Before you start reading, I must warn you that this story is extremely long, and if you do not read to the end, you will not understand her agony. I would insert breaks for easy identification of where you stopped, incase you need to take a break and continue later. Amaka Munonye is a Nigerian resident in Canada and about to get a divorce from her Ghanaian husband. Their case is in court and she is afraid that if she keeps silent, she may lose custody of her children. If you know anyway to help or anyone who can help, please do get in touch with me, or leave a comment in a respectful manner. Thanks.
I am writing you this letter because I need to be heard. I have been the prisoner of a horrible man for almost fifteen years now. I have been trying to get away from him practically since I met him, and even more so in the past four years. He has taken over my life, and now taken my children away, and I am at a loss for what to do. I do not want to be forced into making any rash decision that would impact my kids forever, and I certainly do not want to end up in jail, as my children need me to raise them; but I really am desperate, and I am at my absolute wits end. I do not know what else to do. I have decided to make a public appeal. Maybe someone will hear me and come to my help, because I really need help. The Canadian justice system has failed me many times, and even now, continues to fail me. I am hoping and praying that someone out there will come and rescue my children and me.
My name is Amaka and I work in Medical Laboratory Science. I am a BCIT Alumnus. I am also the mother of two fantastic children, a nine year old boy and a seven year old girl.
My ordeal started in when I met their father, Chris, in Nigeria in 1997. I was a third year medical student at the University of Nigeria Enugu and I had been forced to withdraw from school because some members of one of the many cults they had there wanted me to marry their leader. After many attempts to make me do their bidding by offering money and all kinds of enticements failed, it became by force. When I still refused they tried to kill me. My father had a few of them arrested but I left the city for my birth state of Lagos, and even now I am not sure what happened to them.
I was unable to go to any other university in Nigeria, because shortly after I started to make arrangements to enroll at the University of Lagos. A friend, I will call him Fubsie, came to let my family know that if I attended the University of Lagos or anywhere else in the country, the cult members would have their revenge on me by killing me. Now in retrospect, I wonder if I shouldn’t have just let them kill me then, because that would have been better than the suffering I have had to endure for so many years after.
My Father and I started to make arrangements for me to come to Canada. I had worked at a hospital for about three years transcribing all their paper records onto the computer, (floppy disks for storage as I recall), and the Canadian High Commission accepted three years of medical school and another three years of work experience, among all the other requirements that I needed as enough to qualify as a skilled immigrant.
Chris came to my father’s house, according to him, to look for my younger brother and sister. He said he was a Pastor. Now I will tell you something about the “Pastors” in Nigeria and in so many parts of Africa. The huge majority of them are not Seminary graduates like we see in North America where a pastor has to undergo four years of training after high school and then make their way up through the ministry before being ordained as pastors. No, in the vast majority of cases in Africa a “pastor” is somebody who wakes up one day and decides that they have “heard the voice of God”, and that they have received a calling. Therefore they gather two or three people and start a “church.”
I asked him where his church was, and he said he did not have one at the time, that he used to have one, but closed it and that he “gave the congregation to another pastor”. I was always baffled by that, as I couldn’t understand how you could give a bunch of people to another person. The day he came to my house the first time, I was at home with my youngest sister. The two people that he said he’d wanted to see were not home. He wanted to wait for them, so he sat outside to wait. I offered him some cold water and after he had drank it, he started to ask if I know about God and Christianity and all of that, and I said I grew up Catholic etc. and that we’d gone to church. I said we had also gone to church a little after my immediate younger sister had suddenly died, but that was about it.
From then on, he would come every single day and spend time with whichever one of us he happened to meet, teaching us “bible study.” My father actually ran in to him a couple of times, and threw him out on both occasions, saying that a man who has no job has too much time on his hands, and that nothing good ever comes of it. My father said to him both times he saw him “what kind of a charlatan are you? If you are a pastor, go and pastor somewhere. My home is not a church; don’t even let me catch you here again. Go and get a job, lazy fool.” Chris always replied “God bless you sir”
I kept on with my job and my arrangements to relocate to Canada. I also started to be interested in becoming a Christian, so I would not only go to Church with Chris along with my sisters, but I started to go to another church on my own. I liked the thought of this big and powerful God who was also a very loving God. I became a Christian and started to go to Church. My real problems began about a year after I had started to go to Church. When I would attend church with Chris, it would be to a Church called Firebrand Assembly and when I went by myself or with my sister we would attend The Redeemed Christian Church of God. I was a brand new Christian, and knew next to nothing about it, but I wanted to learn. I continued at the same time to await the results of my application for my Canadian papers.
One night I attended a night vigil prayer with Chris. A night vigil in Nigeria, and a lot of Africa, is when people go to a church usually on a Friday night, and spend the entire night singing and praying until about 6am the next morning. It is a very common thing and at the Redeemed Church when we went that night there had to have been at least 50,000 people. It was my first time at the place we went to. It was called the Redemption Camp and it belonged to the Redeemed Christian Church of God. They had the all night program once a month. We got there at almost 8pm, to beat the crowds I was told, and before the prayer service ended, at about 4:00am, he said we had to leave, or else we would get caught up in the throngs of people trying to leave after 6am.
I pointed out to him that my father’s compound would still be locked and that I would be unable to get in. He said it would take at least an hour to get back to my home, and that we could wait outside until about 7 am when I could be let in. I agreed as I didn’t see why not and we left. However, it was 4am and it took us only about thirty minutes to get to the front of the estate where my family home was. What I had not thought about was that the estate where we lived was gated and the gateman was prone to wandering away to sleep somewhere else. I came in to the car and yelled towards the gatehouse where I was hoping that the gateman would be “Al Hassan, it’s me Amaka, please let me in” for over 15 minutes. He was nowhere to be found.
At about 5 am Chris said look lets go to my house, I will wait in the car, and you can stay in my room until 6:30, when I will bring you back. I thought nothing of it. I had known him for over a year at this point, and there had never been the slightest inappropriate move from him. I had a boyfriend, Uche, and would actually tell him everything about Uche and me. He eventually, after about seven months of going to church and being a “new believer” had convinced me to break up with Uche, because it was sinful. It was fornication to be sleeping with Uche when we were not married he said all the time. I eventually did break up with Uche. At this point, Chris had never made any sexual overtures towards me, he was a pastor and I never even saw him as a remotely sexual being. I think about it now, and my innocence and naivety just astound me.
He used his key to let me into his room. It was a simple room with a single mattress on the floor. I stayed inside, asked him to please call me at 6:30 am, and he went outside. There was no power; it was dark and abominably hot, so I undressed to my half-slip and bra and covered myself with the bed sheet, there was no pillow, and fell asleep. I had never stayed up all night before that day. I was rudely awakened maybe 45 minutes later by a naked Chris forcing my legs apart at the knees. He had simply unlocked the door with his key and come inside to attack me. He proceeded to rape me.
I was very asthmatic at the time and I went in to a severe attack afterwards. It was still dark, and he couldn’t find a light to look for my Ventolin inhaler which I carried everywhere. I was gasping and crying, and having a panicked asthma attack and just in total shock! I said “hospital, hospital!” He also appeared to panic. He got a light finally and we got my inhaler, but it wasn’t helping. We rushed to the hospital, where I was given the usual slow push Theophylline injection. It was almost 830 am by the time we were done at the hospital. I said just take me home. He knelt down on the floor, started crying and begging and said it was the devil that had caused it. That it was because God had done great miracles that night that the devil had to use him to attack me. I wasn’t having any of it.
He took me home and I told everyone that he was never to come to the house again. I also told my sister what had happened and we all steered clear of him. We also told our gateman never to let him into the house again. I went to Firebrand Assembly and told the pastor’s wife Mrs. Ayo Amaso, what Chris has done, and she said she had nearly warned me to be careful, but that since I didn’t come to the church with him all the time, she assumed that I was not that close to him. I stayed away from him no matter how many times he would waylay me when I was entering or leaving the estate. If I was walking somewhere, he would walk alongside me; tell me about unforgiveness and how unforgiveness was a sin, and how none of my prayers would ever be answered if I did not forgive him.
