Marriage Doesn't Fix Abusers. Leaving Them Does

Jun 18 , 2022
By Eden Sahle

Last year, I met a young and charming medical doctor through a mutual friend. Our friendship quickly grew. She told me about her engagement before she informed anyone else.

I was happy for her. The following weekend, I met her fiancé, the man I had heard many great things about from her. He was friendly, calm, and looked decent. As if we had known each other for long, we chatted and laughed. I have been kept up to date about their wedding preparation ceremonies. We were exchanging ideas as it happened; they were scheduled for a wedding a few months after mine.

Her fiancé also becomes close with my husband. He was with my husband supporting him during our wedding preparation, going out of his way on several occasions. We imagined how loving, kind, and caring he is to her. We were grateful to have them in our life. We planned regular get-togethers at our house and theirs when they got married.

Only a few weeks left to their wedding, invitations sent out, and their families and everyone who knew them counting down to their big day, a bombshell dropped. She told me that not only had the wedding been called off but they had also broken up. I could not believe my ears.

What could possibly go wrong for the seemingly perfect couple who seemed smitten with one another?

Those of us who knew them were puzzled to find out that domestic abuse was occurring. Behind closed doors, they were abuser and victim rather than a loving couple. Her fiancé had been verbally degrading her all the time I knew her.

He had never supported her or listened to what she had to say. He played nice in public and was there for others except for her. He eroded her self-confidence and dreams in life, telling her she did not deserve anything good. He was said to have intimate relationships with other women and even brought them to meet her. She has been asked to share him with other women, which he forced her to accept. He threatened to disfigure her with acid when she told him she would leave him.

The abuse that came to light shocked me to my core. His public and private personas are entirely contrary. To his credit, he did not deny his actions, although he is not remorseful and willing to change for the better. Even when elders intervened to help him get better and save his relationship, he refused and held on to his destructive and dangerous behaviour.

He thought manhood was about making bad choices and sticking to them. He said he could do anything he wanted as a man and thought there was nothing wrong with his actions. He blamed his actions on his fiancé, saying she was the one who needed to change and accept his lifestyle. One of his recurring excuses was that he could not control his actions. This is untrue because he managed to control his actions in front of others.

How can a medical doctor who understands the damage such a relationship causes stay in one? Why did she keep the abuse from her family and friends?

The experts have the answer. Most victims placate and appease an abuser to de-escalate tension and the risk of more harm. But such initiative rarely works and the abuse typically continues. Victims stay in such relationships due to love, dependency of any kind, control, shame, and lack of self-esteem destroyed by the relationship. Victims also hope the partner will change, confused by the good times between episodes of abuse.

Just like in my friend's case, sometimes it’s difficult to know if someone is going through abuse. Every situation is unique, making it more challenging to recognise. They may stay silent and choose not to tell others about the abuse, including authorities. Often this is due to fear of judgment and exposing the abuser. Helping them with wisdom is critical.

My friend can be an example to those women and men trapped under various forms of abuse. It was brave of her to say "enough" and seek help from family and friends. I admire her for cancelling her wedding to save herself from a destructive, abusive relationship. She is wise to know what she saw now is what she will get in marriage. Choosing wisely can save us a lot of heartache.

My friend realised that people could gossip about her cancelled wedding for a week or so, but she spared herself a lifetime. She also gave the man a good lesson that victims of abuse will eventually speak out. Thinking about their story reminds me of Mother Teresa, who once said, "[to promote world peace] go home and love your family."

Everything starts in a family. We cannot mistreat our family and love the world. This would only be deception.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 18,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1155]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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