SADIA KANU TELLS OF THE HORRORS WITHIN A FAIRYTALE

He had a nice personality outside the home and he did all those things that were pleasing in the eyes of society. He gave me gifts, He said the right words but it was all for show. This made it difficult for people to notice my pain. During the first year of our marriage, I ran away but my family brought me back. Nothing changed and I knew I had to escape or I would be killed carelessly someday.

I am Sadia Kanu, an advocate and survivor of domestic violence. Domestic violence involves violent behaviour mostly within the home or in an intimate relationship. Its victims could range from parents, kids, relatives or even inhabitants within the home but for the purpose of our foundation special emphasis is placed on spouses. Both parties can be violent but the prevailing order is where a male partner in an intimate relationship perpetrates inhumane acts towards their significant other. It can also be described as conduct that harms or is likely to harm the safety, health and well-being of a person.

Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional/psychological or a combination of all three. It is about power, manipulation, isolation and control.

Often, individuals who go through domestic violence are seen as paranoid. Another sad and unfortunate thing is the fact that there is an increase in the number of victims that wallow in denial and lack the awareness to detect that abuse is being inflicted. In some cases, the abusers themselves may not be aware that they are being abusive.

FOR BETTER – FOR WORSE

A little over a decade ago (in my early 20s), I had a first-hand experience with domestic violence when I got married. Those were the most horrific 30 months of my life. I began to realize the relationship was unhealthy even before we took our vows but I ran through the red lights out of ignorance, not knowing when I was being abused or what domestic violence was. I thought it had to do with maturity and I expected it to fizzle out with time but that was not the case. I hoped especially that things would fall into place after the wedding but that was when things got worse.

I experienced physical, emotional and psychological torture at an alarming rate it became life threatening. I experienced every form of abuse during these dark periods. When we were together, I received beatings; this became a weekly occurrence depending on the level of his anger.

I was choked, kicked, battered.

I had pillows against my face to suffocate me to death. At one point, I was cut with a knife and he made people believe that I slipped and injured myself; I did not dare to speak up then. It was as if I was in an army barracks. Constantly in fear of what will tick him off or make him angry. I was dragged and was beaten for almost everything, mistakes became a taboo.

Whenever he would beat me, I would think those were my last moments. I was a regular at the eye clinic for blood clots in my eyes (that are still visible) because of the frequent battering.

I have always believed in dialogue especially with loved ones. Arguments can be healthy and fights (not fisticuffs though) can be fair but I had to walk on eggshells all the time. I was called names “barren”, “infidel” and so forth. He would threaten to kill me if I ever thought of leaving; I was told that I would not find someone better. Crying was the order of my stay there and he will ridicule me “cry until your dad resurrects from the dead”. I was sexually molested on multiple occasions. I lost my sanity and self-worth.

Whenever, I thought of leaving I also thought about how society will look at me, the shame of a broken marriage (especially to my family). I thought of running away to another country but I had no savings. I constantly thought of suicide and murder, but I kept asking myself if he was worth a lifetime in jail for. That is when I made up my mind; I was going to leave even if I had to stay in a gutter. Worst of all, he kept telling me that if he cannot have me, no one else will. I did not understand the weight of that statement until months after we separated.

Eventually, I made up my mind to leave him. This was after one of his merciless beatings that left my face disfigured and just because I did not congratulate his parents.
This was the last straw. I knew if he knew I was going to leave, he would do something bad to me. So I waited, a week after when he left for an examination I packed out of the house.

Most women may not leave an abusive relationship because they are in fear of their abusers or they may not have anywhere to go or they may not be financially stable or have supportive families. When I left, I made up my mind that I was going to bear the shame and start over again. I fled and took only my suitcases. I left everything behind. I had no dime to my name even though I was working. It took all my will power to go back to my Parent’s house where I started sleeping on the floor because I gave up everything when I got married. It was a matter of choice. Was I going to stay and sleep on the floor at my parent’s house or was I going to go back and be killed? In my broken and damaged state, I chose life.