It was constant harassment. I had already been stopped from going to school by some men, now another man had raped me, and was now forcing me to forgive him. I was very angry. He would come to the hospital where I was transcribing the files, and would wait the whole day. When I took the bus home, he would be on it. I could barely take a breath without him being there. He continually harassed me about my unforgiveness. He told me he had already confessed his sin and that he had been forgiven, and that if he died today he would go to heaven, but that I was not forgiven and would not be until I forgave him. He also said that until I forgave him, that I was not to bother to say any prayers as God would not answer any of them. I was not forgiving, therefore I could not be forgiven any sins and none of my prayers would be answered.
Now my greatest prayer was to come to Canada to finish my education, and I was secretly terrified that if my prayers did not get answered than my life would be over. I would not be able to go to school ever. I was the most confused person alive. After about five months of him trailing me everywhere, I finally just gave in and told him that I had forgiven him, but that I would never go anywhere with him or be friends again. I kept going to the other church and continued to live my life and he finally stayed away.
About a month after I had told him I forgave him, I got invited to Ghana for my interview at the Canadian High Commission. I was absolutely petrified; I was convinced that I hadn’t got my prayers answered until I had forgiven Chris. I know now that it was simply the wheels of the Canadian Immigration process taking its usual slow times, but at that point I was just in fear. I talked it over with my sisters and we all naively thought it must be the truth about God and Christianity and that Chris knew what he was saying about God. We were convinced he was truly a strong pastor and that it was the devil that had tempted him like he said. The next time I saw him on the street, I told him all was okay, and that I had completely forgiven him, and that I would soon be going to Canada if all went well.
He asked me to give him some money to say some special prayers for me, and I gave him a thousand naira; about the equivalent of two days’ pay for a casual laborer. I also asked him to go to Ghana with me for the interview as a strange sort of good luck talisman. I went, was successful in my interview and I returned to Nigeria. I had to get my medical exams done for immigration purposes, and I went on to do that. The results of medicals were out after about three months. Things suddenly started to progress really quickly and by June of 1999 I had to return to Ghana to pick up my Immigrant Visa. It was like a dream come true. I was finally going to Canada! Every day was a wonderful day!
I kept on planning how I was going to go to school, how I was going to work very hard and get a first class degree, because I had heard that in Canada, if you got a first class degree, all your post graduate education would be free. I also started to plan how to pay back the Canadian government for giving me a new chance at life. I contacted the ambassador’s office, but was told that they could not accept any kinds of gifts. I was told that there were many ways to serve in Canada, and that I could join the police or the army, or the Public Service of Canada, which I wasn’t sure what it was, but I promised myself that I would find out. I also promised them that I would never be among the people that took money from the government…welfare I later found out it was called.
I was no longer enemies with Chris by this time, but I made sure I was absolutely never alone with him. He came again to Ghana with me to pick up my visa package; it was only an 8 hour drive by road. He has family in Ghana, so he stayed with them while I stayed at a guest house. The morning when he came to pick me up to go back to Nigeria, he said that he had to tell me something. I figured I was safe at the hotel, and if I screamed people would hear me. He said “I’m not touching you, but I have to tell you, that you and I slept together since you became a Christian, and that means you have a sexual covenant with me. The only way you will ever be able to be free of this is to marry me.”
I looked at him as though he were a lunatic. What he was saying seemed so outlandish to me that I started to laugh. I said Chris, you’re a Ghanaian, you’re not educated, you cannot read or write properly, you are poor as a church rat, you have no job, no prospects, can you really imagine my parents allowing me to marry you?” I said don’t worry, when I am in Canada, I will send you some money and you will find a nice girl from Ghana to marry. I told him I was not interested in marriage, and I was going to school in Canada. He went in to the bathroom, then came out and grabbed my wrist. I had already started to scream, but what he did was to take a sharp blade and make three quick cuts across my wrist. He then brought out his wrist which was already bleeding and pressed it to mine. He said “I have put our blood together. Now not only do we have a sexual covenant, we also have a blood covenant. Our bloods have been mixed together.” I just sat down on the bed and stared at him as if he had suddenly sprouted another head. I was in shock.
He said “the only way you can ever break this is to marry me, or else you will never be free. If you try to marry someone else after this, or if you sleep with someone else after this, one of you must die.” Now I had been going to Church in Nigeria, and had heard all the kinds of dire warning about the evils of entering into a blood covenant. I knew nothing about the dynamics of it; all I had heard was that people usually died from it. I was terrified. I left Chris and returned home to Nigeria by myself. All the joy just went away from my relocation plans. My parents and siblings were baffled by the change that came over me. I just told them that I was really unhappy that I was leaving home.
I said to my father when he kept pressing, “Daddy you know how you like my soup and my beans. Who is going to cook for you like me?” Who will run all your errands? You know I am your son in a dress, who will do all your banking? He said, I will come and visit you, so don’t worry. I cried all the time from the sorrow of what Chris had done, and my poor family just thought that I was sad to be leaving them. I was sad about that of course, but I felt that the blood covenant had cast an evil pall over what should have been at that point the greatest joy of my life.
I left to Canada soon after and arrived on September 19, 1999. I was twenty-six years old. I decided I would start a new life, get an education, and forget about ever being with a man if it meant I would die. I decided I would cross that bridge if I ever came to it. I decided I would tell people I was already married so that no one would want me. That way I would be safe and also keep any potential suitors safe. I soon started to work in Canada, started to attend Church and started to make plans to return to school. I tried to get in to the University of British Columbia UBC, but nothing would transfer over from Nigeria.
I met a wonderful professor, an icon in the Nigerian society, a doctor who is listed in
Every Who is Who and lists of successful black people, Dr. Godwin Eni and his family. He advised me to forget any schooling I had done prior to now, and enroll in grade 12 and start over. For someone who was half way through medical school already, it was at that point unthinkable for me, and to my everlasting shame, I did not listen to him. Gracious as he is, when I poured all my woes and all I had been through since I had been in Canada to him, when we reconnected two years ago he said “no regrets Amaka, have a positive outlook. Don’t look back, only go forward.”
I finally enrolled in Trinity Western University to do a BSC in Biology and I started school. Before very long two things happened; one was that Chris started to call me. He had got my phone number from my aunt and he started to call me day and night. I started to suffer anxiety. I didn’t know who to turn to. My school work started to suffer. I wasn’t sure what to do. I just started to call back to explain to him that I’m sorry I can never be your wife, but that only made him very mad. I then sent him $2,000 thinking like a fool that he would back off. He now started to call, not just to harass me and rain insults on me, but also to demand that I send him more money. I refused.
He now told me that he had applied to a Bible College here, and that he had a vision from God, and that the dean of the college’s name was Dave. I forget the last name now, and that he would soon be in Canada. I started to slowly confide in a Caucasian friend of mine. I didn’t tell her the full story because it all sounded crazy to me, an African, and I wasn’t sure just how out of the realm of reality it would seem to a Caucasian. Chris said he had applied for a student visa and would soon be here. I really panicked at the thought that he would actually get here. He didn’t get the student visa, and when I asked him about it later, saying I thought you said that it was God that had said you were getting a student visa to the bible college? He said he was only joking. I hadn’t yet learned that everything that he said was a lie, and that it was as natural as breathing for him to just fabricate things.
The second thing was that I ran in to an old boyfriend, Nonso, who had wanted to marry me in the past, but my mom even though she really liked him, had asked him to allow me to finish school. He didn’t know that I was in Canada. He had come to Toronto for business he said, and a friend had brought him to Vancouver. I ran into them completely by accident when I was shopping at the Metrotown mall in Burnaby. I actually thought I was dreaming when I saw Nonso. He and I went to dinner later that night, but with the fear of the blood covenant that Chris told me he had me in, I refused to spend the night with him. I did kiss him and make out with him, but we did not actually have sex. He returned to Nigeria soon after, and he would call me from there. After about two months, he stopped calling. I called my sister Frances, and asked her to please go look for him for me, and make sure he was alright, because it was not like him not to call me. About a week later, my sister called me from Logos and said “Amaka, you’re not going to believe this, but your friend Nonso is dead.” I asked what happened to him, she said they’re not sure, but he suddenly slumped and died in his place. I asked was it an asthma attack?
