Will always be there

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Posted December 15, 2019 from Uganda
Photo Credit: gov.uk

“The best gift life can ever give you is sister who understands you, feels your pain and takes the journey with you.”

I have always admired their relationship. It’s genuine and pure. Two women who found each other and have never looked back. I learnt from them that finding a friend who understands you and feels your pain is the greatest gift you can ever get from life.

Annabelle has three lovely girls and one boy while Sarah has five children, one girl and four boys. I met Sarah one day at the police station when she walked in to report her husband for physically assaulting her. What stood out for me was her eye. Her left eye was so swollen and red that you would think she had only one eye.

 She was a tall slim and very brown lady and so the bruises on her neck and back were so visible. I remember looking at her and chills running through my body. I could not help the tears from rolling down my eyes. The police officer didn’t seem to mind her, for them she was lucky to be alive. They had more pressing issues on their hands.

When Annabelle walked in that day, I remember I cried when I saw the love she had for her friend. She held Sarah in her arms and allowed her to weep. These women did not say anything to each other for almost five minutes. Annabelle held her friend so tight as tears rolled down her eyes, she allowed her friend to release the pain and anger. At that moment everything else in the police station just stopped for me as I watched and admired these two women. People walked past them like they didn’t matter and they didn’t care what others thought as they consoled each other. After a while Annabelle realized I was sitting opposite them and she called me.

She had called me earlier for some legal advice for a friend who was in a very abusive marriage. She introduced me to her friend Sarah. I asked them if we could find a better place to sit and discuss because the police station was busy and there was no privacy but most of all, the women police officers were not compassionate and were quite rude to Sarah. We needed a neutral place to sit and talk freely.

We went to a nearby café and let Sarah eat something before we could talk about what happened. As Sarah ate, Annabelle and I talked about the good times of our childhood and laughed so hard we almost forgot that Sarah was not in a good place to laugh. Sarah then narrated the events of the previous night.

Sarah stated that she was driving home when she saw her husband drive past her with another woman in the car. Without thinking she turned and followed them and parked right behind him. She got out of the car to confirm what she had seen and this is when all hell broke loose. Her husband out of embarrassment got out of the car and started beating her. He tried to strangle her but she fought so hard and ran back to the car and drove off. So frightened she drove straight to the police station and spent the night since it was rather late and most of the police officers were asleep.

She told me that this was not the first time he was being violent. He keeps beating her and trying to strangle her even in front of the children. Whenever she reports to the police he bribes the officer and the matter is not followed up. He has told her that he is tired of her and wants her to leave his house. When they got married, he had asked her to stay at home and look after the home and the children. She was in love and wanted the marriage to work so she sacrificed her life for her marriage and children. Ten years down the road she is rewarded with violence and abuse on a daily basis. Her in laws have asked her to leave the home because they claim that she would rather leave than have their son arrested and imprisoned for murder. Sarah is an only child and she grew up with her mother who passed away before she got married. She has never been close with her father’s relatives. Her only family is Annabelle.

Listening to Sarah made me realize that we take many things for granted. Our lives are never perfect and we should always be grateful for being alive and being able to sleep peacefully. Annabelle asked if I could give them a lift to her place so Sarah could shower and have some rest. I gladly agreed and we left and drove to Annabelle’s home.

Annabelle is a business woman and she lives in a small two bedroom house that she is renting for her and her children. She was never legally married to her husband and after the kids, when the husbands business started flourishing he married a fresh graduate from Makerere University. She found out the day of the wedding when she received pictures on her phone. He never returned home and changed his numbers. She was kicked out of the house with her children. Her in laws turned a deaf ear to her pleas and that is when she realized that she was on her own. She is grateful to her brother and sister who quickly came to her rescue and helped her get back to her feet. But mostly she is grateful to her friend Sarah who never left her side through this trying moment. As she told me her story, she couldn’t help but get emotional.

As Sarah took off her blouse before she entered the bathroom you could see the years of abuse embedded on her back and neck. The sadness on her face painted a picture of her life, told a story of the psychological trauma and physical abuse that she had been subjected to but more from the tears that rolled down her swollen cheek, was a story of the pain she felt for her children. As a mother and a fellow woman she didn’t have to tell me what she was going through. I could feel her pain and what hurt me the most is I could not take away her pain, I could help by listening and giving all the legal advice and helping with the documentation and court appearances. But that can never take away the years and pain of abuse.

