Usually, when I read tales of domestic violence, especially when i see a woman battered and bruised, i am quick to feel pity for her, and by default blame the man for being an ‘animal’. I hate wife beaters with all my heart. But today’s experience actually changed my view.
It started around 7a.m this Sunday morning. My neighbor whose flat directly faces mine was washing his vehicle outside. I have never known him to be a violent man. He and his wife always argue and quarrel, but it has never been in the open. Just raised voices and exchanging unkind words. His wife walked in through the gate leading to the compound. As soon as she saw her husband, she started screaming, ‘dirty man’ ‘pig’ and some other obscenity in their local dialect. He was scolding the man for not wearing a slippers outdoors. He walking on water barefooted. The man told her to keep quiet and get him a slippers to put on. She continued on top of her voice. She insulted daylight out of the man. There was nothing this woman did not say, from the size of the man’s joystick to the number of minutes he stays in the bedroom.
Out of anger, the man poured the remaining water he was using to wash the car on her. She ran at him and gripped him by the collar almost choking him. At that point, myself and other neighbors who have been watching ran out to put an end to the fracas before it got out of hand. It took a lot of pleading before she eventually let go and went inside. The man just stood there, i could tell that he was really embarrassed by the things his wife said. We advised him to be a man “you know say na so women be na”
Not up to 10 minutes later, the man started banging on the door to the house. His wife refused to let him in. She insisted that he must go and wash his feet thoroughly before entering the house, but there was no water outside anymore. The man shouted at her to bring water for him to wash up, but she kept insisting that there would have been water if he hadn’t poured it on her. A shouting match ensued again, this woman continued her verbal assault. At about an hour later, when it was time to go to church, she came out all dressed, not knowing that her husband was around the corner. He came from nowhere and landed a slap on her cheeks. She swung her bag at him, and a piece of metal from the bag cut his Jaw.
This man descended on his wife with series of slaps. She fought back violently. All the while i was observing through my window. She dipped her hand into the man’s eye, and punched him several times.
The man seemed to lose it completely and aimed a blow directly at her jaw. The woman screamed, next thing i saw was blood oozing out of her mouth. I ran out of my own apartment to calm things down.
Behold she had lost two teeth. When we all came to separate them, the woman started wailing uncontrollably, saying that her husband has killed her. With the blood in her mouth and everything nobody even spared a thought for the man. I could see finger nail marks all over his face. His jaw was a bit swollen too.
I personally drove the woman to a nearby health center so they could clean her up. As we entered, we were greeted with questions ‘wetin happen?’ ‘na accident’? She started crying and narrating how her husband wanted to kill her this morning because she insisted that ‘he must wash his dirty legs before entering the house’.
The Nurses there started berating men in general, with each person narrating different experiences of domestic violence they had encountered. They were all full of sympathy for her. It was the general assumption that the she married a devil as husband. I just sat there listening to them demonizing men and wondering.
The husband even called me while at the health center to know if it was serious. He sounded really worried. He wanted to drive down to meet us. I just discouraged him from coming, because his wife has already made him out to be a devil here.
Whenever the story of domestic violence is told, it is only narrate from the woman’s perspective. We often see her in tears, with bruises all over. She plays the victim, because she is the one that usually ends up with bruises, even if she may have delivered the first punch. We hardly hear the man’s side of the story, we don’t perceive his emotion, he hardly has any physical scars from the encounter, so we assume he wasn’t hurt. He is always the violent one, because he won’t let you know that a woman’s words broke him, he won’t gather a crowd a to tell his story.
I’m totally against domestic violence, whether physical or verbal. I believe two people who claim to love each other should be able to settle issues amicably with resorting to abusive language and physical confrontation.
If your differences are irreconcilable, then end the damn marriage and let everyone go in peace. I think the real beast is the man that will descend on a woman at the smallest provocation. But as a woman, If you instigate a physical confrontation, either by words or action, make sure you win the fight that ensues.
Next time i read or hear about domestic violence, with a picture of a battered and bruised woman,Ii won’t jump into the ‘Men are beasts’ wagon, not until I know the full story.
To be continued…