Allow me to start by sharing this poem “I got flowers today” that has been one of my favourites and is dedicated to spouses (especially women) in abusive relationships.
Reader discretion advised, you might need a hanky as you read through…
I got flowers today! It wasn’t my birthday or any other special day. We had our first argument last night; And he said a lot of cruel things that really hurt; I know that he is sorry and didn’t mean to say the things he said; Because he sent me flowers today.
I got flowers today. It wasn’t our anniversary or any other special day. Last night, he threw me into a wall and started to choke me. It seemed like a nightmare. I couldn’t believe that it was real. I woke up this morning sore and bruised all over. I know he must be sorry. Because he sent me flowers today.
I got flowers today! It wasn’t our anniversary or any other special day; Last night he threw me into a wall and then started choking me; It seemed unreal, a nightmare, but you wake up from nightmares; And I woke up this morning sore and bruised all over—but I know he is sorry; Because he sent me flowers today.
I got flowers today! And it wasn’t Valentine’s Day or any other special day; Last night he beat me and threatened to kill me; Make-up and long sleeves didn’t hide the cuts and bruises this time; I couldn’t go to work today because I didn’t want anyone to know—but I know he’s sorry; Because he sent me flowers today.
I got flowers today! And it wasn’t Mother’s Day or any other special day; Last night he beat me again, and it was worse than all of the other times; If I leave him, what will I do? How will I take care of the kids? What about money? I’m afraid of him, but I’m too scared and dependent to leave him! But he must be sorry; Because he sent me flowers today.
I got flowers today…. Today was a special day—it was the day of my funeral; Last night he killed me; If only I would have gathered the courage and strength to leave him; I could have received help from the Women’s Shelter, but I didn’t ask for their help; So I got flowers today—for the last time.
– Paulette Kelly, 1992 –
Sad as the poem might be, it depicts the true scenario of what is happening in many relationships. I might not have any specific figures to quote but information in the public domain tells us of high profile women whose marriages haven’t been a bed of roses… and the problem is that they naively continue accepting flowers.
Equally sad is a common view among Kenyan ladies who “would rather cry in Runda than laugh in Kibera…” or “I’d rather cry inside a Range Rover Sports than laugh on a ‘boda boda’ (2-wheeler taxis)” and the interpretation is simple and straight forward – ladies are ready to hang-on even if the relationship is evidently dysfunctional, so long as their material needs are catered for. They seem to be saying that being battered is just a small price to pay.
Ladies are putting their lives on the line just to sustain a fancy lifestyle. After all, with all the money at their disposal they will buy and use make-up and expensive sunglasses to conceal a black eye and other dents on their bodies. They continue accepting flowers – in the form of coffee treats, chocolates, black forest cake, jewellery, a holiday overseas, a new car… knowing very well that by accepting the flowers they are only emboldening the perpetrators.
Cases allegedly involving high-profile personalities have provided fodder for both mainstream and alternative media but identities have always been hidden, leaving audiences to speculate and guess who, what, when , where, why and how?
For example, two prominent media personalities are rumoured to be in abusive relationships with their respective spouses, who are both filthy rich. But with their decent, well-paying jobs in the media, one would expect them to think rationally and do the right thing for themselves and for fellow women. Hanging-on makes the public doubt their sincerity. In fact people now suspect they are in it for the money and for the wealth.
Honestly, how do we expect to break the cycle of violence when women decide to “persevere” instead of opting out of dysfunctional relationships? Resorting to divine intervention can work, but only if willingly and purposefully sought by serial perpetrator, not by the survivor. Sharing with a confidante is good for information, but that has proved to be ineffective in stopping abuse.
Don’t be fooled with flowers, any form of flowers, no matter how exotic or expensive. Make your move – out of the situation and live to tell your story.
The wedding vow you took “… until death do us part… ” is not necessarily a prophecy to be fulfilled through the actions of your spouse! Walk out while you can, c’mon ladies!