WHEN did that man you married with such love and hope turn into a monster who couldn’t stick to his vow to ‘protect’ you because he’s now the one actually violating you? You hear about rape cases and how victims are viciously treated without recourse to any form of redress; without giving a thought to the likelihood of the perpetrator being the man you share your marital bed with. In the past, mothers discreetly told their soon-to-be-married daughters never to refuse their husbands their ‘conjugal rights.’ If the husband wanted sex, it should be on tap! Nothing about what happened if the wives didn’t want any intimacy yet for legitimate reasons? That one line sentence from mother to daughter was about the only sex education the poor bride had before she was plunged into matrimony.
Now, decades later, there are actually husbands who believe a wife who refuses to sleep with her husband must be nuts and needs to be shown who the boss is. Tonia and her husband, Gabby, were childhood sweethearts who’d experimented with sex before they got married 16 years ago. “He never showed any sign that after we got married, he would be needing sex virtually every night, come rain or shine!” Tonia said. ‘I was pregnant when we got married and as soon as we had the naming ceremony of our daughter eight days later, Gabby wanted sex. I didn’t, as I was still recovering from a difficult birth but my husband ignored my protest and forced himself on me. He sneered that: “When you married me, you said you would love, honour and obey me.” “But hadn’t he made promises too?
“Over the years of our marriage, this was a phrase I heard a lot. If I refused to have sex with Gabby, he’d pin me down and take what he wanted anyway. ‘It’s my right,’ he’d tell me and this made me mad. This went on even after we went on to have two more children, both boys. Whenever I asked Gabby for money for the house or for the children’s needs, he would say ‘later in the morning.’ If I didn’t deliver the night before, I got nothing. I felt like a prostitute in spite of the fact that I was a successful fashion designer. I used to work from home but I needed a sort of haven, so I splashed out on a very comfortable show-room and I had some breathing space. Gabby wasn’t encouraging as far as my business was concerned.
He used to sneer that as a mother of three, I could doll myself all I wanted but no one would have me. That I should be proud of a husband who took care of his home financially by being grateful to him in the bedroom. Things got to a head the day I came home late because I had to do a rushed job for a very cantankerous but valued customer. Gabby raged that I must have stayed with a lover. With the state our sex life was, I wasn’t even interested in the stuff any more. He didn’t listen. Instead, he said he would show me how a ‘real’ man made love, then he raped me. The ordeal lasted for over an hour. He stopped only when I started bleeding – the sheets were covered in blood.
‘I’d mentioned this abuse fleetingly to my mum and she was all for my leaving Gabby. She’d never liked Gabby – she thought he looked too lecherous for her liking, that he looked like a sex maniac! But I’d hung on for this long because I’d seen how bad a marriage could be with my friends’ experience and I wanted to make mine work. It was my daughter, now 13, who let the cat out of the bag. She always stayed with mum after school and she told her she needed new ear-phones as the ones she had weren’t that good. Mum scolded her that she shouldn’t be wearing earphones all the time as they were bad for the ears. `I need to wear them to bed,’ she told her grandma, ‘it’s the only way I drown out what dad does to mum at night. He’s a beast. I hate him because he makes mum cry a lot.’
“When 1 came to take my daughter home, mum was distant and I wondered what was on her mind. I didn’t have long to wait. She was at the house later in the evening and called our daughter to repeat what she told her about needing earphones. She did so without batting an eyelid, giving her father a look of pure hatred! I was so ashamed that I burst into tears. I didn’t realize to what extent my putting up with the beast 1 called a husband had affected my only daughter. What was the point in hanging on when the children would eventually lose all respect for their father? My mother would have beaten Gabby to death if she could. She called him all the unprintable names she could think of. If he as much as laid a finger on me again, she would kill him, she threatened. He just shrugged and gave me a hostile look. When I saw mum to the car, she scolded that I shouldn’t have put up with pains my parents never inflicted on me. I was free to come home any time I felt like – with the children.
“I was a bit relieved that my abuse had all come out in the open. Loving someone is one thing, but constantly inflicting pain under the guise of performing your marital duties is cruel. I stopped finding my husband sexually attractive a long time ago. All my sacrifice now looked selfish when I realized what we’d put our daughter through. I dared not ask my boys if they noticed or felt anything over the years of their dad’s abuse of me. I was afraid in case they too had been traumatized. My husband showed no remorse after he was shamed.
“He embarked on a reckless chase of anything in skirt, bragging that if I didn’t want sex, several other women did. I was sorry that he never exhibited this side of his character in our courting days or I wouldn’t have married him. In the end, 1 left him. I had no other choice. That was some three years ago and instead of paying the children’s school fees, he said arrogantly that he could only afford to train two of them – the boys. I guess he wouldn’t want anything to do with a daughter who exposed his evil way and told him to his face how much she’d hated him.
“I have since told a few of my close friends what I went through. Some were sympathetic and some even confessed that their husbands either didn’t like sex, or they were getting it somewhere else. I still believe that lovemaking should be a co-sensual thing or it is debased. What is the point of forcing yourself on someone who finds you repulsive? I guess some men, when possessed by their urge, don’t see beyond their immediate needs. Their victims could be their wives or any faceless woman!”