Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When Is It Enough? By Stella Damasus



   It was 8 o’clock that morning and I was already dressed in my black dress, black shoes and no make-up, with my brushed hair in a pony tail. I was heading to Yaba for a friend’s funeral.
   She was 35 and beautiful, a mother of two beautiful children. I really did not want to go because I was not sure of how I was going to react. I was not sure if I could pull myself together.
   Anyway, I got to the church and it was filled with people who knew her and who had heard of her. As I approached the church, I was already battling with the huge lump in my throat, making sure that I could at least sit through the service. I managed to get inside, and then the ushers took me up-front to sit with the family.
       I saw her mother and siblings who were weeping uncontrollably, so I tried to console them while battling with that same lump in my throat. I did all I could until the kids walked into the church with the nanny. Oh my goodness, now that lump has melted into liquid, the flood gates were flung open and the tears started gushing out. It was not a very pleasant sight as the choir leader could not continue the song.
   This is to give you an insight into the kind of person my friend was and the life she lived.
She was extremely intelligent, kind, simple and most of all was in love with God and His word.
Well, as I tried to calm down, he walked in —THE HUSBAND.
    I am sure by now you are thinking I would run to console him since I was very close to her and he knew me. Instead, I stood up and walked to the other side of the church and sat down. That was when I knew how much respect I had for the church and the dead.
   If I could, I would have locked him up in the coffin so he could go with her; after all, he put her there in the first place.
    We had all begged, prayed, complained, reported, and fought, just to get him to stop beating her. I was tired of seeing the black eye, the swollen face, the bruised arms and the constant headaches. It was so bad that I had to tell him that one day he would do something really bad to his wife and end up behind bars. Little did I know that the day in question was fast approaching.
   He had beaten her so much for sending  her own money to her mother without telling him, and when she tried to protect herself by pushing him off her, he got infuriated and hit her head on the wall.
    This time no black eye, no bruise to worry about, she just did not wake up.
  When her sister called me in the middle of the night, I was not sure whether to cry or get angry or scream. My whole body was shaking and all I could say was “no… no… no… please God, no, no, no… please”.
   I started to feel guilty, “maybe I should have moved her out of there” but then again who am I to move her out of her husband’s house when she herself refused to move. It really hurt, so much that even as I am writing this I am still crying.
   The case was taken to court and was dismissed, because according to the courts the evidence was not enough, and so he was discharged and acquitted.
     In a country where an accurate autopsy cannot be carried out, let alone thoroughly investigate a crime, what do you expect?
She is dead and gone but the killer is walking free, and as usual, he has custody of the children whom he has passed on to his new wife.
     My heart has been bleeding ever since because I know that this is happening to so many women. Some are still alive today to tell their stories, some are afraid to cry out for help; some cover up when they are asked questions about their black eye; some believe that there is no justice for the abused woman because other cases they have heard of, have always favoured the man, and lastly, some are no longer alive to speak up.
As sad as this is, it is still happening even as I write.
Now it has progressed to acid baths, body mutilation, and other unthinkable things.
      In anger, I stormed to the church we all attended and demanded to see the head pastor. When he came out, I screamed and yelled and people came into the church to hold me down. Please, do not think I disrespect men of God. Oh, far from it, in fact I respect them so much because without some of them who have mentored me, I would not be the person I am today.
    Truth of the matter is, my late friend’s sister told me that a few days before she died, she had gone to meet the pastor in fear because she had another fight with her husband who told her that he was ready to kill her and nothing would happen to him. He kept saying in pidgin English: “na naija we dey o and when you die your dead body no go come prove to the court say na me kill you”.
   My late friend then called her sister to tell her what had happened and that she was going to see the pastor.
I asked her sister: “Why pastor? Why not police?”
The sister laughed and said: “Do you know how many times she tried that? The policeman she met on duty laughed and said, ‘madam na domestic matter be dis abeg, husband and wife must fight, go beg your husband’ ”.
When her husband found out, he laughed and asked if she thought she was in America, then he beat her some more for even attempting.
So, she went to the pastor and told him everything again because that was not the first time she went to him to complain and ask for help. As usual the pastor said: “My daughter, there is nothing God cannot do. Please, prayer is what you need. Keep praying to God to touch his heart, he will not kill you and he will not harm you. Go back home and maintain peace, please; remember that God hates divorce so you cannot leave your home and children”. She left there feeling so dejected and scared, and so she called her sister and told her what the pastor had said.
I tried to think about what could have been going on in her head everyday of her life, thinking that there is no SAFE HAVEN. The man who swore to love and protect you is the one who is killing you; the parents who gave you to him in marriage will tell you not to leave your home because it is not a family trait and it will bring shame upon the family. You are too ashamed to even let people know you are going through domestic violence for fear of being stigmatized; you are not protected by law enforcement agents nor the law because some of them do the same thing to their wives; then the only place which is the house of God also tells you to go back to the place where you are being destroyed.
My heart broke and that was when I wept the most, because no one knows what she could have gone through alone.
So, I looked at this pastor and said ‘I hope you are happy now, I hope you are satisfied that she listened to you and got killed in the process’.
I am not saying I support separation or women running out of their homes, but I insist that there must be temporary measures to take the woman to a safe place until things can be resolved. She has to, at least, be alive first before any reconciliation or anything can even take place.
My question today is: what does the church do in cases like this? Is it saying that because of doctrines women should remain there and die? Is it saying that apart from prayer there is no other way to help?
I poured out my heart to the pastor and asked him a question directly without any apologies, “If your daughter came to you, bruised everyday, threatened and battered, would you tell her to go back there and pray? What if she does and gets killed? What would your reaction be? Will you be able to live with yourself?”
Then I calmed down and said God bless you pastor and thank you, I hope this means she will go to heaven.
He could not utter a word, so I walked out.
Call this ranting, lamenting, disrespectful, but one thing is for sure. We need answers, we need to shout it out loud, we need to educate women and let them know they can cry out for help.
I can’t stress this enough, if you are going through any form of violence, especially domestic violence, you can get help. Please don’t die for nothing. Make that call to Project Alert now 01-4737270, 08052004698 or send an email to projectalert@projectalertnig.org, log on to their website www.projectalertnig.org.
Enough is enough; the time to act is now. Say No To Domestic Violence.
This piece is dedicated to all the women who have lost their lives through domestic violence.
May their souls rest in peace.

