Please Help Amaka Munonye Get Her Children Back-10

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.

Please Help Amaka Munonye Get Her Children Back-9

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 I had bathed and got dressed, I called a woman called Uyi who was mostly looking after the children at that point. I told her to please come over as soon as possible, that C was raging, and I had to go to work, but that I was afraid of leaving him alone with the children, seeing as he was so angry. I felt that if there was another person in the house, he would not be able to do anything to them. Uyi said she was in Vancouver and that she would come very soon.

I called another person from the church, and he was fairly new at the time. His name was Manas. I wanted there to be somebody around C to provide a buffer between him and the children, seeing as he was in such a very angry state of mind. Manas soon arrived with another man called Emmanuel. These were both young guys in their early 30s, I believe. Also, unbeknownst to me, there was a third person, called Michael, who was in the car who had driven them down. I met them at the door and I asked them to come in. I said, “Please wait until Uyi arrives.” C then came down and asked them to leave. I gave Manas my key and I said, “I invited you, if he locks you out, just open the door and come in.” C said, “Okay, you're not going to work then! Get back inside!” And he started to drag me back in. I fought him off, and I think one of them held him, and I asked the men again to please  wait for Uyi, who was going to arrive soon. I wanted there to be somebody there with my kids and with him. So he said, “Okay, if you guys want to stay, that's fine, but I'm taking the children and I'm going to go out.” So when I got outside to go to work, I went to the van that he usually drove – it was my van, I had got it – and I disabled the gears. That way he would be unable to drive the car with the kids in it, seeing how enraged he was. I went to work.

Until now, I have no idea what transpired in my absence, but within two hours of me being at my new job on my first day, a policeman came to my work. He said he wanted to talk to me, so I took him to the conference room, we sat down, and he asked me what had happened. I told him a little of my history, and I also told him what had happened earlier in the afternoon. He said that he had been told a different story. He said he had been told by C and by a man called Michael that I had stabbed C with two knives, and he had pictures of the knives. He said C had told him that I poured bleach on him from head to toe. I said, if I was carrying the jug of bleach, I would not be able to reach up to C's head, seeing as he was 6 foot 2, and I was 5 foot 8 and not dressed so that I would not be able to reach over his head. I also asked how about his clothes? He was fully dressed, did he show you clothes? He said, well no, but C took him upstairs and showed him the carpet stains where the bleach was and that the bottoms of his pant legs were bleached stained. I pointed out that if he had actually been poured bleach on from his head to his toe, all of his clothes and all of his body would be bleach stained, contrary to myself, who was not dressed and who had had the bleached poured from my head to my toes.

I said, okay, so if he said I stabbed him, where were the stab wounds? Were there marks on him? I told the officer that, look, I wasn't seeing when I was trying to grab onto anything, so I grabbed and I touched the bleach, and that the cover came off in my hand, and that was how he was able to just get it. But the officer said that both the men had said the same thing, so he had no choice – he had to arrest me. He however said, “Go and grab your things, grab your purse, grab your jacket – you and I are going to walk out of here like friends. I am not going to handcuff you.” I thanked him. I called the shift supervisor, I said I had to leave, and then I went with the policeman. He didn't cuff me until he got to the car. He was almost apologetic at the car, saying “Sorry, it's regulation. I'm must put cuffs on you.” I said, “That's fine.” He was really extremely kind. I was taken to jail again. I was there for two days. I was marked as a no-show at work, and I almost lost my brand new position, but for my union rep being so tough. I appeared in court the next day. I told the duty counsel my side of things, and they let me out on bail restricting me, however, from seeing my kids or going to my house. I stayed with Uyi at her boyfriend's place for the 10 days before I appeared again in court. When I came to the court, the prosecutor called me and he asked to speak with me. I told him the entire truth about what had happened, strongly stressing that none of the men were around when it happened. He said he thought the story C had told him was too strange, and he didn't believe a word of hit, especially given the bleach from head to toe without the clothes the show, and the stabbing with no evidence of any wound. In the court, he dismissed the charges completely, and I was free. I went home to my kids.

One would ask me at this point why I continued to stay in light of all that happened to me. My immediate response would be that, I don't know. I am not sure. For one thing, I was not thinking clearly. I had undergone too much trauma. I thought that it would not be the best thing for my children. I had seen women endure real horrors in their marriage just for the sake of their children, and I was also fairly sure that the way C was with other women, that soon he would find someone else he wanted to leave me for. The biggest thing though, I think, is I did not know then that as a Christian, that I had the option of leaving a terrible marriage. I had, after all, gone to Pastor P for help, and all he had said to me was, “Go home and sleep with him, and that should make things better.” I also didn't know who to go to for help. I didn't really have a friend who would be able to help, and I knew nothing about services for women in trouble, so I stayed. I was resigned to my fate, and I suffered.

Later that same year, I came home one evening after work and I took my kids as usual to bathe them. As I undressed my daughter, I noticed that her underwear was bloody. She was not yet four years old – why would her underwear be bloody? I was upset beyond belief. I called C asking him for an explanation. He said he had had to go to a meeting, so he had left my children with Manas and Michael and another woman, who I think was M's girlfriend, and that when he got there to pick him up, Ctine had no clothes on and that she and David had been put in separate rooms to nap. I was panic- stricken and upset, I was outraged. I was almost apoplectic. I was unable to breath. I called the police immediately. C started to rail about me calling the police, saying why would I let a member of his church get arrested? I told him he was insane and it looked like my daughter had been assaulted, and he was talking about his bloody church.

The police took statements from me and we were asked to go to BC Children's hospital immediately. Ctine was examined, and they told me that they could not find anything really conclusive. The doctor in charge of the assault team said there was some trauma to her labia, but that it was inconclusive. I took a few days off work. We were referred to VGH counselors as well. At the end of the day, they were unable to reach definite conclusions, but I remember one of the counselors in charge, she said to me, “Keep your daughter away from that man Manas, because it was he that Ctine had mentioned his name over and over.”

I stopped allowing Ctine to go to church, seeing as Ms was in charge of the kids there, but when I was working, C would still take her there and leave her with Ms even though he had been specifically told not to expose her to him. That was how uncaring he was towards her. He also frequently would leave them with people we didn't really know. Once, on my break at work, I called and I asked after the children, and he said “They're here.” So when I asked to speak with them, he said, “Oh, I left that at the beauty supply store near the Royal Bank, because the woman told me she was from near your village in Nigeria.” I asked him to go pick them up immediately, and said if he did not pick them up right away that I was going to call the police to go pick them up.

After C moved out in 2009, the kids and I finally had breathing space. I was finally at peace. I applied for a nights-only position at work, so I was able to fully care for my children. I got a sitter who I paid $30 a night to be with the kids while I worked. It came to $600 a month, which I paid very gratefully. I would take them to school and I would sleep until it was time to pick them up, then I would go pick them up, I would spend the day with them, and we would all go to bed at about 8:00 or 8:30 pm, then I would be up again by about 11:00 pm to go to work. It really was perfect.