Nonso was asthmatic too, and he was really careless about his management. He was forever misplacing his inhaler and borrowing mine, and sometimes we would go to the pharmacy and buy six inhalers, so that he would always have one near him. I carried two when we were going out. We always made jokes that we’d better not marry as one of us had to be breathing, or how we would hide an oxygen tank in my wedding dress, or how we would live in a gigantic oxygen tank when we got married. I couldn’t believe Nonso was dead, just like that. I started not sleeping and couldn’t go to school. I soon became convinced that Chris had truly done something to me and that Nonso had died for kissing and making out with me. I started to have nightmares about dying, I was so traumatized. I started to answer his phone calls. He asked me to leave school in 2000, and to come to Ghana where he now lived and marry him. I was convinced that if I didn’t do as he said, I too would soon shortly be dead. I dropped out from school and went to Ghana.
I married Chris and not a single member of my family was there. I was in a complete fugue. I knew absolutely no one at the wedding. I think there were about eight people there. One of the two things I can remember about the registry wedding was that at one point I saw my reflection in a window and I said “God, I really hate these earrings.” The second thing I remember was that when I was signing the marriage certificate, I noticed that the “groom’s name” said Joshua Agbey. When I asked Chris who Joshua Agbey was, was this maybe the wrong paper? He pressed my hand tightly and said “just sign” so I did. When I asked him about it later, he said well he had applied for a Canadian visa with the name “Chris Ehli –Joshua,” so he had to change the name so that when I filed for him to come to Canada, his name would not be in the computer, because he had to say that he had never before applied for a Canadian visa. This further compounded my fear and shock. I was dealing with a devil. I said I thought your name was Christopher Avor, and he said forget it.
The rest of my days in Ghana were a blur. I stayed for about a month, which I spent mostly vomiting from anxiety, and the stress of how I was going to inform my parents about the awful things that had happened to me. Eventually, I did not have the courage to go to Nigeria, so I returned to Canada, without going home to Nigeria knowing that my life was over. Back home in Canada, I got a new job at the then Revenue Canada, it was part of the Public service, and I still wanted to fulfill my promise of service to my adopted homeland. I didn’t think I would be able to pass the physical tests for the army or the police, so I was happy to get into Revenue Canada. I started to work for the GST section and then as an Error Inspections agent in the T1 individual returns section. I started to eat to mask my misery. I would eat a 325g box of Rice Krispies with over half of a 1.5L bowl of ice cream in one sitting until I was so full, I would start to vomit.
A German friend of mine Udo who I hadn’t seen in years was in Vancouver, saw me at the convention center and came to talk to me. I must have seemed like a madwoman to Udo I said “Sorry Udo, I cannot talk to you. I cannot be near you,” and just ran from him. He couldn’t have imagined that in my complete fear of Chris that I was trying to save his life and/or my life too. I continued to work and to send money to Chris.
The phone calls were unending. I had given up all hope by then. I called my sister Ifeoma, and told her everything. She said she would go to a pastor in Redeemed church who she was sure was a real pastor, and she could ask. She called me back within a week to say that she couldn’t see a Redeemed Church pastor, that it took too long, but that she had been to a church called Mountain of Fire and Miracles, and that she had been told that a blood covenant was a deadly thing, and that two people involved had to break it in agreement, if at all, and also that it frequently involved death. My sister and I agreed that I was completely trapped, and that I really had no choice but to put in my sponsorship papers for him.
I was defeated, and I knew it. I put in the sponsorship papers. I stopped talking to him on the phone, there was nothing to say. I would never answer when he called. I asked Ifeoma not to let my parents know. I would figure out how to tell them in due time. As Chris’ documentation progressed, I would mail any documents that needed signing to him. I hardly called. He got my email from the forms I’d filled and would have his friend email me all the time. I would delete them unread. Now I wish I hadn’t because that would be proof of some of what he had done to me, but each email seemed to taunt me, and I would never read them, just delete, delete, delete. I soon got tired of the pressure of avoiding him. If I ever forgot to turn off the ringer on the phone before I went to bed, he would call. The thing about avoiding his calls was that I missed countless other calls, including quite a few from my parents who wanted to know how school was progressing. I put the phone back on. Chris kept harassing me about returning to Africa. “How can you be in Canada when your husband is here?” I would tell him “you are not my husband, I did not choose you. You have not paid my family my dowry; I don’t care what paper you have or what you have done. You are a stranger to me. My family does not know you and I do not know you.” “You are a thief who has stolen my life. He, of course, soon wore me down, and I applied for a returning resident permit and went to Ghana. I was soon sick of the place. I could not eat their food, so I had no form of comfort. He and I were not lovers, so there was no going out together, dating or anything, just sex when he felt like, and I would just lie there and float out of my body in my mind. I would pretend I was back in Canada wandering around the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, which was one of my patrol sites in my second job working as a security guard, or I would see myself cleaning my apartment, and looking out onto the street below, or I would visualize myself as a young girl in my parents’ home with my mom and dad making jokes. My favorite place was in our living room in Lagos one evening when everyone was gathered together watching TV, I suddenly sat up and said “shh, everyone, mommy, daddy, everyone, I have something to say.” They all turned their attention to me, and I said “please listen carefully, I have something very crucial to tell you all” “You know what? You are all really very lucky, you mom and dad for having a fantastic daughter like me, and my brothers and sisters to be blessed with a great sister like me.” My mum gave me a playful slap, but not before my sisters sent all kinds of missiles – couch pillows, bedroom slippers, and even a pajama top – flying at my head with “stupid girl, crazy sister, etc. and just gales of laughter from everyone. My father actually me 100 Naira and said “you’re right, funny girl.” That was my favorite place, and I visualized it all the time. I was also very lucky in that Chris suffered severe premature ejaculation so that it never lasted more than three to five minutes. There was no more joy and laughter in my life. I was a prisoner to a stranger. Many times I thought of why I did not go out with the cult boys. At least they were Nigerian. I would have eventually been able to handle a Nigerian man, instead of this Ghanaian devil.
The daily routine in Ghana was fairly simple. Every morning at about 5am, he woke me up and took me to an open field, where people gathered and screamed morning prayers at the top of their voices for about an hour. Then everyone would break up in to groups and go from street to street preaching loudly and singing and clapping for about hour. At 7am they would gather again at the original field for closing prayers. Then again break up in to groups. Chris and his group with me as their reluctant captive would then go from house to house visiting people until about 11am. At each place we went to, we did nothing but sit down. I never said a word, not even a hello. I had started to pick up the language and I always heard him say she doesn’t understand. After sitting for 10 minutes he would say let’s pray, then the hosts would hand him a gift of money and he would go off to the next house. I would be falling down from exhaustion, humiliation, and shame. I couldn’t imagine what my father would think of me going from house to house in a strange place, essentially begging for money and/or food stuff. The mosquito bites I endured on that field were just incredible. Today I hate any mention of Ghana, and I cannot imagine going back there. After about two weeks of going begging, I started to refuse to do the prayer mornings. To compound my issues, one night as he had sex with my body, I was in my happy place in my father’s house and I actually laughed aloud. After he was done, he wanted to know why I was laughing. I had started to learn that silence was a powerful tool against him. I would go without saying anything for hours until my breath would start to stink from keeping my mouth closed. I didn’t answer him. He physically dragged me to the next morning prayer and told them that I was possessed by a demon, and they I needed to be delivered of it. You need to have been there to see the vultures. They pounced on me, they pulled me back and forth and they screamed in frenzy. I had seen enough of the deliverance sessions to know that if you resisted at all, that violent beatings would ensue in a bid to chase out the demons, so I stood silently as they pulled, yelled, shouted, and prodded at me – a medical doctor to be, a pampered child from a rich and loving home. I removed myself from there in my mind, and I must have lost consciousness because it was afternoon when I woke up, and I was back in the room where I lived. The next time he took me to go pray, I stood in the midst of them and deliberately peed myself. That was a brilliant move, because even though Chris gave me the most miserable beating, he never again took me to prayer and begging, which was a good thing, because I had planned to defecate the next time.