I kept thinking of my own children and I could not stop the tears. As mothers our hearts beat every day for our children. Whatever we do is for them. We are always scared of what would happen to them when we are gone and out of this world.

Sarah took her time in the shower and we knew she needed time to let out as much pain as she could. Annabelle made me tea and showed me pictures of her children. She told me her kids give her a reason to wake up every day. They help her with house work and are very appreciative for the life that they have. She struggles with school fees and rent but she is entirely grateful for her family and friends. She says at the end of the month she receives money on her phone and bank account from various people who know her story and want to be there for her. Even without asking her friends reach out to her, people she has not talked to in years are somehow reaching out to her and she is grateful. And she truly believes that we live among Angels.

She promised her friend that she will always be there for her no matter what and she would go the ends of this earth to make sure that she is happy and safe. If this is not friendship, then I don’t know what is. These women met way back in school and have kept their friendship ties so strong they have become more than sisters. Their friendship always reminds me of my friends in primary school. We lost touch when we took different paths in secondary school. I always regret why I never kept in touch but life happened.

When Sarah came out of the bathroom, she wanted to call home and check on the kids. Annabelle gave her a phone to call and her daughter immediately picked up the phone and kept asking her where she was. She claimed that her father told them that Sarah wanted to have him imprisoned and so he left home very early in the morning. She managed to talk to all of them and her heart was settled a bit that they were well. Annabelle had prepared a very delicious meal that we could not resist. After she ate she lay on the coach and fell asleep. I helped Annabelle clear the dishes and we struggled with all the issues in Sarah’s life. “What now” is something that kept popping in my head. For an educated women who sacrificed her last 15 years for her husband and family, no savings in the bank, no property in her name, where does she start in life? If she decided to leave, what happens to her children? If she leaves with her children, will her husband pay the fees and up keep. Could she forgive herself for leaving without her children?

We discussed all the legal options but how far is the law going to help her with her healing. How long with the legal process take before she starts living her life. It doesn’t happen in a day, and with this continuous violence will she still be alive when the legal battle is over. All we could do is discuss all the legalities as we wait for Sarah to wake and make her decision.

As we fight to end domestic violence, are we (#Istandwithher) there for our sisters and friends. Do we put ourselves in their shoes and try to understand what they are going through. I learnt from Annabelle and Sarah that sometimes you need you friend to just be there for you. Someone to just hold you and believe in you. Are we there for other women, are we being judgmental towards our sisters, are we pulling our sisters down instead of lifting them up. We might not be able to arrest and punish all the men who mistreat and physically abuse women, but what are you doing for these women. Do you have empathy for them? If you have that one friends who understands how you are wired, celebrate her.

In life, we might cry behind closed doors but if you have someone who can cry with you then you are truly blessed. #Istandwithher

 

This story was submitted in response to Gender-Based Violence.

Comments 48

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Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 15, 2019
Dec 15, 2019

Hello, dear sister Anita,

This is a beautiful story of sisterhood. Please send our hugs to Sarah and Annabelle. It's true that if a woman has someone who can cry on and can walk with her through the process of healing, then she is blessed.

We're blessed also to call you our sister, dear. Thank you for being present to women who are in need. Thank you for sharing this story!

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Thanks Karen. I definitely will send them your hugs and love. Have a blessed week.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

You're welcome, dear. That would be great!

Bangu
Dec 26, 2019
Dec 26, 2019

Hi sister Anita. Thanks for sharing. I have learned a lot.

Wusufor
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Hi Anita,
hmm don't know where to start with. Let me start by thanking you for bringing this story on our door post. You also took your time and narrated is to our understanding, great work.

Truly a good friend is like a brother born for in times of distress prov 17:17 say the Bible. This is exactly what our poor sister when through :-( so sad.

It's good you were also there and you gave her all the legal advices you can think off. Now the decision is hers now to stay or leave. Beside she was not even legally married. This was the start of the disrespect the man had for her. It's really so sad!

Thanks for sharing it
Hope you have a great week ahead.
Regards

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Thank you my dear sister Lisbeth. Many times all we can do is be there for our sisters and give them advice. They have to make the final decision and we pray that the decision that they make is the best.
Thank you and have a blessed week.

Wusufor
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Exactly, you have done your part. I got you. :-)

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Thanks my dear sister.

