My Husband; My Tormentor PT.III

My Husband; My Tormentor PT.III

Scroll Down Scroll Down

Please read this disclaimer before reading this story. 

DISCLAIMER: In this series, we will be covering stories on Toxic and abusive relationships. This may be a triggering topic for some. This particular story mentions instances of gaslighting, intimidation, threats as well as other forms of emotional abuse. It also contains mentions of stalking and controlling behaviour.  Kindly remember to be mindful of your mental well-being and that of others when reading and sharing this story.

We drove quietly to my sister’s place. We agreed that the nitty-gritties of what had transpired would be discussed later. I spent that night at my sister’s place. The following day, by 10 a.m., my whole family knew what had transpired – from my mother to my aunties and uncles. We are a family like any other, with ups and downs, but we are closely knit. In my father’s absence, my uncles had been very instrumental in our lives, especially my maternal uncles. There was a lot of concern about the situation.

My siblings, uncles, and everyone else were the ones trying to find a solution to my marital problem. One day, I was relaxing in my sister’s house on Mombasa Road when I got a phone call from a private number. Of course, given everything that had happened, I was scared. I shared this with my sister. By this point, I had shown her the messages and told her all the stories about my previous experience with stalking. I panicked. It had become the norm that whenever my phone beeped, I was struck by fear because I didn’t know who would torment me. I didn’t know what to expect.

My sister told me, “Don’t worry, I am here. You’re safe. This is a safe space. We are okay. Just answer the call so we can hear.”

When I answered, I was told the call was coming from the OCPD Parklands Police Station. After confirming that he was speaking to the correct person, he informed me that a report had been made concerning me at the police station that morning. The report was that I threatened to kill somebody. I was shocked!

He asked me, “Do you know someone by the name of so-and-so?” I gave an affirmative answer – that was my husband’s name. Turns out he was the one who made the report. He said that I had threatened to kill him the previous night. My husband had reported that when he came home from work, I started a confrontation, pulled out a pair of scissors, and wanted to stab him. He claimed he had to run out of the room. He claimed that I had mental issues, and he believed I was planning to kill him.

I was shaking. I thought my husband’s torment was over, but here we still were. I tried to deny the allegations and convince the OCPD that I had no idea what he was talking about. His only answer was, “Madam, you are required to come to this station at the earliest possible time to record a statement.”

I tried to let the OCPD know that I was unwell. I told him that I hoped that, as my husband reported how I tried to stab him, he also noted that my mobility was limited. I said that with my limited mobility, making it from Mombasa Road to Parklands would be challenging. I could barely move! He didn’t care. He very arrogantly told me, “That’s your problem! Find how you’re going to get here. We don’t want to escalate this to another level.” I knew that meant there was a risk of my getting arrested. I hang up. My sister was listening to the conversation the whole time. She couldn’t believe it either.

We called my uncle, who was also in Nairobi. He was a very senior military officer, which -I can admit with great humility – helped me in this situation. He quickly put on that hat and said that no cop would intimidate me into anything. He ordered me to stay home until he resolved the issue himself. I guess he found ways to communicate with the OCPD. I thought he did it directly, but it was only later that I found out he sent his junior officers. The OCPD didn’t even know who he was dealing with. My uncle just wanted to lay the ground and see how the situation would unfold to get to the root of the problem before stepping in himself. By that afternoon, my uncle had called back.

He reassured me that everything would be okay. He told me he had spoken to my mother, who was coming from Machakos to Nairobi;also, he had given my siblings instructions to accompany me to Parklands Police Station the next day. He told me to be there by 10 a.m. and to play it cool. He wanted us to establish what my husband had done at the police station. We knew the OCPD and my husband were from the same tribe, so we suspected they had their own conversation there. The sort that went, “Do me a favour, arrest my wife.”

The conversation with my uncle and knowing he was on the case calmed me. It helped to know that I at least had some form of protection. My mum arrived that evening and spent the night at my brother’s. The following morning, we set out to the police station.

When we arrived, my husband was already there. He was in the parking lot with an official car -one of those with the parastatal blue plates. Remember, he was a very senior person in society at the time. As per my uncle’s instructions, we played it cool. We didn’t put on any airs because a military official was on our side; we just acted like any other person summoned to the police station.

I reported at the desk that I had been summoned. By the time I walked into the office, I found my husband and the OCPD laughing and chatting in their mother tongue. My mother and siblings were not allowed to come in with me. I was offered a chair. I knew I was in enemy territory, so I decided to make the most of my back injury. I declined the offer to sit and informed the OCPD that I couldn’t lower myself to the chair he had in his office because of my back injury and the brace I had to wear. He allowed me to talk while standing.

