A victim of a terrible domestic violence, Halima Umar, is now thanking God that she got out of her marriage with her life as her husband was hell bent on killing her.
Halima who is now 24-years-old, explained in an article she posted on Divorce Diaries, a series on a Facebook Group created for victims and survivors of domestic violence how she disobeyed her parents and got married at the age of 19, a decision that almost cost her life.
Halima who was studying accounting at the University of Jos, did the unthinkable by going against her parents’ wishes of getting a quality education because she was in love with her boyfriend but in the end, she burnt her hands badly.
Read her story below:
My name is Halima Umar. I am from Bauchi State and a victim of a nasty domestic violence. I would like you to read my story on My Divorce Diaries and learn one or two lessons from it.
I was married to Ahmad Yusuf for four years against the wishes and blessings of my parents and I am alive today because I ran away when I did or I would be dead by now.
I got married when I was 19 and that decision broke my parents’ heart because they wanted me to stay in school and make something out of my life. I was reading accounting at the University of Jos. My father wanted me to become the Accountant General of the Federation someday.
I am the first child of my parents, the first daughter. My parents had so much hope in me and they spared no expense to ensure that I was comfortable in life. I never had to struggle for anything in life.
And all they ever demanded was that I would do well and make them proud. In secondary school, I was a top student with high flying grades. When I look back now, I can’t understand how I dimmed the lights of my bright future with my own hands.
I met Ahmad when I was a Jambite. He was a civil servant, a staff of INEC. He was handsome and intelligent. I liked him immediately we met in front of my hostel. He had come to drop off his sister from Gombe where they hail from.
I don’t even remember how we started talking. I just remember thinking that God had been unfair to this young man because, although he was good looking, he was very short! But somehow, he became a permanent fixture in my life within a week of our meeting.
The nature of his job allowed him to have a flexible schedule and enough time to spend with me and he never wasted any of such opportunities.
I was spending so much time away from school and gradually losing interest in my studies. All I wanted to do in those days was to spend time with my boo, my sweetheart.
At the end of that semester, I flunked my exams. My grades were so poor that my parents were livid. What had I been doing in school while my mates studied, they kept asking me? I wasn’t happy with my parents’ reaction but I had to make them understand that I was in love.
So when my mother sat me down and wanted to find out what was wrong with me, I told her that I had met someone I loved and that I was finding it difficult to concentrate in school.
I confessed to her that all I wanted to do was to get married.
‘Ni aure na ke so na yi.’ All I want is to get married, I told her.
My mother was surprised and shocked at the same time. She tried to make me realize that I should at least date the guy for a year to know more about him before thinking of marriage but I was adamant as I was madly in love with Ahmad and nothing could stop me from getting married to him, not even my parents.
Ahmad had told me that for me to be a respectable woman and complete woman, I had to get married to him as education was not important for women.
And I loved him so much, so what would I possibly stand to lose?
My father was very upset with me for failing my exams and for also being so rude to my mother on account of a ‘vagabond’, as he called Ahmad. He told me that he would not allow me to get married without graduating. He then gave me a choice: either improve my grades or forget about getting married ever.
The next semester in school was crazy for me. First, I tried to obey my parents and be a diligent student, but then, Ahmad had a powerful influence on me. He kept pushing me to marry him. He even made me believe that my parents did not wish me well by delaying our marriage. And I believed him.
I went home in the middle of the semester and told my parents that I would not go back to school unless I was joined in marriage to Ahmad.
My father told me that unless my grades and my attitude improved, he would never ever allow me marry Ahmad. I felt that my father was now my enemy. How could he stand in the way of my happiness?
I spoke to Ahmad and he told me to run away and leave home. Without thinking twice, I packed my bags and left for the motor park and headed straight to Jos where he was waiting for me. There was no turning back.
I abandoned school and stayed with Ahmad for 6 months. We were planning our wedding Fatiha but we were having trouble finding an Imam that would do it without my parents. The initial plan was for us to marry a week after I arrived Jos but no imam would wed us.