Jill Langhus
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Hi Anita,

Thanks for sharing this beautiful sisterhood story. I hope that Annabelle and Sarah join World Pulse, too, so they can share their stories, hopes and dreams with us, too, and also if they need help that they can reach out as well. I also agree on celebrating the friends that really care for us, and relate to us. It's so important. Please keep us posted on what happens to Sarah. I hope her and her kids are safe and well?

Hope you have a great week!

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Thanks Jill. Am sure one day they will definitely join and share their stories. I will definitely keep you posted on what Sarah agrees to. Have a blessed day.

Jill Langhus
Dec 18, 2019
Dec 18, 2019

You're welcome:-) Great!

Yay! You, too!! XX

Zohra Elias
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Hello Anita,

Thank you for sharing this story about both strong friendship and the emerging situation that women live daily due to gender based violence.

Regards,

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Hi Zohra,
Thank you so much for your encouragement. Have a blessed day.

Zohra Elias
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Welcome sister !

Thank you.

ANJ ANA
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Dear Anita,
Thankyou for sharing a wonderful story. You are so true that if someone is there to comfort you and stand with you, you are a truly bless. Yes definately being empathic to each other is very important and it's already a half way of healing.
I wish to hear more about Sarah's further steps. Also, I wish both Annebelle and Sarah in this platform, if possible, please.
Thank you for your all comfort and being with both of them.
love and regards,
Anjana

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 19, 2019
Dec 19, 2019

Thank you so much Anjana. I am encouraging them to join. Will send them your regards.
Have a blessed holiday

Felicitas Wung
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Wow! That's the spirit of good sisterhood.

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 20, 2019
Dec 20, 2019

Hi Felicitas
It truly is. Thanks and Merry Xmas and happy new year

Juliet Acom
Dec 18, 2019
Dec 18, 2019

Hi Anita,
Thank you for sharing this wonderful story....I am all emotional after reading it. hhahaaha.
Its true we all need a true friend, a real shoulder!. This is a reminder for me to check in on my real friends as often as possible..
This story is a true reflection of sisterhood.

Thank you and season's greetings!

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 20, 2019
Dec 20, 2019

Hi Julie,
Thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement.
Have a wonderful merry Xmas and happy new year.

Juliet Acom
Dec 18, 2019
Dec 18, 2019

Hi Anita,

This is a wonderful story depicting true sisterhood, I am so emotional after reading it and I have been reminded to check on my real friends more frequently now than ever.
Thank you for sharing this with us.

Season's greetings all the way from Soroti!

Akshaya9
Dec 18, 2019
Dec 18, 2019

Hi Anita,
Thank you for sharing this story. I can relate to the story of being betrayed and abused :-( , the healing of pain from physical abused can be cured whatever marks you've got but the pain deep inside is a long process of healing. I hope , i also have a friend near me to cry on and hold my hands.
Hope Sarah will be fine and stay strong for her children's.

God bless!

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 22, 2019
Dec 22, 2019

Hi my dear sister
Thank you for your encouragement. We all need that one friend to always be there for us. Have a lovely xmas and new year.
Stay blessed.

Akshaya9
Dec 23, 2019
Dec 23, 2019

Your welcome dear :-) .

Have a blissful Xmas and happy New year too.

Take care.

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 19, 2019
Dec 19, 2019

Dear Anita,
It is so important that the reality of what women have faced and are facing is known in detail, and as heartbreaking as this is, you show what healing power women have to offer each other, even while struggling with the same experiences. "Her only family is Annabelle". This brings us to reality, how extremely important it is that we continue to develop the type of sisterhood that you call for, here. How sad that women police add to the cruel treatment, and what luck that you were there.
So true that what is so needed are women who without asking are there for other women. Sisterhood is what can heal deep wounds as you have described, and stories like yours heal us all as we continue, with such a beautiful example of how Annabelle, Sarah and you are there for each other.

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 22, 2019
Dec 22, 2019

Hi Tamarack,
Thank you so much for your kind words and continuous encouragement. It is so true that sisterhood is what can heal our deep wounds.
Stay blessed.

Adanna
Dec 19, 2019
Dec 19, 2019

Dear Sister,

Thank you for sharing and discussing legal option with Sarah.
More women need to be fully aware of various options available when they encounter domestic violence.
Indeed, having someone you can cry with is a blessing.