However, after about a year, C went to court again to say that he wanted to have a valid order to be able to see the children on weekends. He wanted it in writing. He was already seeing them on weekends at that point. They were actually going to him and coming back. He said he wanted it documented. He said he also wanted to be taking the children to school in the mornings and dropping them off after school. I said I was perfectly fine with the arrangement I had. He refused. I was served documents again. I had to report to court. When I arrived at the court, his lawyer was there. I was unrepresented. I did not have the wherewithal to fight it, so I just gave in. Soon after, he started trying to have sex with me again, and I got a restraining order against him. So all he really could do was to pick up the children and then drop them off. He would always, always be late dropping them off and picking them up, and I complained about it. I felt that this was just going to continue forever, my continuing to have problems with him back and forth. I decided for the sake of peace of mind for the children and for myself that I would put some distance between us.  I also did not want to risk getting raped again, seeing as he was now coming around ostensibly to pick up the kids and to drop them off. There were always phone calls or something about the children. At the end of 2010 I applied to and I got admitted to the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton to complete my degree in medical laboratory science, starting in September 2011. I told C in March that I would be going, but I would send the kids back home for holidays to see him. He said he would only agree if I would go back to sleeping with him until August when I would move, and that he would come along to New Brunswick for the first month until the kids were settled in school. I said that I would think about it. I had obtained $17,000 in funding, and my family in Nigeria had also sent me $20,000 so that the kids and I really would be fine. I told myself it was worth doing. I told myself I would sleep with him – after all, I had done it many times before. I knew how to pretend that I was not really there; I was not the one who he was sleeping with. I knew how to disassociate myself and my mind from the actual act of having sex with him. I really tried to convince myself that it was for a good cause; I was sacrificing for my children, that my going to school would be a good thing for them, that they would be in New Brunswick in a French environment, seeing as they were in French immersion, and that would really help them at school. I said my education is a good thing for myself, it's a good thing for the children, and I would be living by example to them, to show them how important school was. I had, after all, come to Canada over 13 years ago at that point to go to school, and C had managed to stop me the whole time.

I told myself I only had to endure this for less than a year. I agreed to sleep with him once a week. The first night he came, I tried really hard to wait until he was done. His perfume was overpowering, I was physically ill, and I was just very sick inside. I hated myself for agreeing. I knew that I was being manipulated and blackmailed all over again. It was almost as if I never left him, even though it had been over a whole year and a half since I left. I thought I was free, but this brought it all back again. I was his captive one more time, and I knew that I could not go through with it again. After he left I went and I had a shower for what seemed like forever, and I just vomited, and I tried to clear my head and my body of him.

Well, the next week when he called and said he was going to come, I said, sorry, I had my period, and then the week after that I said I was sick. I managed to put him off for about a month, and then he got frustrated and angry. I told him that, sorry, I could not sleep with him, and that he had other women, and why could he not be with them? There was nothing special about me, that surely there were other women who would be willing to sleep with him – what was important about me? What was special about me? I actually offered to pay him $5000 instead, and he said that $5000 dollars was too little. So we argued, he tried to get me to continue, and I said I absolutely could not, that I couldn't stand it and I would not. So, sorry – if he didn't want to take the $5000 dollars that I was offering, that there was really nothing I could do.

I honestly thought he would come for the money, because he wasn't working, he didn't have another source of income apart from the women who financed him and who bought him trips and stuff, and I didn't know if the church was paying him at the time or not, I was fairly confident that he would accept the money, but he didn't come for it.

I told my co-worker who headed a department that I planned to go away, that I would just move to New Brunswick, and that C had never obeyed any of his court orders, and that I felt he would not come after me to New Brunswick. She said she had seen a case before where the mom had moved with the kids and she had got arrested and forced back to British Columbia. She suggested I get a lawyer and I decided to try. At the end of it, though, we were unable to reach any sort of agreement, because they wanted me to agree to pay for him to come and visit the children in New Brunswick every month. How could I possibly afford to be flying him back and forth to New Brunswick, once a month? That would effectively decimate my savings, and I wasn't planning to work while I was going to school. The judge said, well, there's nothing you can do, we have to bring the case to trial, and the trial was set for August 2011. Well, I decided against going forward to trial for two reasons. First, I could not afford the legal costs, and secondly I would miss the beginning of the school year anyway. If the trial started in August, then I would not have time before school started in September for me to be able to start school with the rest of the class. So, I gave up on that. I said well, C has managed to kill this dream one more time. I sent the $20,000 dollars back to my mom, who was really actually quite grateful to have it back seeing as she had run into some financial distress at that point.

I just continued to go to work, and take the kids to school, and at the court hearing he was ordered to pay $235 dollars a month in support. I wasn't successful in stopping him from doing the pickups and the drop off of the kids to and from school, although he was never on time, so I still maintained my day care registration, and sometimes in the morning I would drop them at day care anyway, and he would pick them up after school. He would never be on time with the checks and once he brought the money, he would collect it all back within two weeks, saying that he had no money for gas or for milk for the children. He would also give me grocery lists to buy things for him, saying that he had no money, that the children would have nothing to eat when they came to his place if I didn’t give him the money. I soon got tired of buying food for his house, so I gave David my son the spare key, and asked C to drop them at my house immediately after school, and feed them, as I would always have food.  He took the key from David and very soon, a lot of things started to disappear from my house in general, and from my freezers in particular. He would help himself to toilet paper, bath soap, the texturizers I bought for David, cleaning supplies, deodorant, beef and chicken from the freezers, meals that I painstakingly cooked and froze for our convenience he just made off with. Anything that he could take, he did. When I queried him, he would say “What?  A big woman like you, working in a big hospital, you are crying about common food? What is food? You are a big educated rich woman, what is chicken to you? He always said mockingly.  He also lied to the courts that he was working at a glass cutting factory. I know for a fact that he wasn’t working. He made arrangements with a friend of his who owned the factory to make out contract payments for him. I think the man soon tired of it, because within three months of the court saying he had to get a job, there was no further talk of his working at the factory.

His style of parenting was strictly at his convenience, and I was glad that I still had the convenience of the day care. He would frequently leave Canada and go to different countries, sponsored by women that he met on Facebook and on the internet. He would say he was going for church functions. I really didn't care in the least, to be honest. My children and I were fine and we were safe, and I wasn't bothered. When he was absent, it was always a relief for me, and I think that Ctine was also relieved as well, because when he picked them up from school in the afternoons, he would force her to eat large meals, which she really hated. She would always complain that he force fed her until she vomited. I told him over 20 to 30 times that if she said she was full that he absolutely had to stop feeding her, but he is not someone you can reason with or tell, please don't do this or such and such – that was just impossible. So he kept force feeding her, even until now, and she's almost eight.

