“Brian, stop this! I won’t stand for this much more oh!”
He paid her no heed and sneered as he pushed her back once more, causing her to back into the wall so she could no more retreat any further.
Brian was a nasty drunk – but that was only part of the problem that evening.
Ewurafua had disposed of every single bottle of alcohol in the house and he was pissed that he’d started his binge after work only to come to a house devoid of his ‘nightcap’ before bed. If he was to be honest to himself though, he would have admitted that his anger that particular night stemmed from some difficulties at work – talk about bringing your work home!
She tried to back out of his reach in a dash to the side but he’d predicted her next move and in a flash was there.
“I bet you think you’re better than me now eh?’ He slurred his words only slightly but the added wicked glint in his eyes caused her heart to sink. He wasn’t drunk enough to fall asleep any moment. He would come after her soon.
She tried to duck under the arm he placed in her way to the right but he moved to block her escape.
“Herh! Where do you think you’re going?”
“But Brian you’re-”
The hot slap that landed was a shock, and then again not so much of one. This was usually how it began.
The slap was the first thing that heralded the change in gears of his mood towards the physically dangerous. She’d managed to get away about twice so far when he got this dangerously drunk, but only before he managed to block her exit.
She’d run into one of the bedrooms the first time and locked the door behind her leaving him to pound incessantly on the thick oak door until he gradually lapsed into a fitful liquor-dosed sleep.
She’d then snuck out of the room the next morning, thinking he was so far gone that she could get dressed and leave the house for work without any interference – that was a mistake.
By the time he was done with her, she had had to call in sick to work – luckily it was a Friday so they didn’t need her as much, and the fading bruises could be covered up well enough by Monday (thank you MAC Matchmaster SPF 15 Foundation).
The next time she’d managed to get away, though, she was sure to stay in the bedroom until she heard his car drive off that morning before coming out. She’d calmly gotten dressed, packed herself a carry-on case, and booked a flight to visit her best friend in Takoradi. She briefly considered going to her parents’ in Cape Coast but remembered a wise word that stuck in her mind from a pre-marital talk years before.
Like clockwork, he was at Jamila‘s door the next morning on his knees, begging her to come back. She didn’t even bother coming to see his face and her best friend had her own husband Mark shoo him off her porch – at least that was her directive to him. Mark had taken Brian aside for a protracted discussion with him about his actions. They’d known each other only briefly through the longstanding friendship of their wives but had come to respect each other somewhat so Mark felt it was his duty of sort to advise him. Brian hung his head throughout their discussion and kept nodding his head.
“I know I messed up Mark. It was the alcohol, I swear! I can’t believe that I would ever touch my wife! Ow Ewurade!”
Mark smiled wryly and shook his head. He didn’t know what exactly to make of Brian’s dramatics but he naturally had his doubts about its sincerity. He only hoped that something he said at least would get through to encourage Brian to exercise some control in the future.
“Brian, you’re a grown man. You have to control yourself no matter how upset your wife may even make you. You’re stronger, bigger and more muscular than her – do you want to break her bones or kill her?!”
“Oh Mark, none of the above o! Hmmmm…It’s the alcohol o, we just went out for drinks after a programme and I indulged just a bit. She said something about me being late or so when I got home and I don’t even really remember what happened afterwards! Please help me beg Ewuraefua to come back home. It will never happen again, I promise!”
“Oh? The alcohol eh? Then you’ve got to drop that bottle now. That’s the only way you can hope to ultimately keep your wife – and you know she’s one of the few good ones so you need to step up. Are you hearing me?”
“Yes Mark, yes I am! This will never happen again! I have stopped from today – no more drinking”
Funny how none of those desperate words could find their way through the haze of booze this evening with him on the warpath.
“I’ve locked the doors today so we’ll see how you’ll make it out of this house to go report me to Jamila and her goody goody two shoes husband, Marky boy!” He slurred the ending of his words, the alcohol still hard at work in his system.
“Please I beg you in the name of God, Brian, stop this! Pierce is asleep in just the next room – he’ll wake up and start crying!”
With that, he aimed another slap at her but she managed to dodge under his other arm and avoid the blow this time. She backed away again, putting some furniture between them now.
“Oh, so you think you’re smart now, eh? Obaa Jackie Chan! You think I can’t get to you?” He sneered again, reaching into his pocket for the small flask of gin he’d stashed away there earlier to take a last swig. He wiped his mouth and belched immediately afterwards.
He then leaned against the wall, throwing up his hands halfway between surrender and a shrug.
