Thursday, October 10, 2013

9. When I Decided That I Will Not Die But Live - 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.

After the incident where he tied me up and threatened me with a knife, I decided I had to move out but I knew the only way to make it safely and with my children was to leave the country. And I decided to get as far away as possible because I figured the Western world offered d me more protection in terms of police/government and even individual intolerance of Domestic Violence.

In the year before the incident, I’d basically resigned myself to his cruelty and accepted that I was going to lose my mind and/or die. I figured I might as well make it as painless as could. I stopped looking for help, I stopped going to church ( my pastor had referred me to his wife as it was a woman’s department and she had flippantly said, “You have some unconfessed and hidden sins in your life. Go home pray for forgiveness and God will stop punishing you”.

I'd stopped going to NGOs that were supposed to provide free legal help (they always said “Go home and pray. It is well.”), I stopped going to marriage counseling (“I can’t make a grown man stop doing anything.”) I stopped asking my sibling who lived in Canada for help.(They had told my husband that I might be trying to leave the country so I seized my passports and the kids as well as all my documents like my birthcertificates, results etc).

I'd even stopped trying to kill myself (I'd become so despondent before then, not knowing whether each day was going to be my last with my kids or if Id live to see them grow that I'd decided to speed up the process and had one time driven my car into oncoming traffic and another time drank industrial strength pesticide). I figured I was going to die on his terms so why bother.

But with the mark slowly healing on my leg, I knew I couldn't stay for him to kill me. I needed to be alive for my children.I needed to leave this man and take my children with me. I watched and waited till I found out where he had hidden our passports, then started sneaking out his documents required to apply for a VISA. When I felt I had gotten enough, I snuck them out as well as all four passports and sent in our applications. Because I couldn’t risk him finding out, I paid for the priority visas which was cost me about 200k to get in about 3-5 days.

Now, in all of those days, I lived in terror of my life. I would hide a knife in my pants and as soon as he came in for the day, my heart would fly into my mouth and I’d be pacing around, peeping through the keyhole, making sure the kids were with me at all times. Each time a text message or phone call came to any of his phones, I would start to shake because I thought he may have tracked the transaction and would find out my plan.

Each time he looked my way or came into the kids room where I’d been living for months, I would literally feel my knees buckle and my heart race. And I’d hover around extremely nervously until he would turn in for the night. I would leave the door unlocked and would park my car outside the gate and when he questioned me, I said cos I had early-meetings.

We did this macabre dance for about 10 days especially after I had picked up the passports. I started trying to book an airline ticket to the UK online. I had eventually found a booking for Ethiopian air and was to leave that Friday but my daughter became ill and so I had to wait because I knew it was almost a 2-day journey and I couldn’t strain her that way. I had to switch to the next Friday on Air Jordanian.

I chose Friday because he typically stayed out till late Saturday and sometimes early Sunday, partying so I would have time. And his security man ,who watched me lie a hawk,would go to the mosque from 12 to 3pm.

On the eve of the day I was to leave he came home and watched TV for a bit. Then as he would occasionally do, he walked to the safe where he hid the passports. With each step he took, I saw my life flash before my eyes, my ears were ringing and I thought, “This is the day I die!”.

His room was quiet for a while then I hear the door burst open and he roars my name. I had already edged myself and the kids downstairs, pretending to hang out the laundry.

“Where are the passports???!” he hissed through narrowed eyes.
I look outside and the kids were already near the gate . I answered shakily… “At work.”
“How ? Why?”

“You gave them to me the other night when you got in from the club, remember? I told you my boss liked me and wanted to slot our passports in with hers to apply for a South African VISA.” I lied weakly.

He stared at me steadily for a few minutes and when , for the first time I didn’t break down and blubber out the truth, he gritted out, "Get them back as soon as she’s done.” And he storms back to his game.

“Sorry. I will, Im sorry.” I whispered to his back. It was just one more day.

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. The parts she described trying to kill herself sound dramatic,a bit made up if you ask me.Not trying to trivialize or minimise what she went through,just hoping she isn't embellishing her story.Sad story though.

    1. You're clearly a pathetic abuser. Yes, that's what you make your wife go through. Very insensitive someborri

  2. It is derisions of people like Anonymous 1:14 that shrouds this DV issue in the secrecy that allows it to fester. Someone is telling you her story, you say it is dramatic. Are you for real?????? Were you there???
    As for me, with every line I read in this instalment, my heart kept flying to my mouth at the thought that he would find her out and the consequences would be dire for her and the kids even though, logically, I knew she escaped with her children.

  3. Wow this DV issues especially in marriage is really huge...happy she got out like they say it's never too late to get out of abusive marriages. Also this is why is not good to have a joint account. Imagine if she had to ask him for $€£ for securing the visas? That means, she would have been buried that day. Happy for her!!


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