In this shocking but all-too-familiar tale of domestic violence, Onyemma, a 29-year-old businessman, told this reporter how his uncle became a dummy house help in his own house at the hands of a nagging and brutal housewife. He says his uncle, Mr Gideon, has been stripped of his self-confidence as a man and his marriage has become a living nightmare.
Mr Gideon’s story
A few years after their marriage, Gideon was like a little god to his wife but things took a different turn when he lost his job with a paint company. His wife suddenly became the bread winner, calling the shots in the house.
In his words, “The once happy home changed to something else when my uncle lost his driving job in the 90’s. The wife became a terror in the house. She would send him on errands, demand that he perform menial chores like fetching water, sweeping the house, etc. My uncle was doing it because he thought he was helping his wife, but little did he know that was the beginning of his trauma. Anytime he fails to carry out these home chores, he now gets the beating of his life. He has been stripped of his self confidence and dignity as a man.
“This humiliation was so much to the extent that the elders of my kindred summoned her to know why she was treating their brother in that manner. But the intervention of the kindred did not yield any result as the wife had turned her husband into her property, manipulating him at will.
“As family members, we rarely visit my uncle in his house because we have found out that their relationship is dotted with incessant assaults and the silly attitude of a domineering wife. All manner of interventions for a loving relationship have proved abortive. So, if you ask him, he would not hesitate to tell you that men are mostly the victims of domestic violence. That is if his wife does not hear him say so, because he will get another beating of his life.”
Mrs. Janet, a 40 year-old trader who is also a mother of two, is always ready to tell the story of her husband who threw caution to the wind and slept with their only daughter, putting her in the family way against tradition.
But she would always have herself to blame as she narrated that her prolonged absence from home created the gap that not only ruined her marriage but destroyed what was left of her daughter’s life.
“I was not always around. At a time when my daughter needed motherly care and advice, I was not around. At the time she had her first menstrual period, my husband was at home with her and gave her the necessary care. But it turned out to be a sordid experience as the man took advantage of his growing daughter.
He began to sleep with her afterwards, telling her if he didn’t do that, the menstrual blood would continue. That continued without my knowledge until I discovered the girl was ill. I got the shock of my life when I was told my daughter was pregnant. More devastating was the fact that her father had been sleeping with her,” she lamented.
According to her, the husband initially denied responsibility. But after the intervention of their village head, he confessed to the crime. “He was interrogated by the police, but he denied. Our king intervened and also interrogated him and he later confessed to the crime,” she stated.
On the punishment meted out to him, Janet said as is customary in the African culture, he was banished by the king from the community. “He has been banished from the village, leaving me to take care of the 13 children,” she said.
Lamenting how she has been taking care of the children, she said the punishment should also have included taking care of the 13 children she has from the marriage. “It has been very excruciating, a more severe punishment should have been given to him to take care of the children rather than leaving me all alone to care for the 13 children. Although the man was not really doing anything serious before the incident, he supported from the little pension he collected from his former employer,” she disclosed.