I take a bold step today to speak up against gender based violence. I take a bold step to inspire women and children around the world. I take a bold step to make a difference and contribute positively to the development of our world.
I remember telling my husband on the night of our wedding, 'please never beat me'. I didn’t know where that came from but I knew I dreaded violence. I grew up in a loving family and never did I see my father abuse my mother. About 4 years into my marriage, I received the first beating of my life from my husband because I picked up his phone and answered his girlfriend's call. I forgave him because I didn’t have a choice but it was really painful because he did it in the presence of our 4 years old son. Although he had excessive anger issues, I coped with it. The heat became hotter in our home when I decided to further my education. My husband refused bluntly that I couldn’t be in school while raising 3 children even though I had registered for a part time program. He would either lock me out of our home or abuse me whenever I returned from school. I have been beaten and battered on different occasions but I endured because I couldn’t speak out. I was ashamed and I blamed myself for his violence. Abusing me in the presence of our children was just too humiliating. On a particular day, he slammed my laptop on my head and it shattered into pieces. On another occasion, he used the bedside stool on me that resulted in a swollen knee. Although I reported the case to the police, I was told after they invited him, that the matter is 'marital dispute' and should be resolved at home. He threatened that I could not return to his house. After much pleading from friends and family, he accepted to treat me and take me in. At this time he had lost his job and things became very hard in the house. I started supporting with the children’s fees and feeding but all I got was that I was the cause of the situation. He began to accuse me of being fetish and that I had taken his possessions to herbalists and the likes. He accused my parents of 'using his destiny'. He was bitter and frustrated and he poured it all on me. He wouldn’t talk with me, sleep with me, give me any support yet he abused me physically, emotionally and psychologically. The only way I could communicate with my husband was by writing letters. Sometimes I would write to him but would not have the guts to give it to him. On several occasions, I had to lock myself up in a room just to avoid being beaten. My children always cried to see me in that situation. Although I wanted to stay for their sake, he insisted that I packed my things away from his house. He had threatened severally that he was going to beat me till I die. It was almost unbelievable that a seemly peaceful marriage would suddenly turn sour. The last time he beat me, was the last. I took a bold step and walked away. I walked away to fulfil my purpose and dream. I just couldn’t bear the pain, humiliation and abuse anymore. My children were seeing me torn apart on a regular basis.
After he sent me out, I stayed with my parents and visited my children in their school. I realised that he had left instruction with the school management not to give me access to our children. I had to find a way out and that was when I knew that there was legal protection for me. I reported my situation to a human rights organisation and they called to speak with him but he wouldn’t bulge. We had to go to court and I was given custody of our two girls while the boy stayed back with him. Although, life seemed to be unfair to me then, I took a bold step to make things happen for me. I started following my dreams. I won a Federal government grant in my country which helped me to start up my business. I was making a lot of impart in my community with women and children. At the moment, I run the foremost children mobile library in Nigeria,motivated by a vision to promote a sustainable reading culture/ habit in children because we know that good reading culture builds up positive reading attitude among children over a period of time which is a basis for growth and development as well as projects one for greatness in life.
I have also been selected as Presidents Obama's Young Africa leader; Mandela Washington Fellow 2015. I can tell that if I had continued to endure the violence, I couldn’t have had the guts to achieve what I have become today. It’s been 3 years now and I have enjoyed more peace than I had been in marriage enduring violence. I am very glad that I took a bold step.