“You had an accident?” The OCPD asked. I told him to ask my husband because he knew the genesis of my back problem.

The OCPD opened the OB book. He was busy with a pen, pointing at various sections and saying how my husband recorded a statement and repeated everything he had told me over the phone. He added that after realising my plan to kill my husband hadn’t worked, I called my family and turned the tables on my husband by informing them that I was the one who was in danger.

“Okay,” I answered calmly. “Let’s assume I took the scissors and wanted to stab my husband. As you can see, I cannot even sit down because I’m wearing a brace, meaning I’m helpless. Maybe if I didn’t have this brace and this back problem, I could have been the one to kill him. But in my current situation, it would be very easy if anyone wanted to do anything to me. Has my husband told you, or have you asked yourself by the time I purportedly thought of picking up a pair of scissors in my situation, what had transpired ?”

He retorted, “You know, madam that is not the point. It is the threat that is the problem. You know it’s against the law and a serious offence.”

I maintained my cool and continued to play along. I didn’t even deny that I had touched a pair of scissors. I asked the OCPD, “What if I told you that my husband is the one who started by threatening me and has been doing so for some time?”

“Threatening you with what, madam? You know we’re talking about last night.”

I took out my phone. Remember, my husband knew all this time that he had deleted any and all evidence of the messages he used to send me. I opened my saved messages and gave my phone to the OCPD. I asked him to read all those messages from the beginning.

The tables had turned by the time he finished and put down my phone. He turned to my husband and asked, “Sir, what is happening here? What is going on between the two of you? Sir, this looks like a different story from what you had told me!”

The OCPD was in shock. His tune changed, and he stopped saying I had committed a criminal offence and should be arrested. Aliruka bwana wangu. He told him this looked like a domestic matter and recommended that we go and sort out the issues with our families. He told my husband, “If you say your wife took scissors to stab you as you have reported, then I can see where it started from.”

As all this was happening, I was glancing at the OB book. There was nothing where the OCPD kept pointing and saying my husband had recorded a statement. He had not recorded anything. This was just an attempt at intimidation. The OCPD washed his hands off the case and said he could not deal with it. That’s how that case ended.

The OCPD stood up and opened the door for us. I walked out first. My mum, sister, older brother, and brother-in-law stood there, waiting for the worst thing to happen.

My husband followed me out of the office, passed all of us silently, went to his car and driver and sped off. We left the station and went to a restaurant, and I briefed my family about what had transpired. It was at that point I showed my mum those messages as well. That’s the moment they all realised the marriage was over. I never went back.

For three years, I was away from my children. There was a lot of back and forth. Every so often, he would disappear with them, and my uncles had to send a delegation to his family to try and sort that out. He used our children as pawns in his controlling game. Because of the disappearing acts he would pull, they were constantly in and out of school – sometimes, they’d even be out of school for up to a month at a time. I wouldn’t even know where they were. We ended up sorting the matter out in court. Of course, the courts recognize that children must come first. Their welfare is essential.

I didn’t want anything in that home. I left with nothing, not even my clothes. I literally started from scratch after leaving. I am not ashamed to admit that I had to buy everything again – down to my innerwear. I wore my sister’s clothes for a month. I remember there was a Nakumatt supermarket near her house where I bought things.I only returned to my matrimonial home to collect my academic and personal documents.

The day I was going to pick up my stuff, my ex-husband made sure the house was locked, and even the house help was nowhere in sight. He claimed he was busy, so i had to wait. I sat on the veranda for more than half a day. Our house was in a court, and some of the neighbours who were stay-at-home parents were concerned. They couldn’t understand why I was sitting outside my own home. It was a close-knit community, and you know people talk, so I was sure the word had spread that something had happened. I could tell from their interest that they were waiting to see how everything would play out.

At around 2 p.m., I tried to call my husband, but he did not pick my calls. He knew I would be going to pick my items on that day. My uncle had told me he was on standby in case anything was to go south. At this point, I decided to go to the back of the house where the kitchen and laundry area were and funny enough, I found the key on the kitchen windowsill, and the window was slightly open. I unlocked the door, and when I entered the kitchen, I found no cooker. In the living room, the surround sound system was missing. I don’t know why I noticed this, but I told myself it wasn’t my business and went to collect my documents. I was relieved that I had managed to access the house whether he was there or not.

I went upstairs and picked up my documents. My uncle told me to ensure everything was intact before I left. We were worried that my ex would withhold or destroy critical documents. Luckily, the only thing missing was my marriage certificate and the kids’ birth certificates. I called my uncle immediately, and he told me I shouldn’t worry. The important things were those that belonged to me as an individual. So I left the house, locked the door and left the key where I found it.

