Supporting friends in abusive relationships is exhausting.

Hello Ndi nkem! I know you haven’t seen me for over a month. I apologize. I don’t want this going awol to be a pattern but sometimes, wetin man go do (what can one do)? The situation in Nigeria plus other personal reasons have slowed my writing down, but I’m trying to get back on track

On to the matter of the day. A lot of times when we talk about Intimate partner violence (IPV), we usually focus on the abuser and abused dynamic. The discussions tend to revolve around leaving, having a support system, etc. However, we don’t talk enough about what it’s like to support someone in an abusive relationship. I hosted an Instagram live once to talk about it and I had a few people share their stories, but now I have my own story to share

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I recently joined some Nigerian women Facebook groups because I heard how “backward thinking” the mentality is, and I wanted to see why. One day, a fellow group member posted about her friend in a violent relationship. Her friend needed someone to talk to as she was pregnant and didn’t know what to do. So I commented that she could talk to me

Then, she slid into my messages and directed her friend there. Let’s call her friend Stella. It turned out Stella had three children and was in a physically abusive relationship. She was ready to leave but needed courage and support. She had a provision business that had been run down by her husband, but she was in the process of getting a loan to build it back up once she could. She had not started antenatal at that point, her daughter was sick, and she was also sick due to the pregnancy and asthma.

We started communicating. I directed her to whatever resources I could. Encouraged her of her worth. One thing I constantly reminded her of was her kids. They love her and need her alive. If she dies, her husband will move on.

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During the time we were still talking, her husband tried to choke her to death. Given that she is asthmatic and pregnant, I was scared. She told me she had gone to the police to report but had been turned away because it was a family problem. I was upset. She asked me to help connect her to any organizations that I knew. I went on Twitter and a couple of people got in contact with her.

Suddenly, things started taking a weird turn. Her pastor invited her and her husband to a meeting. On getting there, her husband has already biased the pastor’s mind. Of course the pastor in true form encouraged her to stay. I asked her what she wanted to do, and she let me know that she was bent on leaving. In fact, she had a cab planned that would take her and the kids away immediately her husband left the house the following Monday.

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Unfortunately, she was ambushed. That Sunday before her exit, her husband invited her father and brother to the house for deliberation. Her parents are separated, so she was essentially accused of continuing the lineage of broken homes. After much adue, she was encouraged to continue the marriage. He was warned sternly not to ever hit her again and that is where the matter died till date.

If I say that I’m not angry, then I’m a liar. I don’t know this woman from Adam. She is as much a stranger to me as I am to her, but I felt connected to her. Seeing various factors such as culture, religion, and what will people say, keep her in that abusive house hurt me. It exposed me to the burden that the support system of people in abusive relationships face. You want them to get help. You want them to be safe. But you know that only they can decide their fate. At the same time, you can’t leave them cause they still need you. You are going through that relationship with them, without the battle scars to show for it. It’s honestly the ghetto.

My message is for all of us with friends or families in abusive relationships. Take care of of yourself. Understand the balance between closeness and distance. You can’t save anybody except yourself. Be there for them, but not at your own detriment.

I want to read some of your stories in the comments. Till next time my lovelies. Stay safe 😘

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Olive says:

    Beautiful read and it’s actually true. At the end of the day one will do what they want to do.


  2. Nah I’m so heartbroken for her, especially because she’s actually tried to leave. Having a family that is supporting the husband doesn’t exactly make things easier for her. Praying she gets the courage to put her foot down again.


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