Dear Aunt Dora,

My husband brought me to the US two years ago from upcountry, Kenya.

I am 30 while he is 37.

We got married in Nairobi at a small colorful wedding and I came back with him to start our new life.

We went to college together back home and dated briefly for about 3 months before he disappeared on me.

Five years later we met on Facebook and he asked me for a friend request.

He told me he got a green card through lottery but he was still single and was interested in reviving our relationship.

I was doubtful since he disappeared without saying goodbye but against my better judgement I agreed, I was still in love with him. Non-the-less I agreed to marry him and join him in the US.

I have been a good housewife. I do laundry, prepare his breakfast and pack his lunch at 4 am, clean the house and submit to his conjugal rights.

Two years after staying indoors and suffering much abuse, I got a good job as a Customer Service Representative at a phone store. Before then my husband would not let me touch any money or even go to the mall or corner store by myself. I begged him to buy me clothes, underwear and sanitary towels. I lived in America without knowing America. He did not allow me to ride in his car. I took a bus to church on his two tokens which was for to and from – full stop.

Since I got this job, my husband has drastically changed. He hides my car keys when I am about to leave for work.  He does not want me to dress well or wear high heeled shoes or nice-looking boots. He stalks me on Facebook, goes through my pocket book, hides my lipstick and lotion and looks at receipts. He has warned me not to talk to any Kenyan women in America or trace any of my relatives. He recently stole my credit card and bought a laptop and music speakers without my knowledge. My bank said I could sue him for identity theft. I forgave him because he kept saying he brought me to the US and I am not grateful. He also does not allow me to get inside his study.

Now he is pressurizing me to have a baby and as much as I want to have a baby, I believe he is only doing this to control me. My complaints could fill your page but let me stop here.

Kindly advise me, urgently.

Miserable wife, Gladys. Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Dear Gladys,

Thanks for sharing your story. What is happening in your life right now is very daunting and it is important to recognize your courage in facing this head on by seeking advice.

What is happening to you, the power and control being exercised by your husband through isolation, emotional and psychological stalking, and what is appearing to be physical control through a demand for pregnancy can only be termed as abuse. You may have heard it called domestic abuse, wife abuse, or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).

Intimate Partner Violence is not just physical beating but occurs at 5 different levels; Physical, Sexual, Verbal, Financial and Spiritual. Intimate Partner Violence includes stalking on Facebook, gaining control over another partner or ex-partner, making a partner pregnant against her will in order to control her, threats and isolation from family, insults, keeping weapons in the home, hiding car keys, quoting Bible verses like “you promised to live with me for better or for worse, till death do us part” and denying one access to a worship place.

The national prevalence of IPS in the US is 25 per cent for women and 7 per cent for men. In Philadelphia alone, police get 300 calls a day for domestic violence and 14, 000 protect-violence abuses are filed every year. 43 per cent of IPV victims live with children.

Understand that you owe him nothing. The power and control exerted by your husband is reminiscent of those who engage in these types of behaviors due to “entitlement” they feel over a person. The abuser, through acts that diminish a person’s humanity such as physical, emotional and psychological isolation, coupled with the abused’s experience of guilt, shame, fear can contribute to a cycle of violence and silence that can a times end up being too late to come back from.

The first step of truly getting over this cycle is to realize that it is not your fault, and that nobody deserves to be treated like what you have described, no matter the situation. It is with the power of this wisdom that you can take the next steps to address the situation. It is with this knowledge that you are able to pursue your own freedom.

Gladys, you are not alone but this does not mean you should stay in his abusive marriage.  All I see is a bright future ahead of you. You are too young to be someone’s imported slave. Wake up and realize the American dream.

You have several options.

  1. Try marriage counseling.
  2. Call the police on him the next time he hides your keys before work and have him locked up.
  3. Walk out and never look back, call an attorney or the Community Legal Services near you and divorce him.
  4. The National DV Hotline 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE), 1866-SAFE-014
  5. Search online for local women organizations for access to resources and social support

Your husband may get away with it in Kenya but not in the US as it is a criminal offence.

As a battered spouse, child or parent, you may file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Love,

Aunt Dora

 

Tujipange African Media