“I mean, I think I get it now. Maybe if I could wear short skirts to flaunt my ample hips and behind in front of my bosses at work, I might also get paid the big bucks…I wonder which Chief Inspector would be amenable to that, though. Hahahaha!” He laughed at his own crude joke for a few seconds before lunging for her again across the sofa.
She unfortunately didn’t anticipate this move of his and he clamped his vise-like grip about her wrist before she could fully dodge out of the way. He whipped her around and drew her close into a bear hug panting heavily at the exertion now, his alcohol breath bringing a sting to her eyes.
She didn’t know for sure if that was when she started crying, but that was when she first noticed the tears that just kept pouring down her face.
“Stop this, Brian! Please!”
It was as if she begged in a foreign language to a deaf person. He only latched on harder as he breathed heavily into her ear.
“You are my wife – my bona fide property! I am the man of this house. You do what I want, when I want it! Have you heard?!”
The last straw that finally broke the camel’s back was when she realized what was on his mind as he clawed at the hook at the top of her zipper after freeing his right hand.
It was obviously the very last thing he expected because he immediately let go of her, clutching his midriff, all air suddenly out of him!
Ewuraefua stepped back, shivering, still in shock at the violence she’d been met with this evening. He wheezed, trying to regain his breath, knelt down on the carpeted floor.
Maybe I’ve really hurt him o, she thought to herself, immediately concerned and moving closer to touch him alarmed at any possible grievous injury.
“Oh Brian, are you o-”
He grabbed at her ankle when she got back within reach, sweeping her to the floor!
Ewuraefua was lucky to land on a fluffy cushion that had been knocked off the chair at some point during the altercation.
“You hit me, eh?! I will beat you up today so they imprison me! Ɛnne yɛbɛkye me ato mu!”
Brian’s bellow of rage stunned her. What at all could she have done to turn the sweet charismatic man she’d wedded into this wild brute before her? One thing was certain to her though – the hard look in his eyes as he shouted, getting back to his feet, convinced her he meant every single word.
He lunged for her just as her resolve finally solidified. For Pierce.
She stepped into his reach, surprising him as she reached for his forearm and using his momentum against him, threw him over her shoulder! He wasn’t as lucky as she had been though – he had only the carpeted floor to break his fall.
“Herh, what the hell?!” The pure adrenaline of the shock had him lying down on the floor with his mouth and eyes open wide.
She stepped around his figure on the ground to make sure he could see her face clearly. The calm fierceness of her voice surprised even her as she spoke.
“This must stop, Brian. This is the last time. No more fighting. I am somebody’s daughter too. You can’t keep beating me like I’m some animal!”
“Like hell, you think you can dictate to me!” Angered now once more, he rolled over and pushed himself to his feet. It must have been a fluke, he reasoned to himself as he looked at her suspiciously, eyes narrowed now.
“You are my wife! You listen to what I say, and you do it. I will have no disrespect in my house!”
“You mean our house, don’t you Brian? My money, sweat, and blood are in this house too, you remember?”
“Aha! I know I should never have agreed to collect your money to help in building! Hmph! You these career women who think that just because you make a little bit more than your husbands you can talk to them and treat them anyhow! Me, I’m not one of them o! Ewuraefua, you will not sit on my head just because of some small money bi you think you’ve got now! It will never happen! My ancestors would turn over in their graves the day that happens – tweakai!”
“First of all, I’m insulted by what you’re trying to imply,” her voice was stronger now as she finally felt free to offload what had been on her chest for quite a while now.
“To imply that I’m the sort of woman who sees any gain in ‘sitting’ on her man like you put it really hurts me. Are we now competing for something here?! I’m your wife, for God’s sake – all I want is for you to succeed, and I know you have that in you. I just don’t understand what’s come over you these days. It’s as if you have the Devil in you!”
“Oh I’m now Satan eh? Okay. Let me show you what Satan does to the people he lives with!”
He lunged for her again, this time moving in close to grab her by the waist in a semi-crouch, but she was once again waiting for him.
She’d raised her arms the moment he started his charge, bringing her elbows down into his back forcefully just as he collided into her!
Thinking back on the incident much later, she would admit that it would have been a bizarre sight indeed, watching a 5’6″ woman dish it out – so to speak – to a 6’2″ man, but that was the absolute last thing on her mind that evening. Survival trumped anything else.
They did topple over from the momentum with which Brian had thrown himself at her, though. She landed heavily on her back after delivering the blow but had the presence of mind to flip him over her head with her legs before he dropped his full weight upon her slender frame. Later she would attribute the seemingly superhuman feats she performed on the amount of sheer adrenaline pumping through her veins that evening.
