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.
I am still trying my best to take the children to another province to begin our lives again. I know that if I am better educated, my children will be better for it. I will be more financially able to provide for them, and they will not have the constant influence of C who keeps on telling them that education is not important. He mocks my educational goals. The children says that he says all this 'book book and school school thing is not important'. I, on the other hand, cannot stress enough how important an education is to their lives. So, they're getting conflicting messages. My son recently tore up a homework paper saying it wasn't important, and that, of course, is because of the message that has been hammered into his head by C.
My mother's youngest brother moved here from the UK in August 2012. He is not much older than I am, and my mom raised him, so I often call him my brother. He started to talk to C immediately when he arrived, and C assured him that this time if I wanted to go to school that he would not do anything to stop me. My uncle let him know that I would not be able to leave the children behind and go to school, so they would need to come with me. C agreed. My brother told me, and I immediately told C that I wanted it documented by the courts. He said he would get his lawyer to do it. I said “Let's just go and get a consent order from the courts, so we will not need a lawyer.” He refused.
He came back to me about a week later to say that his lawyer said it would cost $1000 dollars. I said, okay, I would try and get the money after the New Year. He also wanted some money immediately. I said I had nothing for now. I reminded him that he was collecting back the $235 that he brought to me in obedience to the court order, that he missed a lot of payments, and that he continually took money from me – that even when he brought the $235 dollars, he would take it all back within a week or two. He said he had no money and that if I didn't bring the money that he asked for, the children would walk everywhere. He harassed me for gas money all the time, sometimes two to three times in a week. I don't know where he kept going, but he never had gas in his tank. My son told me once that the car stopped in the middle of the road and they had to get out and walk to the gas station. This is how irresponsible C is.
On Monday the 21st of January, C came to my house by 9.30pm, saying that D had called him and asked him to come, and that he had promised that he would see him before he went to sleep. I agreed, and he went off to David’s room. He said that they had to attend a function on the weekend, that he needed clothes for David. I asked him to come for the clothes on Friday, but he insisted that he was already here, and would be quick. I asked him to call me before he left, so I would chain the door. I went to my room, and was reading the news on my phone, and I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I felt was Joshua on top of me, using his knee to force open my legs. I felt his breath on my face, and the cloying perfume that he douses himself with at all times smelt very strongly. I actually thought that I was having a nightmare about him raping me, as I had had so many times in the past, and I was struggling to wake up from it. I started to struggle against him when I realized that it was actually happening. He is not a small person. He is 6’2” and 235-250 lbs., and I had been taken unawares. I have also been asthmatic my whole life, and anything that even mildly impairs my breathing is a huge cause for panic for me. He had his arm on my upper chest stopping me from drawing a full breath. When he finally managed to penetrate and started doing his thing, I stopped struggling for about a minute, to calm myself, and then I used the palm of my hand to hit him in the face. That was a shock to him, because all the times he had raped me in the past, when I stopped fighting because it was too hard to breathe, it usually meant it was over, and he would finish. He said, “stop, let me finish, let me finish”. I managed to feel for my phone in the bed, and said I will call the police and report you now. Get out! Get out!! I was still whispering because I did not want my children to come out and see me crying. He said ‘You’re my wife and I will fuck you when I want”. I raised the phone still threatening to call; he grabbed his things. I said if you ever try that again, I will kill you, I am strong now. He said you can do nothing, and you will pay for hitting my face. He left, and I chained the door. I went to work the next day, and on my way home, stopped by at my friend Rachel and told her about it.
On Wednesday the 23rd of January, I had a meeting with Ctine’s teacher at school. My children are both not doing great at school, and one of the reasons behind that is that their father continually tells them that school is not important. David recently ripped up his homework, telling me that ‘School is not the most important thing, and I am going to be a pastor like daddy’.
