Wednesday, October 9, 2013

7. The Red Flags I Overlooked Before my Abusive Marriage - One Woman's Domestic Violence Story

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My name is Omalinze Okonkwo. I am a 33 year old Nigerian woman, who fled to the US to get away from a violently abusive husband/marriage. It had been hell, pretty much from day one of our 10 year marriage, with lots of hospitalizations and two separations in between. And it was ALL forms of abuse, from physical to emotional to psychological to mental to financial. This is the story of how I left, it was not and has not been easy, but I'm glad I'm free.

I call them the pre-commitment signals, other people may call them red flags. All the signs were there but I somehow ignored them or thought I could deal with it. Even though we had a long distance relationship, he had shown some traits that should have stopped me cold in my tracks. These traits were,

1. Uncontrollable rage: When we were "dating”, he was on indefinite suspension from work for many months. I would sometimes text him airtime for his phone from my meager earnings as a model and he would call me and rain abuses on me for hours. Or he would give me hell, if he called and I wasn't at school.

I also remember a time I had come to Lagos to attend a wedding with him. After the wedding, he couldn't pull his car out immediately because some other car was trying to navigate out of a tight corner. He put his head out of the window and cursed the man out and the man responded in kind. In a split second, he had bounded out of the car, grabbed the man out of his car, and “jacked" him high into the air slamming him onto his bonnet. I was sitting in stunned silence and couldn't speak till we got back to his place.

2. Anxious for quick involvement: When his parents decided it was time for him to marry, they went to my parents to ask for my hand. Then they started to badger me till I eventually gave in. I did remember asking my mom two questions: 1) why couldn't he ask me himself? 2) What on earth was all the hurry? Eventually, I asked him about it and he said he didn't need to ask me. It made me VERY uncomfortable but my mom convinced me that it didn't matter. Eventually, I agreed and he tried to get the closest date which kind of freaked me out because I thought there had to be something wrong with him.

3. Emotional abuse: All physical abuse ALWAYS starts with verbal abuse as well as emotional and psychological abuse. Mine did. After my traditional wedding, I noticed that he would shut down when I disobeyed him. He would just withdraw all communication and contact while I ran around to placate him. And it would remain that way until I did what he wanted in the first place. Or he would pick on sensitive sore subjects and insult me within an inch of my life till I broke down in tears. For instance, I failed out of medical school and didn't graduate with my mates. It was something I was intensely ashamed of as I was a brilliant girl. He would taunt me about it, telling me how I was never going to amount to anything, that I couldn't even get the simplest job except as a house help or tired hooker.

I would weep for days, unable to believe the things that he said to me. And I actually started believing him. He would get into my head; saying that I should be grateful I had him because no one would love me like he did and that since I was so flawed , it was his love for me that made him point out my many flaws. Eventually I became numb to his taunts but not the head games. I actually felt I was deserving of the punishment because I wasn't a good wife.

4. Externalization of Responsibility: He would always shift the blame for his actions to external factors - one morning, I was getting my son ready for school while my husband dressed for work. When he asked me for his belt and I told him that I didn't know, I got punched in the left side of my head, right there in front of my eighteen month old. To this day, I have partial vision in my left eye. When he got home from work, his only reaction was that I should know better than to annoy him because he was stressed at work.

4. Minimization of his Actions: He never EVER takes responsibility and if he is cornered into accepting, he always makes light of the situation. In the beginning, he would apologize for ever laying a hand on me but also say that I made him do it. As time passed, he would say that he didn't hit me, he only "flung” me. Or he would ask "Why do you need to be in the hospital because of this little thing? I've done more than this to you before". This was when I'd ask him to move his car from behind my car so I could drive to the hospital.

5. Emotional deadness: My husband is a beautiful man. Six feet, Four inches, glowing ebony skin, whisky-colored eyes and a smile that could melt any heart. But, the deadness in those eyes is chilling especially when he's smiling. One time, he took a swing at my head and I was screaming at him to be careful as I was 10weeks pregnant. He looked me dead in the eye, head butted me and kicked me repeatedly in the stomach saying that I and the baby belonged to him and he would do whatever he wanted with us. The next morning, while I was at work I started bleeding and lost the baby before I got to the hospital. That was the first of two pregnancies I lost because of him. He would say that he wasn't wired to feel anything.

6. Manipulation: The most dangerous tactic he employed was that of confusion, distortion and lies. A lot of people have told me that they have read me wrong because of how my husband portrayed me as a crazy, demonic person. He has even had me questioning if some of the incidents really happened the way I told them or if his version was the truth. He has said that I was delusional and needed to be institutionalized because I was making up stories about him hitting me.

7. Isolation: He slowly but surely kept me isolated so no one knew what was happening. I had a friend then who stood up to him. Her name was O.g. and he couldn't stand her. He kept saying that he didn't want her around me cos she was a slut and would influence me negatively. He generally made her uncomfortable till she stopped coming or calling. He had to be the one to choose my friends and could approve or dissaprove of my friends in the twinkling of an eye. I remember one time, a friend of mine Lizzie who lived in the UK came to see me with her Caucasian fiancee. He didn't even acknowledge them and I was mortified.

Later, as I was planning to travel for the traditional he said I wasn't to go cos she was a slut for marrying a white man and I was forbidden to have anything to do with her. He even had his mom and elderly aunties summon me to one of the numerous panels which he headed and I was berated for daring to associate with anyone without my husband's consent. I never saw or spoke to Lizzie and her hubby even though they lived in Lagos. Gradually, because of how he embarrassed me and my friends, I let all my relationships die a natural death.

1. How I Got the Courage to Leave
2. How I Met my Abusive Husband
3. A Fatal Kind of Attraction
4. My Attempts to Leave or Separate
5. The Beginning of The Nightmare
6. How I Became A Different Person as an Abused Woman
7. The Red Flags I Overlooked Before my Abusive Marriage
8. Why I Kept Going Back To My Abusive Husband
9. When I Decided That I Will Not Die But Live
10. It Was Tough, But I Was Finally Able to Leave

Myne's note - October is Domestic Violence awareness month and Oma thinks this was a great time to share her story and reach out to other women for support and also to encourage others to speak out or take action.

Over the next few days, you'll read more of Oma's story. Names, Dates and Places have been changed to protect Oma and her children. Oma is currently in need of help, financial and otherwise and if you're able to, please contact me at We're trying to work as quickly as possible for the safety of Oma and her ability to keep her children.


  1. This was a VERY hard read. But thanks be to God, even with the financial burdens Oma is facing the freedom she has and peace from a brutal man is priceless.

    Thank you for sharing her stories with us, Myne. These stories are very hard to read, but from her experience I shall gain wisdom.

    1. You're welcome. That was my major aim of sharing this, that we may all learn.

  2. Thank sweet Myne for sharing this heart shattering post,really don't know what to say.

    1. The guy is pure evilkanevil

  3. Since it is domestic violence month i encourage all of us to share this story on our facebook wall, twitter etc you never know who may be suffering silently and only needs that one motivation to leave. I wish other popular blogs can pick this as well and spread this campaign

  4. thumbs up for her for sharing her experience. there by warning others before hand. and thank God she realized it now....and... i hope she has left him. not all that glitters is gold... ladies beware... Nice one Myne


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