For ten years, John Kiarie had been in an emotionally abusive relationship he hoped with each passing day, would change for the better. That was, however, not the case as his wife continued with her infidelity as he claims.
In 2000, Mr Kiarie graduated with a diploma in food and beverages sales but a job was not forthcoming. To make ends meet, he started doing odd jobs in Marikiti market ranging from pushing a handcart and transporting groceries for traders. Although he made a few shillings a day, Mr Kiarie says he was committed to make a living and he convinced his then college lover to settle down with him in Mathare 4A where he lived.
Things were rosy in the beginning, he says, but after months, he made a shocking discovery that his wife was having an extramarital relationship. Although she denied, tensions between them resulted in a bitter separation.
“She was pregnant with my daughter but I could not withstand the betrayal. We parted ways and shortly after, I moved to Mombasa for work,” he says.
Love is blind, so they say. It did not take long before the two reconnected and resolved their differences. Before long, they moved in together. His wife got a job at a tourist resort and they both resorted to build a life together.
As days went by, Mr Kiarie’s fortunes dwindled in his new job but luckily, he landed an opportunity in Tanzania.
“It was a tough balance but I made sure I was in constant communication with my family. I believed in my wife’s commitment to make a home. This was not to be because after some time, I received information she had returned to her wayward manners,” he says.
Upon his return to Mombasa, Mr Kiarie confronted his wife further complicating matters. She left him again.
Mr Kiarie unknowingly fell into depression and was admitted at the Coast General Hospital.
Currently a taxi driver at the Coastal town, Mr Kiarie warns men to watch out for signs of abuse, be it physical or emotional, adding that society has disadvantaged men facing gender-based violence by ridiculing them.
Mr Samuel Karanja, who runs BoyChild Pillar Organisation based in Nakuru, says men mostly face emotional abuse from their spouses and because it is unseen, they suffer in silence.
He says Mr Kiarie’s is a classic example of men suffering in silence which often leads to depression or more fatal endings like suicide.
Figures from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey in 2016 showed that men living in Nairobi and other major urban areas are at a higher risk of suffering domestic abuse than their counterparts in rural Kenya.
Men in Nairobi were found to be 11.3 per cent more likely to be battered by their wives than men living outside Nairobi. This report also showed that there is a pattern in how abuse is perpetrated against men.
For example, the report pointed out that Christian men, men with five or more children, and those previously married, were more likely to have experienced domestic violence.
Men who reported having significant wealth and men who were not educated were the least likely to suffer from domestic abuse and violence.
Mr Karanja advices men to speak out and stop shying away from getting help.