"Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all)" (Q4v34). There has been a lot going on online and off on domestic violence and I am definitely guilty of it but before you all get the NGOs on me, I need 10 or so minutes of your time to hear my story.
I was not brought up in an abusive home neither am I an egocentric male nor a chauvinistic pig or any of the other terminologies we read about in all these feminist media we are awashed with. Abuse of any gender is not in my DNA but I am human and we all have our break points. People tend to forget that abuse comes in different ways, sometimes we men are the victims but society overlooks us.
We are supposed to be the stronger sex, so when your wife abuses you repeatedly, you lick your wounds in secret. You can't tell anyone, not even your own family or friends. You bear the pain, the shame and the emotional trauma all alone. For some inexplicable reasons, it is socially acceptable for a woman to hit a man, the media was agog with Solange and Jay Z (an elevator camera recorded her attacking him with repeated blows and with a clutch), there was no media outrage, no fan outrage, in comparison to Ray Rice (again a camera recorded a violent domestic exchange), media outrage and lives ruined. I am tired of women being the weaker sex in one instance but wanting equality in another. No one should be hit. No one should tolerate physical violence. Its about equal opportunity.
I have been married to my wife for all of seven years and while I hold this hadith dear - "The best of you is the one who is best to his wife......" (Tirmithi); I think when some women reach a certain stage in marriage in spite of being a good husband to them, it takes a lot of grace to keep them reasonable. Certain wives grow with one as the relationship progresses, others grow apart, become wilder, bitter and more difficult. My wife happens to be of the later stock. Who do I blame? Friend? Family? Shaitan? I will blame all. Some women just allow themselves to be used and when happiness and warmth is lacking, bitterness, anger and resentment festers in the mind. People keep telling me that if she is such a tiger, why don't you walk away, how does one walk away from three lovely children? These children are innocent and deserve a good home, they are at their early developmental stages and need both of us very present. As it is, if the situation continues, I probably need to take the walk otherwise the children might need therapy in future.
The problem actually started five years into our marriage, that was after our third child and first daughter was born, I had a career breakthrough and started my own business. I could now afford more for my family. I felt this meant more happiness for us all, but the reverse has been the case. My dear wife re-connected with some old friends, became more outgoing and started comparing their lives with ours. I think she came into herself albeit the wrong way. My otherwise reserved wife became more about the next party, more career oriented and less of the marriage and family. She then nagged more about the fact that I changed the course of her career. Life takes a different course especially for women when they marry, when they have children. Marriage is about making sacrifices, compromising and maybe forgetting some dreams to focus on the bigger one - children.
Anyway, my dear wife became less than a wife I married, food came from eateries and sometimes we had none at all. When I complained, she will remind me of where she should have been, where her friends are and how miserable her life is. Imagine a man coming home to that everyday. Nothing I said or did to made life better or made sense to her. The relationship took a different dimension when she became very close to a particular secondary school friend. Her friend had lived for quite sometime in Europe or so and was married to a white man. They all started having series of meetings leaving me out, what I was told was they wanted to do some business together, they wanted to start a digital agency, some kind of consultancy for new brands.
While I was happy that she was trying to do something outside of home which should make her happier, I had my concerns about that friend and voiced it often. Aside from coming home perpetually late everyday, I stumbled on a bag of goods with some receipts on a boring weekend whilst babysitting the kids. They were women's things, mostly from luxury brands. While I do not know how much ladies shoes and bags costs or are supposed to cost, I found receipts for a wrist watch. It was all of N650,000! We stay in a rented apartment, I use a basic space bus, our kids are in good but modestly priced schools and my wife is buying Fendi, Chanel and a wrist watch that is more than my monthly salary?! Where was this money even coming from?
Someone had certainly arrived; the woman of my dreams, the wife of my youth, the mother of my children. The unfortunate thing was that she was ''growing" at the expense of the family, she was carving a whole different life different from ours, and outside of my reach. With a different life came a condescending approach to the marriage and to me. When I confronted her with all I had observed, she charged at me and, when she was about to raise her hand, I gave her the beating of her life. Yes, I beat my wife blue black. Am I proud of what I did? No. Is she still her aggressive self? Yes, very much. Will I do it again? Maybe. She is still very confrontational, nasty and downright violent. This woman is certainly out of her mind. This is not the woman I married. Don't get me wrong, I believe in zero tolerance of violence against women. I will protect any woman that is being abused by anyone. I have a daughter and will not want anyone to ever touch her, but I will tell my children to always protect themselves against any abuser. Don’t hit and don’t tolerate hitting.
I am the sort that would intervene when there is a quarrel between a couple just so peace could reign, will put myself between the abuser and the victim. It’s what a real man would do. I always remind myself that when you witness violence on a woman - that is somebody’s mother, daughter, sister or friend. A woman, my wife then attempts to raise her hand on me, I will give her what she deserves. Things have moved from bad to worse and the acrimony is now very noticeable to people around. The families are aware too, her father has been the wise voice in all of these. Her mum has not been too cooperative, I think she believes am stifling her daughter. The kids are coping for all I can see, I wish things could get better and their mum goes back to her old self. To all abused men and women of the world - do not take one more punch, slap or kick from any man or woman. Nothing makes it okay. There is no excuse.
If you put your hands on someone, regardless of sex, be prepared to receive the same treatment. Let's stop these gender specific stereotypes and make it clear across board that everyone should keep their hands to themselves. Problem solved.
Jumah Mabrur to you all.
AbdulHafeez bin AbdulAzeez is into media productions and is now fantasising on setting up an NGO for abused men.