My friend texted me after she had read the “Happily Never After” story that I featured on this blog last week. She asked whether I was only writing about Ugandans that had overcome abusive relationships and I told her that if I got an opportunity to interview those outside Uganda, I would definitely take it on. She told me that she had written her story it was on her computer but she hand not shared it on any of her platforms. Being the brilliant person she is, I knew that she would tell the story more than I ever could. Here is her story of overcoming from an abusive relationship.
Sometimes when you want something so badly, when you get it, you want to hold on to it forever. That was the case with me and what I thought then was my soul mate. In my second year at the university, 21-year-old me, in the process of exiting a relationship with one of those boys your mother says never to date, I met him. He was funny, broody at times, confident, and as far as looks go by, not bad. In my mind, he was a major upgrade from my soon to be ex. He was a friend’s friend; a team player and we soon became inseparable.
He told me he had slapped a girl once before when he was at varsity. He said that he really hadn’t meant to but she had pushed him and he apologized. I believed people could change and of course, I would never let that happen to me. I fell in love. I had found the one person I could be completely honest with.
Funny thing is that I didn’t see this as a warning coming from the horse’s mouth, I never heeded the warning, eyes wide open I found myself in a relationship with an abuser. It started with the comments meant to break down my confidence “what good will come out of that degree you are studying” I took it as a joke. “Look at her, that one can be very stupid sometimes” but I thought he was just teasing.
This extended to the flat out denial, when it suited him, that were not together. All these things said in front of close friends, and It didn’t occur to me that he was trying to publicly shame me. I did not think it was said in a way to hurt me-he loved me, surely we were just joking. Things escalated from emotional tormenting to physical abuse.
The first time I remember quite vividly. A few hours before my best friend’s birthday celebrations, I found myself pinned on my bed, rationalizing with a man who had just spat on me not to land the fist hovering over my eye he still needed to go to work and I had to make it to my friend’s birthday. This was over a cell phone I had dropped by mistake. That was the culmination of the violence and I realized the person I was with. The apology came with lines of I did not deserve to be treated like that, and I thought it would never happen again.
People ask you why you never left the first time? Why did you allow yourself to stay? It’s not like you were married or he owned the house you were staying in. For two and a half years. I had wanted it to work so badly because he got me – I was literally dangerously in love. Sometimes we have to let our guard down and be vulnerable with people, but we choose the wrong people. Every time I took him back, it meant I lost a little bit of myself.
Over two years, I negotiated situations and avoided triggers, I learnt to read this man to avoid the punches. I felt like it was my fault that on a night out he couldn’t find me so he choked me for leaving him at the club. This was on my birthday. He had missed my birthday dinner, then showed up drunk to the dancing afterwards. He found me waiting for him as he had called to say he was on his way. I remember the necklace I was wearing being ripped off my neck. When people pulled him away from me, I ran to the nearest cab and went home.
I fought back. I had taken him back after a long separation which included a move to a different country. In his reconciliation visit, a blow meant for me landed on my friend. I felt more rage that he had attacked her and went after him. Suffice to say, I came out worse. I fell and got kicked in the face. It took a couple of guys who I am forever grateful to intervene and pull him off me.
When my friend begged me to go to the police station, I did not report him but instead the police took me home. I was always making excuses to make sure he did not have to be held accountable.
My friend once said after I took him back, “We are going to bury you after he does something to you.” Now that was the literal rock bottom. I was 23 and I was devastated that the man I loved would not change. I thought that I could save him from his own issues. It took a long time for me to comprehend the fact I did not do anything to provoke him.
With time, prayer, friends, determination to become the first graduate in my family and saw me through. I am a believer in God and at my lowest he saved me.
Some will ask why did he not intervene in the middle of it all? How do you save someone who refuses to take your hand? We all need one friend that holds us accountable.
I had the opportunity to figure things out myself, something I never thought I would be able to do. I have not lived in the same country as my abuser in the last years so I could forget him. The thing with coming out alive is sometimes the elements come together and work in your favour where you never have to be in the same space or breathe the same air with a man who made you question your worth.
In the end, the biggest lesson I have learnt is that there is no type cast for who gets abused. A man or woman uncomfortable in their own skin will seek some form of power over another. For the man who abused me, he chose to vent his demons on me. I am able to share my story not seeking self-pity but to help who ever needs to hear it. Thankfully my pain made me strong and gave me the determination to rise against the odds.