Disclaimer: This story includes details of domestic violence that may be triggering to some.
“I never thought I would have the courage to tell my story, let alone write it for the world to read. Who am I kidding! I never dared to think at some point this would be a story worth sharing, but in hindsight I guess everything that happened led me to this point.
My story isn’t something I can share on 2 pages or even completely share using just words. Words cannot adequately reveal the agony I experienced in the longest 5 years of my life, married to an abusive man. I was indeed what they call a ‘HOT MESS.’ I was stripped of dignity, stripped of self-worth, existing as just a functioning pile of nothing.
Let me begin by sharing the first day I got beat up. It was on my wedding day. He developed cold feet and the only way he knew how to handle the stress was to blame me. He blamed me for being pregnant, he blamed me for making him go through with it, he blamed me for my parent’s financial status and so on. He’d say, ‘You are not worthy of me because I am a medical doctor.’ Words like dumb, stupid, foolish, low life, etc. were used repeatedly all through the course of our marriage. My heart knew it was not ok but my head made excuses. Oh! If only our heads would stop betraying us!
The second time I got beat up was on our way to our honeymoon…ironic, right? This would be the first of many public beatings I would receive in the course of our marriage. I was slapped across the face at the airport, because my dear husband got his ego hurt by a ticketing lady (somebody had to pay). He started throwing a fit, and I suggested we didn’t have to travel anymore if he wasn’t feeling up to it but he just continued yelling. I started to walk away towards the parking lot when he ran and pounced on me. People around us came to my rescue. Did I mention I was about 6 months pregnant with our first daughter?
I heard a quote somewhere recently, I think on the TV show The Handmaid’s Tale. The lead character said, ‘A man who hits a woman will hit a child.’ Well, it didn’t take long before that statement also became a reality for me.
A little over a month after my first daughter was born was also the same period my father passed away. He died from a stroke. I was his only child and he didn’t get to see my baby. My ex-husband got into an argument with me, I really don’t remember what it was about…honestly I hardly remember what most of the fights were about, they were so insignificant I truly believed he had some undiagnosed mental issues or maybe it was the story my head told me to keep me trapped.
Anyway, the yelling increased and the next thing I knew, I was being battered. I had my 1 month old in my hands and he hit the baby across the cheek so hard she had a bloodshot eye for a few months. The sad thing about abuse is it sucks you in, you become a very angry person as well and if you are not careful, you become vile. You fight back because flight is off the table. Sometimes I would rain insults on him and the fights would escalate. The irony is, even when I chose to be silent it also infuriated him.
Well, she survived, I survived, so I stayed.
Too afraid of what the future held, I never stopped to consider how nothing could be worse than what we were experiencing. I worried more about how my culture saw divorce and I worried about what the church would say. I told myself, ‘You will never be able to find another man because having any kind of man is better than being single.’
So, I stayed.
I went ahead and brought another child into the horrible dynamic, another innocent soul put in harm’s way because I was too afraid to face the truth. My ex-husband was excited about having another child, but then again, his excitement quickly turned into obsession and caused him to act irrationally most times. He also abused alcohol.
My second little angel arrived and was about to witness a distorted family dynamic. She would be taught, ‘Love hurts, it’s ok for women to be treated like dirt and if a man hits you, stay and have more children for him.’
I ignored the fact my oldest daughter at this point was severely traumatized and would not sleep too deeply for fear of being woken up by yelling, breaking of things and banging of doors in the middle of the night. Or how she could not watch two people hugging without having panic attacks. I could not see all these things right in front of me, because I let fear of the unknown stop me in my tracks.
My second daughter’s experience with abuse happened 2 weeks after she was born. I had a very challenging delivery which almost cost us both our lives; we were back home from the hospital with my mom in town to help me around the house as is the tradition of my culture.
