How I walked out of a abusive marriage
Harriet James @harriet86jim
For many women, walking out of an abusive marriage is not an option. Some fear what the society would say about them, are embarrassed, or they fear isolation and loneliness.
Others fear for their lives, especially in case of an abusive spouse who may threaten their lives and that of the children.
Still, there are others who venture in the unknown and decide to take the risk of leaving.
For 15 years, Ann Ndalo stayed in an abusive marriage for fear of being judged by the society for not being able to keep her marriage together.
She tried thrice to leave, but each time her ex-husband would pursue her and sweet talk her to returning home with her children.
Though she married young and against her parents’ wishes, the mother of four desired to have a perfect marriage and to stay just as she had watched her mother stay with her father.
“My parents used to say ndoa ni kuvumilia (Marriage requires patience). At one time, when I went home after being physically abused, my father told me that I had overstayed and that I needed to go back home to my husband with my children,” she recalls.
When she finally decided that enough was enough in 2018, Ann admits that it was not easy.
Her ex-husband would ambush her on the road while on her way to church or any other public place and would beat her up and tear her clothes.
“If he found me with a purse, he would take everything after beating me up. Like last year in December 12, he took away my new phone and has it up to now.
I have been reporting all these incidences to the police, but I’ve not received any help from them,” she says.
The man is also furious of the fact that Ann has been able to take care of her children without asking for his assistance.
While the 36-year-old feared the repercussions of walking out, she discovered that many people were relieved that she walked out of the abusive marriage and even offered to assist her regain her economic footing.
Ann currently stays with her mother, who is her greatest support despite having gone through a mild stroke after the death of her father.
“We used to pray together most of the time, which helped me find inner peace. I also had two sessions with a psychiatrist, but had to stop because I couldn’t afford it.
My brothers were also my best support. My friends and colleagues too assisted me financially and emotionally,” she recalls
Ann also admits to have suffered from lack of sleep as a result of depression and anxiety and at one point had to stop working.
It took friends and family’s encouragement for her to get her self-esteem back. She also developed a habit of waking up early in the morning at 3am and going to church to find her inner peace.
She recalls how she met her ex-husband — a man who she thought would be her Prince Charming. She met him when she was 19 years at a video hall, which her parents used to run.
Her ex-husband, who was four years older than her would occasionally come and watch games.
He seemed like a humble man, who didn’t talk much and was Ann’s second boyfriend after her first love.
Ann needed a shoulder to lean on after a devastating break-up with her first boyfriend and after dating for a while, she discovered that she was pregnant.
Ignoring red flags
“Being the only girl amongst six boys and having been raised by strict parents, I decided to move in with him in November 2003 when I was about seven months pregnant,” she recalls. He was a sales attendant at a petrol station.
“We started life from the scratch for we had nothing. He was an attendant at a petrol station and wasn’t earning much.
I was an Early Childhood Development (ECD) teacher and attended training course during the holidays. Getting two meals a day was a hustle,” she says.
What Ann regrets is not noticing the warning signs of abuse way before they started living together.
“He used to slap me occasionally when we were still dating particularly when a guy greeted me.
Also, if he wanted to see me and I failed to show up or showed up late, I deserved a slap. I kept on hoping that he would change, but he didn’t,” Ann remembers.
The beatings escalated in marriage, from slaps to using his belt or an electric cable.
The scars on her body are proof of the terrible past. Though he supported her passion to work, Ann’s ex ensured that she had no friends and couldn’t talk with her neighbours on what was going on in her home.
The man would put on loud music to prevent the neighbours from hearing her loud screams from the beatings.
“He would beat me for no reason. One time he beat me up because I didn’t give his mother a plate of githeri, another time was because the chicken I was rearing had not entered their coop in the evening!
He would say I am stubborn and that was the reason for beating me,” she says.
Ann advises women never to ignore the red flags. “The most common sign of a narcissist is that he will always make you feel it’s your fault even if the mistake was his.
When you get in a relationship with such kind of person, he will start by getting rid of your friends and family members.
He will keep on saying that so and so is bad about your friends or relatives. He will restrict your movements from what you were used to.
And whenever he realises he has wronged, you he will pretend to be good towards you,” she says.