Popular Nollywood actress, Stella Damasus has joined the war against domestic violence. The actress shared her personal story of abuse in a new blog post, which she hoped will give other women caught in violent and abusive relationships the courage to get help. Read her story below…
“A few days ago I was reminded that it was okay to be vulnerable and human. I seem to have forgotten how relaxing it can be to let it all out sometimes, not caring if I would be judged, laughed at or insulted. I had to remember that it was important to share some experiences that may actually save or help someone who is probably going through the same thing.
My story begins on a fun and exciting Saturday night in Lagos Nigeria, where I attended an after party. I met a tall dark and handsome man who was introduced to me through a mutual friend. We spoke for a few minutes, exchanged numbers and then parted ways. I didn’t see or hear from him again until about 6 months later when I got a call on my way to a friend’s private birthday party. He asked where I was and I told him where I was going, so he wanted to meet up at the venue and that was fine.
He came and we continued the conversation that we didn’t get to finish the first time we met. After that night we started seeing each other more often as he would call me and say all the right things, then ask to see me.
So there I was feeling special, thinking that this stud must really like me so much that he had to see me about four times a week. My head was in the clouds because he came to me in a very honest and humble manner, he didn’t have much but was not embarrassed at all because of who I was and what I had. In my head I was thinking “Wow what a confident man”.
Needless to say, I fell for him hopelessly even against advice from everyone around me.
The relationship started and instead of taking time to really study and know him, I decided to give, give and give without thinking twice. I gave time, I gave energy, I gave money, I gave respect, I gave submission, I gave love, I gave honor, and I gave everything a woman would, just to make her man feel important and loved.
I gave money and everything that comes with making a man stand proud and feel wealthy.
I did this so much that even when you ask me a question or want me to appear somewhere I would ask him first or look out for his expression to get approval.
All this was to make him feel like the head, make him feel like the man, make him feel respected and know that his financial status does not make him less of a man, make him feel like he has his authority, and make him feel like he had the best woman any man could ever ask for.
Everyone around me hated the fact that I did more and more to make him happy and then they started noticing that I was loosing my happiness, I was loosing weight, I was loosing myself but the funny thing is that I didn’t even notice. Eventually, I got so angry that I started pushing my friends and family away.
He kept telling me that everyone around me expected me to do better in choosing a man just because he didn’t have money or a job. I bought into that and attacked everyone, telling them that they were being unfair and judgmental. So I made it my job to make sure he had something to do, he had a car, he had his own apartment, he had the latest devices etc.
All of this was to prove everybody wrong so they could see what he could become if we just gave him a chance and helped him.
After a while I started noticing that he became aggressive towards my friends, anyone I introduced him to, people I worked with etc. All of a sudden he didn’t like anybody anymore and didn’t want them around us. Then it all grew into calling me names at the slightest provocation even though I was not sure of what I did to provoke him. He would say things like “I am doing you a favor by being with you”, “how easy do you think it is to find a single guy like me to date a woman with kids”?, “you are too controversial to have a sane man stay with you”, “the only thing you have going is your career other than that you are not really worth it”.
There were stronger names he called me like BITCH and other curse words he would use, but I would rather not even write them.The worst part in all of this is, after hearing these words over and over again I got used to it and even started thinking that he was right.
When he was done insulting me, he would walk up to me and say “see what you made me do, you are the only one who can get me to this point, you know how much I love you so why are you turning me into this monster?”, and yours truly would stupidly start to apologize for making him abuse me mentally.
As far as I was concerned at that time, it was strong love and because he loved me madly, him getting upset with me, made me the monster.
I lived in this lie for a long time and was still too blind to see how awful I started looking and feeling. I didn’t even want to be seen too much so that no one would ask me if I was ill. People would come to me with proof of him cheating but for some silly reason I would make excuses for him. Out of fear of an argument I would not even want to confront him about it. I was so scared that I would ask myself “if you confront him and he leaves out of anger, are you sure you would meet someone else who is better? This was where i started using the phrase THE DEVIL YOU KNOW IS BETTER THAN THE ANGEL YOU DON’T KNOW. Silly silly phrase because the truth is, if you know someone to be a devil you are better off without the person.
Anyway, I stayed in the relationship until one day when he got upset that a guy gave me the card to his hotel because he wanted my band to sing there. He got so mad that he punched the wall in my study. When he did that, it was as if a very thick veil was pulled from my eyes. That was when I realized that the kind of anger that made him punch a wall can even push him to hit me since I was the cause of his anger.
I don’t know if it was the prayers of my mother or my best friend’s, but something gave me courage that day and kept urging me to get him out of my life before it was too late. I yelled for my home staff and they came into the study and I asked them to get him out. I told him boldly never to come near me, my home or my family. That was how God delivered me from my abuser. If he had not punched that wall, I don’t think I would have had the courage to end the relationship.
Sometimes, when women find themselves in an abusive relationship, it’s easy for others to judge them or ask them to just pick up and leave. Even though it’s the right thing to do, it’s not that easy when you are the one in the relationship. Abuse takes a stronghold on the victim and messes up their mental state. If the victim is not careful she may accept the blame and never find the boldness to leave.
It is also worse for those who are not financially independent.
Mental abuse can actually turn out to be worse than physical abuse because with the physical you can prove it, you can also see the scars and they can be treated. Don’t get me wrong it is extremely dangerous to go through it but with mental abuse, there is hardly any proof and no one can see the bruises or the scars so you don’t even know how or what to treat. It may affect you mentally for years and that is scary because it definitely affects any other relationship you may have, if ever.
THE ABUSER’S MODE OF OPERATION
1. Identifies your weakness and uses it to gain your love and trust
2. Tells you the things they know you want to hear.
3. Gets rid of everyone around you who has the ability or capability to help/rescue you
4. Makes you emotionally dependent on him
5. Feeds your mind with things that you will believe are beneficial to your relationship
6. Uses your emotions to control your mind and reasoning
7. Tells you negative things about yourself and repeats it so it sticks in your mind
8. Compares you to others just to prove that you are not worth it and not good enough
9. Gives you the impression that he is doing you a favor by being with you.
10. Blames you for things even when you don’t know about them
11. Yells and picks fights at the slightest provocation
12. Starts to get physical but begs for forgiveness, telling you that his love for you makes you the only person that can get him that mad.
13. Makes you think the abuse is your fault and you have to fix it
14. Intentionally allows you to loose yourself/esteem so that he can gain full control of your mind
15. Batters your mind so much that even when he hits you and there are visible scars, you find yourself making excuses for him
16. You become afraid of the unknown so you stay in the relationship because you don’t want to start over in a new relationship
17. He gets you to the phase where you become numb so you can’t even feel that something is wrong.
It continues like this until something really bad happens or the woman runs away.
The good thing is that there is help and support for women and men going through any form of abuse.
Please don’t die in silence and don’t believe that the abuse is your fault. Speak out and get help.
If you or someone you know needs help please send me a message and I will give you resources and contacts that can help.
If you would also like to share your story, please let me know and You can be anonymous.