When he went out every day, I started to wander the streets of Tema, the city in Ghana where I was. I soon discovered a used bookseller, and I would sit at the kiosk all day long. I read every single book and magazine that he had in that place. Ten year old readers digest magazines, anything at all I could get my hands on. The old man charged me per day and I paid the equivalent of about $5 for one day. I spent twenty-two days there before I was discovered. I never told anyone where I was going or when I would be back. The man opened at 8:30 every morning and left by 6pm. After Chris found me there, I stopped going there. I continued wandering around the town daily and soon discovered an internet cafe. It became my new home. I spent even longer hours there. They also sold barbecued chicken and drinks there, so I spent whole days from 7am until sometime near 10:30pm there, paying per hour for internet access. Sometimes I would run to the used book seller, rent 2-3 books, read them the whole day, hide them at the Internet cafe, and return them the next day, all this time subsisting on a diet of Coca-Cola, bread, and barbecued chicken. As a means of escape, it didn’t get much better than books, food, lots of Coca-Cola, and the internet. One night, after about two weeks of hiding at the net cafe, I made my way back to the room. He was there waiting for me with a big stick. There was a carpenter in that house that made big boxes that fisherman stored and transported their catch in. Chris attacked me with the stick. I will always remember that night. He beat me with that stick and in a moment of sudden clarity, I looked around, found the same sort of stick, and just started to fight him back. I hit him everywhere that I could. I think that he was so shocked initially that he couldn’t move, that was just how unprepared he was for me to fight back. He called one of the carpenters and they beat me until I passed out. I woke up outside the compound with no clothes on. I realized that he must have stripped me naked and thrown me outside the gates. There were a man and a women standing over me, trying to wake me up. He said “my name is Seth Boakye, let me help you. This is my sister.” I was too far beyond shame by then. Their house was about 100 meters away. Seth’s sister took off her head tie and gave it to me to cover myself. I went to their house and was allowed to have a shower. Seth’s sister brought out some clothes, which she gave to me. I told them some of my story. They were appalled. Seth told me don’t look back, return to Canada, just run, and don’t wait for anything just go. I could not tell my whole story about how I was a prisoner, and how I was existing but not really alive. I still wasn’t able to tell them that Chris had put me under what I thought was a forever binding blood covenant, just because I didn’t know too much about blood covenants and that sort of thing yet. I spent the whole day asleep and when I woke up in the evening I was in a better condition to talk. They wanted to know if I knew other people besides Chris in Ghana, I told them that I remembered a lady from the church that Chris attended called Docia, and that she was married to a doctor. I also remembered the name of their church in Tema, Outreach church, and Seth left to try to find the pastor of the church. He came back later in the day to pick his sister and me up. He had found the home of Pastor Abakah who was in charge of the church, and had spent the day recounting my story to him. They had now called a few people together: a woman called Mrs. Zanor was among them. Chris was also there. Seth was so furious. He faced Chris at once, asking him how he could have brought me to the town, and left me outside to die. Chris said that he had been all around the town looking for me, that I was always disappearing, and that he went home to sleep because he thought I would show up sometime in the night like I always did. They asked if he was unaware that I had been beaten up and that I was naked, and he replied that I had been disobedient and had gone out without his permission, and that he had beaten me, but that he had not thrown me outside the gates. They kept asking him how I had ended up unconscious and unclothed and outside, but he wouldn’t respond. Pastor Abakah, who I guess to be about sixty years old at the time, knelt on the floor before me and begged my forgiveness, saying how sorry he was that this had happened. Mrs. Zanor asked me to come and stay in her house since I knew no one else. She said I didn’t have to stay with Chris, and to come stay with her until I was able to arrange my return to Canada. I looked to Seth for guidance; I could see that he was barely controlling his anger. I stepped outside to speak with Seth and his sister. Seth kept insisting that I do nothing but buy a ticket to return to Canada. I could not tell him that I felt I was under this bondage of the blood covenant, and that I could never be free no matter where I was; I couldn’t tell them that I felt that I was under a curse, and that it was either stay married to this man, or lose my life. I finally said to them, I am married to this person and have put his papers through. I am going to see it through. I am also hoping that all he will want from me is to go to Canada and that once he was there that I would either run from him, or that he would leave me. Canada was to be my safe haven. Canada was my dreamland after all, the home of my heart, and there was no way I would ever not be safe there. Seth did his absolute best to try to get me to leave. He said, why are you not seeing, how can you not see that these people are not Christians?. The other people now came out from the house and the Pastor said, remember that marriage is forever, that God hates divorce. Seth gave me his phone number and email address. He said if you change your mind, call me or email me, and we will come take you to the airport. I felt as defeated and forlorn as he looked as they left. I have not seen Seth Boakye or his sister since that day.
I went to stay with Mrs. Zanor; I was still very desperate. I wanted to die. I thought about killing myself, but I didn’t want to hurt my parents and my siblings who loved me so much. My parents had already lost one of us not five years before, and I couldn’t imagine putting them through the same sort of anguish yet again. I continued to stay with Mrs. Zanor, and sure enough, before very long, Chris started to come there. I would usually never come out while he was there, but one day I heard raised voices. It was Chris shouting about a Caucasian man he said had defrauded him and some friends of his. I was in the kitchen, and crept unseen towards a corridor near the living room where I could listen in, without being seen. He was talking about a man called Lindsay.
I had met Lindsay when I was still staying at the other house with Chris. Chris had told him that I was from Canada, and he had come over to visit with a lady friend of his. He and I had chatted, and I’d asked him what he was doing in Ghana, he said that Africa was the easiest place in the world to make a lot of money, and that he was on business. He was a giant of a man. He had to have been about 6’5” and over 280lbs. He had sandy thinning hair, and his skin had been burnt quite brown by the endless equatorial sun of Ghana. He also had a large bulbous nose, and a rather rotund belly, which he encouraged to grow by downing large quantities of beer.
On the first day he came to visit, I remember that he had about six beers, which was all that I could find in the house. I recall being embarrassed that he kept asking if there was more. The biggest part of him however was his laugh, the most gigantic guffaw that I had ever heard. I remember him asking me questions about Canada and what I thought about my new homeland, and when I answered some of them, he called me ‘baby’ and ‘naïve’, and said, you will soon grow out of some of those illusions. He said, Africa is the best place. You should return to your parents in Nigeria. I thought him harmless.
Chris kept saying that Lindsay was an American, but he didn’t sound American to me. I had lived in Canada for over 18 months by now, and had started to pick out accents. He did not sound American in the least bit. I thought I detected some European quality to his accent, not British though. It turned out that Lindsay had been collecting hundreds of thousands of Cedis (Ghanaian currency) from the Ghanaians, telling them that he would obtain American Visas for them. At that time in Ghana there was a frenzy of people wanting to go to America, people wanting desperately to go anywhere but be in Ghana. They could go to Canada, Israel, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Japan, just about anywhere but to be in Ghana.
In those days, the Ghanaian economy was being powered by Ghanaians abroad; remitting money through Western Union and Moneygram to their country, and the dream of them all, old and young was to be “abroad”. Lindsay saw the desperation of all the people he met, and one could almost not blame him when he started to collect money from them with the promise of an American Visa. It quickly became a strange Ponzi sort of scam in which he collected money from a lot of people, and when they started to get impatient about the visas which never materialized, he would simply pay off the older clients with the money from the newer ones.
