For the sake of our daughter, I hold onto our abusive marriage in which my wife has been beating me up for the last eight years.
The first time she hit him, they blamed it on pregnancy hormones. She was often irritable and would throw things at him. Eight years later, John, 31, painfully narrates his life with an abusive wife.
“I have attempted suicide thrice and visited many counsellors to find a solution,” he says.
John moved in with his wife immediately after college and anytime they had an argument, she would rain blows on him.
John says in 2016, the situation got out of hand after his wife accessed his personal work accounts, and engaged in nasty altercation with some clients, who in turn closed the accounts. “When I tried to peruse through the account, I was shocked at the kind of unprintable words she used against my clients. That is how I lost my job,” he says.
Dancun Mustapha, a mobiliser with Dawn of Hope, a human rights group in Kisumu, says John confided in him about the abuse in his wife’s hands.
“My advice to him was to always lay low whenever the wife is enraged to avoid getting into problems. I told him to be leaving the house anytime a fight ensues so as to give the wife time to calm down,” says Mr Mustapha.
John says he has never reported the incidents to police. “Any time I share the stories with my friends, I become a laughing stock and they tell me how weak I am, and how nobody would believe my story,” he says.
He says he has lost interest in marriage, but hangs on for the sake of their daughter who has since enrolled in school.
Miriam Nyakado, a psychological counsellor at Aga Khan Hospital Kisumu, says John’s situation is not unique.
She notes that society has cultured men not to play victim, making them suffer in silence.
“Counselling is a long process, and through this, one is able to identify the weak link, and help a couple walk through it,” she says.
Mzee Opiyo Otondi, Chairman of Luo Council of Elders says traditional society had ways of resolving such issues by involving relatives in doing background checks before a couple got married.
John believes his past could have played a part on why he stays in an abusive marriage. His father used to batter his mother until she lost a tooth.
“I saw how my mother treated my father, vowed to never beat my wife. I wanted to give my wife the best, and hope that a man will also give my daughter the best,” he says. He is still hopeful that his marriage will work, and the violence will stop.