THE BIRTH OF SADIZ ANTI – DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FOUNDATION

Domestic violence happens daily around the world and especially in our communities. It has ravaged many women, altered many destinies, delayed progress, destroyed homes and most importantly affected children. It destroys self-esteem and confidence, especially in young women and children. When I decided I was going to do something and share my story I was told that’s not the way to go but I broke the cultural norms,

I tried joining a few women organizations but I noticed that the vision wasn’t the same. In February of 2019, I decided to create something that would address my experience. I did not have an office or anything but, I believed in the power of storytelling and that was the birth of Sadiz Anti-domestic Violence Foundation. We started the registration process and I spoke to a few professionals from the legal and medical standpoint. We got some counsellors on board and we created a helpline: + 232 75 100041.

My vision for SAV Foundation is to create awareness on Domestic Violence and related issues, encouraging victims to speak out and to support them by way of counselling. We place special emphasis on younger women, precisely between the ages of 18-24 as they are our point of focus for awareness. This is so because they are the most vulnerable and highly prone to domestic violence. We envision an environment where women are safe and valued. We want to impart the knowledge and understanding of the impact of ABUSE. We want to teach them and men as well, about healthy boundaries and consent.

In as much as we want to focus on young women. I must state that domestic violence can happen to anyone irrespective of your age, your educational background or your financial status. There are highly placed women in a society that are being abused but cannot speak out because they are ashamed. SAV Foundation wants to break those boundaries.

THE CAMPAIGN TO STOP DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN SIERRA LEONE

Since the foundation begun in February, we have embarked on community outreach programs that involve creating awareness in schools and vocational Institutions.

By October 2019, we hope for a 50% all-round awareness for young girls as well as older women. They should know and be able to explain what domestic violence is and how we can help others move away from it. It is an ambitious project, that might take a while but with lots of dedication in sharing the right information. I am very hopeful.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Domestic Violence is not always easily recognizable. However, there are different ways to tell if someone is being abused. Mostly physical abuse is easily identifiable because it involves visual pieces of evidence. However, one should look for the following signs:

➢ Someone who regularly has bruises, wounds, regular black eye (like I had in the past).

➢Someone who has frequent and unexplained physical injuries is another way to notice.

➢ Someone who acts differently, than they normally do, exhibiting increased aggressive behaviour, being jumpier or more on guard, withdrawing and not wanting to be around other people, Being moodier (angry, depressed, sad) than normal.

➢Someone who is nervous about talking when her partner is there.

➢Someone who blames herself for the violent behaviour of her partner and walks around on “eggshells”.

Most victims show more than one sign. Therefore, we encourage close friends and family to pay kin attention to their loved ones if you happen to notice these signs.

5 WAYS YOU CAN END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

One thing I can say is that everyone and anyone can help fight Domestic Violence. It does not matter the age, gender or status. If you sense that something is wrong do not turn a blind eye or say, ‘it’s not my businesses. Raising an alarm can save someone’s life or can put someone out of harm’s way. The following can be done.

1. The first and most important thing in helping people going through abuse is that you have to be informed. Get as much information so you will be better placed in knowing what to say, how to say it and the right time to say it. That is why our number one focus is to educate, inform and spread the awareness.

Encourage Victims to speak out. They may not be ready or willing to talk as they are most times ashamed or uncomfortable but please do not give up. Keep making them know that to speak out can save their lives. Try to show that you love and care about them as much as possible. They need it as there is that feeling of emptiness and betrayal that comes with abuse this is because the people who abuse us are not really strangers. They are people we feel we love and who we thought loved us.

2. Do not JUDGE victims. Do not ask them what they did wrong. It will only worsen the situation and make them close up more. What should make a man raise a hand at a woman or beat up a woman mercilessly? Or threaten to kill her with a knife? Nothing! It is unwarranted.

3. Inform family members. To be very honest in many cases, family members may not take it too seriously at first. Though not in all cases. This I may say is because they are not informed; they may not know and understand the consequences of abuse. Most times, they will treat it lightly especially families that care too much about their reputation. They may throw a lot under the rug in order to save their family’s name and put the victim’s life at more risk. What I normally advice is DO NOT KEEP QUIET. Keep talking, keep telling people, just do not stop letting us know how you feel. Make them understand that domestic violence can lead to premature death. Someone once told my mum that if she couldn’t bear the shame of my broken marriage, she will eventually have to suffer the pain of my death so that was a wake-up call that got to her and sunk in.

4. Talk to authorities like the police and specialized counsellors. In my case, the abuser was detained twice but it resulted in nothing after. There was a day after another complaint at the police station, a policewoman pulled me aside and she said to me. “Dear if you love your life you have to leave this man….If not, you will be killed carelessly one day”. That was a revelation for me.

