OVERCOMING VIOLENCE BY FREEING MARRIAGES AND RELATIONSHIPS FROM THE PHENOMENON OF THE "OPPRESSED" AND THE "OPPRESSOR"
A LIFE EXPERIENCE
Being an orphan, Carrie was taken in at the age of five (5) by her beautiful aunt called Cynthia who was a well educated lady who seemed to be happily married to her ‘Prince’. All was apparently going well in the eyes of onlookers as her aunt portrayed. In reality, all was never well within the closet. Aunt Cynthia believed her roof was her shield from observers. Her children were her joy and hope. Aunt Cynthia was caring and loving. Yes, Carrie knew she has the mother she had lost and so, she called her ‘mama’. Aunt Cynthia was a mother of two when she took Carrie to live with her. Coming in, it was obvious that Uncle John was a very stern man. They called him ‘papa’. He hardly laughed and each time he came home, every body flee into their various rooms.
As days went by, ‘papa’ became very obnoxious, he insulted mama at the slightest mistake she made. She would cry over it and then try to do her best to please him. No amount of love meant a thing to him. He moved from abusive words to beating. He prepared a whip cut out from an electricity cable which he used in beating mama. This he took as a practice. He will beat her, leaving her body with scars from the whip. This persisted even when she was expecting her third child. Yes, we grew up watching all these happen. The beating came to a stop when ‘mama’ decided to take her stand. As usual, "papa" got home and after eating, went to the room and then the fighting started. As he used the whip on her, we saw her struggled to pull it out of his hand. The next thing she did was strike back at him, and as hard as she could. After the fight, she packed her belongings and said she was leaving. We thank God that her unborn baby was not harmed. Uncle John (papa) then stopped beating her after a long talk and persuasion from family members.
Everybody at home thought all was well, but that was very far from the truth. Worst still, ‘Mama’ was a civil servant but she did not look at all like one. Her dressing was very questionable. She rotated between three dresses even in her pregnancy. Carrie can still vividly remember mama in her pink dress. Well, back then, they could not understand anything because they were still children. Mama was never looking happy. She finally had her third and forth child and then she could not stand it anymore. She started complaining of her salary.
Mama said she was not the one receiving her salary. All she knew was that she was a salary earner, but never knew how the money looked like or how it was spent since she was not the one collecting it. Papa was the one collecting her salary. Mama grew very sad by the days. As usual, another miracle came up. She went up to one of papa’s closest friend and complained to him about her situation. The man was so dazed at what she told him. He promised to talk to papa, which he did. Papa became very angry and told mama that he would stop receiving her salary, but that he will also stop taking care of the house rents, bills and feedings. Mama did not care about the menace. She took care of virtually every thing in the house including the school fees of the children. Well, papa was not yet done with her. He went back to his abusive life style. Mama kept repeating to the kids and to her self that she was still in the marriage because of her children. Mama finally had five beautiful and handsome children.
Eventually, papa fell sick and mama still took good care of him not considering the ill treatment he gave her. Following the beatings, insults, exploitative and manipulative attitudes of papa, mama developed nervous problems. She would frequently complain of palpitation, headache, back pain and dizziness. She did not mind spending her salary in nursing him even while he was bed ridden. She concentrated on his health to the neglect of hers.
Carrie can vividly remember mama telling her about a noodle in her breast. Carrie asked her to go for medical check up and mama told her that she had gone and her doctor told her to come for a surgery so as to remove the noodle and stop it from becoming cancerous. In mama’s words,
“Papa says I should not go for the operation but that we should pray”.
Well, he was taking medical treatment for his own health, but advised mama (his wife) to pray concerning her own situation.
Carries’ worry here is not about the “prayers”. She understood that in everything, we have to look up to God; what she did not understand was why mama could not seek medical attention for her own health while her husband was being attended to medically. Till date, Carrie is still wondering what really was wrong with Mama’s ways of reasoning. She usually wondered whether mama was hypnotized or schizophrenic. She traveled with papa to other countries for his medical attention but never presented her own situation. The noodle persisted and eventually swallowed up her whole left breast. At this point, papa was already counting his last days on earth. Papa’s elder sister paid them a visit and inquired what was happening to his wife and why she had not sort medical attention.
“There is no money for her to go for medical treatment” was his response.
So stunned by his response, she went back to mama to find out why they were building a house instead of using the money to seek medical attention for her. Papa’s elder sister also accused mama for telling lies concerning his brother. She told mama that papa had said something else contrary to what mama told her about her reason for not seeking medical attention. She said papa had given as reason for her condition being lack of finance to get medical attention and not prayers.
