Been through hell
Sometimes when you hear or read women’s mistreatment under the hands of fellow women or men, it really doesn’t hit like when you encounter face to face with victims of such violence. I had the opportunity of meeting Everline Akoch a victim of domestic violence at both the hands of a fellow woman and men. She told me amid sorbs and said she hoped her story will be an eye opener to many disadvantaged women out there.
It began like any other day when my aunt arrived home from Nairobi to visit with us. My grandmother was excited to have my aunt around. My grandmother told me to skip school that day so that I could prepare for my aunt some meals. I was happy to see her because since the deaths of my parents I had not for long seen close relatives visiting with us. My grandmother had become our soul provider. I was 8 years old then and the year was 2000.
My aunt had brought goodies for us like sugar, bread, wheat flour and rice. My grandmother was sickly and had requested my aunt to come for me so that I could have a stable life. After lunch my aunt told us that one of her reasons of coming was to take me back with her to the city to live with her. She even told us that she had got for me a school. I was very happy and quickly arranged my clothes in the paper bag that she had brought us goodies in. After two days we left for Nairobi. I didn’t know my journey of sorrow and misery had just begun. I never came to see inside of a school. Little did I know that my aunt was looking for cheap labor without pay. I became the house help. When I inquired about schooling she told I should go and ask my mother’s grave. Sometimes she whipped me thoroughly and never let me to play.
I was never to see the inside of a school again. My aunt made sure I did all the house chores and when I told her I wanted to go back to my grandmother she reprimanded me that that was her mother and I should not think of going there because she would never allow me to be a burden to her mother. She would go back to the village and when asked how I was faring on she cheated I was doing well and had a lot of school assignment to do that is why I was not able to go to the village and see my relatives there. I spend sleepless nights thinking of my parents who had succumbed to death due to HIV/Aids in the year 1999 when I was 7 years old. I remember one day she told me I was good for nothing and was immoral like my parents.
Any small mistake would earn me beatings from my aunt. I remember one day she came home and saw blood stains on my dress. She didn’t bother to find out what had happened but beat me thoroughly accusing me of having misbehaved with a boy in the neighborhood. At that time I was twelve years old. This was my first monthly period and I didn’t know how to tell her. I just told a neighbor the following day that gave me cotton wool and even showed me how to use it. My aunt didn’t bother to find out how I copped with my puberty. Our neighbor’s house help is the one who took care of my situation. She even told me to use clean rugs when I had my periods and no sanitary towels were coming my way. When she left for another employer, I had to make do with the blanket rugs she had cut for me. Thanks to this girl called Levina. She really cared for me like her own small sibling.
Her husband took advantage of this. He would also hurl abuses at me in her presence but when she was a way he would fondle me and even ask me to sleep with him. I was so terrified but I feared my aunt. I wouldn’t dare share with her this. She would skin me alive. He made it a habit to rape me always so that I saw no value in life. I conceived twice with him but would wait when my aunt had traveled up country then organize for an abortion. He would rape me the whole night immediately from hospital. His two children were too young to know what was happening. One was two and half years old while the other one was one year old.
In the year 2007 I met a woman whom I knew. She is a neighbor back in the village. She told me that she was a fish vendor in the famous Gikomba market in Nairobi. I told her what I was going through. She promised to help me. She went back home and shared with my grandmother my predicaments. Next time she came to Nairobi she insisted I was needed home by my uncles. That is how I survived my aunt’s mistreatments. My grandmother passed on in December 2007. I dreaded going back to the city. A neighbor convinced me to get married to Juma. She told me Juma is a good man who just needed a good wife like me. What she didn’t tell me was that he is a womanizer and an alcoholic.
The three years I have been Juma have been hell. He drinks too much and when he comes back home he beats me thoroughly. I have one child with him. Sometimes I think of leaving him for good but I don’t have parents to run too. I have started some small business but he comes home and demands for all the money I have raised from tomato sales.
The other day he came home with a woman the age mate of my late mother. To my surprise he ordered me to leave my matrimonial bed for his concubine. When I resisted, both of them landed on me and started beating me. I cried and left the house for them. I went to a distant cousin’s house for a week. I came back to him for the sake of my daughter but I don’t see him reforming. I also regret that I am again pregnant with his second child and I doubt whether I will carry this pregnancy to term because of the hell I am going through. He has run my tomato stock down. He says I go to the market to meet my men friends and not to sell as I pretend to do. He has threatened to kill me should he get me selling or talking to any man at the market place. He even accuses me of infidelity. He says the pregnancy I am carrying isn’t his and I should go to the owner. He says he hates daughters and should I give birth to another girl, then I shouldn’t come to his house because he already has a woman he feels he should be his wife.
I have told my story not because I want to scare people living with relatives or to solicit sympathy but kindly to remind relatives that if you have to stay with your niece or cousin please treat them well just like your own child. And for the men, stop beating your wives and having multiple relationships. Don’t take advantage of vulnerable female relatives under your roofs to satisfy your lust.