I had actually said to a friend of Chris’ called Sammie who had shown me a salon on a day that I had needed to have my hair done, that he was not to give any money to Lindsay, that I did not think that Lindsay was an American, or have any connections to the American embassy. I thought I was repaying his kindness, for showing me the way to the salon, but he told Chris what I had said, and Chris then asked me never to talk to Sammie or anybody I met again, so I didn’t.
From my hiding place, I then heard Chris tell Mrs. Zanor that he had gone with his friends to confront Lindsay, and that they had told him that if he did not repay the money within seven days, that he would die. At this time, I was not seeing Chris or speaking to him, but when I heard what he said, I came out into the living room. I had lived in Canada, and I missed her dreadfully, staying in Ghana. In a very tiny way, this white man represented Canada to me, in that in Canada, there is such an eclectic mix of people, that you could meet just about anybody from anywhere. Granted that Lindsay was just this buffoon of a man, a con artist who had taken money from gullible fools, I didn’t think he deserved to die. I was scared enough of Chris at that point to firmly believe that he would indeed do something to Lindsay. I hadn’t saved myself, and here I was trying to save someone else!
I decided to intervene on his behalf. I said please don’t kill him. Please talk to him and give him time to get the money for you guys. I said you should have known that he is not an American. All white men are not Americans. Chris said what is it to you? Are there not enough black men, now you are after a white man? Is this what you have been busy doing in Canada? Sleeping with white men? He ignored me and continued to rail; seven days and that’s it. He soon left. I tried to talk to Mrs. Zanor, but she said she had to go out, so I had no choice but to let the matter drop. I started to count down the days. I went to the internet café once more to see if I would find someone that knew Lindsay. I took a cab and paid him, asking him to drive around some of the bars to see if I would spot Lindsay. I figured Chris would beat me, but not kill me, as I was still his ticket to Canada. I didn’t find him though. I was having all kinds of nightmares about people being mobbed or being killed while I looked on.
After about a week, Mrs. Zanor came back from church with Sammie, Chris and some other people. Chris was saying, “yes people have to know where the power is. You cannot just cheat people and go free”. I came out. I said “what happened to Lindsay”? Chris said, what is your connection to the man? Why is he important? Anyway he is dead! I was stupefied. He is dead? I asked repeatedly. “Yes dead”! I was paralyzed by the most intense fear I have ever felt in my life. I could not believe I was still standing there. I asked what happened to him. Chris said, “he went to a hotel with a prostitute and then he died”. I asked “did the prostitute kill him?” He said “I wasn’t there when it happened. All I know is that he is dead. We have to show people that there are powers and then there are powers”.
He went on to say, “anyway I came to take you back, so pack your things and let’s go”. I didn’t know if Mrs. Zanor was also afraid or what, but she never said a word, or even looked at me. I packed my bags and went with Chris. If I had thought that Chris was evil before, that was nothing. The death of Lindsay now had me even more firmly convinced that he was the embodiment of real evil. I was living a nightmare every single moment, asleep or awake, I was in a nightmare.
I was in fear of doing or saying anything to make him angry. I went back to the room where I had been living. I still escaped during the day to a different internet café, but I would always be back before he came back from the morning praying and begging. I sometimes would go in the early evenings as he would have gone out in the afternoons to return late at night. I only stayed out for an hour or two each time.
I do not know till now if Lindsay died of natural causes, or if indeed Chris and his people had killed him. I do not know if Lindsay was his first name or his last name, I do not know where he was from or anything more about him. In fact if I had seen the clouds open and an angel from heaven had come out and told me that Chris had had nothing to do with the death of Lindsay, I would have refused to believe that angel. That was how great my terror of Chris was. I can still hear Lindsay laugh today, and I can hear him call me ‘innocent girl’ as he drank six beers.
I stopped thinking about running away, or not being married to Chris. I had no plans for escape. I was trapped and that was it. I was going to stay married and take him to Canada. Things would be better there I promised myself. I said Chris would not be able to beat me with a stick or do all the other evil things he had done to me, or rape me just whenever he felt like it. I would be in a safe environment, and maybe once he was in Canada, he would think I wasn’t good enough for him, or he would find another woman to prey on. I started feeling a bit hopeful. I was sick of being in Ghana by now. I decided to petition the High Commissioner to allow for Chris’s processing to be expedited so that I could return home to Canada.
I had given up my job, my apartment, sold my car, and borrowed some money from my friend Twy to add to what I had saved up. All of that was exhausted. I was also constantly on the verge of a major asthma attack due to the poorer air quality, and my inhalers were nearly gone. I needed to get out of Ghana. I also thought that I was pregnant, because I hadn’t had a period in 3 months and was suffering severe nausea and vomiting. Now, I wonder if I really was, and had miscarried early or if the severe stress and pressure that I was under had caused a hormonal imbalance. I guess I’ll never know.
The High Commission soon answered and agreed that the application was straight forward, and that Chris could come for his medical forms. He went to Accra to pick them up. I stayed in the room and threw up. I paid for the medicals to be done, and soon the results were out. I was really looking forward to returning to Canada. I longed to breathe easier, and to return to school as soon as possible. Schooling was my initial reason for moving to Canada, and I could not lose sight of that goal. After Chris got his Permanent Resident visa, I told him that I would return to Canada, in order to look for money to send to him to come, but he refused totally.
He said we would go together, or that we would not go at all. He asked me to go to Nigeria to get money from my father. I said no! My father thinks that I am in School in Canada. How am I going to explain my presence in Africa? I also said that my mom would take a look at me and know that there was something wrong with me, as I am so sick. He asked me to call my uncle in the UK. I did, but my sister Ifeoma had told him that I was married to Chris. He was very angry about it, and he refused to help me. He said, “Chris is a man, let him find the money”. The only one I could think of was a man I will call Sunny to protect his family. He and I had met in Nigeria, and he helped me during the process of applying for my immigrant visa. We were really good friends. His wife was from near my village, and she and I spent a lot of time together, even though it was Sunny whom I had first met and become friends with. He was also a Canadian resident, and he shuttled back and forth between Lagos Nigeria where he had his businesses and Scarborough Ontario where he lived. I called him and told him my situation, and that I needed $5000 and without hesitation, he said, sure come to Lagos and get it. I said I couldn’t come to Lagos without seeing my parents, that it would be too difficult for me. He understood, and said he would fly into Ghana to give me the money and return the next day. That’s how good of a friend he was.
Sunny did come to Accra the next day, and of course Chris went with me to his hotel, where he gave me the money.; being first and foremost a business man, he had drawn up an agreement between us which basically said that I would pay him back the money once I returned to work in Canada, and that I would pay $500 a month for 10 months through the Royal Bank ‘pay other Royal Bank Customer’ feature online since we both had Royal Bank accounts. I still have a copy of the agreement.
I went and booked the tickets for the trip back to Canada. I booked two different seats, one in the middle for him, and one in the far back, near the toilets in the back for myself; I had read somewhere that in the event of a plane crash that the survivors were usually from the tail end of the aircraft. I figured that if the plane crashed, I would survive and he wouldn’t. I was so desperate to get away from him that I didn’t think about the other passengers in the plane. He loomed so large in my life, that it was as if he was the only person apart from me in the world. I couldn’t see beyond my intense fear of him. The plane didn’t crash, and we arrived in Frankfurt. It was the saddest thing you ever saw. We walked apart like the strangers that we were. I gave him money and said go find something to eat, and I went to look for the showers. I paid some money and spent the better part of an hour in the showers trying to wash away the dirt and grime and suffering and shame I had just survived. I cried great tears and just kept taking in deep breaths to give my lungs a break from the red dust of Ghana.
I then went to a café at the top of a set of escalators and sat down, looking out onto the level below. I don’t know where Chris had gone to, but I saw him at the bottom of the escalators. I soon realized that he didn’t know how to come up on the apparently ‘moving staircase’. As I watched, he suddenly took a jump onto the up escalator and then screamed all the way to the top where he jumped off and landed on both hands and knees. As someone gave him a hand up to his feet, I sat in the café and covered my face with the newspaper I had bought and just howled in laughter. I hadn’t laughed for months, and it was just comical in the extreme for me to see the big bad evil captor afraid of an escalator. I saw him stand at the top and watched him, as he watched people getting on and off the escalators.
