Marriage they say is like a cell; and the ring being the handcuffs. We should learn to choose our cellmates wisely, else we would end up moving from cell to prison or never make it out of the cell alive. In my case I didn’t even have the opportunity to choose my cellmate myself neither was I able to choose the size of my handcuffs. My name is Camella and this is my story.
HOW IT ALL STARTED.
Life is so unpredictable! I know you have probably heard that a lot of times, but as a victim of life’s circumstances, I can tell you that this phrase is not just a line but the truth about life. As an only child, I grew up enjoying life and dwelling in it’s fantasies. My family, although little, was the perfect definition of “Heaven on Earth”. My parents were inseparable and I was just like a glue giving the both of them an undetachable bond. They showered me with love and cherished every breath of mine, to an extent I never wished for a sibling or any other life to exist in our space because I had it all. Everything I could ever wish for was brought to me in a platter of gold. I loved my family so much and I knew I couldn’t live without them. My life was so sweet that I never even thought it would all be like a dream someday. I was so satisfied that for a moment, I became so comfortable with the world and felt like it was a garden filled with colorful roses with sweet aroma. It actually felt like the world we lived in was a bed of roses, little did I know that my little perfect world would soon be blown away like the wind.
So soon, Yes! It happened that fast and unexpectedly. Within the twinkle of an eye, my whole world came crashing and I was left speechless. By now, I know you would be wondering what happened exactly. Well, don’t worry because you will know in a bit. I was only but Nine (9) years old when the tragedy struck me. Everything I had ever loved and cherished all my life vanished into thin air like a smoke.
On that beautiful morning, I was dropped off at school by my lovely parents. They both had their separate cars, but they loved riding together because they worked in the same company and because, they were of course, two love birds. Well… we pretty much did everything together. I got down from the car, gave both of them the usual goodbye kisses and hurried off to class. Oh what a world! I never knew that it was the last goodbye kisses I would ever give them.
On their way home, they had a terrible car accident and never survived it. They died on the spot and couldn’t even make it to the hospital. I was so devastated. Never in my life did I imagine spending the rest of my life without them. But it happened and I had to wake up and face reality because it came knocking. “why so soon?” That’s the question I kept asking but got no answer. After my parent’s funeral, my wicked uncles took everything that my parents laboured for, every possession and left me to suffer. Not only did I lose my parents, I lost shelter, food and all the basic things one possibly need in life. I faced the street in order to survive. I didn’t want to go to a foster home or shelter because I had heard a lot of stories about children who lived in foster homes and it didn’t quite rest well with me.
While I was wandering the streets, in search of my daily bread, I met a young man in his late twenties. His name was Henry, he was an Engineer and also the Founder and CEO of Our Shepard Company. Henry approached me and wanted to know what a little girl like me was doing on the streets. I wasn’t comfortable telling him my story but he was so inquisitive. So I opened up and told him how my once beautiful cloud filled rainbows turned to empty grey clouds just at the snap of a finger. He was touched by my story and expressed his warm sympathy. Henry offered to take me home, I rejected at first knowing he was a stranger but he promised not to hurt me and assured me that all he wanted to do was to help. I finally decided to go with him, considering the fact that I needed a shelter, a place to lay my head.
At this moment, Henry was my angel.
I followed Henry home that night and for the first time in a long while I slept peacefully with much comfort. From that day onwards, Henry provided everything I needed and made sure that I lacked nothing. He took me as a younger sister and made it personal to see that I completed my education and became a graduate. He would always say to me, “Camy, I would make sure you get your degree because education is the key that unlocks opportunities.” Because of him and his generosity I am a PhD degree holder. But that was the beginning of my nightmare; thus, the key that unlocked my “DUNGEON.”