So Ahmad and I went to see my maternal uncle, Kawu Tijjani in Kaduna and begged him to stand in as my father. Kawu Tijjani was not happy to see me because dad had told him about my bad attitude. He was especially cold towards Ahmad.
He told me that I would not accompany Ahmad back to Jos on the condition that I stayed with him for three to observe the Istibrai (Cleansing period) before he would agree to be my Waliyy.
I was torn but I had to agree. Meanwhile, my uncle tried to sort out my differences with my parents but I did not want to have anything to do with them as they did not like Ahmad.
After spending three months with Kawu Tijjani, the D-day finally came. There weren’t many people at my wedding. Even Ahmad’s family did not bother to show up and convey the bride to his house. It was the elderly women from his office that came to collect me as is the custom.
After the 6 months of being married, I discovered that I was pregnant. I was so happy but Ahmad was not happy about the pregnancy when I told him. He said he was not ready to be a father just yet and wanted me to abort the pregnancy but I refused adamantly.
That was when the other side of Ahmad came up. He became a demon because I had allowed myself to become pregnant. I tried all I could to pacify him but he would have none of that.
That was how it all started. First, he begged and cajoled, then he insulted me and called me unprintable names but I stood my grounds. Then he graduated to hitting. It started with a slap her, a punch there, a shove here and a smacking there.
The first time he hit me, I was too stunned to react. I was thinking he was drunk but he had never taken alcohol before, so I was confused where that came from.
What could have happened to the sweet man I defied my parents to get married to?
The beatings grew worse as my pregnancy progressed. It is still a mystery to me how my daughter made it. One day, he was belting me and I cried out that I would leave.
But he did not stop. He only told me that I was very stupid to even think of leaving him. He asked me where I will go to as my parents had disowned me.
‘Where will you run to? Who else do you have? Ina za ki je? Jakar banza kin bi namiji kin manta iyaye.’ (Where will you go to? You abandoned your parents to run after a man)
After this incident, I knew I had to run far away from this animal. For my baby. And for myself.
I ran away on a Monday. I had just 3000 naira in my purse. It was enough to get me to Kaduna to meet Kawu Tijjani. I got there with a swollen face. The next day, I was taken to hospital. I went through a gruelling and excruciating 28 hours of labour before my daughter finally arrived. I was tired and heartbroken but I was grateful to Allah. I fought for her life and every single minute had been worth it.
I named her Noor because she was the light of my life. Ahmad came on the 7th day without a ram. All he said to me was that he wanted me to follow him home immediately. I said my goodbyes and followed my husband like a good wife after he had apologised to Kawu Tijjani. He was right I had nobody else but him.
Not that things improved between us in the following 3 years. It got worse because Ahmad now hated me and my daughter so much. He told me that he was disgusted by me and would pounce on me at the slightest provocation.
Even though he catered materially for Noor and me, emotionally, he was distant and cold. He never once took Noor to hold her or play with her; he never really looked at her.
The beatings got worse as Noor grew up and he started forcing birth control pills down my throat to ensure I complied with my promise never to get pregnant again.
I got high blood pressure during that time and it got to a point that I had to critically examine my marriage. I didn’t have a marriage. I felt like a well fed slave not a wife.
I had left my parents and abandoned my education to become Ahmad’s punching bag. And God was punishing me for that disobedience. What sort of life would my daughter have if I continued like this?
That was when I made up my mind to leave Ahmad for good. I had suffered enough in the four years I was married to him. One day when had gone to work, I packed my bags and with my daughter, left Ahmad for good. I went home to my parents who initially did not seem welcoming but thank God for my mother who took me in and gave me a safe place to heal.
After about 5 months at home, Ahmad sent me three divorce letters which meant our marriage was over for good. I have never been so grateful to see a letter in my entire life.
I am making steady progress with my parents and I can see them falling in love with Noor. I have even enrolled at the Federal College of Education in Zuba, Niger State, for my NCE certificate while my mates are probably doing their youth service now.
But I don’t despair. If there is life, there is always hope.
Thank you for reading my story. I hope my story will prevent an innocent girl from making my mistakes.