This one is a bit personal and a whole lot upsetting ..
Question: Why, in the 21st Century, when women have jobs and homes and cars and “equal rights”, do we still have women who are having the shit kicked out of them by their husbands, boyfriends, significant others, mpango wa kando etc? What makes an otherwise independent, beautiful, smart, together woman choose to stay with a guy who beats them up and when someone tells them they should kick him to the curb, or kick themselves to the curb and keep moving, they treat said people like the enemy and shun and shut them out?
Please do not for the life of anyone else, use love as an excuse cos I will be the one kicking the shite out of the first person to say so.
A little background:
My eldest sibling got married when I was 10yrs old. To me that was an exciting time cos apart from future groom coming over and taking us out to places and buying us gifts, we also got to be flower girls at the wedding and everything that that involves for a young girl. I didn’t know that much about love and romance but I thought it all looked like something I would want to do when I grew up.
My sister was already pregnant when she got married. Her groom was a handsome man who was fairly well off, an international jet setter with his own home and cars and all that epitomes success. My sister, to anyone looking, was the luckiest girl alive. She was happy and sassy and sexy – I cannot remember ever seeing my sister without tight jeans and high heels – makeup and accessories even when she was just hanging out with her friends. For a young girl that was much to look up to.
Not long after my sister had her baby girl, it was during school holidays and I happened to go over to her house to visit. One day we had to go to a friends’ wedding and during the reception the husband disappeared for a while and because the baby was getting antsy my sister asked me to look after it while she got the hubby so we could go home. When she returned she looked flustered and the husband was following none too happy. We got into the car and went home quietly. Once there, my sister gave the maid the baby and she and the husband went into the bedroom where what followed was nothing a young girl should ever be allowed to listen to, or witness. All I know is my sister came out of that room bleeding and swollen and the husband left and went back to the party. Apparently she had found him in a compromising situation with one of the guests at the wedding.
This was not the only time this happened.. In fact, 3 children and 10+ years of marriage it was still going on. Citing Love and God and Commitment and Kids is a cop-out. I will not hear any excuse why you would live with a monster like that. Money, or lack thereof is just another excuse. Get the fuck out of there and go make your own money and take care of yourself. You sacrifice both your life and your soul for an ideal? Seriously? To her credit and not too late she did get out eventually and leave the country, but he is still hounding her with phone calls claiming he still loves her and wants her back. She is still pretty battle-scarred and wary of relationships, and I don’t blame her.
Needless to say, that shaped my idea of love and relationships and marriage. Watching my sister go from a sassy self-confident smart young lady to a husk of herself who had every iota of herself sucked out was hard to witness. At 11yrs old I was telling her to bail out, and even now I am still of the same opinion. I remember thinking that I would never get married if this is what happened. Don’t get it twisted, my parents have been married for 45 yrs this year, and in all this time we as kids keep saying we have never heard them verbally arguing with each other, and there was no physical violence even to us kids (my mum used to pinch us, which was worse than a beating – I can’t take pinching to this day without wanting to commit murder – and the worst part of our punishment routine was when mum wouldn’t pinch you but give you a msomo (lecture) – being a teacher, she had this down pat, and trust me we all agreed it was easier to get a thrashing and keep it moving). So when I see violence visited upon a person, irrespective of who they are or why, I am confused and scared. I am confused and scared by extreme anger and raised voices. You scream at me my brain shuts down and all I hear is screaming. I am married to a half Italian half Black person who is an American… That makes him very demonstrative and loud and entitled and confident and any extremes of anger and pleasure and passion are all represented. I still sometimes find myself looking at him like: really? Seeing as I am even tempered and drama-less and love words, our fights are quite interesting where I let him vent out his frustrations and when he has calmed down I start with my lecture lol. I cringe.
Everyone’s situation is different. We all grew up in different environments and saw different ways of living and learnt from different books through nature and nurture. But I do believe that we all more or less know what’s right and wrong and someone kicking the shit out of you because you questioned them over why they didn’t come home last night is on the extreme and unacceptable side of wrong. I don’t care who they are or what you said. You wanted to shut her up, tell her to shut up. Walk away. Take a walk. Go to the other room and close the door. Stay in a h/motel for the night. Just don’t go there because its one place you can’t come back from. You cannot undo a slap, a kick, a shove, a broken jaw/tooth, a black eye. You break confidence, you break hearts, you break souls, you break trusts, you break love, you break friendships, you break families, you break securities, you break self-belief.
Its not your job to punish/discipline your wife/girlfriend/partner. If she is not disciplined enough for you then you shouldn’t be with her.
What’s even worse is the taboo attached to domestic violence. No one wants to talk about it and when they do they call it domez and leave it at that – as in its none of your business but the fighting couple’s. I have even heard Kenyans refer to women who call the cops on their spouses who beat them up as behaving like “black american women” . Being troublemakers. And woe unto the guy if he happens not to have his status in order and gets his ass kicked out of the country, then it is the woman’s fault for all eternity especially to the guy’s friends and family. NO NO NO, you are victimising a victim because you are all too idiotic to recognise someone who has had enough and at the end of their tether decided to save their life, irrespective of who she takes with her in her quest for said. I am sure in all of these there are women who call cops on a guy and cry wolf for their own selfish motives and shame on them – but this is not about that.
If as a man you cannot settle your domestic issues with your partner without resorting to violence, that does not make you a man, irrespective of what your father/grandfather/brother/uncle told you or did. It makes you a bully, a coward, a monster. It does not make you a man.
If as a woman you know someone who is facing domestic violence, do not call it domez and walk away. Inside that woman is someone who is trying/crying to get out and cannot because of her own insecurities and doubts, and probably because of a misguided notion of love of/from the abusive partner, not knowing that that love ended ages ago, if it ever existed, and was replaced by control and manipulation and disgust – all shrouded in violence to keep her in check in case she ever peers over the veil and realises that there is a better way out there, a better man, better love, a better situation, even though it means being alone and ‘unloved’, a better life. A better HER.
What’s amazing is that these women are the most loyal, the most loving, the most supportive to their partner. They will do, and do do, anything for him. They will even go above and beyond to make sure that he is comfortable and happy – giving him everything they can possibly give him – in some way probably to make him see that they love him even though deep inside said man is disgusted by his actions and doesn’t understand why she won’t leave him – or as a coping mechanism to convince themselves that he is worth it, or to appease him so he doesn’t do it again. All this is a vicious cycle that keeps on feeding and growing in size. It is heartbreaking to watch especially when it is someone that you care about, and someone who should know better, but they refuse to see it and refuse to entertain open dialogue about it.
So if you are a mother, a parent to a daughter, please please don’t ever get tired of telling your child about self worth, loving yourself above all else, taking care of yourself, being independent, being financially independent irrespective of who or what your partner/husband/father is or is worth because when shit hits the fan, you need to be able to stand on your own two feet. Always know that you can rely on yourself and be ready to do that no matter what. Always have a backup plan financially, save money, no matter how little, save it and keep it for yourself. This is not selfish or being cunning, or maybe it is, but its called survival and it favours the fittest.
I know there are also instances of men facing domestic abuse. I haven’t written about it because I was concentrating on my personal experience, but the same verdict applies. I do not condone a woman hitting a man, in fact I always say that as a woman, if you are stupid enough to hit a man, you should be ready to get your ass kicked like a man – because it will be.