Some of the saddest words I’ve ever heard came from a good friend of mine.
“Eketi, this was me that swore I’d never hit my wife, after saving mumsie from my dad on many occasions. Yet, I hit Edidiong yesterday.”
“And this shocks you?” I asked.
“That not the only part, babe. It’s the fact that just before I slapped her that first time, I actually thought in my mind that maybe my father was right, that some women need to be beaten. Eketi, me o! Me wey talk say I no go ever beat my wife. Chai!”
I blamed this friend.
But I also sympathized with him. And I wasn’t the least bit surprised that he hit his wife. He is the product of a vicious cycle, one that began with the lie, “Stay for the sake of your children.”
Children are not stupid. They watch and learn.
An acquaintance of mine got married at twenty-four. Hubby went back on their agreement that she’d start work after the second baby.
Ten years later, she was a shadow of herself. One evening, her husband came home with an official document which he couldn’t understand. While he grappled with it, she offered to help. Mr. Husband turned to her and said, “Will you go and sit down! What do you know? It’s not like you’ve gone anywhere since you graduated.”
This was in addition to all the little put-downs and jabs he regularly gave her.
The woman went inside, dusted out her certificate and started a job hunt. She was fortunate to find one within a month.
When she informed Mr. Husband of the development, the man blew a gasket. When everything failed, he said, “If you leave, you’re not taking MY children. Let’s see how you’ll survive without seeing them.”
Her family and his family begged her to stay. What kind of woman is this? A man provides everything and yet you still want to work? It’s like you’re selfish. Oya, stay for the sake of the children.
Her reply, I’ll never forget.
“Sister, when the children grow, they will look for me. If they don’t, I will look for them. But I’m not staying. Ten years from now, my first son will become a man and talk to me the way his father does, because that’s all he knows. Yes, you’ll say that I can train him otherwise, but sister, we know that actions speak louder than words.
“I am leaving because of myself and my children. Let them know that it’s okay to live, to fight for your dream. I don’t recognise myself anymore. Where’s the woman who had a passion or learning, who wanted to be a lecturer? No, I’m not staying anymore.”
Eight months later, Mr. Husband realised that she meant business. He called for a dialogue. This year, they marked their 19th year together.
When you let someone abuse you and hit you and you stay, saying it’s for the children, you lie.
These children grow up and first begin to rationalize. Maybe daddy was right. Maybe mummy was always wrong. Maybe it’s okay. Maybe this…maybe that.
Unless you want your kids to learn that hitting a woman is okay, or that being abused by a man is fine, then leave. Even when you tell them that daddy’s slaps are not good, his actions are what they learn. If you stay, you’ll eventually have daughters who’ll let men punch the stars out of them – in fact, they’ll subconsciously look out for such men. Your boy will learn that women should be hit. Daddy did it, why can’t I?
A guy has actually told me that, “Beating a woman is okay, if you’re beating her with love and correction in mind.”
Leaving, even if it’s temporary until matters are sorted out, is not easy. You may be the kind of woman who depends solely on her man for everything.
Well, find a way and find a means. Reach out to people. Save whatever kobo comes your way. Find a means of income, no matter how small.
Just do something!
Make sure that you’ve done your part in setting things straight. Do all you can to set your relationship aright. And having done that, if symptoms persist like malaria, RUN!
Written by Eketi Ette