A New Beginning
by Jean Wasegijig
I was a battered wife for many years. It seemed like I learned to accept it as being part of the marriage. During this time, I spoke to no one about it. There was not one person I could talk to because I didn't have close friends. There were my relatives and his relatives, but we only discussed certain issues and wife battering wasn't one of them.
I was a young bride, only sixteen and he eighteen years of age when we married. A year and a half later, I experienced the first slap across my face. This happened after an argument and afterwards we made up and everything returned to normal. But there were many arguments which sometimes led to more slaps.
Our children were born and I became a busy mother with diapers, bottles, night readings, washing and cleaning. Somewhere along this journey we discovered weekends at the bar friends. This took precedence on weekends and I felt that this was the fun I had missed out on because I married so young. This phase came and went. I stayed home again to be a mother and wife. He worked and usually went out with the boys every Thursday and sometimes Friday nights. This was when the physical abuse gained momentum.
If I disputed his late nights with the "boys," the supper I kept warm would end up on the walls and floor. If I yelled back, I would be slapped. I faced these nights with a feeling of impending doom. When he walked in on these nights, I would appraise the situation. How was he feeling? Is he happy? Is he angry? After some deduction, I would venture appropriate responses. Sometimes it worked and at other times it didn't.
I found friends to go out with. This came as a result of deciding to do some upgrading at a nearby college. By this time I was ready to venture outside the home. The children were older and in school. One of my new friends, out of concern for my shattered nerves, handed me a vial of tranquillizers. The tranquillizers helped, especially with facing my husband. Now I could face him, not feeling the fear of impending doom or fear of abuse. I mixed the tranquillizers with alcohol, which blocked out the physical and verbal abuse--not from happening, because it did, but from feeling the hurt, pain and anguish that accompanied it.
By this time the abuse had progressed to a point that I now had black eyes which kept me housebound. I never dared to go outdoors when I had a black eye because I felt shame for what happened to me. If a neighbour happened to drop by for a visit, I never answered the door. Needless to say she never dropped in again.