Esther Kisaghu was only too happy to walk away from the abusive relationship.

Esther Kisaghu has been strangled and threatened with death by her hubby, a politician’s son who made her drop out of school in the US. She spoke to CATE MUKEI

Who is Rose Kisaghu?

An author, mother and survivor of domestic violence. I was once married to a senior politician and minister’s son in the Kenyatta and Moi government. He was a real beast.

What exactly do you mean?

I met my husband in the late 1980s. We used to be neighbours in Mombasa and we both worked in the hotel industry. We became very good friends and when he went to Austria to further studies, we still kept in touch. Coincidentally, I also left for the US to study and while there, he visited my parents with his uncle to ask for my hand in marriage.

Did you finish your studies?

No. I was too excited and insisted on coming back despite my sister’s advice. I was too young to even think twice.

How was your marriage?

It was good until I became pregnant and realised that I married a man who had serious anger issues. He used to hit the wall and break things whenever we had an argument. The first time he hit me was when my son was four months old.

What provoked the fight?

He claimed that I was rude to his mother. He was strangling me and it took the intervention of his mother for him to stop. He apologised with tears in his eyes. His mother warned me not to tell his father because it would ruin their already strained relationship.

What happened between him and his father?

Nothing major. They just stopped getting along when he was a teenager. He was into drugs which really angered his father.

Did the fights stop?

Maybe for a month or two. Later, he began intimidating and humiliating me. One day, he locked me out of the house in the middle of the night. I was scared since our house was near the Tsavo National Park. He claimed that I was not taking care of our son very well.

At what point did you leave him

It took time, but moving out of his family’s compound gave me the courage. That’s when we were living in Voi town. One night, he beat me so badly. It was the eve of our son’s birthday party. He even hurt my kidneys.

How was your financial situation?

Unfortunately, when I left the United States to come and get married, I did not continue with my education, even though I had applied to complete the remaining two years at USIU. I was therefore working at their family business and so, basically, I was dependent on them.

Did you finally complete your education?

Yes I did, and got a very good job with a five-star hotel. This unfortunately escalated the violence with constant threats of death. He was insecure because he was not working. One day, he almost killed me. He made me lose my job. He used his father’s lawyer to write a very bad affidavit that was handed over to my boss and I lost my job. He also came to my sister’s house to humiliate me and that’s when I decided to go to court to get a restriction order and start divorce proceedings. I got full custody of the child and he was only allowed to see him once a month.

Was the divorce finalised?

Yes. After 11 years. The files kept disappearing until one day, they miraculously appeared and now I’m a free woman... I later realised that his family had deserted him because he had gone back to his drug addiction. I was not feeling safe in the country, so I left with my son for the US.

Does your son have a relationship with his father?

Not anymore. The last time they spoke he called to inform my son that he would not pay his university fee.

What inspired you to start Rose Foundation?

Rose Foundation advocates for prevention of domestic violence. I was in an abusive relationship for nine years and after studying and working with people like me in the US, I decided to start the same in Kenya.