Whenever the word domestic violence is mentioned anywhere, most people feel it is a woman who is on the receiving end. But men are also affected.
In an attempt to create awareness around male victims of domestic violence, three Nigerians writer Funke Afolabi, photographer Tobbie M, and make-up artist Laide Banjo alongside models Efe Irele and Laolu decided to unveil a special project titled The Descent Into Darkness: Love & Abuse a photo story about how men are affected by domestic violence.
NAIJ.com applauds them.
The photo series was accompanied by a short story. Read below:
The first time he laid his eyes on her was at a party. What drew him to her was the sensual way she was dancing. She was twisting, moving and grinding like she was one with the music. He fell in love at that moment, in his heart she was the one, the one his heart had been searching for through the years.
As he approached her, he felt like gravity was pulling him to her, like he had lost his will and the universe was controlling his gravitation towards her. She was so beautiful, she stood out in the crowded room. When he got to her, she smiled, she had a look in her eyes like she could recognize how he felt, she could see through his eyes into his soul.
While he stood still in front of her, taking in all her beguiling essence, she pulled him into a tight embrace and whispered in his ears “My name is Cathy, what’s yours?” Her voice sounded like what he imagined his guardian angel’s voice sounded like. He replied, “My name is Joe”. From that moment on, he was hooked and little did he know that was the beginning of a tempestuous journey for him that will change his life forever.
She was intense in everything, she felt things deeply. Her emotions were a roller coaster, she loved deeply and she was passionate about everything she set her heart out to do. She was stubborn, it was her way or no way. It seemed like there was a never quenching fire burning in her soul and that fire engulfed everything she touched. Joe did not recognise this as a problem, he knew she was passionate and could be stubborn, but he felt these were amazing qualities. She was kind, strong, passionate and hard working. Her stubbornness was cute, the way she took control of everything was incredibly cool to him. He was happy to allow her lead the way.
He later realised that these qualities that he loved about her was going to be a problem. It always had to be her way, if she didn’t have her way everything in sight was destroyed. When she was in one of her moods where she felt she was not in control, she broke everything in her line of sight. They lost a lot of properties to her tantrums. When she came to her senses, she’d start crying and begging for forgiveness and proceed to blame him for her actions. She made him feel he drove her to do all she did and if only he could just be the right man for her, she wouldn’t behave that way, he believed her. That was the beginning of a fast descent into a whirlpool of disaster.
One Thursday, they decided to go and watch a movie she had been raving about for days. She must have called him 20 times and sent over 10 messages reminding him they had to see the movie that evening after work. It was such a stressful day for him, he did all he could to finish work on time. However, when he got home, he was exhausted. He saw she was already dressed and waiting for him. As soon as he walked through the door, she stood up carried her bag and said “we have to head out now, movie starts in 15 minutes and I do not want to miss any scene” he pulled her to him and said “babe, please can we see this movie tomorrow, I had a tough day and all I want to do now is sleep. Please” the next thing that happened left him in complete shock.
In a split second he felt a sharp pain across his cheek. She was swift and cold with the delivery of her slap across his face. He could not believe it and it took him a little over 10 seconds to process what just happened, he never expected it, not in a million years. He looked at her and he could not recognize who was before him, the look on her face gave him chills. When she noticed him looking at her, her face softened and she started crying, she told him she did not mean to and she did not know how it happened. She went on her knees and begged him to forgive her. He thought to himself “maybe I was being inconsiderate to cancel on her last minute, maybe I was being selfish, maybe I really hurt her feelings” a thousand excuses went through his mind. He knew she loved him and she would never hurt him intentionally. He asked her to get up and he apologized for not considering her feelings and he agreed he was being selfish, as he should not have allowed his day affect their plans.
On their way to the cinema, his mind began to wander, wander to the times they had their little tiffs and she would break things in the house, she once smashed his laptop in anger and he thought to himself that he had to stop provoking her, all her outbursts were his fault and he had to do better. His actions were making her act out of character and he had to do more to make their relationship peaceful. He made a resolve to act better around her, listen to her more and be a better man for her because he was hurting her and making her hurt him unintentionally.