Also, seek help from Counsellors. Most abusers do not change until they get proper help but they have to accept and take responsibility for their actions. Help them develop a safety plan. The first lawyer I went to after I fled told me that no one is going to feel the way you do or no one understands what you’ve been through therefore the decision to go back or stay in a safe place is entirely yours.

To summarise it all, the ultimatum lies with the victim. The first step is to acknowledge that you are being abused. The second step is to move away from the abuser and most importantly be given protection. The third step is to go through counselling as you heal because it is a traumatic experience.

Also, note that for my case a restraining order was issued to my abuser. This is because Domestic Violence does not end after the victim leaves. When I left, there were threats and horrible things said which was scary. I did not understand at the time but I later did when I started studying and learning about the behavioural patterns of abusers and how they operate. Abuse is all about control. Abusers will still want power and control even after their victims leave. That is why most times victims are killed after they leave.

In Conclusion, Domestic Violence is a silent killer in our society. Many women walk in shame not wanting others to know what they went through or are still going through.
Absorbing so much pain can lead to mental health issues, high blood pressure, trauma and other complications. It affects our productivity as women. As we join hands to fight this, let us remember that we are not doing this just for ourselves as women but as a responsibility to save and bring sanity to humanity – it is our duty to help build a mentally stable generation of women.

In my case, we did not have kids and I thank God because I wouldn’t have wanted my kids to see me being abused. We need to stand together to fight this to create a safer environment for ourselves and for our girls.

Through it all, God has been my source of strength and I encourage any woman going through a trauma like domestic violence not to lose hope. God can turn any situation around. Keep praying and trusting God. Do not give up. There is always a purpose for our pain.
Also remember a praying, mentally stable and a confident woman is an empowered woman.

Written by: arianadiaries

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53 Comments

  • Sanna Shyllin

    I urge those suffering in silence to come forward and speak up; this is a good read and eye opener.

  • Alrine Cole

    Thank you for sharing your story and educating society on how brutal domestic violence is.

  • Eugenia Betts

    Wow! Thank God you made a decision to move out. You are doing a great job, and keep empowering other women as well. I may not understand what physical abuse is, but I sure know what mental abuse is. God will surely bless you for sharing your story with us.

  • Patricia Jangah

    Wow! Just wow! Stay strong, strong woman. 🥰

  • Binta Dumbuya

    Wow this is so touching, a big lesson to all,had the same experience. Stay strong mam.

  • Lauretta Kamara

    Wow, wow. I salute you dear.

  • Fatima Pearce

    Wow you’re indeed a strong woman😊

  • Ashmia Sesay

    Wow. That’s powerful. Thank you sadia. May God heal you completely and bless you abundantly.

  • Johnstina Fornah

    Can’t believe you went through all this. You are indeed a strong woman. Keep your head up.

  • Akiatu Joyce Metzger

    Sadia, am so proud of you. Not everyone is bold enough to share their story in this way, especially in our society.
    An sure this would be an inspiration to other women going through or who have gone through the same ordeals to share their problems as well.
    You are “one brave woman”.
    May SAV foundation achieve your dreams…

  • Tutu

    I can never images someone going through the physical abuse u went through! You are such a strong woman, thanks for sharing your story with us

  • Rita

    Amazing so proud of you dear you and break boundaries

  • Natasha Cream-Wright

    You are a radiant survivor and I am so proud of you Sadia

  • Kultumi Minah

    Thank you Sadia for sharing your story and most importantly for creating a platform to raise awareness on domestic violence. Many suffer in silence largely because of societal views. Tips on identifying someone who is going through such abuse are taken into consideration. You are strong and brave to leave when you did.

  • Kella Kay

    This is powerful Sadia. I thank God for your life and destiny. You are a survivor and I am so proud of you. Continue being you and God will strengthen you.

  • Mabel Mason

    Hmmm really very sad what torture most women go through on a daily basis. I duff my hat to survivors of DV may God continue to be your strength.

  • Donnia

    Wow strong woman

  • Raymonda Johnson

    Wao, it takes the grace of God to go through such, come out boldly and share your experience about your pain…may God give u double for your trouble….many women and some men go through pains in their marriages by marrying the wrong partner and are afraid of leaving because of public shame….u remind me of three sayings 1) not all that glitters is gold
    2) depend on God not man
    3) dont envy someone because of what they portray outside when u dont know what goes on….especially for marriages or relationship but wait on God.

