Whenever domestic violence is mentioned, the woman is believed to be the victim. If that’s what you think, then you have not met or heard of the Oparas. In their household, Tochukwu, the husband, is the victim.
The woman in the marriage is often regarded as being at the receiving end in a n abusive marriage more so when the abuse is physical. To help protect the vulnerability of the woman in such a union are many rights groups and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs). It may therefore not be an easy thing for Mr Tochukwu Opara who rather than be the aggressor in an abusive marriage is the victim.
Consider this. A couple are engaged in the often taken-for-granted squabbles between two members of the opposite sex cohabiting. Suddenly, the wife raises her voice and orders the man to keep quiet of be given a beating he will not forget quickly. The male partner then makes the mistake of uttering another sound. Swiftly, the woman descends on him, hitting him with fists and kicks. Suddenly the man is on the floor and woman sitting astride him.
The man cries out to neighbours to come to his rescue which they do after some minutes of watching another bout between unequally matched partners. Welcome to the home of the Oparas. The Oparas have been together for over six years and blessed with two kids, a three-year-old boy and his six-year-old sister. “My wife had two kids before I met her but because of the love I have for her I was ready to accept her and take care of the children like my own,” disclosed Tochukwu.
When Tochukwu and Sandra met some years back, theirs was a case of love at first sight and they promised each other love till death do them part. And things went well for the couple until some months back when the economy of Tochukwu nosedived.
Tochukwu was a successful business man who dealt in electrical and electronic appliances and with two big shops at the eastern part of the country where he had spent his entire life until his wife advised him to sell off his business and relocate to Lagos in search of greener pasture. “I was doing well in my business in the east where I lived all my life, I had two big shops where I sell electrical and electronic items and business was booming I was comfortable. When I met Sandra, life had new meaning for me.
Undermining the fact that she already had two kids, she was looking ravishing and I instantly fell head over heels for her and just wanted to have her for the rest of my life. After some years, Sandra suggested that we relocate to Lagos for greener pastures,” he added.
According to this Igbo man, he sold off his shops and with the money in hand; he came down to Lagos with the hope of getting a better life as well as moving away from the grip of family who have been kicking against their union. Tochukwu recalled: “Because she has had two kids before I met her, most of my friends and family members kicked against our union and they were really a pain in the neck. That was the reason I agreed with Sandra to sell off my business and move down to Lagos so we could have our peace and live as one happy family”
Unfortunately, the case did not end up as Tochukwu had expected. “After about two years in Lagos, all the money I thought would be used in starting off another business went down the drain over petty expenses and my wife turned out to be something else when the money finished. She became completely changed and started becoming wayward. “I went really mad and each time I tried raising the topic, none of us would sleep and she would beat the daylight out of me at will. Sometimes I just wish I never met her.
But it is so difficult to make up my mind to end the union because the truth is that I love this woman and living without her will seem like hell to me” laments Tochukwu. Sandra on the other hand would rather opt out if she had a choice because according to her, Tochukwu is not the man she used to know.
“When we started out, he was so caring and understanding but he suddenly changed and living with him is gradually becoming a hell. He sneaks around and suspects every move I make even when I am not doing anything bad, I am just pissed off with everything. But he wouldn’t let me leave with my kids. He always uses that as an excuse each time I want to leave and I can’t just watch a man bullying me around for no justifiable reason” Sandra said.
What could make a man carry on in a marriage where he is being maltreated in such a way? Interestingly, there have been several NGOs doing a lot of awareness on the need to fight domestic violence and abuse on women. One of such is Project Alert. The question now is what will become of men like Tochukwu Opara? Are there organisations set up for the course of violence against men?
Tessy Jacobs, of the Project Alert team, said: “the ratio of the number of women being battered to that of men is very wide and that could be the reason there is yet to be any organisation specifically in place for the men. May be the men could as well think up and come up with something for themselves too but Project Alert is specifically for women and children who are vulnerable or victims of violence” Why then would a man want to continue with a woman who already had two kids before marrying him and batters him at will? Dr Abiodun Ogunkoya, a consultant psychologist at the Neuro Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba said a number of factors could actually be responsible for such a situation.
“A lot of things could actually cause a man to want to remain in that kind of marriage. One of it could be because the man is no longer financially able, the woman may have become the bread winner in a way and because of his incapacitation as a man, he is unable to do anything about it. He may even be getting one financial assistance or the other from the woman and as such lose his right to being the man.
“Secondly, the shame of being laughed at by his friends and family members who had initially warned him and kicked against his getting married to the woman in the first place could make him want to hang in there no matter what the situation hoping for things to get better. When a man is not financially able, he would be forced to take anything that comes his way especially so for a man who used to have much for himself” Ogunkoya further noted that, there could also be some other reasons that may not be known to other people. “It could be that the woman knows how best to handle him sexually and for this reason, he couldn’t just let her go and so he prefers to bear anything just to keep having his dose of her sexually,” he noted