Continue reading - Page 10

Please Help Amaka Munonye Get Her Children Back-8

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.

Continue reading - Page 9

Please Help Amaka Munonye Get Her Children Back-7

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.

*Some names have been initialed to protect third party privacy.

My daughter was born in the spring of 2006. She had a foot deformity at birth. I started to take her to the pediatric orthopedist when she was only four months old. The morning she was born, I had been woken up at about 6:00 am by intense labour pains. I had a quick shower and I went to the kitchen to get breakfast for David, who would soon wake up since I was gone from the bed. C came out while I was in the kitchen and said, “Where are you going so early?” I said, “The baby is coming so I have to go to the hospital. I am getting food for David. If you will get him, I will get his food and you can drive me to the hospital.” Well, he said, no, he wasn't going to drive me, he was going to stay at home and look after David. I said David could come, just drive me and drop me and then you can go back, but he still refused.

I called Evelyn's mother, Hannah, and asked her if she could come drive me to the hospital, but I'm not sure what delayed her, and the times were getting shorter and shorter between  my contractions. So, I just went to my car and I drove myself to the hospital. When I arrived at the hospital I parked and I started to walk toward the family birthing unit.  I was walking and just trying to hold on to the sides of the wall, I was in so much pain. I looked up and there was a wonderful woman standing beside me. She looked at me and she said, “Oh my god, you're in labour!” She ran for a wheelchair, which she brought back and sat me in, and then pushed me to the reception. I told them there as were checking my preregistration that I was very close to delivery. I said, “I can feel the baby coming!” And they rushed me to a room. I could also hear them paging the doctor stat. Two nurses were putting sheets on the mattress with a plastic cover, and another one was setting up an IV pole. The one nurse kept saying, “Are you pushing? Stop pushing!” Well, I couldn't hold back. While they were still trying to get the bed made, I pushed the other nurse aside, got on the bed, and I just had my baby. It was about 9:00 am by then. One push – boom – and she was out, just screaming. She was born so fast, her eyes were blood shot for two days afterwards. She was the most adorable baby girl I had ever seen, and I was completely, just completely in love with her. And my love for my dear Ctine has only grown more and more as each day reveals a new aspect of the beautiful, wonderful, kind, cheerful, loving girl that she is – my Ctine.

Anyway, when she was about two weeks old, C told me that he had an old girlfriend from Ghana, whose name, I believe, was Lydia. He said she had moved to Toronto, and that he was leaving me to be with her. Oh, I could barely contain my joy – freedom at last, freedom! I attributed my impending freedom in part to Ctine coming into my life, and we had her christened in the church about two days after C told me that he would be leaving, and I named her Ositadinma, an Igbo name, which means that 'it shall be good from today onwards'.

I was so hopeful – I was so happy. I couldn't believe he was actually leaving. I said, for sure today is the day of my freedom and very soon I will make a new life for myself and my children, and we will just be together and be happy and be free of C. I could not wait for him to leave. C told me that he would handle the management of the church through the other people there, and asked how we were going to manage. I'm like, “Oh never mind, we're fine. David and baby and me, we're going to be just wonderful.” He said when he was settled  he would come and visit sometimes. I said, “Fine, no problem.” He also promised to send money for the upkeep in the future. I said, “It's all good. Thank you. I'll wait for it.” I was just so excited. I couldn't believe that after everything I had suffered at his hands, that he would just like that get up one day and be gone, and I would be free. I was very excited.

A few days after Ctine's christening, he packed his bags and he left. My immediate plan was to move to a new apartment. I called my uncle in the UK the next day, and I told him that C had left and that I needed to move ASAP, and could he please send me some money, as I was short. He was very upset. I tried to tell him that it was a very great thing, happy even, and that I was fine, but he was very angry. He couldn't understand why C had left me with a two week old baby. And I said, “Don't worry about it – we're fine.” Well he said, “What kind of a person leaves a woman with a newborn and an 18-month old? That's just crazy.” And I tried to pacify him and ask him to imagine if C had died. What if he had died? I would still be able to carry on with my children, so he was not to worry about it.

I started to look for a place almost immediately, and my uncle asked me to give him a couple of days to a week and that he would send the money to me. I was so excited. I was looking for houses. I was checking the newspaper, which is how we looked for houses in those days. And about four days later, C returned. I was so surprised when he showed up. I was really taken aback. I was upset. I was shocked. I said, “What happened? Why are you back?” I said, “How about Lydia?” He said, “Oh, I'm back. Things were not what I thought with Lydia, so forget about Lydia. I'm back.” Oh. My dreams were shattered. My hopes were just dashed. It seemed as though I had been teased with the tiniest ray of sunshine in the darkness that had been my life. Oh, how I mourned his return as my return to captivity. I went back to crying every day, not even caring what he said to anyone about my unending tears.

By December 2005, Ctine was not even a year old, but she was doing so well. She was brave, she was strong, she wore her cast about – just carried that thing about, not caring. She would sit at the top of the stairs and go down the stairs on her bottom – boom, boom, boom, boom, boom – with her cast making a racket as she descended the stairs. She played like every other little girl. She was unmindful of that cast. She just carried on like a very active and strong and beautiful baby that she was. She, of course, did not eat too much. She was not very great at eating. She was extremely picky, and she refused many different types of food. But, I did go to the pediatrician with her, and we also saw a dietitian – a pediatric dietitian – and they assured me that whatever she would accept was fine. They also gave me a chart with minimum values that I was supposed to adhere to, and I followed it down to the letter just to see that my baby was getting enough to eat.

At this point also, I decided I would go to BCIT to take Medical Laboratory Science. I had researched it, and it seemed the shortest route for me to try to get back into Medicine that I left so many years ago. This was my purpose to coming to Canada – to get an education – and I could not lose sight of that at all. I found out that I needed all of math, physics, chemistry, biology, and English at the grade 12 level, and so I set out to get those prerequisites done. I mean, it was already December, and according to the course outlines, I would not have been able to get everything done by August of 2006 if I was going to start school in September of 2006. So not only did I enroll at VCC, I also enrolled at the Vancouver School Board, and I took my prerequisites concurrently. I was able to complete all of the prerequisites in those eight months.

C, of course, refused at first to let me go to school, saying that I would not be able to look after the kids and go to school at the same time, and that he would not look after both kids. I said, “Fine, I will get someone to look after them.” And I did get someone to look after them. When he saw that he couldn't use the issue of the kids to prevent me from going to school, he still kept trying .  “Who's going to do all the church work that you’re doing?”. He just tried every way he could to stop me, but I wasn't going to budge this time. I had already dropped out of school twice because of him, and I wasn't going to do it again. So, I called everyone. I talked to everybody I could talk to in the church. I called the people that he knew. I called people – just everybody I could call, I called – and I told them that he was trying to stop me from going to school, and people just started to bombard him with questions, like why couldn't I go to school? Once it became public knowledge that he was trying to stop me from going to school, there was really nothing he could do. He had to back down. And that's always the way he operates. He will always hide his things. All the bad things that he did, he would always hide them so that he would always look so good in public, but once it came to the light that, yes, this is what he is doing, then he would just back off completely as if he had never even done anything like that.