25 YEARS LATER…
After I completed my education, Henry thought it’d be wise for me to come work at the company which I unrelentingly accepted, since it was difficult to find a job in this part of the world. Things were really working out just fine. Weeks turned into months and months into years. it wasn’t long before Henry’s behaviour towards me began to change. He became a lot more clingy and controlling. At first, I ignored it thinking he was just trying to act as a big brother. It turned out to be that I was wrong about that when he began to scare off all the men that came close to me. When I confronted him, he said that all those men weren’t good enough for me, all they wanted was to ruin my life. Although I did not understand what he meant by that, I didn’t argue with him any further. Too bad that I couldn’t see the handwriting on the wall.
One day, I introduced him to a guy I met at a shopping mall who seems to be a calm gentleman thinking he would see him different from the rest. But he was full of rage that he couldn’t even hide his jealousy. Yes that was it. I knew it. He was jealous! he made it quite obvious that very day. Then here comes the statement I never thought of. “I own you, you are my investment. I didn’t bring you this far to sit and watch another man come and take you away” Henry yelled. Yo! I was shocked. I knew he picked me up from the street, I knew he spent a lot of money on me, but was I being delusional thinking he was doing it for nothing? Don’t people do good things without expecting something in return anymore? Don’t angels walk around in form of humans anymore? Did i just embark on a journey of no return? I’m I going to be indebted to him for the rest of my life? Those were some of the numerous thoughts that ran through my mind. I didn’t want to believe what I just heard. Nonetheless, I was so embarrassed right there before my visitor. He had no choice but to leave. Later that night, Henry came to my room and apologized for how he acted earlier on. I wanted to make it clear to him that no matter what he thought, that he didn’t own me like he stated earlier. But I held back because I didn’t want to start up any argument. I told him I wanted to sleep, he bade me goodnight and retired to his bedroom.
After the incident, henry started acting more strange and began to make advances in the claim that he loved me. I tried to explain to him that we can’t be together because I see him as a brother and nothing more. By then I had figured that was where he was driving at. Henry didn’t want to listen. He said he had already made up his mind and that we were getting married whether I liked it or not. I had no option, or maybe I did and the thought of being alone in this world killed me. I accepted to marry him, not because I loved him as a partner, but because I was grateful for all he did and felt indebted to him. Four weeks afterwards, we got married in a courthouse on April 19th at 1:50 PM. We were legally married, and this was just the beginning of my nightmare.
HOW IT TURNED OUT
After the marriage, things got even worse. Henry started raising his hands on me at every slightest provocation. We couldn’t have kids because I lost all my pregnancies to his constant beatings, I faced a lot of abuse. He treated me like a piece of rag and saw me as nothing but a ‘nobody’. Henry usually had his way with me even when it was against my wish. He gave me shelter but just so he could make it my dungeon. He gave me food just so he could poison it. And, he gave me education just so he could be my god. The man who was once my angel, turned out to be a devil to me. I knew I deserved better but it was difficult to leave. So I kept enduring hoping that he would come back to his senses. Did he? Hell No!
David, a young man in his 30s was one of the employees at the company. He eventually approached me, I could read much concern written all over his face. He asked why he rarely saw a smile on my face since he started working at the company. I was shocked because I just realized that I was a woman living with so much pain and sadness whose emotional trauma was becoming perceptible to the extent that the people around me were concerned and I was not even aware of the whole fact. I told David that there was nothing to worry about and that I couldn’t necessarily be smiling about nothing. He was not convinced, so he probed further. I became angry that he was invading and asked him to mind his business and get back to work. He apologised and left.
The next day, David came into the office when Henry was on a business trip to submit a project. He noticed a bruise on the left side of my cheek and asked what happened. I told him I just bumped into a wall. He said it wasn’t true, that the scar looked more like someone hit me. I tried to defend it by rhetorically asking, “who would have the guts to hit me?” But david kept insisting that I should tell him what was going on that he sensed something was not right, I asked, “can I trust you David?” He replied, “Hell yeah, you could”. I opened up to David and told him everything without leaving out a word. For a moment, I felt a sign of relief. He said he could help me get out of the marriage. I wasn’t sure of that because I was scared and had a lot of ‘what if?’ questions to ask. David assured me that I didn’t have to die in that marriage and that he was going to do something about it. “I am not asking you, I am telling you”. David said. After he left, I felt some sense of courage drape over me like someone wrapped a piece of cloth around me.. There and then, I knew it was time to wake up and do something. All thanks to David.