26 comments:

  1. I know girls that were already enduring the abuse from their boyfriend (not even husband). And they feel it was expected and blame themselves for provoking it. Ade www.introducingade.blogspot.com

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  2. stella this article makes sense, many ladies are living with this kind of situation,walk out of the abusive marriage,no man has the right to lay finger on his wife . May your friend's soul rest in peace

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  3. Hmmm na why o. Tell those stupid women who thinks is love to be beaten by boyfriend or husband. A friend of mine told me that she love it when a man she is dating beats her.

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  4. As much as divorce and separation is not the will of God, neither is wife battery and the church will never condone it. It is adviceable and our practice that the wife moves out of the house if she is physically assaulted by her husband so that cases of death like this would not occur. God bless us all.

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    1. Hmmmmm.weldone sister stella. I hope ladies out there will learn frm dis piece. I was once a victim of battery in my relationship, it was'nt a good experience. I had to run for ma life even when d guy was promising to change. I was scared even to say I wanted to quit d relationship, cos most times nothing triggers d quarrel btw us. He just loved doing it. I thank God I had d courage to leave n I am in a perfect n healty relationship. Ladies pls let's all b careful.

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    2. WELL SPOKEN

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  5. Hmmmmmmm,stella u av done well.if any woman or lady dies of battery its basicly dier own fault.May ur friends soul rest in peace.

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  6. I luv dis u are doin.jst givin dis advice 2 woman who are goin through such problem,sho pls stand up 4 deir right.it high time we woman stand up 4 ur right.ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

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  7. My God I feel so torched! Tears just fail my eyes now. GoD were ar u? I dnt even knw what to say! My heart is broken I feel so much pain inside Me rite now!stella I pray that GoD Give u the strangt to carry this assinment.

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  8. Wow,stella i can't thank u enof 4 dis, even my own mother was a victim while i was growin up! Thank u so much. The world is fast changing and so shud everytin. The time wen d women sat @ home and tot their case was hopeless is now long gone. God bless u Stella and may he give u d grace to accomplish dis mission.

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  9. May her soul rest in peace, I advise a lot of women dat they is no marriage in heaven, marriage is of d flesh, if u r not enjoying it quitely work away,marriage is to be enjoyed not to be endured as most women say[make I just manage] manage untill u die?