He kept on saying, “If you go to school, where is money going to come from to feed the children?” And that he was not going to go to work seeing as he was a pastor. Therefore, I had to figure out a way for the children to eat. I just ignored him. Lucky for me, I got a grant – a return to work program from the government – and that was what we mostly lived off of. He just continued to refuse to work. One would have thought that since I was going to school and I had somebody to look after the children, that he would go to work, but he didn't.

The only times he had actually gone to work was in 2002, early 2002, shortly after he arrived. He worked at Wendy's for about three months before he quit, and then shortly after David was born, he worked at Wal-Mart, and this again for about six months. He worked three days a week at minimum wage as an unloader at Wal-Mart. I actually was the one that asked him to stop working at Wal-Mart and to stay home to look after David so I could return to work. A part of it was after my father died I was so miserable; he was there with Mary all the time, so I didn’t want to be around them and secondly, he was stealing from Wal-Mart. He kept on bringing things from Wal-Mart – stolen items. It was things for the baby, household stuff, and clothes, and clothes, and clothes for himself. And when I dared to ask him, he said, “Everybody does it.” He actually bragged about how when they were unloading the trucks, they would break open boxes of just about anything they wanted. If they were thirsty, they drank juice. There were biscuits and other things to eat when they got hungry. It was just alarming to me, and I was very scared by it. When he came home with things for David, I would ask for receipts, and he would get so angry and rage at me or he would hit me. I discussed this horrible issue with someone, and we agreed that the best thing to do was to ask him to stop working and to stay home. I felt sure that at some point he was going to get caught, and I didn't really want to be involved in it. I supposed that I could be charged along with him for receiving stolen property or something like an accessory to the theft, or something.

I had actually read something about somebody who was sitting in a stolen car along with the person who had stolen the car got charged along with the thief, and I was afraid that when he got caught, that I would be charged along with him as well, seeing as I had knowledge of his stealing things – and I couldn't afford to be charged with something that I wasn’t guilty of, and that outside my power to prevent. I knew that I would not be able to exonerate myself from being part of his stealing things from Wal-Mart, and the only option I had was to find a way to get him to stop working there. So after much discussion with my friend, we decided to tell him that I needed help with David and that way he would stop actually working in Wal-Mart, and of course, if he was not in Wal-Mart then he would not be able to steal from there. I just had to find a way to let it seem as though I wasn't telling him what to do, it was just a suggestion.

I attended BCIT from December 2006 to October 2008. I passed all of my courses, and I aced my professional exams in spite of all of the abuse that I continued to endure at C's hands. It was always one thing or the other. A good example was the issue of my car. I had a Mercury Tracer that I had bought just before starting my prerequisites. The car was dark green with two gold stripes winding around it. Initially, it was just a car, but I soon realized what an excellent commuter car that she was, and I started to really like her. I called her Connie-Tru because she was constant and she was true. I always talked to the car, I said, “You're an excellent girl, Connie Tru” Or “Thanks for the ride, Connie Tru.” It was just harmless silly talk to an inanimate object. I mean, the car was great on gas, $30 of gas filled the tank and it took me to school in Burnaby from Surrey five days a week and back. It was a really a great car. On weekends, I would put the kids in the car and we would go out for drives all over the place. It was freedom for me and the children. Going to school and coming back, I would pray, I would cry, I would ask God to save me from C. The car afforded me a private place to just be myself. I just loved that car. I really did. It was such a reliable car. Of course, I never let C drive the car unless he made threats against myself or the kids or he took the keys by force. The major reason was that he had no drivers’ license since he arrived in 2001; due to his very limited reading, he was unable to pass the computer test, and of course, could not get licensed. He actually did not get licensed until 2011, I believe, and this after he had taken the computer test possibly more than 15 times. So, from 2001 until 2011, he drove without a license – 10 years. Once he got a ticket, and the second time the car got towed, and David was in the car with him. He called me to come and pick them up. I had just got off from work luckily, and I went and I picked them up. I never let him drive my car, because I didn't want anything to happen to my car, and the insurance would not pay for it because it was being driven by an unlicensed driver.

He wanted to know why I named the car Connie-Tru. He also wanted to know why I talked to the car. Of course, I refused to answer him, so he decided that the car was possessed and that he would bring oil and anoint it and that he was casting out devils from it. I would say in front of him (to the car), “Connie Tru, you are not possessed, you're a good girl!”

In 2009, I remember I was in hospital with a very unstable pregnancy and severe hyperemesis gravidarum, and he brought transfer papers for the car for me to sign, saying that there was a new pastor in his church called Bruce, and he wanted to give my Connie-Tru to Bruce. I refused. I said, “No way! Forget it! Never!” I was in hospital, it was in public, so I was confident that he would not be able to do anything to me, and I was right. He just went away, and he was very upset of course. However, after about a week, I was home from the hospital, I was still bleeding more and more, and I was in bed. I was also still vomiting greatly. The Diclectin, Ondansetrol, and other medication I was getting was barely keeping me from vomiting. I will also admit to smelling not too fresh, because I remember my baby Ctine, who was only about four at the time, coming to hug and cuddle in bed and then running away saying, “Mommy, I don't like your smell, it doesn't smell like mommy.”

Again, C came with the same transfer forms. He had already promised the car to Bruce, he insisted that I sign, and I still refused. The next day, he brought Bruce and his wife to the house. I was in my sick state, I was bleeding, I was vomiting, I was just sick, and Bruce and his wife joined their voices to the pressure. They promised that they would return the car to me if I let them have it. Bruce insisted that they were only here for three months, that they were from the US, and that I could have my car back when they were leaving. So there were three people pressurizing me to sign over my vehicle. I did not have much of a choice. I reluctantly signed the transfer papers under such duress, and my car was taken from me. C also savagely slapped and raped me that night for disgracing him in front of Bruce and his wife by refusing to give the car after he had said that they could have it. I told him that if he could rape me the way he did while I was bleeding and in pain, then there was no hope for him, that he would burn in hell. That meant, of course, many more slaps.

I went back to the hospital the next day. I was in so much pain, and I completely miscarried the day after that. I had to get cleaned out after the miscarriage, and I had a Mirena contraceptive IUD inserted. I never wanted to be pregnant again, and I still don't. I told myself that it was for the best anyway, as it would be too difficult. I did not want to introduce yet another child into the very bad situation that I already was in.

