“Dear Amaka, I’m supposed to be visiting my would-be in-law in preparation to marry their daughter, but I’m in a fix. We have known each other for some years and it has been a blissful relationship. She’s very peaceful. I thought I knew her and all, but obviously I didn’t know as much until I asked her to marry me.
After I proposed and she said yes, I told her to send word to her parents of our intentions. She told me that she is not interested in any traditional marriage or rites. She does not want to be involved with her parents or relatives as she doesn’t relate with them. She ex-communicated them and their chapter is closed in her life.
It took days to get her to open up on how she arrived at such drastic decision. She was raped repeatedly by her father and her Uncle as a child. It was her uncle who started it. He took her innocence and when she summoned courage to tell her mother even against his constant threats to kill her, she was hushed instead.
She was warned not to mention it to another person’s hearing because it is an abomination. In no time, her Uncle packed out of their house. But it wasn’t long after that, her father took over. He would have sex with her at the slightest opportunity when they are home alone.
He always looked for ways to send everyone else on errands and have her all to himself. When she reported him to her mother, she was slut shamed, and accused of seducing her own father. Her mother took out her anger on her instead of her husband who was molesting her. She was constantly called names, beaten and starved.
She ran away from home at a very young age and never went back. She’s a grown woman now.
I’m from a traditional family. I cannot even imagine going to my family to announce that I’m getting married without them getting to know her family and carrying out all the traditional rites that comes with marrying a woman. How do I explain this to them? For the records, I love this girl. I want her for keeps, but this revelation is threatening my intentions.
How am I supposed to marry a woman with a family she does not associate with? I have tried to persuade her to forgive them, or just pretend for my sake, so we can have our wedding in peace and move on, but she has sworn that it will be over her dead body. Not even the love she has for me can make her go back to them for anything.
If you were in my shoes, what will you do?”
My response via email
There is something you are missing in your would-be wife’s response, she’s is trying to protect her mental health by staying far away from the two most important people in a child’s life who didn’t only fail her as parents but assaulted her.
If I were in your shoes, I would not insist she pretends that all is well just so she can meet societal standard at the expense of her sanity.
Believe me, asking her to just pretend for even a second is like discounting her feelings. It would make it seem like she’s over reacting or that it could have been worse. That would be blackmailing her against her wish and that is nothing short of emotional abuse.
If she doesn’t want to ever associate with them again, I will stand by her all the way. And if she decides otherwise tomorrow, it should be her choice and at her own pace, I will not push her into doing my bidding.
If I want her that badly in my life because she means that much to me, I will support that she choose her mental health over tradition that rewards irresponsible parents by honoring them with a public show they don’t deserve.
For a mother to seek to preserve her family’s honour while she helped her husband to mutilate her daughter’s life, it’s like dismembering her body parts in bits while she is still alive. So, if I’m in your shoes I will never force her against her wish. I would rather be more worried about how she coped and still copes with the emotional and psychological effects all these years.
I would inquire if she needs to speak to a professional for psychological support. She is a victim of a heinous crime. Rape is a serious crime, it is not only that she was raped; it is also about those who raped her. Her father and her Uncle raped her, which is incest. She will be ashamed to even mention their names.
The psychological reactions of victims of rape varies, they include feelings of shame, humiliation, confusion, fear, and rage. Some victims experience overwhelming sense of vulnerability, they feel unclean and experience a feeling of lack of control.
Many rape victims are haunted by fear of the place the crime occurred, they experience shortness of breath, uneasiness and almost choking when around those that sexually assaulted them.
The fear never dies in most rape victims as the duration of the psychological trauma varies from individual to individual; many suffer such effects for years, even with considerable supportive therapy. Rape is nothing short of torture.
If I’m more concerned about how my family would feel because she refused to involve them, it’s best to let the lady be. She will find someone who understands that she deserves better than sitting around people whose actions and inaction almost ruined her life. I will either go ahead with my intentions or walk away.