I always tell C to come to the meetings so that he can hear from the school authorities for himself. I was late for the meeting, because I hadn’t been feeling well since the recent rape attempt and I was nauseous at the thought of being near him again at the meeting. C said I was trying to call you, and I told teacher that I had forgotten my cell phone in my rush, else I would have called. At the end of the meeting, the teacher said that the School Based Learning Support Team (SBLST) had decided that my daughter would be removed from French Immersion, and she would receive additional support in English. I was asked to take her for vision testing, hearing testing, and an Auditory Processing Testing at the Surrey Hospital.
It was 4.30pm when we left the meeting. David said he wanted a salad for dinner, and I said we would go to Superstore to get his salad things. I said we would also go to Staples because we needed ink to print out the evening’s homework. C said, “why take them to run all these errands in the rain”? I said, they are not made of salt; a little rain does not hurt anyone. He insisted that they go with him, that I could buy the things on my own, and then come and pick them up on my way back. I did not want to argue in front of the children, so I left. It took me about 45 minutes in rush hour traffic to run those errands. I went to his place to pick them up. I do not go to his house unless I absolutely have to, for instance if his WIND phone is unreachable, and it is late on a weeknight and he hasn’t brought the children home. On the two occasions that I was there, the door was unlocked, and I had said, why do you keep the door unlocked when the children are in the house?
I got there, and tried the door, and truly it was unlocked. I went in, and said ‘guys come on lets go’. C said they are watching a Jesus movie, they have to finish. I turned to the children, and I said why didn’t you get started on your reading Ctine or you David? They both said daddy is using his computer. I looked at the screen, he was on Facebook. I said, so after everything you heard today in the school, you still won’t allow these children to study, you are on Facebook. He jumped up. Can you not see that they are watching the suffering of Christ on the cross? What is all this school and book rubbish about? You that you went to school, what are you now? Where is your life, are you not still useless, is your life not destroyed? I was already starting to cry. I said if my life is destroyed, it is because you destroyed it with all the evil that you have done to me; but I will not allow the lives of my children to be destroyed. I went to grab Ctine’s jacket, and he grabbed me. “I said they are not going” he yelled. He said who asked you to enter my house. He grabbed me and started to pull me towards the door. I said I’m not leaving without my kids. He said when I finish with you, you will never see them again, that your big job that makes you a big woman, you will never work again, you will be on welfare, and the Edmonton school you want to go, you are not going. I said it’s a weekday, they are with me. He was still trying to throw me out physically. I grabbed the front of his sweater to keep from falling over. He grabbed my glasses off my face and tossed them out, then my bag and coat. He was still pulling me, and I was pushing against him, refusing to leave. As he pulled me nearly out the door, the picture frame that was on a small stool by the door fell and broke. I pushed against him to avoid the broken glass. The children started to cry, I said run outside lets go, he said, remember what I told you, now go inside the room and lock the door. He took a stick, and started to hit me with it, spat on my face calling me a prostitute. I spat back on him, and he chopped me in the neck with the side of his hand. I fell on the floor. He said I told you I would deal with you for hitting my face. When he made to continue to hit me, I got up and ran towards his TV and held onto it for dear life. I said, ‘If you lay another hand on me, the TV is coming down with me”. He said I’m calling the police; you will see what will happen. I never did manage to land even a single blow on him. I stayed by the front door, screaming all kinds of names at him. I called him a rapist and an abuser. I called him evil and wicked, just that sort of thing. I gave that up when I didn’t see him anymore, and went to the door where the children were and started to talk to them through the door. I said David please give me the password to your phone, I need to call for help. I was still talking to them through the door when two policemen came in. One of them said, I was hearing you yelling up the stairs. The other one went to talk to the children. The one talking to me, Officer Stark, said what is going on? I said, I would like to pee first please, he refused. I said you can come to the bathroom, I have nothing to hide, but I need to pee. He still refused, so I said ok, here is what happened. I had just started to tell him what happened, when the other one came out and said don’t bother the children corroborated his story. Stark said, you are under arrest, reading me rights. He handcuffed me. I was standing there in handcuffs, listening to them conferring as to what charges to lay. They came up with four. Stark asked, should I tack on breaking and entering as well, the other said ehm no, it might look a bit much. How about something about the children, Stark asked, the other said I think what we have will do. I said, I was the one attacked, you are doing the wrong thing, you need to listen to me, but they would not. I left it at that, and refused to say another word to them, keeping silent through a lot of what they were asking me about understanding charges etc.