When I returned from the hospital, C came with the woman he was now hanging out with – her name was Sharon, I think, and another Sudanese man. I have no idea who that one was. He said that I was a baby killer and a murderer, and that I needed deliverance, so they were going to have a deliverance session on me. I refused. I grabbed the phone and I asked them all to leave. I told them I would call the police if anybody touched me – they had to leave. The woman said all kinds of rude things to me as they left. I was still very ill. I called my friend Rachel. I asked her to come by every day and to check up on me and also to help clean the house and help with the children.

Continue reading - Page 8

Please Help Amaka Munonye Get Her Children Back-6

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 continued to dote on my son. I couldn't get enough of him. I breast fed him exclusively. I spent every dollar I had on his clothes, his books, and his toys. I started to read to him before he was 4 months old, and David could read by the time he was 4 years old. I also, of course, had to go back to work at the Surrey Tax Centre, after he was 4 months old. My maternity employment insurance benefits were not very much, and I had to think about the baby as well. I was breastfeeding, but we lived only about a 5-minute drive from the Tax Centre, so on my breaks (I had two half-hour breaks), I would run home and feed him. I did not know at that point about expressing breast milk. I was on my own. I had no friends with whom I could discuss things like expressing milk.

C and Mary got even more close at this point, and after C had prevented me from going to bury my father, I did not want to stick around the house and watch he and Mary carrying on in front of me, so I figured I better go back to work – and I did.

Mary then started to spend whole days at my house. She was working as a support worker at the Community Living Society, and she would have about one or two of her charges in my house. I would leave for work at about 7:45 to start at 8:00 am. I would come for my first break at 10:30 am to feed my child, and when I arrived, she would be there, and when I came home for the 1:30 pm break, she would still be there. I would come home from work at about 4:10 pm, actually, and she would be there still. I always ignored her. I would just wash up and take my son from C in order to feed him and bathe him and spend time with him. This continued until David was about 8 months old. He stopped breastfeeding on his own. He was well into his first solids supplemented by formula. So I was okay with his stopping breastfeeding, although I felt abandoned. It was very hard for me. It was as though we lost a certain connection – just a certain closeness – by his stopping breastfeeding.

I remember once I came home in the morning at about 10:00 am, just before my break, C and Mary were on the couch – he was sitting down at one end and she was asleep with her head on his lap. My baby was in his car seat on the floor. I stood outside and I watched them for about 5 minutes. If it was in these days with cellphones with cameras, I would have got a picture of them. She sat up when I entered the house and I said to her, “Mary, I'm tired of seeing you here. You have been here every day for almost a year now. Please do not come here again.” And that was the start of C taking my baby and spending the whole day at Mary's. I would return from work and start to call for my baby to be brought home – he was, after all, all that I had – and C would keep saying, “I'll be home soon. I'll be back in one hour.” Well, sometimes by 10:30 pm I would not have seen my child.

We had just huge fights whenever he would show up, and I got beaten with anything that he could find. I tried myself to fight him back. I mostly called him names like 'devil' and 'deceiver' and 'liar' and 'evil', and I would say, “I know you killed Lindsay, and God will expose you one day!” I also told him that the innocent people that came to the church and spent their hard-earned money, that God would judge him – the true God, the father of Jesus Christ, and not the idols that he worshipped. Sometimes when I called Mary to have my son brought home, she would shout at me as well. I was just really affronted. I told her that she lacked respect for herself and for her children, and she could have C – I did not want him. I told her I was not interested in him, and that I just wanted my son. I told her that she knew my work schedule, that if she sent C back with David just to drop the baby off, that I would make sure he came back to her, and strangely enough, she heeded my request. When I returned from work, C would bring David home and then he would take off again. I did not really care when he showed up, as long as I had the baby.

Now David and I had a little evening routine. We would bathe and then we would watch my recordings of Ellen DeGeneres while we had dinner, and then we would watch Jeopardy, after which we would clean the house. We would go around and pick up his toys and whatever needed to be cleaned up, and I would tell him about my day. We also read our books. We would read his books first of all, and then we would read my books. It was really a funny sight – him toddling everywhere around me while I did chores and I talked to him. David is really well spoken and intelligent today, and I put it down to all the time we spent reading and watching Jeopardy. He also likes jokes and funny stuff.

It's funny, I distinctly remember one awful evening – I was watching Ellen DeGeneres on TV, I was pregnant with my daughter at the time, and I had David in my lap as we ate our dinner. C and Mary came by. I have no idea what they came for, but they soon left. Then, about a week after that, C came by again, and at the time David and I were sitting and eating dinner and watching Ellen. I had been laughing at something she said when he came in. He stood by the door for a while, then came over and he turned the TV off. I had a bowl of okra soup in one hand with David in my lap. We had both been eating and watching TV as we usually did. I looked up at C and I said, “What's the problem?” He said, “I heard that that woman is a homosexual. You are watching a homosexual show with my son. I don't want my son to get any demons of homosexuality by watching this rubbish.” I continued to feed David. I didn't say anything. I looked at him, and finally I said, “ are in adultery, and you have him all the time – the demon of adultery has not got into him. You watch porn – the demon of porn has not got into him. So is it from watching a TV show that a demon of homosexuality is going to get into him?” I said, “The demon is already here! You are the demon!” He grabbed the bowl of soup from my hand and he hit me in the face with it.

David was screaming by then, and I jumped for the bathroom to wash my face. The soup had quite a lot of hot pepper in it, and I just started to cry and wash my face. I was really lucky that although the soup had some hot pepper in it, it wasn't too much so that David could eat as well, and that's what helped my eyes. If it was the time prior to my having David, I certainly would have had a very serious eye injury, because I would have had a lot more hot pepper in that soup. Anyway, by the time I had washed my face, he was gone with David, and he brought him back at about 11:30 pm. I am confident that it was Mary Stacey who told C that Ellen is gay. There is no other way he would have known.

We fought on a few more occasions about my watching my Ellen show recordings, and he would take David away from me if he stopped by and we were watching. So, I gave it up entirely and we would only watch Jeopardy. I tried to tape Oprah for a while, but a lot of the topics that Oprah dealt with were too close to home for me – they were difficult topics; they were serious topics, usually about people who were undergoing abuse and a lot of other things that I was also going through. A lot of those issues really mirrored my life, and I saw my sorrow and my pain in the lives of others, and I just could not deal with this, so I did not record Oprah. Even until she went off air, I didn't really watch her a lot. Although, I did admire and I do admire her greatly, and I identified with her eating problem. I told myself, she probably had suffered like me and that was why she ate. Once I saw her in an interview saying that breakfast was her favourite meal, and I laughed because breakfast is my favourite meal too.

