One day, I asked him for permission to meet a friend for lunch. As was routine, I had to seek his permission first and provide him with minute-by-minute updates of my exact location, what we were eating and what we were discussing with my friend.
After lunch with my friend, he asked me to meet him at a restaurant for dinner together. After the dinner, we left but once he opened the door to our house, he pushed me in and started raining on me with karate kicks. I was three months pregnant at that time. He stripped me naked and beat me up, including kicking my stomach, until I became bloodied and swollen. For close to an hour, he dragged me around the house, zig-zagging me on the cold floor as I screamed and begged for him to spare my life. When he tried to have sex with me (he always got aroused after beating me), I refused. This greatly angered him, and I saw him go to the kitchen and return with a knife. I watched in horror as my husband brandished the knife in my face as he hurled unprintable insults at me as I lay on the floor, no more strength left.
I always say that a miracle happened next.
Just as he was dropping down the knife on me, he suddenly stopped mid-air, kept quiet, stared at me for a few seconds, then got up and walked out of the house.
I waited for a few minutes before mustering all the strength I had and fled into the darkness, naked. That was the moment I decided I was through with my marriage. I wasn’t going to lose my life and that of my unborn child in the name of a useless marriage. I ran to nearby watchmen for help, who covered me up and sheltered me in their little house. From where we were, we could hear my husband prowling the streets, shouting my name, looking for me. To this day, I have never known why he suddenly stopped attacking me before leaving the house. I say it was God.
In the early morning, the kind-hearted watchmen got me somebody who took me to the Kenyan embassy. Two days later, I returned home, straight into my mother’s loving arms. Mothers are God-sent.
Five months after this episode, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy, in July 2014. He is a replica of his father. But despite all that I went through with his father, my son is the best thing to have ever happened to me. I love him dearly because he is God’s gift to me. Motherhood is such a blessing from God and I give thanks everyday.
Today, I continue to slowly rebuild my life. I also share my experience so that other women can take something out of it. The truth is that I never thought that people like me –well-educated and ‘urban’ women suffered domestic violence. Now I know that domestic violence can happen to anyone. It creeps up on you so slowly and before you know it, you are in deep. But the signs are always there, only that we hope that things will get better.
I also encourage women to listen to those around them. Sometimes they see what you can’t see. Had I listened to my family as they told me there was ‘something wrong’ with my fiancé and his family, things would have turned out differently. By the way, I later found out that all along he had a fake identity and fake Passports. To this date I don’t know what his real name is, as the identity he presented to me was fake. I also found out that he had hired people to pose as relatives the time my family travelled to Nigeria to familiarize themselves with my ‘future family’. Even those who attended our ‘wedding’ -his two brothers, a sister-in-law and the officiating pastor were all fake, as I discovered.
My parting shot is: When a man hits you once, I assure you that he’ll do it again. And he’ll probably kill you. Ask me.”
And that is Valerie’s story. I believe her experience has helped you answer the question: “Why don’t women in abusive relationships just leave?” As in #WhySheStays
If just like Valerie, you have an intimate partner violence experience to share (you can remain anonymous) that you would like others to learn from, inbox me on Facebook or email me on email@example.com with your story.
If you are in an abusive relationship, you can call the National Gender Violence Helpline (toll-free) number: 1195, and you will be greatly assisted. By the way I personally called the number and talked to one of the handlers – a counsellor, and he assured me that any individual who calls that number seeking help gets the right kind of assistance. Calling 1195 is free and operates on a 24-hour basis so you can call at anytime, from any part of Kenya.
Mummy Tales is a blog dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of maternal and newborn health, as well as various issues surrounding motherhood and women. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here.
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This is an edited version of an article I first published in The Star