Suddenly everywhere was quiet. The neighbours guessed immediately that something unusual has happened. They are now used to their neighbour’s everyday ritual of violence. Their subconscious seems to have gotten use to the unpleasant music of the sound of whatever was in use during their neighbour’s daily pounding of his wife. Sometimes they wonder what he used, could it be his fist, belt or cudgels. Nobody knows but the sound of whatever and the cry of the woman and her three toddlers always attracted the empathy of the whole neighbourhood.
Well, they don’t know but whatever it is must be lethal since they have had cause to help his wife to hospital on many occasions. In fact, the medical doctor neighbour whose flat was the closest to theirs has had to resuscitate her on a few occasions before rushing her to the hospital.
But on that day the situation was different, her scream had suddenly went quiet, but after what looks like an interlude the cries of mummy, mummy, mummy by the children tore through the early night. By the time the neighbours got to their flat it was too late to save her, she was stone dead.
When is the appropriate time that women need to learn to say ‘No’ to abusive relationship? All admonition by her neighbours that no one in this world has the right to make her feel small had fallen on her deaf ears. She failed to say NO at the appropriate time and save herself from the early death.
Why do women prefer to stay in abusive relationships even if staying in such a relationship makes them suffer all through their life or even lead them to their untimely death. What would it take to make women understand that staying in an abusive relationship would yield them nothing. There are still women who prefer to stay in a bad relationship even when the ominous end of such is so obvious.
Why is it that no matter what they go through in such a relationship many women still choose to stay in the bad relationships? There is no one reason that should make women stay in a bad relationship. But the lady in this narrative had certain reasons which she always gave for tolerating the inhuman treatment she underwent that eventually led her to an early grave. Her reasons are somewhat universal to all women in abusive relationships.
Society was her major reason for refusing every counsel that she should speak out and save herself from such a traumatic situation. She believed that leaving her marriage would give her a bad image in the eyes of the public. She chose to stay in the abusive marriage, like many other are still doing, in order to save herself from having bad image in the sight of the public.
She, like many other women of her ilk, remained in the abusive relationships because she underestimated her worth. She always thought that she can’t have something better than she had in the marriage in which she was a little better than a slave. Most often women think that their partner is the best thing that has ever happened to them. A thought that make them think that their partners are heavenly made for them. No human being, not even the special creation called woman, should ever underestimate themselves in life.
The fear that leaving her husband would make her live a lonely life was another reason that made her stay in an abusive marriage until she paid with her life. Most women also nurse the fear that breaking up with their partner, will make them lead a life of a loner after having stayed in a relationship.
Her family consideration was also one of the main reasons that made her stay in the abusive marriage until she breathed her last. Members of her family did everything to stop her from leaving her abusive husband in order to save the image her parents who are both community and religious leaders.
Most of the reasons which made the lady stay in her abusive relationship until her untimely end are common to most women still alive and going through the same experience. Coupled with these is the fact that women are one of the most committed creation of God. A woman can tolerate anything from person she loves truly. This feeling of total commitment and love make them blind completely. This feeling also makes them ignore all the wrong that is done to them.
It is true that when one is loved it is because one is loved, there is no rational reason to be loved. This however does not mean that a woman should disregard all the wrong that is done to her. Women must imbibe the need to acquire the courage to speak for themselves at the appropriate time. There is time for everything, the time to say NO to that Abusive Relationship is NOW. They say Silence is golden but it is not always. Living in an abusive relationship should be one situation when silence should NOT be golden.
(Postscript: This write up is a work of fiction, it bears no semblance to any person living or dead. The characters in the piece only exist in the fertile imagination of the writer.)
DayòOlágúnjú, a gender democrat, is a retired Education Officer whose whole career has been devoted to advocating for democratization of education. He has always advocated the use of mother tongue in the basic education of the child as the panacea to the production of schooled but uneducated citizens.