Even today, I find it really hard to believe that C could be so evil that he would beat me for watching a TV show. Once I asked him about it at a time that we were not fighting, and he told me that it is called ‘transference of spirits’, and that I or David could get the spirit of homosexuality by watching a gay person. I just thought it was rot – I thought it was clap-trap – because it was a daytime show and there was nothing gay about it. The woman is a comedian, and at that point in my life, really, anything that could possibly make me laugh and forget my pain for even a minute, was a very welcome thing. And I remember Ellen DeGeneres, she had the most incredibly beautiful eyes – I don't know if they are blue or green or whatever – but she had very nice eyes, and she had the most mischievous smile. She had this look in her eyes when she was going to say something really funny or she was going to give a punch line or she was just going to be naughty. I would always be able to tell by this big twinkle and the naughty look that came into her eyes, and I would say to my baby, David, “Oh, look out, here it comes!” And when I laughed, my baby would also laugh right along with me as though he understood what Ellen was saying.

I did give up watching the TV show, as I couldn't afford to lose my son, and C stuck around for a couple of weeks when I returned from work, just to make sure that I didn't watch Ellen. And, like I said, I couldn't afford not to have David, so I stopped watching anything but Jeopardy, and David enjoys Jeopardy until now, just from the beginnings that we had.

I will always remember 2004 as the year of living hell with C as he continued in the thick of his relationship with Mary Stacey. There was the day I returned from work early, I was newly pregnant with my daughter, and I had just started to feel sick. I came home, and called C and Mary to bring David back, and C brought David back home. I fed and bathed him and I was just about to have a bath myself, so I was already in my robe, when the front door opened and C and Mary came in.

I had actually let out a scream when the door opened because I was not expecting anyone, seeing as David had already been dropped off. So it was Mary, and as they walked in she said, “Why are you screaming?” C said, “Yes, why are you screaming?” I said, “Well, I wasn't expecting anyone to just open the door and walk in.” And Mary said, “Well, we came to cook our dinner as my oven is not working.” And what transpired shortly afterwards will never ever cease to amaze me, even if I live to be 100. That I could be so badly treated that my supposed husband and his girlfriend would not only carry on their affair in front of me, but that a woman who had been married and who had children of her own, could be so callous towards another woman. It beggared belief, honestly.

C and Mary carried in their shopping bags and headed to the kitchen of the suite, for which I worked daily to pay the rent, and they proceeded to make fish in the oven. They chatted as they cooked. I just watched them. They made a Ghanaian pepper sauce with the fish, and they brought out KenKey, which is a Ghanaian corn meal. I sat there in my robe just continuing to watch them because I could not really believe what I was seeing. As I sat and watched, David fell asleep in my arms. So I went to put him down and then I went to have a bath. After I had gotten dressed, I came out of my room.

By then, C and Mary had finished their cooking, and they were now sitting on the floor in the living room and eating together from a big round bowl. I walked past them into the kitchen. The entire place was a disaster from the preparation of their dinner, so now I had no space to make my own much-delayed dinner. I was really upset. I was exhausted. I went into my room and I called a lady from church called Evelyn. I told her that I was really ill and I needed her to come immediately, and she said she would. So, I waited, but she eventually never showed up. I called another man, whose name was Sampson, and I asked him to please come immediately. He said he was in Downtown Vancouver, but that he would leave for Surrey at once.

I went back out to the living room, they had finished their dinner by then, and they were now watching a video on the TV. I looked at it, and it was me on the screen. It was a video recording from the church the previous Sunday, and it was showing me making half-hearted attempt to join the singing and dancing, and C said in their native language, “Look at her, she has eaten so much, and she is so fat she cannot even move!” And Mary, laughing, replied, “I am going to tell her what you said.” And he said, “Oh, please don't, I don't want crying and trouble this night.” I watched them and hated them both with all of me. I wished them both dead. The whole thing felt very unreal to me.

I couldn’t do anything, so I pull up a chair like the uninvited guest that I was at their dinner, and I sat right in front of the TV so that they could watch me live in person if they really wanted to watch me. When I did that, they were both silent for a couple of minutes. Then Mary stood up. She said, “Let's go.” So they both got up and they left.

Immediately the door closed behind them, I just broke down and I wept. I really just sat on the couch and I cried and cried about the horrible life that I was living. I didn't know how I was ever going to be able to escape it all. So I sat there and I wept, and as I sat down and cried, the door opened once more and C came in. I kept thinking, what did he come back for?. I looked at him. He saw me – I was obviously crying – and I keep saying until now that when a normal person comes in and sees another person crying, they would immediately ask, “What's wrong?” Or “What's the matter?” Or something to show some concern, but not C – never him. He simply took whatever it was that he had come for and he made to leave.

I now said to him, “Devil, demon, devil incarnate, after you messed up my whole kitchen with your fish, you and your girlfriend left without cleaning it up, and now I don't have any place to make something to eat for myself. You had the guts to make fun of me, even though I was sitting right there. You're really a devil. When you go out in the car with your girlfriend, both of you are going to have a car accident, and both of you are going to die!” And he grabbed me and he shoved me away, and then he left. I just sat there numbly. I called Evelyn again, and she didn't respond. I called Sampson, and he said, “I am nearly at your house.” Well in about 10 minutes, C came back again and went to grab my sleeping baby, then ran to the car with him. I realized then that it was my car keys that he had come for when he had come in earlier on. I ran after him. He had already started the car, so I jumped on the hood of the car in a bid to stop him from driving off with my baby, but he kept driving even with me on top of the car hanging onto the hood, and this was the scene that Sampson arrived to see.
Now C is someone that never wants to be caught doing his evil deeds. He always creates a scene only when it can be his word against mine. No witnesses. Nobody to see. He stopped when he saw Sampson drive up and he came out of the car towards me, and I said, “Stop! Don't come near me. Don't you come near me!” And I went to the car, I took my baby, and I went inside. The police soon arrived. The landlord had called. One of the policemen came inside to talk to me and I told him what had happened. He looked around the whole place and he came out and sat with me at the kitchen table. He said to me – and I have thought about him many times over the years – he said, “Don't remain like this. You say you are pregnant?” I nodded mutely. “And he is the father?” Nod again. “And that's his girlfriend?” I kept nodding unable to speak due to his kindness, causing tears to flow down my face. He said, “I am talking to you as my sister, and as someone who has seen a lot of these kinds of things. You need to get away from a man that will treat you like this. Pack your bags, take your child, get away, go somewhere else. If you continue like this, you could get badly hurt or killed, or you could be pushed to the point where you would hurt or kill someone, and then where would your son be? And how about the new one that you're carrying? Where would they be? Leave now. Leave as soon as you can.”

I remember that policeman. I will always remember him. It was almost 10 years ago, but I know that I will recognize him if I saw him. He was the first person that has shown me compassion in years. He said, “Look after yourself,” as he left. He then asked C to go away and not to return for 48 hours. I think he was probably offering me the 48 hours to get myself together and to run. And of course, I regret until now that I did not run. I should have.