HOW IT IS NOW
With the help of David, I was able to contact a lawyer who prepared the divorce papers which I signed and waited for Henry to come home. I knew he wouldn’t agree to sign the papers, so I had to think of what to do and fast. Because I knew I needed to get my freedom as soon as I could. While I was trying to come up with a solution, I remembered that Henry was one who seldom paid attention to details especially when he was in a hurry. I came up with an idea. I met with his personal assistant and struck a deal with him. He was to present the papers to Henry in one of his busiest days so he could easily sign it off. At first, the man did not agree, I had to let him in on what has been going on with me and also I promised to pay his daughter’s hospital bills. Fortunately, he became touched by my story and as well excited about the promise I made and decided to help.
Henry got back from his business trip on thursday morning. And everything went just as I planned it.
HENRY’S ASSISTANT’S POINT OF VIEW
He was on his way to meet a client when I called him on the phone and asked if he could come over to the office and sign some documents but he asked, “Can’t the documents wait? I don’t have a lot of time to spare”. I replied, “No sir, it’s urgent”. He said okay that he was on his way. When he arrived at the office, I could tell that he really was in a hurry because he didn’t even want to sit down but just asked for the documents right away. I gave him the papers, and he just started to sign them without even reading the content. I asked, “Sir, you haven’t read it yet and you are signing it”. “Does it matter? All that matters is that you want me to sign it and I really want to get going. I am also sure you already went through it”, Henry replied. He finished signing the papers and scurried off. Yes, Just like that!
Meanwhile, I, Camella already installed cameras in the house while he was away hoping to get an evidence for the court hearing. That night, I served dinner but Henry rejected it and asked for something else that takes a whole lot of time to prepare. I tried explaining to him that I was tired and that we both got back from work at the same time, I wouldn’t be able to prepare something else that night. Without any hesitation he pounced on me as usual. After beating me up, he said that I was still going to prepare the food. So I acted like I was heading to the kitchen. When he returned to the living room. I escaped and went straight to my lawyer with the recording along with other evidences I had gathered. We were invited to court and after the hearing he was charged with Domestic Violence and Abuse. He was asked to spend 10 years in prison or transfer the company to me as a compensation and spend 5 years. He hesitated at first but had no other option than to hand over the company. It wasn’t easy losing it but there was nothing else he could do. I felt pity for him. But that man right there, he made life a living hell for me. So I didn’t allow my emotions to win.
At last I was a free woman. Henry made my life miserable, the physical scars healed but my soul was scarred for life.
David and I got along pretty well because we had a lot in common. We fell in love and started dating. Now I’m actually in love and with someone who loves me without conditions. I am living the life I never thought I would live again just as I lost the life I never thought I would have lost initially.
Now I ask, What if I didn’t leave? What could have happened to me? Could I have died? Whatever it was I didn’t want to know anymore. All I knew, was that I left the dungeon alive.
Looking back, I blame myself for not finding help or leaving earlier. But I’m glad I gathered the strength and courage to leave when I did.
This time I had the opportunity to make a choice about my cellmate and the size of the handcuff that could fit my finger, which I was deprived of by Henry.
If I left, so could you.
I want to use this opportunity to encourage anyone facing abuse to take action. Abuse is very bad, your life is of uttermost importance. You don’t deserve to die, you don’t deserve to suffer. You deserve to be happy just like every other person. Please take that first step today and you would never regret it.
SAY NO TO ABUSE! SAY NO TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!!
DISCLAIMER!!!: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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