When they got to the cinema, she made her way to sit down and pointed to the concession stand without saying a word, so he made his way there and proceeded to buy their tickets and popcorn. As he stood on the queue, a lady behind him asked what movie he was seeing and they started a conversation as they waited their turn. While they were conversing, he got a text message from Cathy, “I see you are having a good time on the queue, you have no respect for me. How can you be chatting up another woman right before me?” His first emotion was fear he thought “ I have done it again, I have upset her, I have done something terrible" He genuinely believed he was a terrible partner and was doing all the wrong things a man shouldn’t. He immediately stopped replying the woman’s questions. His turn came he bought his tickets and popcorn and left the queue, he didn’t even look in the direction of the woman after she told him “ enjoy your movie!”.
Their remaining time at the cinema was very silent, she did not speak a word to him for the rest of the night. Even when he asked her if she enjoyed the movie, she gave him a blank stare and ignored his question. When they got home, she got ready for bed and went to sleep. Joe was beside himself, he could not sleep and he could not stop blaming himself for everything happening in their relationship, everything going wrong was his fault. He thought of ways to be better for her, he prepared the speech he was going to tell her in the morning, how he was going to apologize for all his wrong doings, he knew he was the one bringing discord into their relationship by being selfish and disrespectful. “ I shouldn’t have made conversation with the woman on the queue” he thought “ that was very disrespectful. It had to be, otherwise why was Cathy so upset? of course what I did was wrong”. He continued thinking about everything until he drifted off to sleep.
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He woke up with a jolt, something fell and woke him up, he looked at his bed side clock and it was 8am, he was very late for work, he looked beside him and Cathy was there casually applying her make up. She knew he had to be up at 6.30 am, and she didn’t bother to wake him up. He didn’t have time to start processing any thoughts. He got into the shower and started the process of getting ready for work. While he was getting dressed, Cathy spoke “ are we going to discuss how you embarrassed me at the cinema yesterday? How you were chatting up another woman right in front of me” he replied “Please can we discuss this later, when I get back from work? I am running very late” she let out an evil laugh and said, “ How won’t you be late? Are you a real man? Real men know when to wake up and get ready for work. If it is to chat up a random woman or disrespect me your weak masculinity shows up” His heart started beating faster, he knew what was coming next and he was terrified. She started screaming at him “You cheat! You disrespectful cheat” she started hitting him as he tried to put on his shoes “This is all your fault Joe, look at the monster you have created. All I have done is love you and all you do is make me into this monster”.
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Joe tried his best to ignore her, block her voice, block her words, he thought if he blocked her out long enough, she would stop, she would disappear and all will be well. That didn’t work, it was as if his silence infuriated her, she screamed louder at him, pulling him and hurling abuses at him. He stood up and walked out, his heart was bleeding, all of this was happening because of him, his actions were hurting her, this was all his fault but he had to be at work, he would sort everything out after work and all will be perfect again. As he walked out of the room, she followed him, throwing shoes at him, hurling insults, calling him names. As he turned to speak to her, her shoe landed right on his face beneath his eye and blood started rushing out. He tried to calm her down but she was hysterical and she continued screaming at him and pulling him by his clothes. He turned and left the house.
He wiped the blood off his face with his handkerchief, got in his car and started his drive to work. Half way he stopped, there was no way he could make it to work looking like this he didn’t want anyone to see his face, he didn’t want anyone to think the love of his life was a monster, so he called in sick and told them he fell down the stairs on his way to work and he had to go to the hospital. After the call, he drove back home.
Cathy saw him drive in and she knew that if she didn’t act quick she was going to lose Joe to another woman and there was no way in hell that was going to happen. As soon as Joe walked in she got on her knees and started begging him, crying and apologising, she told him she did not know what came over her and she did not mean to hurt him but he made her do it “you know I don’t want to lose you, you know I get very jealous when you talk to other women, yet you continue to provoke me, you continue to hurt me intentionally by talking to other women and you make me hurt you, this is unfair”
Joe motioned to her to get up and he made his way to sit at the dining table to think, he didn’t say a word. Joe was thinking about the right words to say to his beloved, he was sorry for turning her into this jealous monster, he was searching for the right words to say. Meanwhile, Cathy was so sure he was going to break up with her and she was not going to go down easy, she went into the kitchen to get a knife “ I’ll show him, if he thinks he can leave me, he is definitely joking”.
She walked up to him with the knife firmly behind her back and touched his shoulder, waiting for him to utter the words telling her she was not wanted any more, waiting for him to try to leave her. She was prepared to kill him and die with him. Both of them remained in silence, time stood still in that moment waiting for who was going to make the first move.
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