I might not get to all of your emails or even respond, but I appreciate them. The questions, emails, comments, criticisms and also information some of you share with me. I love learning, pushing the envelope and challenging my mind. Your thoughts, comments, questions and the different perspectives you share with me allow me to do just that. Thank you.
I was reading through the many emails I receive from many of you and this one really moved me. The AML reader has permitted me to share it with you all.
I really thank you for raising the issues regarding Susan Yusuf and Nkechi. However, I feel it’s a long road to walk before people take domestic violence as a serious offense, especially in Africa. I couldn’t sleep all night, because I became haunted with my past. Honestly, some days are better than others but the reality is my past is what’s made me stronger. It took years [and I mean years] to define who I am. Growing up my mom was married to a man from Sierra Leone, and he would constantly beat her with any object in sight or lock her in a room for days at a time. Later he’d apologize saying that growing up that’s what he saw his father do to his mother.
In the process of it all I would turn to my school work as my outlet, which I became was placed in gifted and talent classes at an early age, but no one ever understood why I poured myself into reading numerous books at a time. It was a place I could escape to and laugh and dream about being one of the characters in the books. If I had a baby doll to play with I would always guard the doll, swearing to protect the doll as my child. I remember times I would be sleep and I hear my mom scream and I would run right into the middle of things. I learned to fight at an early age. I would go to school and get sent to detention, and when my principle would see me in the office she couldn’t believe as tiny as I was how I man handled the biggest male kids in the school. If someone would get close in my face, I would panic and be ready to fight with all my might. It took a while for my mom to realize that I was only acting out what I saw at home, but I refused to be the loser. I’ve only fought a girl twice in my life…and the 1st time I feel weak because I didn’t want to hit a girl regardless of what she did to me, so I told the girl to bring her brother to school and I would whip him. You can imagine when the girl brought her brother to school a week later, I beat him and knocked him down the steps that he ended up on crutches. As an adult I’m not proud of my actions, but I do realize where it stemmed from.
As a small child I began to confuse anger with love. And I took an oath swearing that I would never allow anyone to love me because I didn’t want to have to take a beating. By the time I was 13 my mom grew the courage to leave. So it’s only a wonder you would think the healing process would start, but it only worsen. As happy as my mom was to leave, she felt that she allowed her marriage to fall apart because she wasn’t a quitter and at times she would even consider going back with the disillusion that she could fix her marriage. It now made me grow even anger at my mom because I’m like, lady I’ve been there to help you during the beatings and I even tolerated her abuse towards me. One doesn’t realize that when someone is being abused they in return take it out on the closet person next to them. Which I would have to tolerate my mom backlashes on me.
My maternal grandmother passed when I was 2yrs old and though I don’t remember her I would always feel this connection since my mom would always say I tied a scarf on my head with that same crookedness as my grandma and at times acted as if I was the mommy instead of the child. I would sit in the corner and talk to my maternal grandma and tell her that mommy was sick and why did she have to die and leave a sick daughter behind, and if grandma could only as God to help mommy not be sick anymore. Because only a sick person would let someone beat them until my mom finger became deformed from due to a butcher knife stabbing her as we entered the apartment door.
Ms. Uduak, sorry if this is a ramble of too many thoughts. However, these are things that I would not eagerly talk about outside of my circle. Right now, I’m just writing the flashbacks, from my heart which haunts me every day. So we move on from I guess what I would call emotional abuse since my then stepfather was only hitting my mother, but it took an emotional toll on me.
Once we left out of that situation another chapter opens. My mom moves on with her life and meets another gentleman. No beatings yet I now await my soon-to-be abuse. At the age of 14 ½ yrs., my mom’s new finance, starts taking me out for driving lessons and I received my permit at 15. However, one day after driving session is over…I go back to his office and he raped me. My whole world just spun because now I had to be raped and again silenced because he told me if I told my mom he would put us out the house we lived in and that my mom was not strong enough to stand on her own as a woman.