At this stage, mama was so enraged and astonished as she wept;
“I felt like some mist was lifted off my eyes and mind, I began reasoning clearly.” Mama said
The truth was that, no amount of reasoning could help her at that moment. She gave Carrie a call telling her about what had happened. Carrie was filled with rage and hatred at that moment towards papa. No one had ever confronted him but Carrie was ready to do that at the instant. Mama restrained her, asking Carrie to let him be. Carrie was equally very angry with mama because she had told mama times without number about getting medical checkups but she would not listen.
Some few days latter papa started talking strangely. He finally died on his way to the hospital after the incident. Painfully enough, it was too late for mama to get any medical help that could redeem her from her situation. Her left breast was all consumed by cancer. The only treatment that could have been offered was to cut off the breast but the doctors said it was also too late and fruitless because the cancer was fast spreading through out her body. All that could be done was to administer pain killers to relief her from the excruciating pain. One month after the death of her husband, she too passed away.
Dear readers, I am telling this story with so much grief in my heart. I am telling it because, I know many women who are in relationships and especially marriages and they keep saying they are holding on to the relationships because of their children. A wonderful lady passed away because she was holding on to something (marriage/ relationship) that never really existed. Your marriage should be something enjoyable and not endured. Again, I can not say that it was just about her children. If you are holding on to a relationship just because of your children, then you have certainly missed it. You can still take care of your children out of the relationship. However, it gives you better room to think and work harder for your children. She finally lost it all. The children are fatherless and motherless today because of what: because of the notion of “holding on for my children” as she always said. It is of no use now with her in the grave. Mama would also say;
“I have never enjoyed my marriage and it seems I got married to the wrong person”.
But she remained entrapped in her own shelf.
Well, you could still be married to Mr. Right, but when he becomes wrong, dear, you have to move out. Do not ever sacrifice your love and health for a man in the name of a husband who thinks very little of you, never appreciating you but thinks more about himself.
Relationship should be mutual. That is, we are there for one another. No one should deprive you of your health just for the other person to get health. We should both enhance the health of one another.
Following the definition of the United Nations on violence against women: "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life." (Fact sheet N°239 November 2012). We can then assert that late mama Cynthia lived and died under the umbrella of violence. Many women in Cameroon are living this life at the very moment, but would rather die in it. Perhaps we do not recognize it as violence but it is violence. Any form of deprivation mated to you as an individual is violence. Do not be unvoiced waiting for your own situation to escalate to the state of late mama Cynthia.
Furthermore, true love never aims at hurting another as prescribed by Catherine Wybourne who views love as “an act of kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice. Love can never hurt anyone, although it may cost dearly. To her it is supremely free yet attaches us with bonds stronger than death. It cannot be bought or sold; there is nothing it cannot face; love is life's greatest blessing.”
I understand that there are cultures in Cameroon wherein women believe that if their husbands do not beat them, then he does not love them. To achieve the definition of love, we must strive not to hurt the person next to us. There is no way you can say you love some one and yet you keep doing every thing within your power to keep such a person under bondage or in perpetual pain. Violence is a dagger to love as indicated with the case of late Mama Cynthia. It leaves a permanent negative mark on the minds of onlookers. Carrie has been tormented by her experience for years and even now that she too is married. The thought still remains to hunt her. She stated that her younger sister who is the only daughter to late Mama Cynthia is also very traumatized by the situation and it is affecting her studies, and social life. She seems to avoid every man that comes her way. It’s been five years today but the thought is still very fresh on their minds.
Let us look at the situation of the sons. One can never say with complete assurance that none of these boys will copy their father’s foot print. Children turn to act like their parents. It is therefore obvious that at least one of them will duplicate their late father’s actions.
Carrie told me that the first born is a replica of the father. He holds the ideology that his wife must be submissive to him. people have tried talking to him on several occasions to establish the fact that, marriage is not about domination, but about love that never hurts the other person, about communication and mutual understanding. But he seems adamant. He says that, his mother was submissive to his father and so, he does not see why his own wife should not be the same.
It is unbelievable the way children copy their parents’ actions. Therefore parents, we ought to live an exemplary life style such that we do not leave our children with the negative knowledge. Our actions determine the future of our children and that of the nation.
Carrie said late papa had never given her any form of advice except when she got married. The advice he gave her was:
“STAND BY YOUR HUSBAND NO MATTER WHAT”
No comments for this statement. I will like to get your own opinions on this so as to advice Carrie.
Fact sheet N°239 November 2012