Nobody understands! It’s hard to explain. I knew I should have left… but I just couldn’t. I saw the look on your face when I told you the bruises were from me accidentally running into walls. I noticed the way you rolled your eyes when I composed those unbelievable accident stories to explain why my body became a home to plasters, black marks, and swellings. Even I know I lie to myself…but just as I expected you to believe those hideous stories, I tried to believe them too. Okay! Okay… maybe the stories I told myself were a little different.
Can anyone really blame me? His kisses are as real as his slaps. His seemingly sincere heart-felt apology mirrors the rage with which he kicks me down the stairs. The soft tone of his voice when he begs me is as deep as his strong tone when he rains abusive words on me. I believe he loves me as much as I believe he hurts me. Torn in between what I call my reality, I make up meanings for myself. So I tell myself stories; I make myself believe them too.
‘He’s a good man, I should just follow his instructions’, ‘He has a bad temper, I can help him change’, ‘Maybe if I didn’t annoy him so often, he won’t act like this’, ‘Why can’t I just behave and be the good woman he wants?’, ‘If I stand by him during this rough time, everyone would applaud me when he changes’, ‘No man is perfect, I can manage’ and the list goes on and on. Each time I tell myself these things, I make myself believe them.
Tiny drops of tears roll down and kiss the bruises on my face very often. The salt-water pinches the bruises to remind me, my body is tired. But I won’t listen! I just won’t listen. He comes back to his senses and I justify why I didn’t listen to the pleadings of my soul. He buys me flowers, new dresses; he cries and somehow my pain goes away again with his tears. ‘He’s sorry! He’s really sorry, he won’t do it again’… I tell myself more stories as the cycle of pain and apology continues.
Then today, I stopped believing those stories. Only this time, I fear it might be too late. I see and feel blood flowing around me, and it belongs to me. My vision is blurry and the voices around seem very far away. I sense the chaos and I can’t move away from it. My body is heavy and I feel life slipping away from me. All the stories I told myself begin to play in my head, only this time I don’t believe them anymore; however, it just might be too late…too late indeed. The man I love has slammed my head against the wall and the next breath I take might just be my last.
*** Bureau of Justice Statistics summarized in their report that 85% of the victims of domestic violence are women. The American Psychological Association reports that out the 74% of “murder-suicide” perpetrated by an intimate partner, 96% were women killed… In Nigeria, results from research have shown as high as 70% of women are abused by an intimate partner; keep in mind that it’s also under-reported. I leave you to imagine what the real percentages may actually be. Intimate partner violence is the most prevalent form of violence against women and a major contributor to most of the health challenges and complications that women experience…When will these stories change?