’t have to swallow my rubbish.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      ‘There are people who have absolutely no business with marriage and child rearing.’

      Oh believe me, I know a number of them. This importance society has placed on marriage only does more harm than good to the individuals in it.

  2. God bless for writing this, but it also goes both ways. And the right word should be FLEE, no human should be a slave unto another.

  3. Words are powerful. If he/she says hurtful things to you, he/she can – WILL – do hurtful things to you. Let us wake up.
    Good going, Eketi … Walter, nna gi muri gi.

  4. “Ha! So why are you divorcing him?”

    “Because I’m sick and tired of the emotional abuse and neglect of myself and my children.”

    “Emo-gini? So because he doesn’t spend time talking with you, na im you dey vex? You have your girlfriends for that nah. Abi you wan make im cuddle you every day?

    *

    This right there is another testament about how the average Nigerian does not put much value on emotional issues. Especially when they are negative emotional issues. Depression. Emotional abuse. They are about as foreign to the Nigerian as sex with his crush is foreign to the dude that has been friend-zoned.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      They are about as foreign to the Nigerian as sex with his crush is foreign to the dude that has been friend-zoned.

      Hahahahahahahahahaa… Ok, I’m sorry. I know this is a sombre post, but dang! That comparison. LOL

  5. Udegbunam Chukwudi

    E be like say we get the same popsy. The nigga no dey like action bet once he opens his mouth prepare for anything. #AcuteDepression. ???

    I remember the day he finished lil bro once and lil bro went back to complain that he didn’t like the way he talked to him oh. Lol #TheyTightLikeThat.

    Anyhow sha I could tolerate it cause it happened once in a blue moon but tolerating that kain mouth day in day out na suicide mission.

  6. Isn’t it time to change this Eketi’s picture?

  7. She don fine pass this picture sef.

  8. Wow! Very well written. It speaks deeply to how abuse is being ignored. Like I always say. It’s both parents duty to take care of his children. That’s why there is title for everything Father, mother, husband, wife. Because one is a good father doesn’t automatically make him a good husband. Marriage happened before the children. The children shouldn’t be a reason to stay in a broken marriage. I was catapulted here by Chisom.

  9. I repeat RUN FOR YOUR LIFE before he dice you like tomatoes. #Arowolo’s case is an example.

    If it is not fine by your standard and by every means to make it fine, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE

  10. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

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