When we hear wife or spousal abuse, our minds prop up the image of a woman with eyes swollen shut, broken nose or arm in a sling. However, not all abuse is physical; there is also mental, emotional and financial abuse and the victims suffer as much as the ones whose husbands pound and pummel.
Emotionally abusive and controlling men usually are extremely affectionate in the beginning. They pamper and spoil the woman right from the first date and then rush her to get into a committed relationship very quickly. They know how to make a woman feel really special and the envy of her peers. With purple rose and endless gifts and attention, she thinks that he is too good to be true, and trust me, he is. So, guys, check out if either of these two guys are like you or you are like them. If they are, you need to get help before you lose everything.
Women don’t plan to get into an abusive relationship. But it happens anyway and every day. Indeed, most women don’t realise they are in one until it is too late.
The controlling, financial abuser
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Mary was the trophy wife until three months ago. She was an undergraduate when she met Otunba or more appropriately, when Otunba set his sights on her. Otunba is an accomplished, successful businessman who had worked his way up the ladder of wealth. It was a struggle, all right, but somehow he had weathered so many storms and now does not believe there is something he wants that he cannot have, least of all a woman. You cannot blame him. Those who want him far outnumber those he wants. And he has a large appetite. Little wonder he could not understand why Mary could resist him, his charm, his money. The pretty little thing was reluctant to give him her number, reluctant to call him, close-mouthed when he called and refused to go and see him in his guest house. All the other girls fell over themselves for his attention for as little as a roll of N100,000. Mary’s resistance brought out the hunter in Otunba. He chased her until she fell at his feet panting.
Beautiful and brilliant Mary. All she wanted out of life was to be the one who rescued her family from the firm grip of excruciating poverty. As an indigent student, she found decent ‘hussle’ to push herself through to 300-level. She wrote her classmates assignments, was part-time cleaner, personal shopper for the big campus girls, anything to achieve her dream of becoming a judge by age 30.
Then Otunba saw her, spoilt her and proposed marriage. Long story short, Otunba married Mary, and delivered on his promise to change her life. By extension, Mary was also able to ease the poverty grip on her family’s jugular. Chauffeur-driven to Law School, Mary was the envy of her friends. Her NYSC year was in one of Otunba’s firms. Two babies in quick succession thereafter and then the controlling side of Otunba rose to its full height.
Why did Mary need a job when he could provide everything?
Who was she talking to on the phone for that long?
Who was she chatting with and laughing so hard?
Why did she not allow the driver take her to the mall?
Responsible married women do not go to parties with their unmarried friends.
READ ALSO: INTIMATE AFFAIRS: Should you tell your partner everything?
Mary’s brothers couldn’t visit whenever they wanted without giving him prior notice. Each time they quarrelled, he threatened to throw her out, return her to the gutters where he picked her from. He soon moved to threatening to take her children from her.
He never let her forget how much he had done for her ‘wretched’ family.
Then, he started grounding her like a petulant adolescent each time she stepped out of line.
Otunba stopped her from using ‘his’ cars.
He stopped her monthly allowance.
He refused to sleep with her for months.
He refused to let her visit her parents and didn’t allow her go anywhere except to church on Sundays alone.
He would insist on her making his meals but would not eat it. It was his money, so he had a right to waste the food!
Though he never laid a finger on her, Mary was emotionally being strangled. She lived in fear, constantly having nightmares of her children being ripped from her arms. She could not sleep without pills. She could not eat without pills. She hid her bloodshot eyes behind designer sunglasses.
Her blood pressure soared.
She started taking anti-depressants to get through the day.
One day, Mary looked at herself in the mirror and decided to stop the pity party and do something about the pain and abuse. She began to do everything that helped her save money. She joined two ‘Esusu’ groups and a cooperative society. She sold most of the expensive jewellery sets Otunba bought her in those days before the controlling monster took over their marriage. She bided her time, made arrangements.
One evening, while Chief was on a business trip, she packed her personal belongings, took her children and moved to America where her children were born.
Was Mary right or right? Should she have stayed on and wait for things to get better? Do you actually think things would have gotten better? Don’t answer those questions until you can imagine Mary as your daughter, yes, your daughter. The little pink baby the doctors handed over to you the day she was born. Yeah, that one. Just imagine if she was the one being treated like Mary.
The selfish, self-absorbed abuser
Biddy opened the bottom drawer of her office desk, brought out a small bottle and popped a tablet into her mouth.
‘What is that for?’ I asked.
‘My daily pill.’
‘Whaat, Bidemi, you are on the pill? Thought you and your husband are trying to have another child.’
‘He wants another child, I don’t. And I am tired of the fights, the back and forth arguments. It is better this way. I don’t want to die. I had the last two children by caesarean section. I have been cut open to remove fibroids. We have two girls and a boy. What else is he looking for?
‘What if he finds out that all the prayers and fasting you said you are doing is fake, that you are popping contraceptives behind him?’
‘That bridge is further down the road. I will cross it when I get there.’
Bidemi’s husband, Biola, is an only child who wants as many children as he can squeeze out of his wife. Against medical advice, he wants to try for one more pregnancy. He said he has faith that God would make his wife deliver safely this time around, maybe even grant them twins. The couple had quarrelled and settled, quarrelled some more. Now Bidemi has taken matters into her own hands, ensuring Biola’s swimmers have no access to her pool. He can shoot all he wants, he’s not going to score.
Abusers are not always easy to spot, and for anyone who hasn’t been a victim of a controlling, abusive partner, it may be difficult to understand.
So, is she right or right? If your daughter has gone under the knife three times to enlarge the coasts of husband’s lineage, should she submit to a fourth surgery to prove that she is submissive or just take care of herself, like Bidemi? Is it not better to hope that after a year or two of Bidemi’s fake prayers, Biola would accept that God is not sending more babies their way than Biola becoming a widower, left to raise five children all by himself?
Women don’t plan to get into an abusive relationship. But it happens anyway and every day. Indeed, most women don’t realise they are in one until it is too late. Spousal abuse is like a monster that feels like a warm and soft teddy bear at first. Abusers are not always easy to spot, and for anyone who hasn’t been a victim of a controlling, abusive partner, it may be difficult to understand. If you are one of those lucky people, simply be grateful and don’t judge. But if you must judge, slow down and picture the victim as your daughter. That should help you see things in the right colours.
*Egbemode ([email protected])