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  10. Hmmmmmm,well done my sister,I pray for God's wisdom in dis new assignment he has given to u.I've been true this so I know wat it is to be beaten nd battered.I had to wait for my husband to travel nd I carried my things nd ran for my dear life.cos d dead don't tell stories.am healthy,hearty nd can do all things through Christ who strenghtens me,I ve moved on now.

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  11. Hv fled domestic abuse thank God am in a country dats against it.evn aftr cheatn on me ad hvn three kids wit three women felt i shuld forgive him ad lets move on..no,he says am cheatn on him.its nt easy to let go i hv my children to live 4 if nothn else.

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  12. Tank you for your advice,I was also a victim and it was the worst experience ever.Now in another relationship and I think God sent him to me to dry my eyes and put a smile on my face.Say no to abuse women,we are also human beings

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  13. Thanks for sharing this, Ms. Damasus. Women need to know it's not the end of the world to admit defeat in an abusive relationship and move on (or run, as the case may be). Despite advice and societal norms, only the battered person can stand up for herself. Wait for people to endorse your decision and you might die for it. Let's learn from this story; it's not entertainment!

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  14. Marriage is for the living,life is more important than marriage,but unfortunately our sisters are hard of hearing.

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  15. I just pray that people get to realize that it takes God and the fear of Him to sustain the relationship called marriage. Its too late to cry out now. all we can do is advice people at the sacred table to take a cue and give proper advice to members who face such things, to avoid unnecessary deaths. if the pastor had asked her to leave, as hard as it sounds, she would have still been alive by now. lets not allow "religiousity" as they call it to becloud our sense of balanced judgement.

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  16. People have fail to remember Marriage is a calling! Lets not fall victim in th name of marriage or translating the word of God in ur own language>>> Thanks Stella

    This is a wake up call for Women, NIGERIA, AFRICA and a warning to MEN....

    'NUJU..

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  17. This is just one of out millions of the diabolic acts of many men. they call it men's world, but to me, its simply den's world. how be it ,many take marital issues too religious than using a rational common sense. I have always said this 'In order to sustain a relationship, marital or otherwise, Common sense is more ultimate than Love'If you disbelieve, ask me ! (08029181459) iamtundeidowu@yahoo.com

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  18. Dis is awesome,God hates devorce nt d person,so Ɣ shld we want to die in a lions den cald marriage whn ΰ A̶̲̥̅я̲̅ε̲̣̣̣̥ beaten like a thief everytime,i pray God helps ΰ stella wt dis project,nd ΰ need us to push it forward.let's stand up WOMEN nd fight for our right nw!!!enough is enough

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  19. my darling daugther is bn raped and beating by her husband of 8 months and she left her home but she is pleading that the bearst should cum and take her back. i only pray she can see this and stay far away from him.God bless you stella for high lighting this issue and wont mind to help in anyway.

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  20. Tanx 4 dis wondful piece.my heart pounds as I read cos come to think of hw enlighten our 9ija guys were most of dem still had d guts to lay deir firlty hands on a woman dat carried his child 4 9mths. Such men is suffering frm inferiority complex,timidity, and no self control. They re so heartless. But y do I nd to endure or manage a beast dat lays his hands on me evry minute I will definitely take a work period. Pls women shld b wise & smart to act wen such situation comes. God has gvn us wisdom so make us of it.

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  21. Infact some of our women need to be educated and church should be left out in this cos God did not say u should be beaten to death in marriage.some women bear these things bcos of what d society will say n they will be seen as losers of women who can't stay in a mans house. women!women!!women!!! Wise up n live

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  22. Yusuf- Stella,thanks a million for coming up with this initiative. I hope God will give you the strenght to see it to fruition. I will be ready to support your course and pray that your fellow women won't sabotage it. Its only a coward that finds solace in wife battery

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  23. Nice one stella.the problem starts by choosing to marry d wrong person.marriage is divine.u can't use ur discretion to choose.Remember Adam did not beat Eve even when she led him to eat the forbidden fruit.No marriage recorded battery in the bible that was instituted by God.people must start depending on God to choose for them.God never meant evil for mankind wen He instituted marriage.marriage can be a heaven on earth if u r directed by God.Not all good lookin people have the potentials to be a good spouse.u need God to lead u to someone who knows his/her Bible responsibilites as a spouse and also ready to fulfill it.even if there are challenges it wont get to battery.my mummy was a victim and i had to tell her to leave.she got it wrong from the start.,praise God she is alive serving d Lord.For God to direct u you must av a perfect relationship with Him....................YOMI

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