To be a woman is to live perpetually in a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t‘ state…To be an African woman though, Nigerian? It is akin to being hell-held!
Crazy the kind of story that would pull me out of my hiatus, but I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. Yesterday, it was reported that a popular Nigerian gospel artist lost her life to domestic violence. Sources close to the deceased say it wasn’t a one-off episode but rather an abomination that had been going on for a good long while. Then came the usual rhetoric: ‘Well why didn’t she leave?’
For every time I have ever heard/read of such an issue, it is only folks ever asking why the victim didn’t leave, or leave sooner, or why Nigeria is still a country. Never have I ever heard someone ask if the victim was even ABLE to leave.
In my generosity, I have decided to put together a quick FAQ for those who ask, and those who wonder.
1. Why didn’t she leave sooner?
Because fear paralysis? One of the most potent ingredients of abuse is fear. Heart-stopping feet-rooting fear. Stamp enough fear in a human’s heart and you’ve got a puppet for life. And because humans are optimised for survival, your minds tricks you into ‘staying so they don’t get pissed and maybe kill you’. Cos at this point you are not sure of anything; all you are is confused, scared shitless, ashamed and broken. So you try to save face, and life of course.
2. Why didn’t she leave (again)?
Because you could actually get killed in the process of? When a man wields a certain level of power over the woman he is abusing – say he knows her finances are shitty, she has no solid support system in friends or family, or he holds a certain level of authority in the world in which they live; the kind of authority that can render even the resident authorities powerless – best believe he is going to pull all those strings to get his way.
He could very well threaten to kill or mar her bloody, he can come after her family, friends nko? Men have been known to kill their own children just to hurt the mother. Simply put, SHE COULD GET KILLED TRYING TO LEAVE. No, it is actually not a far-fetched idea.
3. I hear what you’re saying oo, but why didn’t she leave na?
Leave to where, bros? What if she has no where to run to? What if her parents, family, have forbidden her from leaving the marriage? What if she has no solid friends to speak of (cos abusers try to alienate you from love for sure!)? What if amidst all of the aforementioned, she still doesn’t have a kobo to her name so she no fit just ‘rugged am’? Will you pay for her accommodation if she does? Her children’s food and health nko? You paying?
Moving requires leaving a point A to a point B; what if there is no point B for this woman?
4. But why didn’t she leave sooner? Like after the first instance of abuse?
You mean assuming the fear factor did not apply? Well sometimes you just don’t believe the crap your eyes see, so you want to be sure. Try to confirm that it wasn’t a bad dream. It often ends in tears.
5. Las las sha, na she do herself. She should have left!
What if she wanted to die? Yeah, you read that right.
Life sometimes throws such fire at you until you get to a point where you just go: ‘FUCK IT!’ (excuse my french)
You can’t feel if you’re not alive, right? But you also don’t have the will-power to kill yourself. But you also just want it all to stop. So lemme just kuku die. And then starts the waiting game for the final blow.
The christian vows that say ‘…till death do us part’ have never meant death in such a manner. Awon ‘…but the bible forbids divorce’; as it does lying, yet you have been bearing false witness since you could speak so STFU. God abhors the sin – the broken covenant. God does not abhor us – his children. God is not the kind of father that throws the baby out with the bath water. You don’t believe me? Explain the entire idea of Jesus then, I’ll wait.
As much as I’ll be the first to tell a woman to walk away from an abusive situation, even pay for the legalities if I can; I also understand fully that walking away from abuse is hardly ever cut-and-dried. Whether or not the victim is affected by what the church and other folks will say, points 1 – 5 above still stand firm.
Therefore, beloved, discard the idea that all an abuse victim needs to do is ‘walk away’ to be free. That’s a lie. Give grace, help where you can. If you are a friend or family, stand up for them, stand firm with them and be their voice if you have to! That just might be all the courage they need to finally save their life. Offer help in whatever manner possible. Hold them close. LOVE them back to sanity.
I could go on all day and not run out of things to say but folks, respectfully, here goes the answers to your abuse FAQs. Now, rest.