For How Long?

Words by Vigilance Otieno

This work is the author's interpretation and not the author's personal experience.

“For how long?" I ask myself.

He changed in a blink of an eye. Is it because he is frustrated? Is it because I am not enough for him? What have I done? How much of a sinner am I that I deserve such mistreatment?

The past few months have been heavy on me. I no longer recognize the father of my children. He has turned into a monster. This man beats me. Can you imagine your husband spitting on you? Is that love? What options do I have? I am caged and trapped in this thing called marriage. I have asked God a lot of questions but no reply. For how long God? Tell me, for how long must I go through this? I even stopped wearing my wedding ring. I hate it.

A few days ago, I had terrible cramping and felt so nauseated. I could not get out of bed to prepare breakfast for him. He beat and insulted me in front of our children. I was on my knees begging him and crying for mercy. My daughter was terrified. I could see sadness in her eyes. She was scared and terrified. Do you know what pained me more as mother? I wish I could write it down and make you understand. My daughter sat next to me. She looked at my bruises. I wish I protect her from watching all this.

“Mum, why did dad beat you?” She asked.

“Dad is going through a lot right now,” I told her faking a smile.

I did not want her to despise her father, so I lied for him. Her father is not a bad man. I am the one who angered him. I was too weak and defeated by my monthly periods. I could see she was not convinced. She hugged me so tightly. How could a six-year old give me so much comfort? But for how long would she watch her dad beat me?

I failed as a wife. I failed as a mother. I needed God to answer me.

“Lord, forgive me for I have failed to be a good wife. Forgive me for I make my husband angry. What should I do Lord? Tell me, what should I do? I cannot tell my family for they will hate him. I cannot tell my friends for they will laugh at me. I cannot tell my neighbor for I do not know them. I cannot tell my colleagues because he the boss. The police cannot defend me because he has power. For how long must I go through this? For how long will my children watch me being beaten? Answer me God. I am tired, frustrated and heartbroken. If you cannot change my situation God, then take me and my children? Take me from this earth.”

That evening, I prepared his favorite meal, lit candles in our bedroom, threw rose petals all over our bed and corked his favorite bottle of wine. I wanted to rekindle our love. I wanted him to know how sorry I was for upsetting him. Unfortunately, he never came back home and never bothered to inform me. It was no longer a secret how much he hated me.

“Could it be that he found a better woman,” I kept asking myself this.

Yesterday, he came back at night. He did not look at me. He did not ask about the children. He did not ask if I was okay. This has become his new pattern: sleeping outside, giving me silent treatment, beating me up, failing to bond with the kids and pouring insults on me.

I am going insane. My home is no longer safe for me and my children. I have had suicidal thoughts. I feel like I am not needed. My children are the only comfort I have.

Today morning, he beat me so badly. He even poured hot water on my body. Our children watched him do that and they were screaming.

“Daddy, you are hurting mummy,” they screamed in pain.

“Daddy stop, daddy please don’t kill our mummy,” they continued screaming.

“I hate my dad. I hate you so much,” cried my daughter.

My children do not deserve to grow up in this environment. I can no longer take it. They deserve to grow up in a safe space. They only need to learn how to love, be kind and live as a family.

I don’t want to be part of the statistics of women who have died as a result of domestic abuse. I refuse to be among the 45% (15-49 years) of women going through domestic abuse in Kenya. I refuse to be bruised. Yes, I am a woman, but I have my rights.

What if he kills me tomorrow? What if my children end up being motherless? What if I die and he does this to the next woman? What if he ends up doing the same thing to our children?

I must end this cycle. I will no longer cover up his abuses and beatings. I must report him to the authorities.  I must open have conversation with my parents and family. I must move out of this house before I turn into a corpse.

Let’s end this cycle in our homes. If not for us, let’s do it for our children. They deserve a stable and healthy environment.

Jimmy Carter said, “The abuse of women and girls is the most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation on Earth.”