But as God would have it he intervened in another way. One night around 11pm my mom asked me to follow her to 7-eleven and during the ride she told me that she was bringing home a little 5 year old girl she had adopted from the church. We had stewardship at our church were you could volunteer to help needy children, and the little girl was being raised by her grandma due to her mom being a drug addict. At that moment, I felt my chest pound so heavily and I started screaming, “No, No, we can’t bring her home”. I told my mom what had happened to me three weeks prior, because I didn’t want another child come into the house and being attacked of her innocence, especially at such a small age, who would protect her.
Moving ahead, I just wanted to rebirth my life and move forward, it was my senior year in high school and I had been accepted to several schools and I got pregnant with my son. Something that I know was a hard pill for my mother to swallow. But I had become a rebellious teen and just wanted to move forward with my life, and plus I knew it pained her cause she is a big education fanatic as most of our parents are. But I guess in my mind I felt I had to have control, because all my life others controlled my emotions, and the abuse.
Approximately two weeks after giving birth to my son my son’s father hits me in public for the first time. I remember so clearly it was the night before the Million Man March, and I place the car seat my son was sitting in on the back of the trunk of the car, and I put my hands up as in boxing like come on you want to fight, let’s fight…at the same time I was saying I’m taking this child to the Million Man March to hear Farrakhan speak especially since my son’s father just called me a bitch. I guess from that day the next time he approached me he made sure he tackled me down first. At first I was in denial…my girlfriend came over one day and I had some shorts on…forgetting that she was there and she noticed bruises all up and down my legs. When she asked me what happened I ignored her and began crying with anger because I was mad. I felt not only did he hit me, but now someone had noticed and now told my mother and she begged me to stay because she felt we were young and could work it out but if I left she would support my decision. Little did that help she turned on me trying to help him.
The beatings became more and more to the point one day I had to call his job for him and he had to call my job for me. Neither of us could go to work because we beat each other badly. That’s when I knew it was time to roll out. The last straw was the beating the night before my sister died he beat me again, this time in front of my son and I stopped breathing for a few seconds and my son was screaming, daddy stop. . . The next day I find out my old sister passed away…and from that moment in 1997 I called it quits, and even had to go to my sister’s funeral with shades on due to having two black eyes.
In a nutshell years have pasted but it really took me a lot of lost sleep, strength and the strength behind strength to move forward with my life. I know those issues were many reasons why I would always run from anyone that came too close to me or at times I would tolerate other issues because I felt hey so and so isn’t beating me. But one thing for sure I lived on my own for many years because I never wanted a man to think that he had to control me or my son. At times I think that some of those reasons are selfish, because I might’ve missed out on what life had to offer me. But that was then and this is now.
When I got married last April my family was shocked because I didn’t tell anyone but my parents and a few family members, so most people found out through facebook. I remember our first date I visited his church and that day the guest pastor (prophet) called me forth and began telling me my story of what I had been through and I remember being embarrassed because at the time I had yet to tell my husband (then guy I had met) anything about me or my past.
When we decided to take that leap I did it quietly because in the past I called off one to many engagements cause I would get cold feet thinking about what to do next and wondering if the person really would understand those issues above I stated. However, I do have a big heart and when I love, I love…but I had to realize that it’s selfish of me not to allow my life to move forward. Therefore as my husband and I exchanged our nuptials last April at City Hall in NY…I truly believe no marriage is icing on the cake, that’s why they tell u to save part of the cake! LOL!!! But my husband understands the inner me and it allowed me to open up to him about all these issues and that in itself helped me to be able to move forward. Though I’ve talked to women…I never realized that I needed to speak to a man, let a man know how I felt to be violated by another man. There are times that my husband knows that he has to have patience with me even in the beginning with intimacy because I wasn’t use to living with a man every day and therefore without being graphic at times I didn’t want to routinely be intimate because that rape still haunts me. But when a person wholeheartedly accepts you for who you are…you begin to work through those things together. And at this stage in my life, I have begun to find “the me in me again”.
I pray for the souls that have gone on with the Lord due to violence and I pray for those that are still fighting to hold on. I ask God to allow someone to be their outlet…and discover the strength in them and know that someone does care. . .
Funniest thing is I still haven’t gotten behind the wheel to drive, cause I think back to that day at 15 but hopefully one day I will overcome that fear! Take care
signed- (Name withheld)
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