A domestic violence journey – Pt 2

If you haven’t read part 1 please read it here first before you continue.

Hurt people hurt people

Africanfinestmums - A domestic violence journey pt 2

“I was between a rock and a hard place….” I had very quickly and unintentionally set up things around me that put myself at risk, and I couldn’t easily extricate myself. He (let’s call him X), is 11 years older than me so had more life experience than me. X also knew what to do and say as he studied my likes and priorities, in order to control and manipulate the situation. I’m not even putting words in his mouth, he told me as much. X confirmed he came from an abusive household and background, so this was what he learnt, and how he knew to get by – attack and manipulate. I on the other hand was blinded by narrow focus of what I was trying to achieve (keep me and my unborn baby safe). With all the confusion over my situation, I just kept thinking negatively, and making stupid mistakes.

So here I was, 28 years of age, 3 months pregnant, 8 months into the relationship, and I was now backed into this tight corner. Oh Lord.

Nowhere to turn

I continued to work, whilst pregnant. For one, it kept me busy, and minimised the arguments, tension and fights that were becoming more commonplace. Secondly, he was financially abusive, and wouldn’t give me money even for basic things, so I knew I had to fend for myself. Looking back I should have borrowed some money to leave and return to the UK, but my relationship with my parents was toxic too. My parents were going through a divorce, my mum and siblings in particular didn’t care. Family is meant to be your support and backbone, but with mine, I didn’t have that at all. I was ostracised and put down by them. It didn’t matter what I did, even my successes, nothing was right in their eyes. It was just an incredible mess, and I was just like a drunk person moving around – not thinking straight enough to make the right decisions.

Going downhill fast

Africanfinestmums - A domestic violence journey pt 2

I came home from work one night, (after my usual 3 hour round trip journey using the train and bus), and I couldn’t get in. X had changed the locks. He had wrongly accused me of running around with “some man” because I had come home late. That’s what happens sometimes when you use public transport, you’re pregnant, and your partner doesn’t pick you up. I sat outside for hours, too tired after a while of arguing my case. Neighbours who heard us frequently argue advised me to call the police, but I had overstayed my visa so didn’t want to draw any attention to my precarious situation. X eventually opened the door, hours later.

On another occasion X beat me up because he couldn’t find his drugs. There was never any remorse or apology. To him I was basically a baby maker (his previous marriage had broken down after 15 years because they couldn’t have children), so all he was interested in was the child I was going to give him. Other than that I was no use to him, and he literally told me this to my face during one such heated argument.

Escape plan

Up until that point I had lied at all my antenatal appointments when I was asked about the bruises on my stomach. But when he said that my blood froze, and I thought to myself, “This guy could kill me as soon as I have my child. I need to get away from him”. After that confession, at my next antenatal appointment, I asked to see a counsellor for domestic abuse, and owned up to the reason for the bruises on my body. I started to receive counselling on how to manage my situation until I could put in place a viable escape plan. The domestic shelters were all full, and had long waiting lists so all I could do was keep calling, wait, and try to stay out of trouble at home. I called the shelters practically every day, hoping and praying for an opening. Waiting, just waiting.

Welcome baby

In October, my delivery day came, and I had my baby, a beautiful baby girl named Otolorin. At the hospital members of the delivery team knew my history, and so kept a close eye on me, the baby and also X in terms of his treatment of me. Leaving the hospital had it’s own drama. A simple request by the care team for X to drive up closer to the exit to facilitate me being wheeled out was met with, “Oh please, who cares about her, just give me the baby”, and an attempt to snatch our daughter. Understandably, the care team did not want to release me to go home with him, and insisted he treat me with a bit more care before they were happy to sign me off to leave the hospital.

3 days after I came home, X started asking for sex, and continued to do so for a month. Aside from the fact that I had just had a baby, I also had stitches and minor repair surgery, so was in no physical or mental state for that. I protested strongly (which shocked him), and avoided intimate contact with him. Whilst pregnant I knew he was sleeping around with other females, and after everything I had lost my respect for him, so sleeping with him was the last thing I wanted to do. This of course caused arguments, and a continuation of the verbal abuse. As part of my punishment for denying him he wouldn’t buy food for the house.

