Coming out on the other side

Coming out on the other side

Photo Credit: BigStock

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.


Happily Never After

Happily Never After

 For some Ugandan women, the case of happily ever after is a tale that has remained in the story books and Telemundos. Violet watched as the man she fell in love with became a monster, hoping against hope that he would change. I listened intently as Violet narrated her story to me.

“Ours was love at first sight, he was the storybook tall, dark, and handsome or at least that is what I thought. It was two years after graduation.  Long story short, we got married. A few months later, I was pregnant. He was responsible and I had no doubt that he loved me.  When the child was born, I noticed that he started staying out late with his friends.  I brought up the issue and he instead brought his friends home every day of the week – they ate all the food in the house. This became an issue.

When I finally got a salaried job, he stopped buying food or anything for the house.

We were arguing one day I don’t remember about what when he slapped me, I slapped him back. He kicked me, pulled my hair and hit me with every object his hands could touch. He was like a rabid dog. I thought that it was a one off, but later, it became routine. In the morning, he would apologise and tell me that he did it because of the alcohol and that he would never do it again. I clung to every word that he said.

I was tired of neighbours’ peeking eyes that pried the nightly scuffles. I secured a salary loan from the bank, bought a piece of land and started to build a house. We moved into the house in an isolated place outside town.

I wanted to stay married because I didn’t want my friends and relatives to know that I was fighting with my man. For a few years, we had been the perfect couple.  When my boy was three, the fighting intensified. At 3:00 am, he would return home drunk, and chase all of us away from home – My kids, my maid and  we would spend the rest of the night in the bush.

I thought enough was enough. I called my father to mediate. My husband told my father to take me away with him. My father asked me to go back home with him. I refused. I was hoping that he (my husband) would change. He was a different person when he wasn’t drunk. It is like they were two people. I clung onto the good sober person that I had fallen in love with. I turned my eyes to church to pray for him. I prayed for peace for my in the family, I prayed for peace to grease my heart. The peace for my heart was an illusion. I dragged him to church, they prayed for him I didn’t see the results for months until he got saved. We savoured some peace.

Those few months when he ‘got saved’, I decided to have another child. I was six months pregnant when he started to drink again. He started beating me, he would strangle me, urinate on the bed, and sometimes even shit on the bed.  Yes, you heard right a grown man defecating on our marital bed. I would be expected to wash up the mess in the morning.  I cannot count the times he said that he hated me.

I thought that he would change. Often, I went to work with a black eye. At work, it was an open secret that I was being battered. Where was I supposed to go?  I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere not even at my parents’ home. I was scared of the gossip of the villagers. I was stuck. I decided to stay. I felt like no one would truly understand my predicament.

The day I gave birth to our second son, my husband didn’t show up at the hospital. He texted me saying that there was no food at home. He had been fired from his job because of alcohol.

One day, I was coming from fieldwork on a dirt path that leads to my home, I saw two people wiggling in the grass, I requested the company driver that was dropping me home to switch on the full headlights. The driver turned on the headlights. I quickly asked him to switch them back to normal, because I noticed that it was my husband on top of a woman – a village drunk. We all knew her in that village as that woman who got drunk every day. I was speechless but my mind was racing. That was the last straw. I got home, bade the company driver goodbye. My mind went blank. I sunk into the couch.  Checked on the kids. I paced. I couldn’t sleep. I was losing my head. About three hours later, he knocked at the door. I refused to open. I told him to sleep outside. He banged the door as if he would break it with his bare hands. I placed the kids and the maid in one room. There was silence- a calm like one before a storm. My mind was telling me that he would kill me. I tiptoed and unbolted the door and I run back locking myself in the room with the kids. A few minutes later, he fell inside the house when he came  back to bang the door with force.  He snarled and yelled, threatening to kill us if he lay his hands on us. This was the last straw.

When he fell asleep, I packed my stuff. I waiting for dawn and I left never to look back. Leaving everything behind, I had lost my job already. I had nothing left to fight for.  I had saved up some money, I started a business. I didn’t have time for a pity party. Driven by the determination to work hard for my children, I moved on.

When I left him,  I started to talk about the abuse. I didn’t care who listened to my story, I told it to everybody like a broken record. It is only when I started to speak out that I realised that silence was the key to the handcuffs. When I broke the silence that had held me captive, my friends started to counsel me, my family received me and accepted me. By God’s grace, I started to heal. I am still healing. It has been five years since I started the healing journey.

The consequences of his actions live with us. One of my boys the other day was diagnosed with severe anxiety and has had sleeping disorders since he was three.

At first, he (my ex) would call promising to send school fees for the kids, I would wait for the school fees in vain. I stopped waiting for him when I realised that his empty promises were one of the ways to keep himself relevant in our lives.

I have moved on since. My business is doing very well and I can take care of myself and my children. He is just a past chapter in my life.  I love my boys, I will work to the very last drop of my sweat to give them a good future. To the women that are stuck in abusive marriages, there will always be signs, leave the relationship when the signs begin because changing a grown up is hard.”


Side Note: Are you an overcomer of an abusive relationship and would like to share your story? Please share  to encourage those that are stuck in these toxic relationships. Get in touch with me at I would like to tell your story.