When home is where pain lives...

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What you need to know:

  • Roses have thorns too, and as much as it takes two to tango, it also takes commitment from two individuals to build and maintain a healthy relationship.
  • However, the actions of one party can make everything crumble. Lack of appreciation, poor communication and violence are some of the reasons that could lead a once adorable couple to break up. 
  • Below are four young people who gave love a try but opted to walk out when their partners turned ‘toxic’. 

Love makes the world go round, so goes a famous saying. It has also been said that love is a beautiful thing, one that can only be equated to roses.

But roses have thorns too, and as much as it takes two to tango, it also takes commitment from two individuals to build and maintain a healthy relationship.

However, the actions of one party can make everything crumble. Lack of appreciation, poor communication and violence are some of the reasons that could lead a once adorable couple to break up. 

Below are four young people who gave love a try but opted to walk out when their partners turned ‘toxic’. 

Elizabeth Chepeng’at, 27

I was once a victim of a toxic relationship. It all started when my boyfriend found a text message from one of my male friends while going through my phone.

After that, he became insecure and over protective. He would also get angry easily and was quick to start fights.

Whenever we had issues, he never wanted to solve the matter amicably, but I kept hoping that things would change.

Then one day, when we were out clubbing with friends, he wanted us to leave but I really wanted to stay.

Out of anger, he grabbed my phone and broke it as I struggled to fight back. Despite all this I still followed him home.

Afterwards he kept saying he was remorseful and even bought me a new phone the next day to emphasise his apologies.

 Of course you can tell what happened next. I forgave him because of how he pleaded with me. He even swore that he loved me and said he had acted out of jealousy. 

Then one night, he called my phone but I did not answer since I was asleep. When I woke up the next day, I found he had sent me an entire paragraph announcing that we had broken up.

 I tried to call him but he had blocked my number. A few days later, I received a text from him saying he was going to burn all my belongings I had left at his place.

At first I wanted to believe this was not true, but when I visited his place, I realised he had made good his threat by burning all my belongings including my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education certificates and university degree.

 I had left them at his place when I went visiting since I was to attend a job interview near his house the following week.

I had to report the matter to my parents. We also recorded a statement at the police station and after four months of persevering, I ended things.

My understanding of love is that it should be mutual. A relationship can only be considered to be healthy when there is trust, love and happiness. These three are very necessary.

From my experience, I believe that one should be able to read the signs and take action when a partner asks for a break and is not willing to solve issues amicably.

I think the moment you are abused physically by your partner is the moment you should walk out, otherwise you might get harmed.

 Perseverance with the hope that the partner will change is one of the worst decisions that an individual can ever make.

I do not trust the notion that one can change an abusive partner. It is not possible to speak to an abusive partner about their behaviour. Counselling could be helpful, but do not hesitate to walk out if the behaviour persists.

Photo credit: Pool

Didi Victor, 27
Environmentalist, Nairobi

My definition of love is a feeling that comes when one is drawn to someone else, and when they feel comfortable and secure around each other.

One of my best moments in a relationship happens to be the early stages when trying to learn more about a partner. For a stranger to earn your trust and feel comfortable enough to open up about their private life is something that should never be taken for granted.

 In most cases, things go on smoothly in the first few days or weeks in a relationship, but this phase doesn’t last forever.

This was the case when I met my lover, now an ex-girlfriend, a few years ago. The 25-year-old was a mother of one and had just broken up with the father of her child.

I began to sense danger when she openly told me that she is an ‘independent’ lady and that I should never stress myself trying to provide for her and the daughter.

 She was running a second hand clothing business, but we men feel nice when we can provide for our women. Denying us this opportunity, even with good intentions, makes us feel as if we are denied the chance to undertake our responsibilities, and this may make us begin suspecting that some other man may have secretly taken up that duty.

 At the time, I was working as a tour guide in one of the local beaches around Lake Victoria. Although I was being paid much, providing for my woman would have been the best feeling.

Three months into our relationship, she started acting busy, creating no time for me. I came to find out that she had started speaking with and even secretly meeting her baby daddy.

I was brave enough to approach her with the topic but she kept defending the man.

I knew and understood that they had a baby together, but as her boyfriend, I expected her to at least let me know whenever she was visiting her ex-boyfriend and where the meetups were happening.

 This guy was also not married and from what I had known about him, he was wealthy – the more reason why a man like me had to worry.

 I kept convincing myself that all would be well, that she would soon change, but this never happened.

I was convinced it was time to leave when she started blocking me on social media and posting other men. I only came to learn about this via the mutual friends we had.

Eight months later, I walked out of the relationship although I felt like I should have done that earlier.

 I believe that one should walk out as soon as they realise that they are not appreciated by the other party.

Also, when a partner always claims to be busy, one should know that their presence is no longer welcome.

