By Bunmi Sofola
You wake up every morning wondering what ‘crimes’ you’ll commit today, and how your husband will punish you”, Tina, a victim of a violent husband laments. “A punch in the face for asking him for money for the children’s school fees? A slap in the face for saying hello to an old flame? A kick to the ribs for asking him to come home early for a change…” With so much enlightenment going on about marital violence you would have thought the wife-beaters would have faded into insignificance as we become a more civilized society – but the opposite has happened. And being an abusive partner has nothing to do with your status in the society.
There have always been cases of battered wives who stay because they are used to the perks attached to marrying a well-heeled husband. “I came from a middle class family too,” Tina said “so it wasn’t as if I was a starry eyed pauper when we got married. The problem is my husband’s anger; it has a very short fuse and anything could set him off… There was the night he came home, saw the maid in the kitchen and exploded, ‘I’ve told you I don’t want all these scruffy – looking servants you employ touching my meals.
What exactly is your duty in this home? You don’t pay the rent, you have more money than you need and your kids want for nothing…’ On and on, he went without giving me the opportunity to utter a word. When I eventually opened my mouth, his fist was in it. The sight of blood didn’t put him off as he flung the food across the dining area and the fridge and freezers were splattered with oily stuffs. The servants a scampered. They’d learnt from past experience not to open their mouth in protest or they would be in for it. He’s verbally abusive too, forever telling me I was an ugly, horrible person and that if I left, he would replace me with a younger and prettier wife and would prevent me from seeing the children. Both my parents are dead and I don’t really have anywhere to run to.
“The kids are doing very well and I thank my stars he doesn’t extend his violence to them. Of course, they know what is going on, and he said they didn’t protect me because they hated me. But that is not true. When he’s not there, they give me their support but I know things couldn’t go on this way indefinitely. A couple of nights ago, the violence got so bad that I ran out and drove to a police check-point near the house, cowering behind the men like a scared rabbit”!
Why didn’t she leave? Surely anything was better than the loss of her dignity? “I’d tried to leave before but he’d hunted me down and beat me up. Whoever it was that took me in would quickly ask me to leave as they didn’t want any trouble.”
“Abuse can take the form of violence, but it can also be psychological,” explains Teresa, a counsellor who’d worked with abused women for years.
“For example, constant criticism, verbal abuse or isolating the woman from her friends or family by telling her lies or not allowing her to call them. And it’s not just the woman who suffers. Domestic abuse taints the lives of children and destroys the hopes of wives and partners. It thrives whenever the bullied are too terrified to speak out. The parent might think the child doesn’t know, but children do. They feel responsible, but they don’t know what to do.” So why does abuse happen. “In my experience,” Teresa explains, “abusive men think they have the right to have absolute control over their families. I must stress though that it’s important to remember that not all men are abusive. Many women who have been abused go on to have wonderful relationships with other men.
Tackling the epidemic of wife abuse isn’t an easy task. People need to be educated about healthy relationships and show positive role models.
Hopefully, this will reduce abuse in the future. A man who raises his fist to a defenceless woman needs urgent psychiatric help.
Who No Like Better Things?! (Humour)
A local paper in Lagos carried an advert for the job of a ‘fanny shaver’. A young hopeful rings up the number shown, and the man answers the phone and asks him some questions. “First thing first,” he says. ‘Are you single?’
“Oh yes,” says the applicant. “That’s good,” says the man. “We’ve had a lot of trouble in the past with people who are married. Their wives get annoyed. Now, secondly, do you have a current passport?” “Yes,” says the applicant. “Brilliant,” says the man. “Often find that people have a problem travelling all over the globe. They seem to find the strain of jetting from Lagos to London to South Africa, staying at top-class hotels a little bit too much to take” “Oh no, not me,” says the young hopeful. “I love to travel.”
“Great,” says the man. “And what about super models? Do you think you’d have a problem getting close to some of the most beautiful women in the world? You might even have to party with them and keep them company. How would you deal with that?’ “I’d be fine,” says the applicant.
“I love talking to women and I don’t think I’d be intimidated.” “Excellent,” says the man. “Now, what about the shaving of the fanny? Would you get flustered peeling bikini bottoms off beautiful women, foaming them up and sharing their pubic regions? This sort of intimacy can often make a man all fingers and thumbs, you know?” “No way,” say the young man.
“I have no problem with nudity or intimacy with gorgeous women. I’d be both discreet and charming.” “Well,” says the man, “you sound as if you could be just right for the job. I’ll post you a luxury bus ticket to Ibadan.” “Is that where my first job is?” asks the applicant. “Oh no,” says the man. “That’s where the queue for the interviews start.”