I went to court the next afternoon, I wasn’t allowed to speak. When I heard the judge say I couldn’t see my children, my life just left me, and I fell on the floor, struggling to breathe. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me again. It had happened before when C had got M and E, refugee claimants from his church to say that I had threatened him with a knife. On that occasion he had been trying to prevent me from going to work on my first day on the job. The prosecutor didn’t like the stories at that time, and the charges were stayed. I later asked one of the men why he had done that, he said that C said if he didn’t, that he would tell immigration to deport him, so he had to. When C did find out that he had told me the truth, he exposed him to immigration, and Emmanuel got deported.
The duty counsel, who spoke in my defense, a woman with straight dark brown hair, came to me on the floor, looked me in the eyes and said in a strong voice. “Get up Amaka, you are strong, compose yourself, and fight this. You are strong, you are okay you can fight this, get up!” Something in the heart of me heard her. I have been at peace since I heard her voice. It is as if she gave me new life, new strength. I am going to try again. I haven’t seen or touched or hugged my children since January 23rd, but I am not in pieces because of her. It is as if for the first time, someone saw me, and tried to help me.
I know that my children are not thriving while they are with him, and that they are basically camping. He treats Ctine differently that her brother for the mere fact that she is a girl. They both constantly complain that “Daddy never listens”, and were both extremely excited at the prospect of moving to Edmonton. They are being forced to attend night-vigil prayers at his church every Friday night, and they return from this extremely exhausted. C has extreme fundamentalist Christian beliefs, and I am continually trying to correct some of those views that he has foisted on my kids. There was one awful day when Ctine came home in tears. She said that “Daddy made me do 100 frog-jumps”-frog jumps are squats…She had to hold both her ears and squat and get to her feet repeatedly for a hundred count. I asked why? It turned out that Ctine and her friend had been playing “Justin Bieber dating” and that “Justin Bieber” had had to kiss the “girlfriend”. I said did you try to explain this to your father, and she had replied, “but he never listens”. He had also done “deliverance” on her to cast out the demon of homosexuality. I called him, and warned him that if he ever did anything like that again, that I would take both children away; and that he would never see them again until after they were eighteen and voluntarily sought him out. I am willing to finally forgo getting my education done, and defeating the purpose for my coming to Canada so many years ago in order to protect my children. I know for a fact that he has been systematically indoctrinating my son, and I am not willing to allow this to continue for much longer.
C has made allegations against me once more, and criminal charges have been brought against me. He claims that I choked him; I state emphatically, that I did not. If had managed to land even a single blow on him, I would not feel so bad, but as it is, I and my children are being punished based on his lying accusations.
He alleges that I spat on him. He spat on me first, calling me a dog and a prostitute. I spat on him back, and told him that his mother was the prostitute
A third allegation was that I threatened to kill him. Yes I did, but not on the day that he claims I did. This was on the day that he had raped me, and I had warned him never to try it again. This further goes to buttress my point; that he set me up in order to punish me for fighting him off and throwing him out after he started to rape me on the 21st of January.
He claims that I broke a picture frame on a stool by his door. That did break, but it was entirely by accident as he dragged me to the front door to throw me outside. I was charged with mischief for that.
The neighbors’ daughter that was there that day says in her statement that she heard me say “…if you lay a single hand on me again your TV will break”. This sentence points to the truth that he was beating me, and I ran and held onto the TV, so that if he dragged me down, the TV would come down with me. I was trying to save myself.
When I asked the children to run outside, he said, get inside the room and lock the door. “You know what I told you”. What had he told them? Again, this smacks of premeditation in all these acts and accusations that he has made.