After I ate, I took him down the escalators once more, as I told him we had to have our boarding passes validated downstairs; same thing. He jumped on, held on tightly, and then jumped off at the bottom, again falling down. I don’t know how I kept from screaming in laughter, but I didn’t. When we arrived in Vancouver, I could hardly wait to see a repeat performance of escalator-phobia at the Vancouver airport, but sadly there were stairs as well, and he took the stairs. Although once in Canada, even though we stayed at the basement suite that I shared with my friend Rose and we could have gone to the Service Canada (then HRSDC), office just down the road on King George avenue to get him a Social Insurance number and all the things new immigrants had to do, I took him to the downtown office because there are a wicked set of escalators in the Granville street Skytrain station, and I had to see him on those. He was also afraid of the Skytrain, and kept demanding to know where the driver was. I was dying of laughter. I told him that the driver might be in another car, and that I would go see.
I got off, left him and went to the next car, where I just was falling over in laughter. I still remember the looks of the other people on the train till today as they also smiled at me and some laughed along with me wondering what was funny I am sure, as I looked through to the other car watching Chris frantically looking around for me and possibly the driver. I went back and told him I couldn’t find the driver. When we arrived at Granville station, he didn’t want to go up the escalators, but the push of people forced to him to. On our way back he sat on the down escalators and rode on his behind all the way down, before falling off at the bottom. I discovered that he had a fear of heights. I wish it had occurred to me in those days, I would have taken him to the top of the Space Needle in Seattle WA.
I promised myself I would research all the escalator locations in Vancouver and take him on all of them, but I never did. I also never knew how or when he found out that the Skytrain has no drivers. We didn’t talk that much.
We arrived in Vancouver in the first week of December 2001; I had made up my mind after the death of Lindsay that I would stay married to Chris. I didn’t think I had any other option. I called Ifeoma in Nigeria and told her to let my mum know that I was married to Chris. My mum called me back within a few hours and asked ‘what is this nonsense about marrying anyone?’ Where did you see Chris? I couldn’t tell her the whole story. I said Ifeoma will explain. She said, ‘just get that marriage nonsense out of your head. You are not married, we do not recognize it. Our daughters do not get given away like trinkets. Where is his family and where is your dowry? You are not married in our eyes and in the eyes of our community, so just forget it. Your father has been ill, and I am not even going to mention this to him. Face your studies and finish your degree. Your father and I will come for your graduation next year, and we will sort out this rubbish then. She didn’t know I had not been in the university for over a year at that point. I couldn’t say anything more to her, so I said ‘ok mummy’ and that was it. I started trying to get back to my job at the Surrey Tax Centre. I called and left many messages for my supervisor Merrill, as I needed to go back to work so that I could start to repay Sunny his money.
I did not get any answer. I told Chris that he would need to start looking for a job. He said ‘I am a pastor, and pastors don’t work’. I said well you are going to need to work here. Everybody works. Either that or you can go to school, so you can learn to read and write properly. His reading and writing was at about grade 1 level. I said it doesn’t matter what job you get here, you’re going to need to be able to read. Everything here is about paper and forms and there is nothing that you do that will not require the ability to read and write, not just working. I reminded him about the money for Sunny and he just started to scream at me. ‘Do you think I don’t know that that big man was your boyfriend? I said “yes, every man in the world is my boyfriend”. I said “do you think that if he was my boyfriend that I would have taken you to meet him”? “I know what you do! You kill people. I know what you did to Lindsay, and I know what you did to my friend Nonso. You are a killer. He is not my boyfriend, he has never been. If he was you would have killed him by now. His wife is from my village, we are just friends. He is a very kind person, but you know nothing about kindness”. He said “how can anyone give you $5000”. I said ‘my parents are not paupers; my friends are all rich people.’ You are the only poor person that I know. He said well, I am not working and that man is getting nothing from me. We argued on and off about it for a week. Christmas and New Year 2002 came and went. I remember nothing about it.
On the evening of January 6th 2002, he came in the door, I don’t recall where he had gone to, and he brought a sheet of paper to me, and said, can you tell me what this says? I was sitting at the computer filling out job applications, as I had not yet received a call back from my supervisor, even though I called her on an almost daily basis. I said ‘no, I will never read anything for you. I have told you to go to school to learn English. The government and many churches and other places have free ESL for new immigrants, which you are, so here, I pushed a big telephone book towards him, look there, and you will see ESL, go find a place to learn your English. In those days, TELUS was called BCTel, and they published this big phone directory called the Whitepages. It had to have been about 8-10lbs in weight if not more. He picked up the phone book and threw it at my face. I got up to run, and he caught me and threw me down and the ground and just started to beat me. I couldn’t get up. I was screaming for the landlord upstairs ‘Pinky, Pinky help me’ I was on the ground, and his foot was close by, so I grabbed it, and before he could move, I bit him just above his ankle. That earned me even more blows and kicks. Then he suddenly stopped and ran outside. I didn’t know that Pinky had heard me and had called the police. I got up off the ground and was going to sit on the couch when a policeman came in; he said we talked with your husband and he said asked you a question about that sheet of paper, and you attacked him with a phonebook, causing him to fall on the ground, at which point you proceeded to bite him. I was dumbstruck. I couldn’t respond for a while. I told the officer what had truly happened and he said, ok where did he hit you, show me the bruises.
This is where I will continually decry the fact that just high school graduates are allowed to enroll in the police force. There should be a limit of at least a university degree before one can become a policeman considering the level of public contact that they have. Since being with Chris, I have had police encounters a total of five times, and it was only once out of those five times that I ever heard any of the policemen show any evidence of intelligence; either that, or Chris hypnotized them, something I am now willing to consider, after everything that I know of him. I said to the policeman. I am really dark skinned; you are not going to see any bruises on me. He said, but I see bite marks on him. I said, but he threw me on the ground and was beating me. I was defending myself, I was on the ground, and his leg was the closest thing to me. He said I am arresting you based on the evidence that I see. So within three weeks of Chris arriving in Canada, I was in jail for the first time in my life. I was released on bail the next day, on my own recognizance, and placed on a peace bond. I had to take an anger management course, and report to a bail supervisor for a couple of months. I returned to the house, and packed up all my things. I called my roommate Rose and told her that I was leaving, that I would come for my computer the next day. Chris refused to allow me to leave. He was very excited about my having been arrested. He said ‘Rubbish Canada. I thought they said women are the owners of this country? I will show you that I am in charge of you here’. He said if I tried to leave that he would cut his leg with a knife and he would call the police and I would be back in jail; this at a time when I was under a peace bond. I told him that he’d wanted to come to Canada and that he was now in Canada; so that he was free to do whatever he wanted, but that I would not be staying.
He tried to beat me again, but I ran into the room and locked the door, determined to leave the next day. The next morning he was after me again. He rained all kinds of curses on me. He said if I didn’t show him some respect that he would curse me and I would not be able to get a job or go back to school. I ended up not moving out, but I also would not allow him to sleep in the room or on my bed. Every night he would come to force himself on me. When I tried to refuse, he would slap me on the face many times as he raped me and he would call me prisoner. He would cut off my air supply by putting his arm just below my neck and leaning on me, until I would be gasping in panic and crying for my inhaler, which he never gave me until he was done. He would be chanting prisoner where is your uniform repeatedly.
I finally devised a way to keep him out of the bed. I went to Wal-Mart and bought a waterproof mattress cover. Every night I would drink about three glasses of water and would not go pee when I felt like. After he raped me and fell asleep, I would then pee on the bed, soaking him and the whole bed. He would then wake up and call me all kinds of names, before leaving to sleep on the couch. I would then go bathe, and then change the sheets before sleeping peacefully alone in my bed. Whenever he came to my bed, he was sure to be peed on, but whenever he didn’t, my bed would be dry. I did this for months, and wondered that he never caught on.