 I really became sick after then. I called my work the next morning and I said I was pregnant and I was ill, and I would take my pregnancy sick leave effective immediately. I just stayed home. Mary Stacey came by the next evening with a bunch of flowers. She said, “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to laugh at you on the video. It was C that made fun of you, and it was just so funny I had to laugh.” I took the flowers from her, and as she stood there I said to her, “You are extremely lucky I am a patient person. Anybody but me would have done something really really horrible to you.” I took the flowers, I ripped them, and I threw them over her shoulders onto the grass behind her, and I said to her, “I promise you, if you ever step into my house again, I will not be responsible for what will happen to you.” Then I opened my mouth and screamed, “Now just get lost!” At the top of my voice, and she left and she never ever came to my house again.

Continue reading - Page 7

Please Help Amaka Munonye Get Her Children Back-5

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 now had to come to terms with the fact that, whether I liked it or not, and that whether I wanted to or not, that I was involved with the church. I was, after all, in the sight of all the world, apparently married to him. I was the 'pastor's wife'. Nobody knew my secrets, or my hurt, or my pain. Human beings are, for the most part, about themselves. How could I have expected the people that came to church to be different? “Church is like a hospital,” to quote my pastor today, Pastor Wes Daase, “everyone comes to be treated, and if in the course of being treated you are able to help others, than you are doing well.” And I now know that part of healing is helping others to heal as well.

Anyway, nobody knew of the anguish that I was in, and if they suspected anything, well nobody ever said a word to me. People kept coming to me for different reasons. Mostly it was to complain about C – how he would never close on time, how when you told him something he either said it on the pulpit or he said it to other people. That was a really disgraceful aspect of him. He was a gigantic gossip, and he soon came to be known all around the community that you could never tell him anything and expect it to be kept confidential. It didn't matter how big or small it was, he would soon spread the news around. I really attributed this to his having too much time on his hands, and also he had absolutely no concept of time. Up until I ran from him in 2009, I had never, ever, seen him be on time for anything, not even once.

Also, a lot of the women would constantly call and complain that he dropped in unannounced at their family homes. This reminded me of the same way that he used to do that in his morning praying and begging rounds in Ghana, just dropping in on people and expecting them to drop everything and host him – and this without prior notice. I was constantly troubleshooting. He would keep on asking everyone for money - “Can I have $20?” Or “Can I have $50?” Or “Can you bless me with $100?” Or “I came to visit that I have visited you, you must buy gas into my car!” I was told most of these things by people and he also did a lot of his begging in my presence. It was humiliating, shameful, and mortifying for me, and I was very deeply saddened every day that I was even remotely connected to him.

I continued to study my bible as people would ask me questions and come to me with their problems all the time expecting me to know things. I feel that out of every adversity, that some good always comes of it, and for me one good thing was that I became more spiritual. I started to pray, I said, “God, if you're there, then please I want to know all about you and the real truth,” because I was confident that C was not a pastor and that he was not even a Christian. He still had his relationship with Mary Stacey going on, and she acted as treasurer for his church. I never asked anything about it. I never asked about money, and I didn't want to know. He sometimes volunteered that he never got any money from the church because they had to pay the bills and there was never anything left over. I thought it must be true, because I figured if he was getting paid then he would not keep begging people for money.

I was now completely helping out at the church. I had to keep up appearances. There was also a huge part of me that didn't want to let the people down. I thought I owed it to them to at least let the church be what they needed in a church. I arranged to have an overhead projector installed. And that was really a huge challenge for C, as it meant that he had to try and keep up with what was on the projector. I would ask what he wanted to talk about, and the scriptures he would use, and he would tell me, and I would put them up on power point and go over it with him many times until he knew what was on each page and the references to each scripture. He still would ask the church to read along, etc.

I told myself, I am doing this for God...I am doing this for the children of God, but I felt very bad about it. I felt that people were being deceived. I know for a fact now that C was not a Christian, much less a pastor, and I thought I was part of this great charade that was being played out. I began to fall into depression. To make matters worse, I got pregnant in November of 2002, and went into severe hyperemesis, like I said before. Suffice it to say, I spent a lot of time at the Nausea and Vomiting Clinic. Once in the hospital C came with two people from his church to see me, and I finally asked him. “C why all the beatings?  You have beaten me almost every week since I met you. Have I done anything wrong to you? To my great astonishment he answered me. He said “My friend John Agalaba told me in Ghana that educated women need to be beaten all the time, or else they will think they are the head. He said if you beat them for about a year, or two years if they are very stubborn, that they will start to obey you and do everything you tell them to.” I couldn’t respond at all. I pushed the call button, and asked the nurse to get them all to leave.

In September 2003, my son, David, was born. I have never known such joy in my life. David was a delightful baby – he was very good, he was healthy, he was strong, very peaceful, and I just disappeared into him. He became my every moment. All the love in me that I had hitherto had no outlet for, suddenly found an escape. I loved my child with every fibre of my being from the moment I set eyes on him.

I was beginning to find some peace at last. I had my son and nothing could compare to that. Also, my dad, who had been quite ill, suddenly took a turn for the better. I spoke with him over the phone on Thursday the 27th of November 2003, and he said he was feeling much stronger. I promised him that I would try to visit home very soon, that I loved him, and that I missed him. He told me, “Amaka, you are like seven sons to me.” And I said, “Don't worry; I will soon come home to visit you.”

On Saturday the 29th of November 2003, my friend Rosaline came to visit me. She came to the church and we had become friendly. C was in the house, so I breast fed David, and I handed him to Rosaline, and I said, “I'm going to run to the store to buy a few things for the baby...I will be back within 30 minutes.” I quickly drove to the store and came back, and as I opened the door and stepped in, Rosaline got up and started towards me with her arms outstretched. She said, “Amaka, my dear...” but C beat her to it, “The old man is gone.” He said to me. I looked around confused. “The old man?” I parroted, “The old man?.” C said to me, “Your father. Your father is dead.” He said extremely callously. I fell to the floor with a grocery bag in each hand. I heard Rosie scream, “No, no, Pastor C, no!” as she came and picked me up in her arms where I wept uncontrollably. I wept for my dad, for all of his pain and his sickness, and for all the comfort and care that I had not been there to provide him, even though I knew he had been properly looked after by my mom.

Ah but my dad loved the adventurous and happy girl that I had been before I met C, and I knew that I provided him with hours of just laughter and entertainment; and I knew that he sometimes wondered at his having just fathered the mischievous imp that I had been as a child. I would do anything to make him laugh, and he loved to laugh. He also spoiled me something rotten, and against my mom's wishes, he would give me a lot of money. He would let me loose in a store, and say you have half an hour, pick whatever you want, and meet me at the front. Once he had come to my hostel in the university, and I wasn't even in town. He left 20,000.00 naira in my fridge freezer with a letter saying he had left me some 'cold hard cash'. I called him Daddy CIA for about a month after he had done that. When he asked where I was, saying “I hope you were not running around with boys when I came to visit you.” I said, “Daddy don’t you trust your daughter?” I'm not sure what he made of that answer, but he wisely never pursued it – and now he was gone. I love my father a lot, and I have many good memories of him. He loved me for my intellect and he would discuss things with me in front of his friends. He wanted to show off how smart I was, and I did my best never to disappoint him.

