Get out of that abusive relationship!

What does a woman say to a friend who insisted on going back to a man who abused her – but now wants to break free?

Dear Verna,

I really wish I was in the right frame of mind as I write to you on this wet Sunday morning. I believe you have heard of the pastor who killed his wife in the United States of America. You were the first person I thought of when I heard the sad news, as it appears that they had had an abusive relationship up until the unfortunate incident.

Isolation ends in manipulation

But before I proceed, I need you to forgive me for what happened the last time you were at my place to seek refuge from Sampson. I’m sorry I got angry and threw you out. I just did not understand why I had to keep telling you to leave him, when all you do is to return to him days afterwards to receive the same kind of treatment.

Initially, I refused to give my judgement on the matter because I am not married, and just as he emphatically pointed out to you after the wedding, “A married woman cannot continue to keep the company of her single friends.” Therefore, I decided to stay in my lane, more so after he had succeeded in getting you away from your own family members.

I knew he was manipulating you to keep you to himself so that you would become dependent on him for everything, but I kept my mouth shut. After all, I wasn’t going to be a prophet of doom for the marriage, when I had been so involved with the wedding preparations.

Up until today, I am happy whenever I remember how beautiful you looked on that day and how the whole ceremony could have shamed the Devil to go into hiding if he wasn’t there already.

Love is in the eye of the beholder

I prayed that the blessings of that day would erase your many squabbles and disagreements and that, finally, your tears would turn into laughter. I hoped that he would stop his constant criticisms of you and your achievements. You were so in love, and did not listen to any of us when he began to control your every movement, scream at you and disrespect you, even in front of us, your roommates, when we were in school.

I was absolutely shocked that day when he dragged you out of the Uber that was taking us to Kelvin’s birthday party. You told us he was just jealous of Kelvin. Meanwhile, Kelvin was friends with all four of us and even had his own girlfriend. We should all have insisted that you distance yourself from that toxicity. Maybe your grades at the time would not have plummeted so badly.

Ghanaian women talk about domestic violence
Northern Ghanaian women talk about domestic violence

Looking at events during the COVID-19 lockdown period, I am sure the marriage counselling sessions that your parents forced you to go to did not work out either. Hmm, how does one counsel a lunatic? Yes, I am calling your husband a lunatic, with no apologies this time.

He is not the only person who has lost his job during these trying times. That excuse you gave for his behaviour the last time was what made me angry, even after he did not hesitate to introduce his fists to your face when you returned home from work later than usual.

For the record, I did not believe you when you said that was the first time he had hit you.

Sampson. No Delilah

Verna, we all love you. I hope you know that? You are kind, caring and an amazing woman. You deserve every good thing in this life. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. I have missed my best friend, the assertive and independent-minded woman that was you, before you met Sampson and your light stopped shining. You refused to speak up any more because you wanted to be the submissive wife. You refused to walk out of danger because the “danger” made you accept that you were the problem.

Whenever you receive this missive, you can pack up your things and come over. My home is yours, too. Although I have never been in an abusive relationship and I might not be able to appreciate all that you have been through, I am certain that you can get through this. I have already asked Kelvin about what he did to get away from his abusive relationship with Marie, as she had threatened to commit suicide if he ever left her.

First, you need to consider working on yourself to develop an unshakeable self-confidence. Trust in your abilities and know your worth; you cannot wait for people to endorse you before you take a step. Otherwise, people like Sampson who seem always to be in a bad mood will not hesitate to bring you down to their level, so that you feel just as miserable as they are.

Pick up your social life again. When your colleagues are going on a picnic or retreat, do not give excuses any longer about why you cannot join them. I am already planning an Akosombo trip for us, together with Eyram and Kukua.

Take back control

Though it feels as if everything is crashing around you, do not blame yourself for how your marriage has turned out. We all make mistakes, but we must not let them define us.

The people you are worried about in church did not live your life; let them gossip. Besides, I am happy that you were able to save some of your salary without his knowledge. He cannot continue to use money as a way of controlling you.

I don’t know what you will do if he chooses to get treatment or help for his condition. But I am here for you and will support whatever decision you make. However, if you go back to him and he so much as touches a hair on your head, I’ll finish dialling the police this time.

I will not wait for you to get killed so that I can make Facebook posts about how I could have saved your life.

I hope to see you soon, Verna. I’ll cook jollof for you … LOL!

Your bestie,

Readers can contact the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) by calling 055 100 0900.

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