I do not believe that seeking advise or counselling can save the situation. A relationship is about the two of you. If it’s not working because of a toxic partner, if affects your mental wellbeing, then it isn’t worth it.

One minute, an hour or even a day in a toxic relationship is likely to cause damage which often takes long to heal. Whether it is emotional or physical abuse, learn to walk out early.

My advice to young people is, have a partner who matches your energy, take time to study someone’s behaviour, go out, meet new people and avoid those who don’t appreciate you.

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Photo credit: Pool

Lavender Oketch, 24

 Love is a feeling between two people who care about and look out for each other. A couple that loves each other should be able to appreciate one another regardless of their weaknesses.

A relationship can only be considered healthy if both parties make an effort to understand each other and stay in constant communication.

In my last relationship, however, this was never the case. My partner never understood the demands of my job as a journalist.

 When we met, he seemed to understand. We would communicate often throughout the day. Four years later, he introduced the subject of marriage, which I gladly accepted. However, he soon started behaving strangely. 

He kept complaining whenever I came home late, and the fights just kept continuing. We were staying together, and he would come home late and turn violent whenever I questioned him on his whereabouts.

 He was never open to conversations especially when we had an argument. He also befriended some of my colleagues who he spoke to behind my back.

 Since I had already had a child with him, I was reluctant to quit. Whenever he turned violent, I would run to his parents, hoping to get a lasting solution.

 On several occasions, the parents would sermon both of us and offer advice, and I kept hoping things would get better.

 Whenever we had disagreements, we would go for days without speaking, which worried me even more.

 We would start talking again, but the change in behaviour would last two or three days before he went back to his old, violent behaviour. 

I stayed until I got tired of going to report him to his parents. That is when I decided to call it quits. I moved out with my baby.

In hindsight, I think I should have walked out immediately I started noticing the change in behaviour. That is a mistake most individuals make.

I have come to understand that whenever a partner decides to change their attitude towards you, or stops speaking freely with you, then you should know that is the beginning of the end.

 An individual should be able to walk out of a relationship whenever a partner turns violent. I am glad I lived to tell the story, but this may not be the case for everyone.

Many have lost their lives because they believed that an abusive partner would change. You can never change a full grown man. If he abuses you, kindly walk out and find a better person.

I have also heard cases of single mums who decide to stick with their abusive partners just because they want their children to have a father figure, or because they are unable to provide for the children.

But what happens if he ends up killing you in the process? What happens to the motherless children you will have left behind? There are women who have remarried happily despite having two or more children.

Walk out for the sake of the innocent children, and find a man who values you . One day the children will understand why you made that decision. 

If you can’t find an understanding partner, start a business with however little you have, and support that child. I would also like to advise ladies not to date for monetary gain, because that is where most of us go wrong. Until you learn to love yourself, nobody will do it for you.

Photo credit: Pool

Lencer Akoth, 27
Business woman

 I stayed in an abusive relationship for five years with the hope that my partner would eventually change, and I am glad it did happen.

When I got married nine years ago, all was rosy until our fifth year anniversary when things went south.

 My husband, who had never tasted alcohol, started drinking uncontrollably and coming home late. I came to understand that all this was due to influence from his close friends. 

He turned violent, but at first he would only destroy household items. However, he soon began beating me.

What got me worried was the fact that he was only violent when drunk. When sober, he would treat me nicely.

Slowly, he graduated from drinking twice a week to drinking every evening. He would sometimes miss work, and this tossed us into financial instability.

 When the beatings became too much to bear, I involved my in-laws and a few church members, who invited us for talks. That was entirely my idea. Based on how my husband was acting, I believed that he could be stressed.

 I am so glad that the talks worked. I do support the idea of moving out if things are not working, but one must think before making that bold step. Try and find the reason behind the change in behaviour.

Seek a solution, even if it means speaking to your partner, going for counselling or involving close friends and relatives.

The change of behaviour could be because one is overwhelmed, or stressed emotionally and financially. Giving them a platform to speak when they are sober will go a long way in solving the matter.

 If he or she doesn’t change even after making the efforts, then leave, because that relationship could cost you your life.

I believe that a healthy relationship is one where both partners are willing to put together whatever they have to sustain one another.

It is therefore important to look out for red flags. In my case, I should have viewed the sudden appetite for alcohol as a warning because he always gave me a good beating whenever he came home drunk. This, however, is no longer the case since he now drinks only once in a while.

A number of women will choose to stay in abusive relationships because they have children. To such women I say, walk out and start a business, even if it means selling vegetables.

Don’t pay attention to what others will say about single mothers, or the snide comments about you surpassing your marriage age.

Women should be empowered to a level where they refuse to stay in a relationship simply because their husband or partner is the sole breadwinner.