  • VickyDave

    Wow..wow…wow…you are strong my dear…keep going strong

  • Aisha Mansaray

    Wow…after reading, I was speechless with my head full of painful thoughts for u ,but upon second thoughts, I became blown away with your bravery.Bravo sadish for looking so beautiful and brave, and we hope that each and every person going through torture follow your lead to put an end to domestic violence.This is every one’s responsibility,not just the victims but you can be of help to someone you know going through such,by encouraging them to speak out and support them as well.Thank you so much Sadia Kanu.You are indeed a strong women and an admirable one and we as women strongly supports you.

  • Consvonne

    May God Almighty continue to grant you strength to continue the good work!!!

  • Sylvester Beorgoh Lewis

    Wow! Wow! Wow! That’s all I can say. The best thing you did for yourself my dear is to share your story, as this will free your spirit inside out. I believe in you very much so I know this will make you even stronger for you journey ahead.

  • Miatta koker

    Oh wow! I salute this young lady to come out to tell her story in such a powerful way.I am glad that she is educating younger people to be aware of such menace in society. This is so educative and inspiring .Starting all over is better than being dead. Just your telling your story is healing .I pray you find complete healing.

  • Sward(Saccoh) Kamarah

    I am very proud of you. You have broken a barrier in Sierra Leone 🇸🇱 that needed to be broken . May God bless you and guide you through your endeavors. Let me know if you need any help.

  • Jacklyn

    Never knew you were going through such pain. Am happy God gave you the strength to move on. This life is full of surprises

  • Saycoops

    Well written Ariana!!! Sadia you are an inspiration. Stay strong dear🤗

  • Lois Simche Lebbie

    This is motivating, your foundation will definitely succeed. The cultural norms of silence must be broken

  • Sadiya Karim

    Thank God for your life .Such strength and courage to share stories like this are rare.. May you find peace in your future home.

  • Sylnata

    Thank God you left. Also hope your foundation covers other abuses cause emotional/verbal abuse is chronically widespread and leaving women battered but because of lack of physical evidence they suffer in silence.

  • Nancy

    Thanks for sharing Sadia and continue to be the strong woman you have become because God is really on your side

  • Joseph Julius Bamikole-Kanu (Rev.)

    A beautiful testimony that I know is going to change lives. And yes, there are women in high places, who suffer domestic violence too…a good number of them. I pray they be challenged by this testimony to take a bold step in saving them very selves and seeking to help others.

    I am happy for you Sadia, you know I am. And I want you to know, this is a ministry, a call by God to save your generation of women. It’s a charge and a responsibility and I support your call and your mission.

    I implore other women, especially those in high places, to be supportive to this call to create an awareness in bringing an end to DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Raising your hand against a woman is the most STUPID thing to do. Torturing a woman mentally or emotionally is a SELFISH behavior.

    I look forward to working with you, using my pulpit to share your vision. Men need to hear this, husband’s need to know this, fathers need to teach their sons how to handle and care for women. It all starts in the HOME. The home MUST be PURPOSE DRIVEN. Will share some notes on that when we’re opportuned to see.

    Keep your dream alive!!
    Remember, it’s a call and a charge for life transformation in your generation. The world will hear and know your name.

    Shalom.

  • Omo

    I think we should start naming and shaming these perpetrators of domestic violence. They are out there holding big positions in office, but inwardly they are beast. Let us pin a mark at their faces so other women will be on alert.

  • FloF

    Thanks for sharing your experience and all you’ve learned along the way. Hope you are able to share this information in many different ways so that many different people can learn from it. Thanks for all you are doing to prevent domestic abuse.

  • Cynthia pokor

    Thanks so much for sharing your story with us….indeed, as a young girl growing up it is worth learning from.. am really proud of you. Been Blod and fight for what you think is right isn’t a crime at all..people may say things for or against your favour but at the end your opinion and how you feel matters… you are a stronge WOMAN.

  • Sorian Nadi Jalloh

    On my God, I cried reading your story. I was in an abusive relationship when I was in college but fortunately for me I got out on time. I was beaten for little things like not introducing him to a man I greeted as we pass by in the streets of Freetown. On a particular day I went with him to Njala Sports at King-tom, he asked me to accompany him to buy drinks. Those days King-tom was not as populated as now, so we drove towards bank complex and he started beating me because I greeted members of the FBC team. No one was around to help me, then he said to me your friends do not know you are with me I could kill you and no one would know. That was when it hit me that this was not a man for me. I left him after that incident. Sure he married someone else and they are now divorced due to several beatings.