Now he was gone and the news had to be broken to me in so wicked a fashion by the worst person in the world. Rosaline maintains, until this very day, that she has never seen anything as horrible as that evening, and that was when she really started to suspect that C was not a good person.

I mourned my dad so much. I couldn't believe he passed away just like that, after sounding so well, and after he seemed to have rallied. It was as though he was doing better, and he suddenly passed. I would carry my 2-month-old baby in my arms and just weep. I started to get ready to attend the funeral in Nigeria. I had gained a lot of weight both from my pregnancy and from my depression, but I still felt I would be able to explain it away by blaming it on the new baby that I had. The funeral was to be in January, but I asked my family to wait for February so my baby would be over 4 months old, and of course they were quick to agree.

As you can probably imagine, it wasn't much of a Christmas or New Year. My beloved father had died, and I was living with a monster. The only bright spot was my baby, David, and I lived through him – through his every smile, through his gurgles, just through everything that he was.

One morning, on the second week of January 2004, I dressed myself and David up. I was going to go to my family doctor to get anti-malarial shorts in preparation for my trip to Nigeria for my father's funeral. When C came out of his room, he said, “Where are you taking the baby to on this cold morning?” I said, “Well, I'm going to the doctor to get my shots.” He said, “Make sure the doctor doesn't give anything to that baby.” I said, “I don't know if they give babies anti-malarial here. What I plan to do is buy baby anti-malarial medicine when I get to Nigeria.” “Nigeria for what!?” He shouted.

“For my father's funeral.” I said. “Am I not going to bury my father? The man that raised me and did everything for me my whole life?” C said, “You are free to do anything you like. You can go wherever, but that child is going nowhere.”

I could not believe it. I refused to believe it actually. I just ignored it. I went to the doctor, I got my shots, and I kept planning to attend my father's funeral. I refused to believe that C could try to stop me from going to bury my precious dad. At the end of January I told C that I would be going and that I would be back, as I had to go to school when I returned. I told him as rationally as possible that I would not give up living in Canada just because of him, and that I wanted to raise my son here. He went into a huge rage and yelled and screamed, and told me that if I thought I would take my son with me, that I had a mental problem. He said one of the women from his prayer meeting had told him that when women had new babies, that they cried all the time and that they became crazy. He told me that he knew I cried every day and that he would tell people that I was crazy. He said if I ever said anything again about going to Nigeria with the baby that he would suffocate the baby, and he would tell the church that I slept on him, seeing as I was so fat.

I said, “You are would harm an innocent are really evil.” He said, “Well babies' souls return straight to God...everybody would know it was you that has killed the baby since you are crying every day” is what he said to me.

Well really, that was the end of my talking about going to Nigeria to bury my dad. I did not attend my father's funeral. The last time I had seen him was four years prior when I moved to Canada. I also stopped crying to the best of my ability, and if I cried, I would wash and make my face up before C showed up. I ate more and more, whatever I could lay my hands on – I couldn't cry, I had no one to go to, so I ate, and I ate. I settled into a sort of numbness after my father's funeral had passed in February. I also gave up any hopes of being away from C.

My only reality was David, my son. I lavished all my love on him. I ignored C and his girlfriend, Mary, and when the tax centre called to ask if I would return to work, I just agreed. Nothing really changed. I would come home from work and grab my child when he was dropped off like he was a lifeline. We still spent our evenings together, David and me. We slept in my room, he slept on my bed with me, and C, of course, stayed in his room.

There was an incident that happened when David was about 6 months old. I was still breastfeeding him, and we would regularly get up every night to feed. So I would sit up against the headboard of the bed with about three pillows behind me for support, and then I would use one more pillow as a nursing pillow so that I would have David in my arms with a pillow under him. Well, one night between 2:00 and 3:00 am, I was awakened by the crackling of static on police radios. My landlord at the time was Jasbir, we lived on 85th Avenue, and she had two sons living with her, so I just thought that maybe they had had a party and the neighbours had called the police.

Soon after I heard the radios, I heard a loud banging at the door. I got up and made for the front door. I was in my nursing pajama top and bottoms, and C got to the door before me. He was still fully dressed. Two policemen came in. They wanted to know how many people lived in the house, they went through both rooms; they went into the bathroom. I followed them wanting to know what had happened, and little David, woken up by all the commotion, just started to squeal. So, I picked him up in my arms. Once of the policeman took us to the bathroom and showed us holes in the wall from the outside, through the bathroom to the bedroom that I shared with my baby. There was a hole where bullets had passed across the headboard out through to the outside wall. When I realized the implications, my legs just gave way and I fell to the floor in shock still cradling my baby. I was wailing loudly. C was still following the police officer outside, and the police officer turned to him and said, “Where are you going? What are you doing? Go pick up your wife! Make sure she's okay! Go help her!” C said, “She's okay. She always behaves like that. Get up!” He said to me, without moving.

You know, I will never forget my shame when the policeman came and helped me up. He sat me on the couch before he went out. I will also always remember the disbelieving look that he gave C. I thought, welcome to my world. I actually felt quite good that the policeman had looked at C like, what kind of a monster are you? It confirmed to me that I was not the only one that thought that he was wicked. So, what had happened was that there was a drive-by shooting – some people had shot a volley of bullets into the front door of the main house, and the garage, and three to four bullets had come through to the basement where my child and I lay sleeping. I have no idea why that shooting occurred. The police never said what it was about, although they did ask C where he was coming from at that time of the night, seeing as he was fully dressed.  I'm not sure what he told them. When they asked me I told them that he was always out at all hours, and I wasn't sure where he had been.

After the shooting incident, I was now convinced that there was a kind and a merciful God who was looking after me. Three things convinced me: One, I am a light sleeper. The slightest noise would wake me up, but now as a mom, I was so attuned to any disturbance or the tiniest sound from my child. So for me to have slept through a volley of gunshots was miraculous to me, considering that I had woken up when the danger had passed, to a crackling radio. Secondly, the time that it had happened was my regular feeding time. I would normally be sitting up against the head board nursing my baby, and the bullets would simply have passed through us both, and thirdly, David also slept through all the noise.

I decided I had to get closer to God. I redoubled my efforts, I studied my bible – I had to know more about this God of the bible, and I soon discovered many comforting and reassuring verses. I like the Psalms a lot. They talked about all kinds of situations. I started to pray all the time. I started to ask God to please save my baby and me from C and all other evils, and this Jesus that I learned about in the New Testament did not seem anything like what I had heard C talking about. I kept studying. I had to find out if C was dealing with another God – not the one that I was learning about.

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