Jackeline Nyaguthi Karimi is a Kenyan businesswoman. She is choosing to share her story of alleged abuse, which is now in court.
Jackeline hopes to give other women who have faced gender-based violence hope to fight for their rights.
The journalist has reported that the accused in this story has been in jail for 40 days. The court hearing is scheduled for July 5, 2021 at the Milimani Law Courts. Gender-Based Violence is a daily reality for women and girls across Kenya. According to data from the Kenyan government, 45 per cent of women and girls aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence and 14 per cent have experienced sexual violence. Many cases are not reported to authorities and few women get justice or receive medical care.
Editor’s note: The allegations made against the accused in this case have not been tested in court. The accused’s name has been changed as there are pending court dates in the case.
NAIROBI, Kenya — People say love is a beautiful thing — the only thing that makes us complete.
While I may generally agree, as a young woman, love ruined my life.
Love gave me scars, inside and out. It left me with bruises and the pain and regret of not walking away sooner. In my reality, love was both beautiful and ugly.
A few years ago, at the age of 25, while I was still in college, I fell in love with John Doe*. He was my everything. He was the only person I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. I was living in the campus hostel when we decided to get married and move in together.
John was a relaxed, friendly guy who showered me with love and affection right up until I moved into his house as his wife to start our new life together.
Within a few short months, his character began to change. Anger issues arose — something I had never witnessed in my life. Again, this was new to me, and I adopted it, though I did so with caution.
Pain of love
As time passed, John’s anger issues increased. Finally, he beat me, with no care about my safety as a woman.
I remember when I had visited a friend who was sick. I returned home later that afternoon, and he attacked me.
He began by threatening me, telling me if I ever left his side again, he would do something terrible. Then he beat me. I was in shock and disbelief, and I feared for my life.
Every passing day, John looked for reasons to lay his hands on me. Sometimes he hit me for no reason at all while he lectured me.
Every beating left bruises I had to hide from my friends and neighbor because if anyone noticed and asked him questions, I would be in trouble again.
As if that weren’t enough, he started locking me in the house like a prisoner, never allowing me out to associate with anyone. Then, when he left for work in the morning, he locked me in and only let me out late in the evening. I was living a nightmare that burdened my heart.
I decided to open up to my friend through a phone call and I told her everything. She said I couldn’t allow him to keep hitting me.
I followed her advice and started standing up for myself. It seemed to work! His anger towards me reduced until one day.
I found out he impregnated another woman.
When he returned home that evening, I asked him about it. His anger erupted, and he started beating me in front of my sister, who had come to visit.
When my sister jumped in to defend me, John acted as though he would also hit her. She ran out of the house screaming for help.
The neighbors heard the screams and came out to rescue me.
The following day, I reported the challenges I was facing in our marriage to the authorities and explained John was using me as a punching bag. I thought I would get help, but no one there wanted to help me, to my shock.
Instead, they told me they do not interfere in couple’s fights, adding that we should resolve our issues at home.
I left broken, asking God to give me the courage and the heart to be strong through the situation I was facing.
I wondered how women suffer at the hands of their husbands in the name of marriage, yet those in authority did not help them. We are indeed a sick nation.
A massive blow
This revelation was a massive blow.
He did not want to be responsible for his mistake. He acted like deputy Jesus, so pure and flawless. But this time, the pot had broken, and the water was flowing down. He could not undo his actions.
Days passed, and I heard the young girl he had impregnated was suffering, with nowhere to go. Her family had thrown her out due to the pregnancy.
I talked to John and asked him to tell the girl to stay with us instead of suffering in the streets. John did not believe me, not because this was another woman I was welcoming to our home, but because after everything he had done to me, I had chosen to repay him with kindness.
The following day he brought the lady home. I welcomed her with a warm heart, and we began living together.
However, before long, she grew an attitude with me in my own house, doing things to me intentionally as John watched without saying a word. I welcomed her without judgment despite what happened between her and my husband, and her attitude was not right.
Time to leave
I decided to leave John but did not tell him immediately.
