Domestic Abuse Turned on Its Head

Jun 11 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew

As I passed by a group of men the other day, I heard loud laughing. I thought the guffaw was directed at me, although I did not think through why they would do such a thing. It was not the usual catcalling I had come across.

Whenever we hear people laughing in our vicinity and our eyes meet theirs accidentally, we assume it is directed at us even though we have nothing to do with it. Our audacity to think that the world revolves around us never fails to amaze. How narcissistic do we have to be to instantly consider that someone else takes the time to take notice?

The men were preoccupied with something else. A few metres from where they were standing was a taxi stop, towards which I was heading.

“Look at you, what kind of man are you? How could you let her do that to you?” I heard them say. The man replied, “I love her and I didn’t want to hurt her.”

I was curious to know what exactly they were discussing. It is drama at home, hard to resist.

“She hasn’t always been like this, you know. She was sweet, caring and kind,” the man continued. “But now, I could hardly recognise her as my wife. She gets triggered easily and is easily irritable, especially with me. I have asked her on many occasions what I have done wrong but to no avail.”

His friend interceded, “it is your fault. You weren’t supposed to be nice to her from the beginning. You are a man and you should have acted like one - serious and demanding respect.”

I did not want to turn my face to see which guy was the protagonist of this story. It would have given away the fact that I was eavesdropping. They took turns to speak and their voices were very different from each other. One of them said, “when did it start?”

In my head, I was sure that the man’s wife either cheated on him or broke up with him. The friend must have been referring to a timeline for an affair. I could not have been more wrong.

“At first, it was just a slap, not even that hard, whenever we argue and I'd just walk away,” the man narrated. “She used to follow me around pulling my clothes and when I wouldn’t turn, she would push me but not hard enough that I would fall.”

It all became clear at that point, including why the men were laughing. It is a case of domestic abuse but turned on its head. The male victim went on to explain how he would try to explain but that nothing came of it. He would get angry sometimes that he almost returned the physical altercation but he managed to calm himself down. Sometimes, she would even throw plates or cups at him. He moved out finally and started living with his brother.

“She would call me and apologise, saying that she wasn’t herself and that she feels bad for what she did and it will never happen again,” he continues. “She even comes to my brother’s house and asks him to reconcile us. Then, I relent and get back with her and everything starts all over again.”

It was hard to believe. It is not every day one comes across men experiencing domestic abuse. If anything, it is usually the male partner committing physical and verbal abuse.

It is admirable how patient the man is and astounding how much he must love his wife not to lose his temper and hurt her back. It is not something we see every day. Any form of abuse against any sex is unacceptable. It was upsetting that his friends found his story comical because they saw him as a man who would take a beating from his wife and who was too weak to do anything about it.

They assume that stuff like this happens to only men who treat women with respect and love. But being good has nothing to do with it; in this case, the wife needs help, either anger management or psychiatric help. The taxi I was waiting for came and I left the men as they were, but I hoped the man would find peace before he lost his faith.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 11,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1154]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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