GBV survivor Agneta Muitiriri: Please, learn from me; do not stay in an abusive marriage

Agneta Muitiriri

Ms Agneta Muitiriri (left) a gender-based violence victim during an interview in Nakuru City on November 29, 2023.

Photo credit: Francis Mureithi | Nation Media Group

Gender-based violence among professional women may not be as exposed as it is among women in the lower cadres.

However, Agneta Muitiriri, 49, a graduate secondary school teacher and a mother of four children has bucked the trend and opened up on her fight against the silent epidemic of domestic violence.

She was ejected from the family business which she initiated and from her matrimonial home. Here is her story.

Living example

Professional women don’t talk about the gender-based violence that they undergo at the hands of cruel men. Some members of society think professional women do not suffer domestic violence. I am a living example of domestic violence among professional women.

After months of a smooth marriage, the violence started with emotional abuse, which later graduated to verbal abuse.

I noted a pattern of some things my husband would do that were not just coincidences or human error, but deliberate actions to hurt me.

A man who used to respect me began insulting me and calling me a lot of unprintable names. He would do humiliating things in front of my children, workers, and the general public.

It really hurt me when I came to realise that he was deliberately doing this to demean me. And it is not something he was not conscious about.

When I would ask him why he was behaving in a weird manner, he would shout back and tell me on my face that he wanted to embarrass me so that our workers would know I was a useless person. The hurting words were said in the office from which we were jointly running a family business—a school, which I was the main brains behind. We also had a hotel.

After the verbal and emotional violence came financial abuse. I realised the person we shared a bank account with and talked about money freely would take money from the business to pay funny debts or unknown claims.

I later discovered it was a way of bringing the school down so that I would become jobless. He also wanted to convince the workers that I was the one running down the institution.

In the business, we were both signatories and the mandate was either one of us would sign. He seriously abused that loophole.

He would withdraw money and give me in front of the workers and direct me to pay their salaries in a bid to win praise from them that he was a good man.

He was doing this deliberately as he would later send text messages to the employees to incite them that he had sent money to me to pay them. Eventually, the school started collapsing.

I decided to hang on and give the relationship one more chance hoping that things would improve. Little did I know I was giving him more power and more grounds to do more abusive things.

Finally, I was eliminated from the school business, which I was mainly in charge of. Being a family business it meant I was jobless. I was converted into a stay-at-home wife with my degree.

I was the brains behind starting the school and I contributed heavily into building it financially and logistically, owing to my background as a trained teacher.

Less than a house help

Now you can imagine with girls in your house and you cannot buy them pads. I was reduced to less than a house help. I would give him a list of what we required and he would edit the list and strike out items he did not want to purchase.

I could not afford to go to the salon. I had to kneel and plead and explain why I needed Sh100. That was traumatising.

He then began to abuse me physically. There is this day he wanted to smash my head with a wooden stool, and just as he was about to hit me, my daughter snatched the stool and saved me. I owe my life to my quick-thinking daughter. He had promised to kill me that night.

He continuously subjected me to death threats, stressing me to no end . The stress that I suffered at the hands of this cruel man affected my health. I was not able to eat well. I didn’t know what to eat. I became a stress eater.

The stress triggered a number of problems. I suffered continuous bleeding for two weeks non-stop. At one point, I was diagnosed with anaemia and spent more than Sh40,000 on treatment. I also started seeing a counsellor to help me out with the trauma.

I got psychosocial support from the Young African Women Initiative. They gave me a shoulder to lean on when my marriage crumbled.

For the first time, I experienced forced sex in marriage. Sex is good and holy when it takes place in the proper context, but the one-flesh relationship of husband and wife was completely missing in my marriage

I could not enjoy my conjugal rights as half of my body was sick and dead. Instead of receiving joy and pleasure in a healthy sexual relationship, I received psychological and emotional torture.

He would even come home in a shirt smeared with women’s make-up or throw his underpants dotted with lipstick in a place where I would see them so as to injure my soul. He left condoms in his pockets.

From my experience, I have learnt that one should not assume an abuser will change. The more you tolerate the more you give him power to abuse you more.


I don’t believe in divorce, but God did not ordain an abusive marriage. Women in abusive marriages should not bury their heads in the sand. Don’t imprison yourself in a cell called “what will happen to my marriage and children, or what will people think about me?”.

You will keep losing your usefulness to your children the more you tolerate an abusive marriage. You will go beyond zero from where you will eventually not be of any use to the children.

Don’t stay in an abusive marriage.