Before you start reading, let me repeat that this is a long story [10 pages], and if you do not read to the end, you may not fully get it. Amaka Munonye is a Nigerian resident in BC, Canada and in the process of getting a divorce from her Ghanaian husband. At this stage, all you read are her side of the story. Their case is in court and she is afraid that if she keeps silent, she may lose custody of her children. She has shared the following story on her blog and I've been asked to help publicize it. If you know anyway to help, please do, or leave a comment in a respectful manner. Beyond that, I believe this is a story many women stand to learn a lot from. Thanks.
*Names have been initialed to protect third party privacy.
After C had called me a baby killer and a murderer, even after I had suffered through the ordeal I had just suffered through, and humiliated me in front of people, I knew I could no longer live with him. I made up my mind to move with the children once I was well enough to. At this time also, a woman from Nigeria came to visit her daughter who was a student here. She said she was a bishop and that she had told C she wanted to meet me. So, she came to the house. I was still ill and in bed, and she advised me to take my children and to return to Nigeria. I said, “No, I have nothing to go back to in Nigeria, and I have a good job here, and I will be able to care for my kids here once I am feeling better.” She said, “Look how sick you are. You need to be taken care of. Go home. Go to your mother.” And I said, “No, I am fine. I am already recovering. I will soon be much better.” I thanked her and I said, “I will survive. I am well. Very soon I will be back to work.” I reiterated to her that I was making good income, and that when I was sufficiently recovered I would take the children to Disneyland and just other child-centered resorts so that they could start making some happy memories.
To my intense surprise, after about a week after this woman that said she was a bishop had come and visited, I was served court documents. C had gone to court and got an order that said I was not allowed to take the children out of BC without the express written permission of the courts. He said that the bishop woman had told him that I was planning to leave Canada. That really was the absolute last straw for me. I packed up all of his clothes from his room, I threw then all outside. His shoes, his jackets, just everything – I threw them all outside, I was done. I decided that if I was going contrary to the bible, that I didn't care. That I could not live this hell for a single day longer.
When he returned to find his things outside, he tried to force his way back in. He was punching me and beating me. I called the police, they came, and after I told them what he had done, I really expected them to arrest him just to get him away from me. I was amazed. I remain convinced that he hypnotized them or he did something to them because why else would they not arrest him? They did ask him to leave though, and he did, and that really was the absolute end of the sham of the marriage – a marriage which I had been deceived and manipulated and coerced and forced into, and in which I had been forced to endure all kinds of public humiliations and beatings, and just years of despair and sadness and sorrow and intense depression. I had been forced to apply for Canadian residency for a man that I hated and I feared. It was really awful.
Well, I was finally free. I moved to another place – a nice two bedroom suite. I got a bunk bed for the children so that we could be close to each other. We lived on 81 Avenue in Surrey, and my kids and I started to enjoy a measure of freedom. I got a babysitter, and we started to live together and just be happy. Of course, C soon found out where I was and then he moved to 85 Avenue, like a stalker to keep tabs on us. But at least he was not in my house. He did not live with me anymore. He wasn't there to sexually assault me just where or anytime he wanted. He wasn't there to beat me or do any of the awful things that he had been doing to me. So, I was happy for the first time in almost 10 years.
I remember during the years that I was attending BCIT, I hardly ever went to the church for the main reason that I was just too exhausted. My week was busy, very busy, and Saturdays were for the children, so I really only had Sundays to try to get some rest to prep myself for the week ahead in terms of school work, and also for meal planning for the children and then to study and get my homework done. It was just a really busy time for me.
On one Friday in early 2008, I remember a member of the church called and said to me, “You need to talk to your husband about Camille. People are beginning to talk.” I said, “Who is Camille?” This person laughed and they said, “Who is Camille? Where have you been?” I said, “Well, I've been going to school, everybody knows that, and I've been looking after my children, so I really haven't been at the church, and I haven't heard anything. Who is Camille?” They said, “Well, you better show up at the church on Sunday.” I said, “Okay.” I went on that Sunday just out of curiosity. It turned out Clle was a young girl, possibly in her early to mid-20s. I saw the way C was all moon-eyed over her. I was really terribly amused. I didn't think it was possible that he could be so obviously just besotted with someone. I had seen him with M, when they had their thing going, and shortly before Camille arrived with another woman, but it was nothing compared to the way he was over Camille.