I am asking for help. My children have not been home since January 23, 2013. They are wearing hand-me-down clothes from people that I do not know. My daughter has gained about 10 lb., which lets me know that she is being continually force fed. If it is true that I am innocent until proven guilty, then why am I and my children being punished already? The children are basically camping. They are being forced to attend night prayer vigils. My son has been baptized in the icy waters of the White Rock beach in this cold winter weather. C is unable to afford to care for them, never having held down a job, and when he was recently asked how he planned to look after them, if he got them, he pointed to the welfare and child tax system. C has used the Justice system to bully me practically since he got here, and he has been continually enabled – not a single person has asked why he seized the children on a Wednesday contrary to the existing court order that says that I have primary custody of the kids, and that he gets weekends. Why has nobody addressed his seizing them on a week day?
He started to beat me on January 23, 2013, as my daughter said in her statement, that “He took a stick...” I fought him off to defend myself. If the altercation involved us both, then why should the kids be with him? He is not by any means able to care for them. He just makes allegations and suddenly my children and I start to be punished? Where is the part about being innocent until proven guilty?
How does anyone know that the children are safe with him? The justice system has failed me time and time again. I have been horribly treated and maligned, and the courts have punished me and my children without any proof of any wrongdoing on my part. The Ministry for Children and Family Development (MCFD) were involved, and they had no concerns. They suggested that I got to see the children until the court process was over.
We had a court order, which said I was unable to move the kids from BC. I lost $17,000 in funding over that, as I didn't move from BC in obedience to the court order. We also have a court order that says C can only have the children on weekends, which he flagrantly disobeyed, and then is rewarded for that. Is this justice?
It's a baffling thing indeed. I cannot afford any more lawyers. I am in need of help. The Ministry for Children and Families had told me that C said I was suicidal. I am not. I have no intentions of killing myself. I have no reason to kill myself. I need to be here to look after my children, Ctine and David.
C plans to continue to keep me as his prisoner and his slave, and to continue to use the justice system against me. I had for the sake of my children endured unending abuse, and have even in the face of the said abuse, tried my best to maintain a civil relationship with him in order to give my children a sense of ‘normalcy’. I now see that this was probably the wrong thing to do. The best thing, as my friend Estee has pointed out, would simply to have made a clean break, because there is nothing normal about it, we are soon to be divorced, and that the children would adjust after the fact. She maintains that I should have clearly defined the boundaries, my home is where we live, and C’ home is where they visit on weekends, and there should have been no blurred lines in between. I continue to say that I thought that I was doing what was best for the children. Even to the extent that if C took them out, he would always send David to get some money from me. I bought the gas he drove with and provided endlessly, just to try to do the best for my children.
How anyone can question the safety of my children when they are with me is beyond me. they were safe in my womb for 10 months each; they were safe in my arms as they nursed, they have been safe with me in the almost 10 and 8 years since they were born, and all of a sudden, because C couldn’t succeed completely in raping me then my children are suddenly unsafe with me? It doesn’t make any sort of sense. This is the system failing very badly, at a cost of hardship to my children.
I was asked if I wanted to plead guilty in criminal court, and I said absolutely not, I am not guilty of even half of one of the charges; even though that would have possibly brought my children home, but a guilty plea also possibly brings an end to my career, and the source of income for caring for my children and preparing them for a better future. I also firmly believe that the truth will prevail eventually. A trial date has been set.
I was asked again today why I didn’t leave C and run away before 2009 when the court order came to be. My answer remains the same: Every time C beat me, with his hands or with a stick, I lost a little of myself. Constant abuse takes away more and more of who you are, until soon you feel completely lost and unrecognizable to yourself. Your spirit gets broken, you lose hope and joy, and you then become invisible. Nobody can see you or hear you. You feel that nobody will ever help you. You stop to look after yourself. That is how it has been for me. Each time I try to recover C does something else to let me know that he still considers me his prisoner. My children are my lifeline, and he has always punished me for any perceived wrong doing by taking them away, or trying to take them away, effectively punishing the children as well.
I am asking for some kind of intervention and help, or else this is never going to end. I have been criticized for not asking for help and not reporting all the crimes that have been committed against me for the past 15 years. I am asking for help now.
I am already $16,000 in debt. I need to get my children home. I need to get my school resumed. I cannot afford any lawyers; I am at a loss for what to do. So please, somebody, help me.