There is blood on your hands from when you asked me if I didn’t see these things before marrying him. Or suggested that I had to live with what I had chosen. As if I was not allowed to change my mind, not even when my life and health were at risk. When you didn’t validate me. But instead said I was the neck, and somehow held the real power – though I was clearly much less powerful than him. Otherwise I would not have been talking to you about it.
When you told my family to send me back, and pressured them to silence me. Saying “It’s not so bad”. When you told me to “manage this one cos all of them are the same”, you also said I should give it time because this is how marriage is for the first 5 or 6 years. As though I was deserving of “not so bad”. As though my peace now, was expendable for the idea of some future marriage ‘glory’. As if me opting out of marriage was just not an option at all.
When in response to my complaints, you asked if I was cooking the food he liked. When you asked if he brought women home, and said “It could be worse” after I responded in the negative. When you said my knees were not black enough from kneeling in prayer to fix the marriage. When you saw my bruises but asked if there was still a chance for the marriage to work. To work how please?
And you centered yourself and your experience exclaiming “I stayed and I took it. So you can do it too.” You took it personally, that I rejected my husband’s maltreatment for fear for my life. Because you ‘took it’, you decided it was good enough for me too. Because “Who do I think I am anyway? Surely not a human being.”
There is blood on your hands from when you said I was lying because you didn’t raise a son that could do such. You told me to go back and apologize to him, wear “long luscious locks” (because that’s how you kept your husband), and try for male children this time. Then you said everyone was watching and I couldn’t afford to let my marriage fail. After all, “Women are 70% responsible for making the marriage work” so I should watch the way I speak to him. You must have forgotten to tell me how to say “stop trying to kill me!” with a nice tone.
When he physically attacked me and I fought back in self defense. Your response was “ojoro cancel ojoro” and there was no outrage on my behalf. You said “marriage is about sacrifice” when you were telling me to stay for the children, but you refused to step in to make him feed his own children, all because I went to court. Meanwhile his lawyers and the courts kept me chained to this hell. And did nothing to protect me, despite my evidence and appeals.
When you downplayed him stalking me. Despite knowing I fled our home for fear for my life, after he assaulted me. You always seem to ‘rationalize-away’ his threatening behavior. Brushing off my fears, saying “No he wouldn’t hurt you or the children”. Why?? Am I so unstable and unreasonable to not know my own mind? I saw the madness in his eyes as he came for me that day, and I can never unsee it. Yet you know better than me that he won’t hurt me, though you have never even met him before.
You said “If he hits you the first or second time, give him another chance. Only if he hits you more than that should you finally leave.” You blithely assume I will survive the first time. You casually accept trauma as my birthright. Why is there so much tolerance for violence towards me? What has to happen for it to finally be ‘enough’? Why is marriage so much more important than me?!?
When you accused me of leaving just because I have money. As if humility ever saved anyone in such a situation. As if millions of women have not died in abusive marriages because they did not have the means to leave. As if I should be ashamed of my power to save myself, and give it up/wait for my husband to grow up and save me from the very hell he created, as you teach scores of women to do. You know…to help the man’s ego.
When you looked at my pregnant form, recently discharged from the hospital due to my high risk pregnancy (yet rife with complaints of his persistent abuse) and said “Pregnancy is not an illness. Your husband should not treat you any differently just because you are pregnant”. When you suggested that the baby is a justifiable explanation for why he doesn’t like staying at home, and I should go out with him more. Effectively, “find time between full time work and solo parenting to look pretty and go out with him, otherwise it’s all your fault”.
“He is a man. It will take time for him to grow up, and learn to be responsible” you said. Clearly my womanly purpose is to be born all grown up, so that I can raise my husband and allow him room to discover himself. You said “Stay and save him cos you’re the best thing to happen to him. In the end, don’t you want to be the woman he says he wouldn’t have been successful without?” In the same breath you acknowledged that if I stayed, I wouldn’t be 100% myself, but at least I would be 60% and I would have brought him up to 45%. Because my health and goals for myself are actually not as important as the sacrifice of ‘saving’ a man.
There is blood on your hands from when you joined the chorus of marriage sanctifiers and hounded me with calls, pressure and judgment because I chose my safety over marriage. When you drove all the way to my house to ask me to remember the good times and give him another chance. As if my memory was bad and that’s why I was leaving the man who terrorized me. As if marrying him was not enough of a ‘chance’. When you brought milk and diapers as a way to gain my audience, and convince me to go back. Were these crumbs the currency for my continued suffering and servitude? Did you stay with me to ensure no more abuse happened? No. You went home. The diapers and milk finished. And I was still left in the trap you herded me back into.
I’ve heard you say “leaving was your choice to make” and you didn’t want to tell me what to do. But leaving is not an option if I’ve never even known to consider it. If I’ve never been reminded of it. When I’ve been groomed as a good girl who ‘submits’ since childhood. If I’ve never seen women walk away from abuse, (or even one that wasn’t demonized)? When you cloud my mind with only the option of staying married; only ever asking: “What will it take for you to stay?”. When my livelihood depends on the appearance of being from a ‘happy’ home, how can I even imagine leaving? Instead, you all used your power to send me back, then feigned powerlessness when he said “Stay out of my business” that time you approached him after he gave me a black eye. Instead of telling me there and then that I should run. That I had options. That you would help find resources to get my distance and safety the minute I said the word. Or asking me what it would take for me to leave a place where I was dying physically and mentally.
There is blood on your hands from when you said “God has a purpose for everything”, and reminded me that the bible instructs women to submit because God hates divorce. You made me second guess myself all the times I tried to make my way out of this hell. Until I died in it. Now God’s purpose is clear right? Why does your God seem to like using girls and women’s lives as acceptable sacrifice for some greater lesson? Why do we have to die or be maimed or traumatized first? And why does no-one seem to be learning any lessons?
You are co-conspirators in my death. Know this even while you wail at my grave site, on instagram, and facebook. Even while you drink your Marys, and eat rice and chicken in some macabre celebration of my life, the very life for which you had no value when I was living it.
By all of us. For all of us.