I kept on trying to call my supervisor, and soon started to get worried about not being able to return to my job, or even to get a new job. I had only ever attended three job interviews in Canada, and all three times, I had got the jobs, so I was really worried about not even getting a single call about a job. I began to be afraid that Chris had indeed put a curse on me and that was why I was unable to get a job.
Rose and I attended Calvary Worship Centre, a predominantly black church in Burnaby at the time, pastored by a Ghanaian, and after my ordeal in Ghana, I was loathe to have anything to do with any other Ghanaian; but the pastor of that church called me up and asked me to bring Chris to the church. He and his wife had been very kind to me when I first arrived in Canada, so I took Chris to his church to meet him. I hadn’t been going to church since coming to Canada with Chris. He had been going out and about, and I don’t recall now if Rose took him to Calvary Worship first.
When he came back from the church, he decided he was going to start his own church. He said he would start by having prayers for people there in the basement suite. He kept going to Calvary Worship, and was soon telling people he would perform deliverance on them and cast out whatever demons was causing any problems in their lives. I had many comments that I really badly wanted to make, but since most of them would be vitriolic in nature, I kept them to myself.
He kept on going to the church and soon enough a lot of the people started to come from the church to the suite for prayers. When I was there, I would watch in astonishment as these prayer meetings went on, with all the screaming at devils to ‘Come out! Come out!’ but I mostly just ran away before the meetings started. I would go to the malls and wander around, or I would go to the library until they closed at 9pm. The Pastor at Calvary Worship soon heard about the goings-on and called me to bring Chris to him again, and so I did. I have no idea what they talked about, as they went to the pastor’s office, and closed the door. On our way back to the suite though, Chris said so many times, that man is mad, he is so stupid, etc. he just kept ranting about what an idiot he was. I did not say a single word, not even to ask, ‘so why is he stupid?’
The end of January passed, and it was the first week of February 2002. I was still out of a job. My friend Sunny was getting extremely angry with me and calling and emailing me. I sent him an email asking for his continued patience. I also picked up the phone and called Pastor Abakah, Chris’s supposed pastor in Ghana. I told him all that had transpired between Chris and me; he asked me to go kneel before Chris and ask his forgiveness and for him to release me from the curse that he had put on me. I initially refused, asking why I should. I had done him no wrong. I had brought him to Canada, incurred a $5000 debt because of him and then he had lied against me and caused me to go to jail. There was nothing good about him, and I had done nothing bad to him, so why go beg him?
Then Sunny sent me a scathing email, calling me a liar and a thief and asking for all his money immediately, and saying that the friendship was over. I went to Chris and said I was sorry I hadn’t read his paper and that I caused him to hit me with the phone book to forgive me and pray for me. He puffed himself up like a king and said prayers over my head as I knelt before him. I wondered what my father would think of this mess. I cannot even ever recall kneeling before my father. Chris did his little ceremony on a Tuesday, I remember it so clearly, and I swear on a stack of bibles, Merrill my supervisor from the tax center called me two days later on Thursday. She said ‘Amaka I have called you and left you so many messages, why haven’t you called back? Don’t you want your job back? I was in shock, I told her I had been calling her for over eight weeks and that she hadn’t called back.
I even went as far as to report to one of the directors after the fact. She insisted that she called me many times, and I maintain till today, that she never. My fear of Chris came back in full force. I fully believed that he had actually done something to me to prevent me from getting my job or a new job, and that things had only changed because I had gone to beg him. I was back in my chains. Now with the clarity of hindsight, I look at it, and I can say with some degree of certainty, that there was no curse, that it had merely been a question of timing.
I believe now that my supervisor simply hadn’t called me because there was not enough work in December and January, but since it was getting to the middle of February which is the beginning of tax season, that she simply needed experienced hands, and had no choice than to call me back since there was so much work to be done. At that time though, no one would have been able to convince me of this. My judgment was completely clouded by my intense fear of him. I believed that he was this evil person who could make bad things happen all around him, as evidenced by all that happened to me and the people that had died because of him.
I went back to work very subdued. I started to pay Sunny back with the very first paycheck. After I had made about four payments I started to call and ask him to forgive me. I explained the no work situation to him. He would not answer my calls or reply my emails. I called his wife and asked her to go to him on my behalf. She reported back that he said he never wanted to hear her mention my name again. I called his sister in law in Toronto, all in a bid to say just how sorry I was about the whole thing, and to explain how things had gone so wrong, but he refused to have anything to do with me. He never spoke to me again. I did pay up all the money, and then emailed to say it was done and that I was sorry. He did not respond. I learnt to my horror that he died about two years after this. I lay the blame for my losing a dear friend, and him not forgiving me on Chris.
I continued to live with Chris in the basement we shared with Rose. I would go to work and then spend evenings at the library studying. I had decided finally that I would heed Dr. Eni’s initial advice and start my grade 12 all over. I was fairly confident that I would be able to challenge any English, Biology and Chemistry exams even five years my last high school class, so I started to study up on Math 12 and Physics 12. Chris of course knew nothing about it, as I was sure he would do something to thwart it if he knew, so I said nothing. I did not even mention it to Rose.
Chris continued with the house fellowship. Even after the pastor from Calvary worship had cautioned him against siphoning off his members, he couldn’t be bothered. People would come to the house every Wednesdays and Fridays for meetings, and he would collect offerings from them each time they gathered. I thought wow what a total scam he has running here. He soon changed the Friday meetings to become all-night prayers. I was bemused. I was still doing my own bible studies intensely, trying to figure out the truth behind the whole Christianity situation. I also started to pray, because I figured that it would take God Himself to free me from Chris. I also wanted to know more about Christianity, so I unearthed the bible I brought with me from Africa when I first arrived in Canada, and started to study intently. I also bought tapes and books from preachers like Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. I was quite shocked to see that Kenneth Hagin talked about casting out demons like Chris did. I decided I would not delve too deeply into that aspect of things as they seemed quite scary, and my life just by itself was scary enough. I focused a lot on the parts where good overcame evil and where there was comfort and joy and love, and I prayed a lot. I prayed for myself and also prayed that God should change Chris and make him stop being a liar and an evil person. I wasn’t sure what else to do.
I didn’t think based on what I had read in the bible, that divorce was an option for me as a Christian, so I just prayed that he would change, as part of my surrender to my circumstances. I now know, and it has clearly been explained to me, that my marriage, sham that it was, was never really a covenant of love entered into willingly by the parties involved, like a normal marriage ought to be. I was forced into a marriage against my will, and that since that was the case, that I had never been obliged to remain in it; but at that time, I saw no way out. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. When I saw that more and more people were coming to the house prayers, I started to tell Chris once again to go and get his basic reading and writing and grammar done, mostly so that he would not keep asking me to read things or tell him the meaning of what someone had said. He refused completely, and would get quite vehement in his refusal. He also kept on saying that he wanted to register an actual church, and wanted me to pay the $100 dollars for the registration. I refused to. I told him that he would need to get a job to pay for it himself. at this point a lady I had been friends with at Calvary worship, invited Chris and me to another church in Surrey called Calvary Grace assembly. It was pastored by a Caucasian gentleman called Pastor Phillip. A rather nice man actually, and I enjoyed going there. He was very knowledgeable I thought, and his sermons made sense to me; I was able to find all of the things he talked about in the bible. It was while we attended this church that one of the members got Chris a job at Wendy’s restaurant in Langley. I believe he was paid about $6.75 to $7.25; he worked there for about three months, after which he quit, saying that the grill was too hot for him.
I was getting paid almost $17 per hour at the tax center at the time, and was able to start putting aside little bits. I bought myself a used car, and enrolled at the Vancouver Community College to get all my grade 12 courses out of the way. It was really expensive to park at work, so I would take the bus, and I would always come home to find Chris gone with my car, so I started to take my car keys to work. He was so angry about that, but I wasn’t about to keep gassing my car for him to drive it to wherever. He also did not have a driver’s license, and of course if he got into a car accident, my insurance would not pay, and I told him so, many times over. He would get so angry about it, that he would beat and rape me. I decided that I would drive my car to work and pay the parking. I would also drive to Vancouver after work to attend my classes at VCC. I spent a lot of money on gas and on parking just so he would not be able to drive my car, and no, I am not sorry about it, not even now.