Love,
Adanna

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 20, 2019
Dec 20, 2019

Hi Adana,
Thank you so much for your encouragement. Yes we need people we can cry with. Merry Xmas and happy new year

Adanna
Dec 23, 2019
Dec 23, 2019

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Sis.

Lily Habesha
Dec 20, 2019
Dec 20, 2019

Dear Anita,
Thank you for narrating this lovely sisterhood and being there for Sarah. It's good to have someone who feels what you feel and be there for you in the time of need. Sarah has one. I feel her pain.
#Istandwithher

Give my love and hugs for the S & A.

Lily

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 20, 2019
Dec 20, 2019

Hi Lilly,
Thank you for your encouragement and kind words.
Merry Xmas and a happy new year

Leonora Le Saldo
Dec 20, 2019
Dec 20, 2019

Hello Sister Anita,
I agree with you that having someone as a sister to understand you and have your back is one of the best gifts of life. Especially when violence seeks to destroy life.

Leonora

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 23, 2019
Dec 23, 2019

Hello Leonora,
It is so true that we need that one sister who understands us no matter what. Thank you and have a lovely xmas and a happy new year.
Stay blessed

Spiritedsoul
Dec 21, 2019
Dec 21, 2019

Thank you for sharing the story, the power our friendship is life changing.
Hugs and love,
Jess.

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 23, 2019
Dec 23, 2019

Hi Spiritedsoul,
Thank you and have a wonderful xmas and happy new year.
Stay blessed

Uchenna Ndukwe
Dec 26, 2019
Dec 26, 2019

Hello Anita,
Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with us. It's obvious here that most women that stay in an abusive marriage is not because they can't get out. But, what would they do after that? How will they survive when they have no means of livelihood? That brings to mind that we all should be independent no matter how little we'll earn.

Yes, I agree.. You go nowhere emotionally, mentally and physically without friends who understand your pains and they are there to douse it even if it's with a hug and kind words.

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 28, 2019
Dec 28, 2019

Thank you so much for your kind words. It is true that we need to be there for one another and we should not be judgemental towards each other.
Thanks once again and have a happy new year.

ABIGAIL KAKIYES
Dec 29, 2019
Dec 29, 2019

This is a brilliant reality of the plight of many Women across the globe. Their fears, pains and experiences encapsulated in one piece leaving us with questions as to how much violence can a woman actually take just to save marriage or because of the children at the risk of losing her own Life?

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Thanks Abigail for the support. It is a reality for many. Many have lost their lives because of their children. We need to support our sisters without being judgemental.
Have a lovely and blessed 2020

Selma Ndi
Dec 30, 2019
Dec 30, 2019

This is really supportive. Thank you for sharing Anita. Sisters helping sisters . Wonderful

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Thanks Selma.

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 30, 2019
Dec 30, 2019

Dear Anita,
Thank you for this beautiful story of sister hood. It is heartwarming to know that sisters can and still do stand for each other.

Annabelle and Sarah are a true definition of sisterhood. I pray that Sarah would be able to get her life back so that she is able to stand for herself and kids.

Our hugs to Annabelle and Sarah. It would be good to know how things end and we hope they can one day join this special community of sisterhood.

Thank you for the work you do to empower and uplift women.

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Thank you Arrey. I will surely keep you posted.
Have a blessed 2020

Lavina Cardoza
Jan 08
Jan 08

Dear Anita,
You touched my heart deep by narrating this story. Your observations and insights while you were part of Sarah and Annabel's life are incredible.

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Hi Lavina,
Thank you. Their friendship inspires me everytime
Have a blessed and prosperous 2020

Chinyere Kalu
Jan 12
Jan 12

Hmmm! Domestic violence must never be condoned for any reason. No man has the right to lay a finger on a woman.
As women, we must never allow
ourselves to drop so low in life as to loose our self dignity.Choose to stall tall all the time.
Here, i see over submisveness and lack of empwerment, it shouldnt be. Annabel will be fine its just a matter of time. Women fall to rise to become stronger.Let us see how she can be helped back to her feet. We rise by helping others rise.

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Hi Kalu,
Thanks for the support. I totally agree that women need to be more empowered and stand up for themselves. We need to be there for each other.
Have a lovely day and a great 2020

lizzymark
Jan 15
Jan 15

When a sister is there for another sister it gives the sister in trouble courage and hope to live. What's important is that you were there for a friend who needed someone to be there,its so good and thoughtful of you. I hope she is well and moves on. Thanks for shearing