The final straw

When my daughter was about 2 months, a male family relative of his came to stay with us for a few days. X came home from work one night (he’s an ancillary nurse), and came straight into the room to pick our daughter up. I suggested he wash his hands first or change out of his scrubs before doing so. He ignored me, but I insisted and picked her up myself, whilst I repeated my request. He called me derogatory names, then punched me in the face. I was holding our daughter in my arms. I recovered from the blow, grabbed my phone, ran to the bathroom, locked it, and called the police. His relative on hearing the commotion came to the room and enquired about what was going on. X narrated that I was trying to keep him from his daughter, and they laughed it off as me just being a difficult woman. They realised I wasn’t joking when the police came round soon afterwards.

Africanfinestmums - A domestic violence journey pt 2
Me and Otolorin at the DV shelter

As the police had gotten involved, my case got expedited with the domestic shelter, and I was quickly given a space, and moved in. I ended up staying in the shelter for 3 months, then 3 months with a female friend from church whilst I battled in the courts with X.

Domestic violence and the law

Africanfinestmums - A domestic violence journey pt 2

Whilst I was grateful for the space, and that I had gotten out of X’s reach, I couldn’t help feeling upset. Upset that it took me being put in serious danger before action was taken. I soon found out that whilst there are laws in place, when it comes to domestic violence, the woman is sadly at the bottom of the barrel in terms of help and protection. The court judge who heard our case about the domestic violence charge I filed against X, to an extent sums this up. He said, “This seems like a small disagreement between a couple. For the child’s sake you need to return to your partners flat and work it out. By the way, it’s not like the mother’s jaw is broken, and she is too dark for me to see the effect of the punch”. That’s law and order right there for you.

This reiterates the importance of being careful about who you make your bed with. As a female, if you choose wrongly, the brunt of the repercussions that may arise as a result will be borne by you, the female. Law or no law, no matter where in the world you are.

In God we trust

Africanfinestmums - A domestic violence journey pt 2

This plaque is synonymous with the US courts, and should stand as a reassurance for the aggrieved of fairness and hope. I stared at it for the entirety of my court trial as I fought for myself and my daughter, but couldn’t find reassurance in the man made courts. Thank God for God, and his grace. I prayed, I asked for forgiveness for my mistakes, I cried, and He faithfully intervened at critical moments. For instance, I wasn’t supposed to get my daughter’s passport, as X’s signature would have been required. Against the odds, I applied without it, and got it, else we would have never been able to leave the US. Also I was able to get the odd job at a natural skin and hair care company whilst in the shelter. This enabled me to save up to add to the money my dad gave me to get our flight tickets. That too was God, as my dad came to visit me, and we were able to make some repairs to our broken relationship. They let me work there, even as an over stayer. So many other instances, which gave me hope, and helped me continue to press on and press forward.

Getting ready to take flight

We fought it out in court for domestic violence charges I had filed against him. He soon afterwards filed for custody of our daughter. As we weren’t married, and I no longer had legal status in the US I couldn’t file for custody without his permission. It would be deemed as kidnap. X and I no longer had any interaction with each other except for when we met in court as I had filed a protection order against him. That didn’t stop him on occasion from trying to intimidate me and cause tension for me at my place of work. When I got served papers, a legal rep advised that my daughter could be taken away from me, and X awarded full custody. With barely anything to my name, and my daughter in my hands, I arrived back in the UK.

UK we’re back

On my arrival back, my mother met me at the airport, but I went on to stay with a friend. Why? None of my siblings were willing to take us in, and my mum wouldn’t let me stay in my own father’s house. I was definitely not out of the woods yet.

Concluding part coming soon….

Thanks for reading. What did you think? Leave a comment.