That week we had a family gathering not far from where we were staying. I left and went to attend the event where I met with my mother.
She immediately knew something was wrong and asked me what was going on. I opened up to her about everything. I told her I was leaving John to start a new life.
She called John and told him everything. John agreed to me leaving, and without wasting time, I went with my mother to pick up my belongings from John’s house. I walked away from the relationship and committed to living my life alone because I could no longer tolerate his philandering ways.
I walked away, believing I was walking towards freedom. It was a happy moment. I had no idea I was opening the door to much more severe attacks.
Moving out was only the beginning of my trouble.
John quickly became the jilted lover, spying on my every move. I had taken a job, and he deliberately became friends with one of the security officers in my work area.
The officer was giving him all sorts of information about me without my consent.
At this point, I had met another man who was very kind and loving, utterly different from John. I had fallen for him, but as fate would have it, it would not be so easy to walk out on John.
It was evening and the end of my workday. As usual, I asked the security guard to request a motorbike to take me home.
The security guard said he had already called one, and it was waiting. He was helping John, but I didn’t know it.
So I boarded the motorbike, but something did not feel right. I was so suspicious, and my heart felt cold, but that did not stop me from trying to go home.
A few minutes onto the highway, the driver changed direction. I screamed, and in a glance, he stopped.
Suddenly, someone attacked me from behind. It was John.
I screamed again as I fought to protect myself from him. He had armed himself this time, and he stabbed me in my neck and my back.
He tried to stab me more, and I defended myself as I screamed even louder for someone to rescue me.
Unfortunately, those screams attracted people, so he left me lying helplessly on the ground as he ran away with the motorbike carrying me home.
They took me to the nearby hospital. My new boyfriend, together with my family, stood by me until I was healthy. Then, we reported the incident to the authorities, and they started searching for him.
But, for months, the search bore no fruit.
I was terrified he would attack again, so I moved for my safety. My current boyfriend, Kevin, asked me to move in with him.
My family was against the idea because of what had happened after moving in with John.
They hesitated to give us their approval on the matter, but Kevin convinced them through his actions that he could protect me.
His final evil plan
Months passed, and we were starting to feel good about our lives. Then, little did I know, John heard about me moving in with Kevin and planning his final attack.
He found out where we were living, and he rented a house next to ours. I had no idea he was right next door.
We never saw lights in the house or heard any movement. We never suspected my ex-husband was right beside us. It seemed implausible.
For an entire month, John was planning his attack, and I had no idea.
Then, one day, he waited for me to leave the door open and leaped into action, leaving me begging for my life. I remember it perfectly because I had gone out to buy soda at the shop and forgot to lock the door.
I was flooded with nervousness when I returned home, but that was normal and I checked everywhere to make sure the house was safe.
The last place I checked was my bedroom. I opened the door slowly, and as I stepped inside, I saw John’s leg behind the closet. Before I could run away, he caught me. He started beating me and cutting my dreadlocks.
I screamed as he slashed me with a sword in my face and body.
The pain was so intense, but I still managed to try and defend myself. I kicked him and ran outside the house screaming. He was bursting with energy, and he followed me, catching me outside.
That angered him more, so he decided to throw me from the fifth floor, where I was staying, down to the ground floor. Thank God people heard my screams before he could push me.
I was rescued
I was rescued and rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment. As for John, he was immediately arrested and taken to the police station. I reported the incident with the help of other witnesses, and they took him to prison, where he is currently serving his term.
His final attack left me with severe scars on my face, but my boyfriend Kelvin has stuck with me through thick and thin.
Though I have many stitches, the doctors are optimistic I will heal soon. Once that happens, I will undergo surgery on my face to hide the marks.
The case is ongoing, and I only hope this time around, justice will out, and John will be accountable for all the pain he caused.
But, unfortunately, justice will not be mine alone.
It represents the thousands of women suffering at the hands of dangerous and abusive partners who use their power to manipulate women’s rights across the globe.
*The name of the accused has been changed in this story.
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