When the church ended and people had gone and the place had been cleaned up, I took my children and said we were going out. C said, okay, he was going to take Camille home. I later found out, to my extreme amusement, that she lived in Vancouver, so he would drive her home to Vancouver after the church services. It was hilarious. He and she would spend hours on the phone talking. He was always like Camille this and Camille that. I really enjoyed it. I would tell him that younger girls like her like trendy guys, and that he needed to cut and texturize his hair. And before I could say jack he would be at the barbers getting his hair cut and texturized. He looked like an idiot. He also started to dye the grey out of his hair so that he would look younger. It was very amusing. He was never at home and I was totally free of him. He was also very happy, and that trickled down to us as well. I would sometimes ask, “So how is Camille?” And he would say, “Oh, she's fine. She is like a daughter to me.” And I would think, yeah, right, the daughter you are sleeping with! Anyway, it was really obvious that he was spending whole days with her because my kids started to say Camille said this and Camille said that. I didn't really mind at all, because from what I had seen and heard from the kids, she was nice to them, and I had always prayed that whomsoever he ended up with would be kind to my children, seeing as they would inevitably have to spend time with her when they visited him. I was always thrilled when he had a new girlfriend, because it was a ray of hope for me that one day he would leave me and start another family and just leave my kids and me in peace. However, I knew that the chances of Camille settling for him were very slim, and that this was only likely a very temporary thing, but I decided I was going to enjoy it while it lasted. It was really nice while he was happy and in his dream world about Camille, because we were free of his rage. I was free of him in my bed, and the children and I enjoyed many happy evenings together without him coming home before we were in bed. Before too long, C told me that Clle was having trouble in her family home, something about her and her mother's boyfriend, and that she had been forced to move out of her mother's house. He said she was going to stay in a room at the church, and that he and she were going to have a 30-day prayer and fasting session. He would go every night and they would have all night prayers until morning. I said, “Okay, no problem. Why are you telling me this?” And he said that when he came back in the mornings, he would want to sleep and that he didn't want to look after the children. I said it wouldn't be a problem that my sitter was still there so that he could sleep all he wanted.
There was also a couple from Fiji, A and S, who came to the church. They said they had been pastors in their homeland in Fiji and had come to Canada to try to resettle. Their papers hadn't come through yet, and they needed a church to help them out. As far as I know, they were good people. They were really nice to me, and I paid S to babysit my children sometimes. I lack enough words to describe how poorly they were treated by C. Immigration is such a delicate matter, and these good people needed C to help with extending their religious worker Visas. They brought the application and all, and I filled out the necessary paperwork. Their visas were extended for the first two years, and as I recall, it had to be renewed every year or two.
C had them at his beck and call. He had church on Sundays, choir practice on Mondays, prayer meetings on Tuesdays, and bible studies on Wednesdays. Thursday was free, but Friday was all-night prayers, and Saturday was choir practice again to prepare for Sunday. A good number of the church members balked at having to come into the church every single day of the week, and I heard many complaints and appeals of 'can't you talk to your husband?' I would always assure them that they had a much better chance of getting anything done than I did.
Anyway, Suki and Adam were forced by their obligation to him to be at the church practically every waking minute. I requested at that time that my name be removed from the church board, and that Adam be put in in my stead, and C was very happy to do that. This put Adam really deep in his nets, because that was the way C operated. He would do something for you and you would now be obligated to him and be paying through it for as long as he could possibly milk it.
When people discovered that Camille was living at the church, they were quite understandably very upset. They made quite a huge stink about it. People complained and threatened to quit the church. I had unending phone calls about it. However, I was not able to come between C and his Clle, so I said nothing to him. I was always cautious and pleasant to her so that she would inevitably report back to him that I was nice to her. I told the people that called me that, sorry, I didn't know what they were talking about, and that they had to talk to him directly or talk to other members of the church board, that I was no longer on the board.
I continued to be overly nice to Camille just so that she would tell C that I was nice to her and that would keep his fists away from me, and it really worked. I would also mention things to her, like “Don't you think David needs a haircut?” And without fail they would have his haircut. Or sometimes I would say to her, “Hmm, I think David needs new boots,” and sure enough I would see my son with new boots. It really worked all around for me. When the complaints of the congregation became too much for C to bear regarding her continued stay at the church, he asked Adam and Suki, who had a two bedroom basement suite, to allow Camille to move in with them. I don't think they had too much of a choice than to do as he said, so she moved in with them. But really, this soon proved to C's undoing.
