How I Got Plucked Out of A Life Shattering Hole, in 877 Words #HearMeToo

Image credit: Lisa Fotios,

"You pledged to remain in this marriage for better or for worse. You need to stay strong, so this sacred vow you made before God will stand."

This was madam Tinuke, a respected church elder, trying to rile me up for the battle ahead. A battle to save my marriage from collapse, a fight to keep myself respectfully subservient to my husband, a struggle to retain a home my children could call a shelter.

As though I still had any of these things in tact.

Segun was a man with dashing looks, a captivating smile, and the carriage of first class royalty. His speech was smooth, his manners refined, and his intellect razor sharp. When I fell for him a decade ago, I thought I was going to have my fill of these sweetnesses. I still recall my excitement at the thought of spending the rest of my life with this near perfect soul. My goodness, did he even have a dot of blemish on his physique or character?

His sturdy hands gave me a terrible answer. In just a couple of months after our wedding, they had gone from holding my arms in reassuring love, to bashing my jaws and battering my joints. His biceps, once the stuff of my midday dreams, were now the object of intense dread.

My travails had begun when Segun's business concerns went belly up, just a month and a half after we got married. We were both in shock. I was saddened and deeply concerned for us and for the family we wanted to build; he was on the edge and irritable, constantly going in and out of a binge drinking habit.

Then he came off drinking, apologized for his late nights out, and picked up a new, albeit a lower paying one.

That was when the beatings began.

I lashed out at madam Tinuke. I called her ignorant, heartless and emotionally dead. I derided her for being devoid of soul, for looking me in those tired out, tear filled, aching eyes of mine to tell me that I wasn't trying hard enough. How does a woman who gets pampering treats from her husband every other hour lecture me about "staying in the fight for my children's sake"?

I lashed out at her. But I did so only in the deepest recesses of my wrecked heart, and under my unstable breath.

Most other women I confided in had the same sort of words for me. Some condemned Segun (in his absence of course) for treating me so badly. But they always got round to the same concluding words.

"Just bear with him," Mrs. Kodeso advised me. "He's a good man. He will change."

"Hang in there, no matter what," was madam Eucharia's admonition. "Have faith. God will make a way."

I wanted practical suggestions. Things like, how I was supposed to save my jaw from getting broken for the umpteenth time by the person they called a good man. What Godly homely fragrance was this, which consisted principally of the wailing and bleeding of an abused wife?

Family was no better. The men only made mention of me on the margins. They never seriously pushed back against Segun's abusive behaviour. All the sympathy I got from them was head shaking and brief consolations. The women weren't exactly supportive either.

"Shey we told you not to marry looks," aunt Christy told me, somewhat mockingly. "You have married now. Just bear your cross. Most of us face the same thing. You're not the only one."

For a decade, I bore this terror alone. We changed churches. The pastors and women's group leaders said the same old thing to me. They watched me die from the inside. But their response was almost uniform, and bitterly so: I hadn't managed to calm the storm in our home, because I didn't have enough faith.

Then I met Mrs. Laide, a fellow church member with a different air about her. She was the sort of woman I dearly wanted to become: bold, strong, and a little carefree. I noticed her rebuke of the women's group leader for dismissing a younger woman facing abuse from her husband with the "God will help you" line. She had threatened to pursue the matter at the courts, if the church didn't do what it ought to.

So I told her about my case. She moved swiftly, and convinced the church to act.

They established lines to my husband's family, provided temporary shelter for me and my children, kept Segun out of the congregation for a while, and persuaded him to join a men's accountability club, which Mrs. Laide's husband had started with a number of others.

Sometimes I have nightmares that hark back to those violent evenings, when Segun broke my bones and shattered my spirits. But there's a new hope now. He has asked my forgiveness- something I'm still struggling with -and he says he's given himself to becoming a better man. While I can't be certain how this will turn out, I now know one thing for certain: we have a choice. We can stand up to abuse, and turn the tide against it. It all begins with having courage of the sort shown by Mrs. Laide.

Discussion Questions

1. Do you think the churches' initial response to the narrator's complaints about being beaten by her husband were adequate? What's the reason for your answer?

2. What did the church do differently after Mrs. Laide's intervention in the narrator's case?

2b.Do you think this later approach could help stop Mr. Segun's abusive treatment of his wife?

3. How does Mrs. Laide's courage contribute to the eventual intervention of the church in the narrator's case?

3b. Is this something you could emulate? If it is, in what ways?


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