Brian landed with a thud and fell silent. It was a miracle that Pierce was still fast asleep in his cot with all the commotion ongoing in the living room just next door, but thankfully he slept still.
Ewuraefua lay still on the floor, a number of ideas running through hear mind at lightning speed as she fought to catch her breath – was that the end of her ordeal or not? Would Brian get up again and keep attacking her until she dropped dead? Would he still have kept coming after her if she’d just been still and not fought back? Was he dead? Was her marriage over at last?
She shakily made it to her knees, turning to check on Brian. His eyes were shut but he had a cut above the left one that was bleeding. She shook his shoulder – there was no response.
Her blood ran cold at the thought that rose unbidden to the surface of her mind – Pierce would grow up with no parents because his mother had killed his father a week before his 3rd birthday!
“Brian! Oh God, what have I done?!” The tears came in fast and heavy now as she rocked his body from side to side, willing him to wake up.
“No, no, no, no. Oh Brian…”
His eyelids fluttered for a second or two and opened finally. He stared at his wife with shock in his eyes.
“Ewuraefua, what happened?” He managed to stammer with the confusion evident in his voice. The veil of booze seemed to also have cleared somewhat though he made no effort to sit up and just lay on the floor staring up at his distraught wife.
She covered her mouth as she wept even harder than before. He was alive…she hadn’t killed him after all.
“I can’t do this anymore Brian. I’m tired of fighting for us single-handedly. I might have continued this fight to the best of my ability, but definitely not against you. I’m done with this.”
“Please…” his voice cracked as the first tear rolled down his cheek now. “Don’t leave me, Ewuraefua, I beg you.”
“But you’re the one tearing us apart! Between the drinking and beating, I think I’m done now Brian. I’ve got no more to give. I nearly killed you today, even if it was in defending myself. I was faced with the worst possible version of myself and I don’t like what I’ve seen. I don’t want to be that close to becoming that woman ever again. I don’t want to be that close to being responsible for something like that. You finally did it, Brian – you broke me…”
She willed her tears to stop falling but they paid her no heed. She was at the end of her wits now.
“I’m so sorry, Ewuraefua. I know it’s got nothing to do with you, this thing that’s wrong with me. I guess I never really came to terms with you earning more than me,” he paused and raised a hand to cover his eyes as his voice faltered.
“With your traveling abroad frequently for all those conferences too, and my difficulty in securing a promotion for years now, I guess I had this anger bottled up inside me that found release through the bottle also…I’m sorry, please don’t leave me…”
He broke down now as sobs racked his whole body. Her heart went out to the real beaten man with all his insecurities laid bare before her. She knelt beside him for over a full minute as he silently sobbed before lifting him up to place his head in her lap as she sat down legs outstretched. He only cried harder then as she joined in.
The shame of the whole situation had finally dawned upon him. He would later admit that he’d known somewhere at the back of his mind that he’d been wrong all along, but stubbornness and misplaced machismo had prevented him from addressing the real issues underlying his mistreatment of his wife until he’d been forced to re-examine his part in it all that night.
“Let’s call Rev. Asaph – I’ll go for counselling this time. Please, let me do anything we need to make things right again. I beg you Ewuraefua, hwɛ Nyame anim na f’akyɛ me wae!”
He seemed to be saying all the right things today, but she’d been burned one too many times already. Unwilling to let her hopes buoy her up, she helped him into a sitting position before getting up herself after wiping her face with the back of her hands.
“I just don’t know what to think now Brian. You’re saying the right words but I don’t know if I believe them anymore. You’ve used them before and…I just don’t know what to believe now…”
He was silent now. He knew she was right. He had said a lot of things over the past 4 years and had reneged on them all. Even he had doubts as to whether he could keep any promise to her he made now, after all, hadn’t he really meant all those ones at the time? He remembered the way he felt after he had sprained her left arm during one of those fights. He’d apologized profusely and promised her that he would never lay hands on her in that manner again, but had his hands around her neck in the next fight 2 months later. He just kept shaking his head silently as the tears silently streamed down his face.
Ewuraefua walked towards the baby’s room to check up on him. Pierce had been her one light during this whole sorry debacle. She’d however usually felt some guilt whenever she saw his cherub face after one of these fights occurred. You see, part of the reason why she got pregnant was because she’d thought that bearing his children would somehow stem the violent behaviour he’d begun to exhibit from time to time in some way. Selfishness on her part had been involved in making that decision and she always felt bad whenever she realized that her actions had brought an innocent child into the midst of their wahala to possibly suffer the effects of it also…
Pierce was asleep in his cot with a thin sheen of sweat on his forehead and a small frown on his face. At times she could swear that he’d picked up the negative vibes of things going on between his parents from within the womb and still carried them around till date. He’d taken a long time to smile as a new-born baby, and even now seemed to do so quite sparingly, unlike the other toddlers she’d see at Weighing and other gatherings generally.