My ex-husband reported to the same OCPD that I had stolen stuff from the house-the cooker, the entertainment system, and other electronic appliances. That case didn’t even take off. The OCPD tried to contact my uncle’s people since he had realised this was a domestic matter. He informed them what my ex-husband had reported. The OCPD told my husband, “We cannot treat that as theft. That is matrimonial property.” So whatever he was trying to use this cop to do to me, in the same way he had stage-managed his best friend’s arrest, it didn’t work out.

I wish I knew then what I know now. Everything I’ve read and learned over time wasn’t available then, but that’s okay. I’m easy on myself, and I have forgiven myself. I treat myself with kindness and have accepted that that’s the way it had to be.

When I was growing up, the most common trajectory of a young woman’s life was that she went to campus (if she was blessed enough to get into a university), finished, and by the time she was leaving, she already had a steady guy. Almost three-quarters of my peers got married around the same time I was getting married, so I did nothing out of the ordinary. That was the way our script played out in our generation. You had no business being single kama umesoma na umemaliza degree. Further education was not a thing as it is now. Getting a degree or college diploma was a huge achievement.

I tried dating earlier on once my relationship had ended. Most of it was me looking for a rebound and trying to prove I was still young. I eventually realised I had a journey I needed to go through alone. It wasn’t about looking for another guy. So I’ve not remarried to date, and it’s by choice – not for lack of options. I needed to heal. I realised it wasn’t enough to think I had a typical divorce. I realised I was a victim of narcissistic abuse. I couldn’t just get into another marriage like other people do and even get other children.

I was raised by a very strong mother in my father’s absence, so I took inspiration from that. My mother never remarried after my father passed away. I never saw any man come into her life in any way. She was young when my father passed, probably around the same age I was when my marriage fell apart. It made me realise that I could do it. But as much as I thought I was okay, I now know that part of me was constantly searching for a father figure. Yes, my uncles were close to us and were the father figures in our lives, but nothing compares to the ever-present biological father.

It would be good for young girls to have a present father, but if that’s not possible because life happens to all of us, then a girl needs to find herself. Find yourself before getting into a relationship. I’ve learnt that a big part of ending up a victim of abuse is when you don’t know yourself or are not confident.

Marriage is good – I’ve seen those that have worked, like my siblings’ marriages. But I also know you should be okay with leaving if things are not okay. Staying in my marriage cost me my back. I have struggled with back issues from my early thirties to date. I am now in my early fifties, meaning I have been dealing with his for twenty years.

Something else I should mention is that I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. From my research and conversations l have had with my doctors over time, there is a possibility that all that trauma predisposed me to cancer. I am the first ever in my maternal or paternal family lineage to get cancer. I have always had a very healthy lifestyle, so I can’t attribute it to diet or anything else.

But God has been merciful; I am nine years in remission.

When I got that cancer diagnosis, it wasn’t easy. We had just concluded the legal divorce case after nine years of separation. We first dealt with the issue of our children’s custody, and then the divorce was finalised in August 2014. Just as things were beginning to look up, I got a cancer diagnosis in October of that same year. I remember thinking, Oh God! Are you trying to kill me? If you are, why don’t you kill me at once? I’ve already dealt with so much. I don’t need more. I was in deep despair. I just wanted to die.

I have a very supportive family network, and they’re the ones who came through for me. They stood with me, and that gave me hope to fight on. But at that point, I honestly saw death. I didn’t see anything worth living for. I had gone through so much, and when the dust was settling, this new thing came along.

Now, when I reflect nine years later, I realise that everything has a purpose. People like to throw around that phrase loosely, but you’ll never realise what it means until you walk a journey. God finally gave me a chance for the dust to settle, and I have seen a lot of goodness in my life. I was able to pick up the pieces many years later. My children are all grown up – my son is a lawyer, and my daughter is finishing up on campus soon, studying in the same field.

This is my very roundabout way of telling people that sometimes things could look dark, but you don’t have to die in your marriage. I didn’t know where I was going when I stepped out of my marital home that night. I took a total leap of faith. My story proves to any young person that you don’t have to die in your marriage. It is difficult, and I wouldn’t wish this even on my worst enemy, but if you really must leave, then do it.

Years later, I can say that I am living well even if cancer came calling. I am happy and in a much better place. I may be a cancer survivor, and I have to take my days one at a time as I never know when it could be back, but when you think about it, everyone has to live a day at a time. It’s just that it’s more real for those of us with cancer. 

Deciding to leave a situation that is causing you pain and destroying you is not easy, but the truth is our lives are in God’s hands. Only God knows what’s ahead, so take your leap of faith and leave it to God.