Dr Adenike Olubiyi is a lecturer at Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti and the wife of Dr Olaolu Olubiyi, the suspended Chief Medical Director of Ekiti State Specialist Hospital, Ikere-Ekiti.
She has been a victim of domestic violence for years and recently filed for separation from her abusive husband. In this exclusive interview, she reveals the details of her ordeal and how she managed to get out alive. Excerpts:
Q: What led to the crisis in your marriage?
A: The crisis started when I discovered that my husband was having an affair with one of his employees at his private clinic. I was the one who helped her get the job when the clinic needed staff. She lived in the hospital compound like other workers. I confronted my husband about it, but he denied it. He said they were only colleagues and that she had a boyfriend abroad. I also found out that she was pregnant and I asked him again, but he was evasive.
I tried to cope with the situation until I started receiving threats and demands from the lady. She wanted me to do things for her or else she would expose their affair. This made me depressed and scared.
Q: Did you seek any help or intervention?
A: Yes, I did. In January this year, I reported the case to the International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, because my husband was also physically abusing me. He would beat me up, choke me, and threaten to kill me. But I later withdrew the case because I wanted to protect his reputation and career.
Later in the year, things got worse. He asked me to befriend the lady and do things for her. He said he loved both of us and wanted us to live together. This affected me and our children (three boys aged 14, 12, and eight). They became emotionally unstable and traumatized by the violence they witnessed. That was when I realized that my life was in danger and I decided to leave with the children. I filed for separation and we agreed to settle out of court. I thought he would change and things would get better.
Q: How did your family and children react to your decision?
A: My family was against it. They didn’t support me going back to him. They said he would never change and that he would kill me someday. My parents were worried about me and my children. My children were also unhappy and opposed to my decision. They didn’t want to go back to him. But I felt I had no choice. I didn’t want to be stigmatized or judged by society. I wanted to save my marriage and give him another chance.
Q: Did things improve after you went back?
A: No, they didn’t. The violence continued and even escalated. He would still beat me up, choke me, and threaten to kill me. He would also insult me and call me names. He said he didn’t love me anymore and that he only wanted the lady. He said he would divorce me and marry her.
One day, he almost killed me. He attacked me in front of our children and squeezed my neck so hard that I couldn’t breathe. It was our first child who saved me by hitting him with a stool. A stranger in the compound heard the commotion and called the police who rescued me and took me out of the house.
They took me to the police station, but they saw that I was badly injured and rushed me to a private clinic where I was treated. He fractured my neck and I had to wear a collar to support it. The incident happened on September 14th. They discharged me a week later but told me to rest for six weeks and wear the collar for another week.
Q: Is it true that you hit him with your head as he claimed?
A: No, that is not true at all. That is a lie he made up to justify his actions. How can hitting your head on someone’s chest cause your head to break? Anyone who knows us can tell that it is impossible. He is much taller and bigger than me.
He is just trying to cover up his crime and make himself look like the victim.
Because of this issue, I have reduced drastically. Many people who knew me before do not know me anymore because of the physical changes.
Q: Can you take us through all that transpired on September 14?
I was at home that day to pick my things and leave, but as I entered the house, he also entered. However, when I went to the house, I was with a stranger (female) whom he didn’t know. It was the lady that later told me that when he came, he locked the gate before coming inside to meet me. When he met me, the first thing he did was to drag my head and hit the floor. He started hitting me after that. He hit me until he began dragging me by the hair to the sitting room. In fact, those that must have looked at me closely when the incident happened must have noticed that part of my hair was removed. It was because of the pull. He pulled me by the hair and pinned my neck down.
He released me after I called his attention to the stranger in the compound as he wanted to go and meet the stranger. But before leaving, he locked me inside. When he left, I saw my phone that he had seized and started calling everyone that I could call. Also, before we entered the house, I had given the lady the phone number of the police to call them should any trouble arise.
Q: Did you tell anyone about your ordeals?
I am the kind of person who endures a situation. Many people in the workplace didn’t know what was wrong with me. They were all concerned thinking I had health issues. When they asked me what was wrong, I told them that I was dieting.
I don’t discuss my family issues with people. Even my relatives usually say that I am too secretive because I don’t tell them things. Yes, there were times that I got injured in the process but I still managed myself. It is not everybody that you tell things. Like I told someone, an African woman will want to see how best she can manage issues. I was too considerate. He would use derogatory words against me.
Naturally, I try to study people and design a coping mechanism. I was also running away from stigmatization. It was when I noticed that the thing was becoming life-threatening that I said the best thing for me was to leave. Sincerely, I just wanted to escape quietly with my kids and I was able to take them out successfully. However, I couldn’t take some of my things and, as a lecturer, there are some things that are very important.
Students’ scripts are very important. I thought I would use the opportunity to take my load or whatever I could take, and think of how to quietly file for a divorce.
Q: Can you take us through the early times of marriage?
We got married in 2006 and July made it 17 years. We met in 1997. In the early times of marriage, there were ups and downs. There were cases of violence then but the major issue was the women palaver.
Whenever I realised that he has started and I mentioned it, he got temperamental about it, which would result in me taking my eyes off it. The bad temper has always been there but whenever he showed it, I used to keep quiet. From the outset, the marriage has been troubled.
Q: Why did you decide to stay in the marriage?
Even when my family was against my coming back, I was like as long as I could create a coping mechanism, I could live with him. That was until recently when it became life-threatening and I said to myself ‘someone who was saying it and exhibiting it means he was working on it’. It was until then that I realised that it was better I found a way to escape instead of dying like a chicken. Thank God I didn’t finally die like a chicken because I was almost gone.
Q: What do you mean by ‘someone who was saying it and exhibiting it means he was working on it’?
He would tell me that if he killed me, he would get away with it. Saying I know he is a doctor. At the initial phase, I would say I cannot die because the covenant I made with my God is that I will see my children until the fourth generation. When I saw that it was being demonstrated physically, I thought that if I die, God will blame me because he gave me many opportunities to leave.
Q: Did he try to reach out to you while you were in hospital?
When I was in the hospital bed, he called, but I blocked the line because I know he has manipulative acts.
Q: Can you tell us how the situation has affected the children?
For the mental health of the children, up till now, I am still of the opinion that they will need a therapist.
I don’t want those children to be a danger to society because of what they’ve passed through. You know children are made by what they see and hear. Many of the things he did to me were witnessed by the children. The one before this, it was the oldest child who saved me, and that was what got me concerned that these children are going back to school, who would save me if such arises? Is it the youngest child at home?
Q: There are rumours that your family wants to resolve the matter. How true?
No family is resolving anything because he has no contact with any member of my family. Will my family say I should go and die? When it wasn’t as life-threatening as this, they were so afraid because of some displays in their presence. There has been a display in my family’s presence, particularly in my brother’s house. My mum was there when it happened. In fact, it would have been in the presence of my dad, but he left out of annoyance because he said he was rude to him. God has decided to give me a second life to live and I am appreciating him everyday for it.