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ELECTION 2022

‘Men are abused frequently but they are ignored’

SUNDAY MAGAZINE
By GARDY CHACHA | Apr 19th 2015 | 6 min read
Simon Kiguta recovers at Nyeri Provincial General Hospital on February 11, 2012. Kiguta was attacked allegedly by his wife at Mihuti village in Nyeri county after he came home drunk [File Photo/Standard]

At 36, a successful Julius Weche was convinced it was high time he got married and settled down. He was dead wrong.

The time may have been right but the woman he was about to marry was wrong.

They courted for a little over a year.

In 2000, at the turn of the millennium, smitten to the bone and sizzling with youthful romance, Weche tied the knot, as they say, in a colourful ceremony.

Little did the young Weche know that he had signed off happiness and welcomed gloom sugar-coated with beauty.

“The honeymoon was hardly over when her true traits began showing,” recounts Weche, currently a church minister, “and it continued relentlessly.”

Weche says he was betrayed by the person he thought was the love of his life. His wife started battering him. Not physically, but emotionally and psychologically.

“She abused me at every juncture and always found something to quarrel about at every point. Since we had just got married, I soaked it in, hoping that there would be a change, for the better.

“Being a Christian in every sense of the word, I took the flak because marriage is supposed to be a lifetime commitment,” offers Weche.

His resolve to stay put, pray and hope for the best, only placed him in the line of fire.

For every one Weche who speaks  out, or admits to having been tormented, there are tens of thousands of men without the spine to spill their guts about their sufferance at the hands of their spouses.

In recent years, media has been awash with photographs of physically battered men. And official statistics bear this out.

STRESSED MAN

According to the 2014 Kenya Demographics and Health Survey, 10.9 per cent of married men aged between 15 and 54 have suffered some form of either physical or sexual abuse.

Those aged between 20 and 24 experienced the highest amount of abuse with 15 per cent of those in this bracket admitting they have suffered at the hands of either their partner or spouse.

The largest group to suffer the scourge of domestic violence fell under the category of divorced, separated or widowed and 2014 KDHS figures indicate that 30.6 per cent of men in this group reported physical or sexual abuse from their spouses.

Well, Weche was increasingly becoming a part of statistics, and he would later learn, the missus knew the amount of explosives to load into her cannon, and when she shot, she would hardly miss the target.

Like hailstones falling recklessly in an afternoon storm, the words pelted his mind and soaked his heart with pain.

He was a stressed man.

“When we were dating, she was not like that. She portrayed a different person from the woman she had become in the house,” Weche recalls.

“Whenever I committed a minor mistake, she would be provoked extensively and the result was endless altercation. Ideally, the conflict started immediately after the wedding.”

How his world turned upside down or how his wife turned red with fury beats him to date. How did he fail to see her true colours?

All Weche hoped for was bliss. It was the least he should have got for being a devout Christian — keeping the faith close at every step in the odyssey that has been his life.

He did not doubt that he had made the right choice since they were both born-again Christians. So what went wrong?

Weche believes he knows the answer now that he is a church minister.

Rev. Dr. Julius Weche ON 15/04/15 [PHOTO/JENIPHER WACHIE/STANDARD]

“She behaved that way because the society shaped her that way.”

He believes that parents are failing their children, and that the society is implicit in the tragedy of dwindling morality.

Parents, he says, need to instil the virtues of life (especially those touching on marriage) into their children, something he believes majority have not done, and do not do.

“My wife lost her mother when she was young. She was brought up among four brothers in a single-parent family. She grew up ‘fighting’ for her rights and space. She grew up believing that she has to fight for what she deserves.”

It is this mentality of ready-to-attack that Weche believes had captured his wife’s mind, much like a misty fog over the prairies.

In the long run, it was affecting their marriage.

And every day this happened, the voyage they had set forth on that beautiful day got rocky with every step.

“I was suffering from severe migraines, painful ulcers, visual problems,” he says.

“My health was poor and my doctor said I was stressed. My marriage was the source of my stress. I had reached a breaking point and I could not go on alike that anymore.”

One incident of his wife’s confounding ways remains stuck in his mind.

Weche’s sister visited them. She was driving a red BMW which caught his wife’s attention, and she demanded a vehicle like that one.

Weche could only afford a Japanese car, which she deliberately crashed and then took Weche’s German car, and crashed that too.

These actions, and numerous others that were meant to torment him, forced him to go to court to seek divorce in 2002, just two years after marriage.

EMOTIONAL TERRORIST

Their marriage was officially dissolved in 2008.

Even though Weche had no physical scars, he was a wounded man.

According to Ken Ouko, a sociologist at the University of Nairobi, to men, in most instances, emotional abuse is more severe than physical abuse.

“A woman can be an emotional terrorist. She will mistreat her husband to the high heavens. The man is weather beaten. This emotional anger can be expressed physically with time. Women are becoming more and more violent in the modern times.”

Chris Hart, a relationships expert pointed out that men have faced abuse all along and it is only now that they are finding courage to come out and speak about it.

“When a man is abused by a woman the society just laugh at him. But when it is a woman being abused, everyone interjects.

“Men getting abused has been with us but now they are more forthcoming in talking about it,” he said during a live debate on KTN.

According the the 2014 KDHS, the more educated a man is, the more prone he is to attack.

Men who were classified as least educated recorded fewer instances of being battered. Ten point four per cent of those who achieved highest levels of education admitted abuse compared to just 4.2 per cent among those who did not have university education.

A veterinary doctor, with an MBA and a host of other qualifications to his name, Weche is no doubt educated.

Could the abuse he experienced be connected to his education as KDHS reported?

As far as he is concerned, marrying a younger woman still on the cusps of youthful jest, with little academic qualification, may have contributed to incompatibility between them.

There is another side to it. Ouko thinks that the modern woman is hell-bent on paying back for years of abuse women have suffered at the hands of men.

Women “use social definitions to hit back. Men are expected to be providers. Any shortfall is used to ridicule and become a tool for mistreatment.”

This could indeed be true as 2014 KDHS indicates that 12.7 per cent of men in the lowest wealth quantile were subjected to abuse compared to between 9.3 to 9.7 per cent of those with large economic muscle.

Weche remarried in 2008, and nowadays uses his experience to mentor those entering the world of marriage.

He is the Chief Executive Officer of AKAD Education Group Africa, an entity that holds mentorship seminars for young people.

While many men who suffer live in fear of being judged by the society, Weche believes it is time to come out.

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