I talk about my experience to break down the barriers surrounding emotional abuse

Lizie, aged 29, was helped by the group therapy sessions run by Womankind's partner FIDA Kenya after years of emotional abuse.

Lizie

“I dated my ex-partner while he was at university. I got pregnant and I was so in love that I couldn’t see the problem. He abused me mentally - during the seven years we spent together, I was never truly happy. I used to be self-employed selling clothes, but he forced me to stop. Group therapy provided by FIDA Kenya made me understand that he was threatened by my independence.

One day, I found my husband with his best friend’s wife in our marital home. I was so shocked that I went in to labour early. He became even worse - he had more women and he didn't try to hide it. I felt really low, I had no self-esteem.

He was giving me money, but I couldn’t afford anything. I wasn't eating so I could feed my children and my weight went down to 45kg. I called my mum, but she just told me to stay strong – women in Kenya are taught to put up with the abuse. Luckily, my aunt was more understanding and I moved into her house with my children. My husband texted me saying ‘Don’t come back’. A few months later, I returned to Nairobi to stay with my parents. He begged me to go back to him and I tried to make it work, for the children. After a while, he was unfaithful again. I understood that his love controlled me. I returned my wedding ring - something died in me, the love went away.

I used to joke about FIDA, I thought they are the women who want to conquer Kenya.  I didn't expect I would ever need them. We came to FIDA for mediation, but he was rude and refused to do anything. I started attending the group therapy. It gave me the confidence to get my livelihood back and work on myself. Now I’m strong, I can go to him and tell him what I want.

Through the therapy, I came to realise that most women don’t know about emotional abuse before it’s too late. I always say it’s the 'deadly one', as it gets inside your head and stays with you for a lifetime. I talk about my experience to break down the barriers surrounding emotional abuse. I’m thinking of going back to school so I can help more people - I don’t want women to stay in abusive relationships because of their children or financial situation. I want them to see that they have options.”