We met in 1998 when an 18 year old me (music director/trainee pastor/medical student) accompanied my BFF to UNEC for her fellowship’s camp meeting. I was to help arrange her music as well as perform in a play and a special Acapella as the alto. As was our usual practice, we didn’t eat all day prior to the performance so as soon as we had sung, my friends and I rushed to the nearest “burger ” joint we could find. As we waited for our eggs to be fried, four young men frolicked rather loudly in our line of vision.
All four were trying to talk to me and I was famished, so I was not in the mood. Eventually, our meal was ready and No four, who was the biggest and loudest, tried to get my room number. I told him and he said he would visit. Unknown to him, we were to leave first thing in the morning so I knew I would never see him again. Good riddance “I thought” as I personally believed it was disrespectful of any man to toast a girl while he was with his friends.
A year later, while I was home on holidays, my family phone rang and it was some guy asking for me. Normally, I would have discharged him to avoid getting caught by my dad but he was out and I was bored so I didn’t hang up. Apparently, he had tricked my friend into giving him my number. Next thing, I knew, we were spending hours on the phone. Before long, I was sneaking out to meet him in front of my gate and we would drive in his mom’s Toyota Cressida to his friend’s place where we would make-out for hours. Soon, though he went for Youth service so we lost touch.
We started dating properly when a year after his service he came back to Enugu. Coincidentally, I was around. So he looked me up and we hooked up the same day (I had lost my faith after a series of tragedies including losing my youngest sister to malaria, failing out of Medical school and losing my best friend in a fire). He left the next day promising to call even though I had told him not to bother. So started our long distance relationship which he broke off by phone exactly a year later because “the Lagos girls were a distraction”.
Years later, we somehow reconnected and became friends even though we had separate relationships. Soon, we were “friends-with-benefits”. Anyway, he had issues that led to his suspension for months and in that time there was a shift in our relationship. Suddenly, the *commitment-phobe* started becoming more controlling, calling to know where I was or flying into rages if I sent him some credit bought with my meager modeling earnings. I figured it was the pressure of the job and soon after, he was recalled to work and became
3. A Fatal Kind of Attraction – One Woman’s Domestic Violence Story
He had NO respect for women and generally referred to them (including myself) as sluts,bitches, and believed they were not fit to be anything other than housegirls or prostitutes. I’m not even going to bother mentioning his harem of women and how he would tell me that he wouldn’t need them if I was a good obedient woman. I had learnt to block that aspect out of my head.
Another way he maintained control was by constantly making contradictory statements so that I was in a permanent state of confusion thereby reinforcing his declaration that I was stupid and retarded. For example, he would berate me constantly that I was lazy and good-for-nothing.
He treated me like a stupid child and would talk down at me like I was retarded. His favorite phrase was “Let me repeat myself…” And then proceed to repeat loudly and slowly with as minimal facts as possible so I almost always never performed the task the way he liked it. He had this weird entitlement thing where he says things like “Don’t I have the right as your husband to tell you to do something and you obey me unquestionly?”.
He had a selfish streak and believed that me and the kids existed solely for his pleasure. He was amazingly self-centred and never once put me or the kids first or even second. I remember one day , his uncle from the UK wanted a car to use while he was in Enugu and my husband promised him one. Now ,we had only two cars so I wondered but said nothing. As I got ready for school runs and work, he asked me to leave the keys to my car but I snuck out.
Later that day, he calls me and asks me to bring the car back so his uncle’s driver could pick up the car and I asked him real quietly,which car he wanted me to use. He was livid that I dared question him and said he was coming to kill me at work. He actually drove all the way from VI to Surulere where I worked and ran menacingly up the stairs.
I saw him from the window and ran down to meet him because I was trying to avoid a scene. I tried to remind him that I needed the car for school runs but he demanded for the keys. When I didn’t comply, he grabbed me roughly by the throat and twisted my arm with the other.When he got the keys, he shoved me hard and I fell into the gutter behind me. He didn’t even look back as okada/keke drivers helped me out. For the whole month, had to do school and hospital runs (my son had frequent asthma episodes) by cab. And he never even dropped us or paid for the fares..
He had a deep unnecessary need to “control” (one of his favorite words) and dominate me which he achieved through derision, criticism, and cruelty. And the more empowered/independent I became the more his need to keep me under his control deepened. For example, when I resolved to build my company from nothing but sheer innovation and faith, he told me that his father and himself had decided that the kids and I should move to the village.
Then, I’d come up with myriads of business ideas but none seemed to meet his approval which I needed as he was the one to give me capital. He would tell me that I was useless as a daughter, parent and wife because I couldn’t be of any financial help to anyone, that all I knew was fitness and fashion. One day, as I wept into the night, I had a moment of clarity and the next day, I registered my business. Over the years we were together, I either was self employed, or worked to make small money. He took care of the home but was never generous.