One evening, about three months after Camille had moved in with Adam and Suki, C barged into the house shouting at the top of his voice, “I am going to kill him! I will kill him!” I got up, I screamed, and I ran to grab David, thinking that it was my five year old that he was talking about, and I thought David had maybe broken something and had somehow angered C, who had discovered it and come to punish my son for it. “Please don't hurt him!” I was already in tears as I grabbed his arm. He gave me a vicious blow, and I said, “David run and hide.” C came over and continued to beat me saying, “Shut up, shut up, shut your mouth! It's not David!” When I heard that I calmed down, I stopped crying, and I said, “Oh, I thought you were angry with David.” I quickly took the children and I put them to bed.
When I came back, he was in the kitchen downstairs, he was pacing back and forth, he was so angry. I decided to brave it. I said, “What is the matter.” He was practically in tears as he told me that Camille was pregnant and that Adam and Suki's nephew or cousin, I don't remember exactly what the relationship was, but that that young man had gotten Cille pregnant. He said he was going to kill the man, and I said, “Well, maybe you shouldn't say you're going to kill him. If anything happens to him, whether or not it is you that has killed him, you will be held responsible for it.” He said, “Shut up! What do you know?!” Oh, nobody told me to run upstairs. I had a quick bath, and I went to barricade myself in the little crawl space where I started to do my homework. I did not come out until 1:30 am. I tiptoed around the house, and he wasn't in the living room where he usually slept on the couch or on the floor, nor was he in David's room, where he also slept sometimes. He wasn't in my bed, of course. I actually checked Ctine's room as well, and he wasn't there. So, I gratefully locked the door and I went to bed. I was rudely awakened at about 5:30 am by him viciously raping me. He took out all of his frustration at the loss of Camille on me. I had a microbiology exam that morning, and I can't ever forget it. I threw up all the way to school. I was throwing up so much that I actually had to stop at one point on the side of the road to vomit. I drove to school in tears. I strengthened my heart, and I wrote my exam. Strangely enough, I actually did quite well on that exam.
As for C, he fell into this strange sort of depression after that. He was always around when I came home. I said nothing to him. I just looked after the kids and I hid in my little crawl space and studied. I locked the door and slept there a lot of times. I would hear him on the phone all the time fighting with Camille and also fighting with Adam and Suki, accusing them of having introduced Camille to their nephew or cousin. He said in the church out loud that his heart was broken that an unmarried girl became pregnant. He was openly crushed. I didn't dare say anything. A lot of people expected it to be his baby that Camille carried, and said as much to me. I said I didn't care because I really didn't. She was a great and a much-needed diversion for me. And I for one was sorry to see the end of their relationship.
Well, poor pastor Adam and Suki also had to pay the price for their perceived role in the whole process. They were forced to resign from the church and C sent their letters of resignation to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, of course, effectively withdrawing the jobs that kept their religious worker Visas valid. They ended up moving to another province, and I never heard from them again. I don't know if they remain in Canada or not. I hope they do. They were nothing but kind to me, and Suki did help me with my babysitting quite a bit. So, I bear them no ill will at all.
C's madness over Camille's issue was unending; it spilled over into every aspect of my life. After my graduation from school on my very first day at work, I was to work an evening shift from 4:00 pm to midnight. The children were, I think, 6 and 4-1/2 at the time, and all he really had to do was to give them dinner and put them in their beds. I had bathed both of them already. I could see that he was in quite a terrible mood, and I stayed away from him.
After I got the children bathed and dressed, I went to David's room, where C was on the phone talking to a man from the church called Robert, about Camille. I went in to say “I'm getting ready to leave for work, please mind the children.” He said, “Hold on.” to the person on the phone, and he turned to me and screamed, “Can you not see that I am on the phone?! Get out! Get out from here before I slap your head!” So I left, but as I left I said sotto voce, “That's why she left you for another man, because she knows you're evil and you will slap her head.” I didn't know he had heard me. He grabbed me in a headlock and started to hit me. “Don't let me hear you talk about Camille ever again!” I was struggling madly to get away from him. I had only had a towel wrapped around me and that came loose and fell to the ground, and as I struggled to get free from him, I reached around him toward the shelf trying to get something to hit him with. My hand grabbed the cover off of a 2 liter jug of bleach and it came off in my hand, and the next thing I knew, I was drenched in bleach. This monster had poured bleach on me from my head to my toes, and the bleach just burned, and I ran into the bathroom half blind and I started to wash off myself. I cried and cried for the miserable life I was living.
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