There are many things we don’t know and one of them is that, sometimes, marriage is not by fire or by force. Even though I am a Christian, I was raised to believe that God hates divorce but God doesn’t mean the person involved in divorce.
It took Titilayo’s death for my eyes to see the light.
Here’s what happened.
You see, Titilayo was raised by parents who are deacons in our church; they are not just deacons but among the elders of our local church. You see, in our community here in Kwara state where majority are Muslims. Those that are Christians see themselves as the light of the community and so anything they suspect would tarnish their image is swept under the carpet.
When Titilayo finished school, she had her eyes on starting work and making it big. Then she met her husband, let us for the sake of the fact that his case is in court, call him Joseph. They actually became friends through a mutual friend that introduced them to one another.
At first, Joseph was loving, he was kind, always complimented Titilayo’s dark beauty. He would take her out during the weekends but nothing happened between them. You remember, I told you Titilayo’s parents are Deacons in our church. It must never be heard that a deacon’s daughter was caught having sex with a man she isn’t married to. It would have been a huge scandal!
After a while, Joseph went to tell Titilayo’s parents he wanted to marry their daughter.
As expected, the joy of every parent is to see their children married off, especially the daughters. In these days where our youth just make a mess of themselves in sexual scandals, drugs and all forms of vices. It was a relief that Titilayo at least was getting married to join the respectable women in our society here in Kwara state.
And as elders in the church, they had informed the pastor of their daughter’s intention. They prayed for her, they told her to be submissive to her husband and that all would be well with her.
Anyway, Titilayo’s parents sent us invitation cards, their daughter Titilayo was getting married to the one God sent to her.
We went to rejoice with them and moved on with our lives.
But the honeymoon was soon over for Titilayo and Joseph; it was always quarrel over one thing or another.
You’re asking me what they quarreled about?
What do couples quarrel about?
Money, sex, respect…isn’t that the common thing?
They were no exception.
Joseph wasn’t doing what a man was expected to do- provide well for his family and yet, he expected Titilayo to be submissive and respect him even though she brought in her share to the house.
At the beginning, for the sake of the fact that she was raised in a good Christian home, Titilayo was submissive but Joseph mistook her submission for slavery, he began to beat her.
At first, Titilayo was too shocked to react. She said she was so shocked, she soon became ashamed. When I wondered why she should be ashamed. She said she couldn’t believe the man who claimed to love her, who caressed her body with his hands at night, would use the same hands to strike her and inflict deep wounds. So she was shocked and became ashamed because she couldn’t let her parents know. They loved Joseph as a son. They regarded him as one of their own and she didn’t want to disappoint her parents. more so, she was envied among her friends as having been married, the others haven’t been able to find husbands.
To hear Titilayo talk like this was strange because, if anyone should be ashamed, it should be Joseph.
Who told him he had the right to hit his wife?
Didn’t he know it is a crime to do so?
Ttilayo didn’t know it was a crime, particularly as the beating continued over virtually every little offence or perceived offence. Many days, she would hide from her family and friends because Joseph would threaten to deal with her if she let on in what was happening at home.
Titilayo didn’t even know that the threats Joseph made, the forced isolation from family and friends; the emotional and verbal and psychological abuse are a crime. She didn’t know about the VAPP law, neither did Joseph but I doubt that it would have made any difference to him.
Incidentally, to the rest of us, they appeared a happy young couple; in church and at other events. We all thought they looked good together. They even have a three year old son. A very cute boy, too.
But this matter could have been solved if Titilayo’s parents did something when Titilayo eventually told them of the many times Joseph had beaten her so badly, she could hardly stand on her feet.
At first, they were upset, you know, what parent likes their daughter beaten?
They called Joseph and told him to stop beating their daughter and to balance the judgement, as reputable deacons of the church, they castigated Titilayo for not being submissive enough. She told them she was a submissive woman and despite it, Joseph always found a reason to beat her. In fact, on one of those days when she ran to her parents after being beaten by Joseph, she told them she wanted to leave Joseph!
It was unchristian, they said, God hated divorce, they reminded her.
Her parents said she would bring shame to them in the community and the church.
How will it be said that the daughter of a deacon and elders of the church, is divorced? They reminded Titilayo that as Christians, God hated divorce.
Again, they promised her they would call to talk to Joseph.
On the very day she died; Titilayo had had enough; she had packed her things and headed straight to her parents with her young son…
Her parents were sympathetic but they told her that since she began to bear Joseph’s name, their authority on her was over, they told her she belonged to Joseph and that she should spare them the shame of having a divorced daughter.
And so Titilayo, weeping and broken, returned to Joseph’s house that evening.
I really can’t tell you what truly happened.
Maybe Joseph felt he hadn’t beaten her enough
Maybe he suddenly realised he could do as he wished with Titilayo as her parents wouldn’t do anything to him…he descended on her that evening and beat her until she stopped breathing!
Joseph was arrested and has been sentenced to death.
I hope her parents, who claim to be Christians, know they failed their daughter in her hour of need.
I hope her neighbours, who could have helped save her life if they had intervened quickly when she was calling for help, know they failed her.
I hope the policemen who should have charged Joseph to court, instead of releasing him when his people cited “family matter that would be settled at home” know they failed Titilayo.
I honestly hope we can be better enlightened about domestic violence and how to help survivors.
True stories culled from report by HADIS Foundation