June 19, 2009

Are you in a healthy relationship? (5)

By Chioma Gabriel

Violence at home or in any relationship is a serious threat. A guy who bullies his lady or threatens her at the slightest provocation needs to have his head examined. A woman who destroys everything in the home or smashes windscreens of her guy’s vehicle or other things precious to him is not on the right track. She needs counseling and psycho-therapy just like the guy that destroys or batters a woman to drive home a point.

Selina thought her guy loved her  so much and that was why he bullied and battered her but she was forced to change her mind the day he  almost drowned her in their bathroom because he thought he was going to lose her to another guy, his younger brother. It was then she understood the point her parents were trying to make when they refused to collect bride price on her head from the guy. Selina’s story:

He batters me and then makes sweet love to me; Selina, 29.

Ray was my childhood sweetheart and we lived in the same neighbourhood. He was friendly with my two elder brothers and pallied with them from time to time because they were mates and were born in the same neighbourhood. Our parents know each other very well but we had cause to part ways when my father built our house in the Gbagada area of Lagos while Ray’s parents continued to live in Apapa. His mother and mine are of the same profession and are indeed very close to the extent that after their retirements, they kept the relationship. At least once every month my mother and I and my younger ones drove to the old neighbourhood to visit family friends and Ray’s family was always top on the list.

However, my mother became worried when she noticed that Ray was taking  interest in me as a woman. Although Ray’s mother was delighted with the development and encouraged it, my mother paid lips service to it in the presence of Ray’s parents but frowned when we were alone. She told me that she would not encourage any relationship between Ray and I and advised me to take Ray as a brother which he is not.

I was exhilarated when he got a job in an oil firm while I was still a student in the university. He spoilt me rotten but my parents were not impressed. My father urged me to concentrate on my education and forget about any man while my mother spoke in parables about Ray and I. She said that what she would observe while sitting down ,that I would not see it even if I stand on top of an iroko tree, or climb the highest mountain in the world.
My father doubled my pocket money so, I wouldn’t be carried away or throw myself at any man because of money.

I lost my virginity to Ray in my final year and during my NYSC, I was impregnated by him. That necessitated my moving in with him while his parents hurried our traditional marriage. Strangely, my father allowed the traditional marriage but would not accept the bride price because according to him, he had already made up his mind not to accept bride price on the head of his first daughter.

Marriage to Ray was marriage made in hell. He started by harassing me verbally, alleging that I was bringing in other men into the house in his absence. He accused me of bringing in boyfriends and visiting them claiming they are my brothers or male relations. From verbal accusations, he started pushing me around. At any provocation, he would push me around or shake me vigorously until I screamed. Then the pushings became slaps and then heavy beating. I had what the doctors called threatened abortion in my seventh month but  they saved the situation. I was admitted for five days and my mother knew what happened immediately she saw me even though I tried to lie.

She told me Ray’s mother had told her  Ray was violent in his relationships  and  brutalised his girlfriends in the past. But the strange thing was that Ray  always made sweet love to me afterwards. It became a trend that I began to desire being battered  because of  the  sweet love he made to me afterwards. The trend got worse after I put to bed and degenerated to my having blotches and black patches from time to time that would take days, weeks and even months to heal.

My parents were unhappy and his own parents talked to him on several occasions. He always promised to change but got worse instead.
One day, he came home late from work as always and I was in the bathroom. He almost pushed down  the door because I couldn’t come to open it. His younger brother who opened the door got a black eye while he rushed upstairs to meet me in the bathroom and nearly drowned me but for the almost- too- late intervention of his brother.  He alleged that I was having something with his undergraduate younger brother. I was panting and was rushed to the hospital. After my discharge, my parents drove me to their home and every attempt Ray’s family made to breach peace failed. And for the first time since February, I have not missed Ray or his bitter-sweet love-making. Life is supreme and that is what I have come to accept.