I remember I had a guest over visiting the newborn. An argument sprung forth between us as usual. He called me all kinds of names like, ‘ingrate.’ He told me, ‘I made you a mother and nobody else would ever marry you.’ He stormed out of the house and I heard him drive off, but a few minutes later he stormed back in with an unexplainable, fiery rage. He started by spitting on my face and then went on to beat me. My mom heard the noise, rushed out, got in between the fight and was slapped across the face.
After he was done, he stormed out again, this time leaving me in critical condition. My mom called out for help and my neighbors came to the rescue. I was rushed to the ER. My mom had my 2-week-old baby with us, because she was nursing. So, she stayed in the cold ER waiting with my mom until I regained consciousness. That was her first of many experiences.
After this was over, you would think I would know better, but I returned home and the beatings continued for another 2 years.
Finally, I could no longer hide from the truth. I looked at my life and my innocent girls who didn’t deserve the hand I dealt them, and suddenly I saw the reality of our situation. No one was coming for us! If we were to have any hope for the future, I had to do what needs to be done. Not culture, not religion, not anyone was coming. Just me!
My daughters were better off with a divorced, living mother, than a dead, married one. So, I JUMPED! I had no idea what I was doing or how to go about it. I had no support from the people I thought would support me. Also, being I was in a third world country, there was no accessible help. But like most things, you learn while on the journey.
Even after I left, there was a lot of stalking, badgering me with phone calls, emails and text messages. My friends were also harassed so they avoided me. I was lonely, depressed and traumatized. I couldn’t go to sleep without Advil PM. In the face of all this, my breakthrough came when God made a way for me to get re-connected with an old friend and it was my ticket out.
Most of the trauma I had to work through. I payed serious attention to my healing and recovery because I couldn’t trust my sense of judgement when it came to having a sound relationship. I stayed away from the dating scene, not because I was scared of men but I just couldn’t risk choosing another abusive partner. I gave myself permission to wait until I was ready.
When I felt ready, this time I wasn’t looking for only a good partner, I was also looking for a man who would be a good father to my children. I had a clear picture of what I desired and I wasn’t ready to settle for anything less than the standard I had given myself, even if it meant there was no hope. It was all or nothing for me.
Today I stand here, 5 years later, thousands of miles from my hometown, yet I’ve never been more at peace in my entire life. I am still on the journey of transformation but I’ve come way farther then where I first began.
Today, I’m re-married to an amazing man who adores me and my children. My sense of self and purpose has returned. I am a better wife, mother, christian and most of all human being, all because I chose to JUMP!
I give back to women just like me by using my talk show on YouTube, ‘Transform After Abuse’ to help domestic abuse survivors find hope, healing and re-build their lives after the trauma of abuse. It’s amazing how what caused me so much pain, has become the door which brings in so much light.
Escaping abuse will never be comfortable and leaving your partner will never be easy because your head will fight all the way. But you need to look at the facts before you, are you happy? How do you feel knowing this might be your life forever? How about your children, do you see a good future for them in your present living condition with your partner?
If you answered no to these questions, then it’s time to JUMP! Take the leap of faith. One thing I can guarantee is nothing will change if you don’t do something about it.
Plan your escape but keep your plans to yourself and guard it with everything you have. Once you are out, do everything within your power to keep you and your children safe. Move cross country if you have to and cut or limit contacts with people who know both of you together. Stay off of social media until you are safe. Most of all use discretion, because there’s no telling how far an abusive person is willing to go. Save your own life.”
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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ogo Alaku-Cathern. You can follow her journey on Instagram, and her Youtube. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more amazing stories about escaping abusive relationships here:
‘Take your son and I’ll find you, trust me, I’ll find you.’ He held a gun to me while pregnant.’: Mom learns ‘self-defense’ as black belt after ‘surviving’ domestic abuse, urges women to know there is ‘a better life’
‘I want to live!,’ I was screaming. The cops were on their way. I was trying to get out of the bathroom, trying to get my boyfriend off me, trying to hide in the tub.’: Single mom’s empowering story of surviving domestic abuse with infant daughter
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