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