Adjusting the thermostat slightly, she got into the large cot beside him and cradled him in her arms, close to her own body. He still had the fresh baby smell that never failed to make her smile. The little crease above his eyebrows slowly vanished as he lay in his mother’s arms.
She finally smiled as she lay in the dim light, listening to her son’s gentle rhythmic breathing. She’d come to a decision at last. She would do the best thing she could for Pierce and herself…and maybe even Brian.
Ain’t nobody dying in this house no more, was the last thought she had before drifting off into a dreamless sleep.
The story of that Fight was routinely the last one Pastor and Mrs Kabore would tell the young couple they were counseling at the time – usually before marriage.
Over the course of nearly 22 years, that story helped many young couples re-evaluate the Matters underneath their Issues so they could take the right decisions concerning their partners and their peculiar situations. Sure, some of them ended up deciding not to marry after all or to wait for their partner to work on some issues beforehand, but others still went ahead with their plans in spite of the advice given. Only a few of the latter were bold enough to come back later to report on either the grave state of their union or its total breakdown due to incessant fighting and beatings.
They emphasized that though a history of prior violence even before marriage was a dire sign, it didn’t mean that it couldn’t happen out of the blue in other relationships without such a history. They routinely, however, educated them on the signs of impending trouble and how to manage them before the pot boiled over.
Almost invariably, the younger couple would find it hard to imagine the relatively petite and quiet Mrs Ewuraefua Kabore flipping her mild-mannered muscular husband around in such a brutal fight. Pastor Brian would usually laugh at their disbelief, shaking his head before drawing their attention to the nasty scar just above his left eye that ended through his eyebrow.
“It’s only God who can do things like these my friends. He alone can make such a masterpiece out of one hell of a broken man such as I was. On the good side though, I signed up for the martial arts class my wife had already started a few years later and it helped me work on my anger issues a lot though she’s still my better at it, hands down. Nobody expects Osofo to have a secret bodyguard, eh?”
“But why didn’t you just leave?” was one of the questions that would often pop up, addressed to Ewuraefua.
“It was a simple but difficult reason, actually. I stayed for my marriage to succeed, and because I still loved my husband and my son more. Leaving was actually the easier choice I realised. Staying meant I would have to fight for my family – and that would be harder, but the best thing to do for us all. I wasn’t about to leave this man alone to blunder around and destroy what we stood to gain from building a strong family.”
There are 6 things to keep in mind if not for you, then for others concerning domestic violence:
- If they have started laying their hands on you in anything but blessing before you get married, the only thing that will change is the gear it will be in after you’re wedded. ‘Love taps’, will most likely escalate into ‘beatings like a drum’.
- Having a child or constantly bending to the oppressive partner’s wishes is not the way to bring the violence to an end. There is always an underlying issue that needs to be settled if the matter is to be truly solved.
- This is not one of the marital issues you deal with ‘in-house’ – talk to someone else! Or be willing to be the one they talk to about this matter. There can be such shame and complicated emotions surrounding these issues that it may take a while before victims (especially men) open up to you about it. The last thing to be done then is to either laugh or belittle their situation.
- When necessary, let the law courts step in. Don’t always try to solve these matters in camera or ‘at home’. You’re almost always not going to be the only person in the family suffering from something like that, and some will plainly not believe you or even really care about your situation, only that the public image of the family is kept pristine. If your religious leaders, their family, your counselors and other people they respect cannot advise your partner for him or her to stop battering you, you need to think higher. Your life and those of your children may be at stake one day.
- This is not one of the things being a Christian encourages you to endure – if you need to, leave! You need to be alive in order to fulfill God’s mandate for you. Your children need to see a strong parent willing to stand for the Right thing. Too many faiths have been lost seeing people endure evil for the wrong reasons: ie – Christianity. Leave to a friend’s house or family for as long as you need to in order to resolve the issue. There is no glory to be sought in dying before your time at the hands of your spouse.
- Pray. Your particular situation may even be complicated by a mistress or another man. The only way to solve your issue and also keep you in the Right is to Pray like you’ve never prayed before. Don’t let them drag you down to their level. Prayer elevates your response to Chess, while they continue playing Draught on the same board. It changes the rules of the game, while bringing you even more peace to endure this trial of life. Prayer will settle your soul.
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Always remember you’re not fighting each other – you’re fighting for your relationship…
– Tele 😉
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