“For the last five years I’ve been a victim of frequent physical and verbal abuse from my husband. He once hurled a sharp object at me and threatened to kill me,” says Lucia Valerian who lives in the village of Shirimngani in Kilimanjaro as she recounts her tumultuous marriage.
Married more than ten years ago, Lucia and her husband Valerian had a peaceful married life. Small vending businesses and other activities provided the couple with income to sustain their family and pay for the education of their two children Basilisa (13) and Thobias (12).
To her bewilderment she began observing changes in her husband’s behavior including spending nights out of home without explanation and whenever his wife sought to know why she was confronted with insults and physical abuse. “Get out, go back to your parents, I don’t want to see you here,” Lucia says he would tell her. This was the hallmark of her life for nearly five years and efforts by her in-laws and her husband’s clan elders simply couldn’t resolve the adverse situation.
“He did not want to listen to anyone. He went to the extent of ridiculing the advice of his own parents and clan leaders during family meetings. It was very serious,” said Lucia.
She exhausted almost all possible alternatives trying to settle the conflict, but husband’s insults and abuse continued. There were even times when he secretly sold the family’s livestock and poultry and spent the spoils with other women.
According to Lucia, the last option for her was to pack her belongings and return to her parents. “That’s was the only way I thought I could give myself relief and escape frequent beatings and insults,” she said.