    My dear don’t ever give up on your dreams. What you went through so many are going through it. I’m glad you are bold enough to share your story. Your story might save lives. Well done

  • Anne Toro Jones

    May God continue to strengthen you. Through it all with God by your side you’ve regain your self worth.

  • Rosamond Fynn

    Very touching. “ girl you bear O”.

    May you find happiness in life to ease the pain away🙏🏿

  • sadia

    Thank you all for your comments, support and encouragement. This shows there’s hope and we can create the awareness needed and fight this together. God bless!!!

  • Neneh khan

    Thanks very much for sharing sur horrible story,and also to educate those that in fear to come out and speak their own out.

  • Jemilatu F Bangura

    While domestic abuse strikes couples of all races, religions, social economic status, and sexual orientations, risk factors for men or women becoming victims or abusers include poverty, lack of a high school education, witnessing family violence as a child, having a low sense of self-worth, and attitudes of male domination and substance abuse, especially alcohol abuse.
    Warning signs for individuals to consider if they suspect they are the victim of intimate partner violence include feeling demeaned, assaulted, or excessively controlled by their partner. I am so thrilled to join this and make sure we reduce this act.

  • TEJAN KOROMA

    It’s heart rendering to read your ordeal. Not surprisingly though because I knew part of it even before now. Truth is, I never knew it was this terrible. Stay strong and brave as you demonstrated. Count me in! Violence must stop! Regardless of your gender.

  • Favour

    Strong Woman! Thank You For Sharing!

  • Winstina Taylor

    Wow this is so real! Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected in their relationship. Everyone deserves healthy love.If you have experienced abuse in your life, self-care may seem like a foreign concept, exhausting, or pointless to consider. please get help

  • Maimuna

    Wow! Commend you, so super proud of you. Breaking the cycle! God bless you! It is well ❤️

  • Olabisi Olu-Garrick

    It’s a wowwwwwwwwww…..Sadia I thank God for the strength and will power that He gave you to tell your story.
    I won’t agree with you more : most times some people tend to point fingers at people who are faced with domestic violence without knowing there stories.
    I pray that the good Lord continue to sustain you as you stand for so many that are going through it now with so much fear to speak out.
    May your story be an inspiration for women in Sierra Leone and the world at large.
    Thank you Sadia. You are destined to fulfill your God given purpose. Your abuser will one day regret his actions. Wait and see……

  • Alhaji Fernando Jalloh

    Sad reality that is been practiced for decades. our parents went through all of these that’s the reason why most of them had a premature death. Sadia you are a woman of substance, i wish you well on your foundation and may God grant you a better position to champion this fight.

  • Mariama

    Wow, Sadia I applaud you. Thanks for sharing your story and for what you are doing to help other women in the same situation. You are one strong woman and may God continue to bless and use you.

  • Jennifer Kamara

    Thanks Ariana for shining the light on our own stories! Sadia, thanks for sharing your story and driving change for so many victims of domestic violence.

  • Millicent koroma

    Your story is a lesson for every woman .Thank you for sharing and help empowering young girls as well as adults woman,you are speaking for all woman. You are strong and thank God you left because our culture try to shame women when the marriage don’t work.your life is value more then marriage and wealth.

  • Osman Panda

    Ms Sadia, God will continue to guide and protect you. It goes without saying that men hsve abused women for centuries past. Thanks to people like you who not only experienced it but decided to champion the cause against it.. Bravo.

  • Rugiatu Turay nee Jayah

    I would like to appeal to all those suffering in silence to own up and seek help. It will not help to keep silent. Walking away is the surest thing to do. Please elaborate on the othet forms of violence that are not physical. Readers would love to know so that one can be well informed to be able to identify such and provide much needed support. Thank u so much for sharing your story with us. God bless u for reaching out to others with a view to eradicate domesti violence in all its forms. Thank u.

  • Emotional Dependency Psychology

    Well I sincerely liked reading it. This information provided by you is very helpful Thank you.

    http://diceview.com/10-signs-you-are-emotionally-dependent-and-not-actually-in-love/

  • Amparo Hevessy

    I am a mother and this helped me!

    https://about.me/milfcandy