I discovered in early 2003 that I was pregnant. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. I decided that I would overwhelm the baby with love and that I would make up for how he was conceived by flooding him with love. I decided that I wanted a son, and I chose the name David, because David in the bible was a man that God loved and called ‘a man after my own heart’ even in spite of all the bad things he had done. Within a few weeks I started to vomit very seriously, and quite soon I developed full blown Hyperemesis gravidarum. I was vomiting upwards of 15-20 times a day, a lot of it dried blood. My throat was burnt and bleeding from the force of the vomiting. Chris kept away, and Rose really had no choice but to look after me, feeding me light chicken broth, which was all I was able to keep down. I lost over thirty pounds within six weeks, and my hair and skin dried out. I was in the nausea and vomiting clinic for over a week at a time each time I had to go in. I remember the doctor that first examined me, Dr. Price I think was his name. He said, you are as dry as the bottom of my shoe, and I recall thinking that I had never thought of the bottom of a shoe as a dry place. I was sick till I was about seven months along, and then it started to abate. My gynecologist started to encourage me to take walks. She kept on saying that you need to get some exercise Amaka; you have been lying down for many months. You are not going to be strong enough to push the baby when the time comes and I will have to do a caesarean section on you. I took her advice, and Rose started to take me for walks whenever she was free. She had her day job, and another part time cleaning job, so she had only two evenings a week, but she would take me walking. I asked Chris who only worked three days a week at his job if he would take me for walks, and he refused. He said there are some boulders along 87B avenue, you can sit on those rocks if you get weak again, and if you fall, there are people outside, I am sure someone will help you. I hated myself for having been forced to ask him in the first place. I started to encourage Rose to quit her afternoon job. I asked her to go to VCC as well, and she refused citing concerns about her English. I promised to help her with it every evening she was around. She did quit the job and go to school, and she continued to walk with me. I helped her through her studies at VCC and she ended up as a health care assistant. Today she is working towards becoming a registered nurse, and I am proud of my role in her progress.
From the time that Chris started the house prayer meetings, the majority of the people that attended were women. I knew some of them from Calvary worship Center. There were also about two men in attendance. I noticed one woman in particular, because I am the sort of person that notices things. Her name was Mary Stacey. The first night vigil she came to, I saw that she fixated on him. I also saw him notice that. The next Wednesday, she was back for another meeting. At the end of it, she stayed back after most of the others were gone, and they talked for quite a while. I needed to go to sleep, and he was still not welcome in my bed, so I just threw his blanket and pillow out to him, and I went inside to sleep. They soon became inseparable. I felt a huge sense of relief in a way, because I said, the more time he spent with her, the less I would see of him and all the trouble that he gave me. I was totally right. Things eased up a lot after that, because he was barely around. He continued his meetings in the house, and we kept going to Pastor Phillip Bloomfield’s church Calvary Grace Assembly. I had my job back, I was repaying Sunny, he was happy with Mary, and so we moved on. He kept begging me to help with the registration of a church for him, saying that I would not have to do much and that if there was any work to be done that he and Mary would do it. I thought to myself, well if he has a church, something that he is doing, then that would keep him away from me even more. I then changed my mind and helped him to register the church. The initial signatories included me, a man called Charles who later killed himself, Mary Stacey and Rose. I also paid the one hundred dollar fee that was needed. The church was called Love Family Christian Assembly, a name I chose as a pun, in light of all that had happened to me. I avoided going there as often as I could, using my schooling as an excuse initially, and after I got pregnant, then my pregnancy.
Just before my baby came, Chris found a basement suite and we moved in there. I of course paid the damage deposit and the rent. I prepared for my baby to come. At this time, he and Mary had found a place to rent for the church. They shared premises on King George Highway and about 80th Avenue. An American from Washington State and his wife were pastoring another church, but they met in the afternoons at about 2pm, and so Chris could hold his meeting in the morning. One good thing that came of this was that I met some good people and became friends with them. I am still friends with a few of them. The church meetings soon became a source of friction between Chris and I; he has absolutely no time management skills, and really, just no clear concept of how long an hour was, or what ten minutes represented. People soon started to complain to me. Initially I failed to understand why they were telling me anything.
I felt, why would they think that I cared? I then asked a woman that had told me more than three times already to ask Chris to close the meetings on time why she didn’t tell him by herself? She said “oh, but you’re the pastor’s wife”. This was not what I had planned for. The plan was that between the church and Mary Stacey, that he would be so busy that I would become completely irrelevant to him. He would not know if I was there or not I thought. It didn’t quite work out like that. Chris like I have said already was a functioning illiterate. He could barely read or write, and when you had a conversation with him, majority of what you said would go right over his head. He had some excellent cover-up methods for sure, and the more I studied him, the more I realized that everything that he did was a smokescreen, a cover for his being illiterate, and that he was more or less blind and deaf in a world like Canada where everything was on paper, or signs. In the church for instance, he would never read any bible passages, he would say, somebody read for us. He soon got a lady I’ll call Lessa to become his regular reader. Lessa was very educated, and attended an Ivy League college in the United States. She and I got on very well. She was in her early forties and unmarried, having chosen her education and career as her priorities. Anytime she didn’t attend church, he would get someone else to read. I don’t ever remember him reading by himself. Chris also had this habit of parroting anything that someone said to him, so no matter what it was one was saying, he would repeat the last few words of what they said to him.
I found it hugely irritating, and I never spoke to him in public if I could avoid it, neither did I stick around when he was having a talk with anybody, especially if he felt they were educated. I had also started building up my library, and from every paycheck I would buy a few books to add to my shelves. I joined The Folio Society, a book club to enable me buy classics and other great books. He asked me once why I put all the books on the shelf, and since I refused to answer him, Rose told him that people like Amaka who are educated always buy books all the time, because educated people like to keep reading a lot, especially the smart ones like Amaka.
Before very long, I noticed that he started to buy all kinds of religious books. I was extremely amused by it, and would call him Booker T. I thought it just pathetic that he would spend the church funds on all those books, without actually making any attempt to learn to read properly. He would spend hours painstaking copying out chapters from books to preach in the church on Sundays and weekdays. If I asked, what are you doing? He would always say I am making notes. I pointed out to him that just copying words from a book to his notebooks was not ‘making notes’ that he was just copying. He would get very angry and I would always run away and lock myself in a room to avoid his fists.
I now had to come to terms with the fact that, whether I liked it or not, and that whether I wanted to or not, that I was involved with the church. I was, after all, in the sight of all the world, apparently married to him. I was the ‘pastor’s wife’. Nobody knew my secrets, or my hurt, or my pain. Human beings are, for the most part, about themselves. How could I have expected the people that came to church to be different? “Church is like a hospital,” to quote my pastor today, Pastor Wes Daase, “everyone comes to be treated, and if in the course of being treated you are able to help others, than you are doing well.” And I now know that part of healing is helping others to heal as well.
Anyway, nobody knew of the anguish that I was in, and if they suspected anything, well nobody ever said a word to me. People kept coming to me for different reasons. Mostly it was to complain about Chris – how he would never close on time, how when you told him something he either said it on the pulpit or he said it to other people. That was a really disgraceful aspect of him. He was a gigantic gossip, and he soon came to be known all around the community that you could never tell him anything and expect it to be kept confidential. It didn’t matter how big or small it was, he would soon spread the news around. I really attributed this to his having too much time on his hands, and also he had absolutely no concept of time. Up until I ran from him in 2009, I had never, ever, seen him be on time for anything, not even once.
Also, a lot of the women would constantly call and complain that he dropped in unannounced at their family homes. This reminded me of the same way that he used to do that in his morning praying and begging rounds in Ghana, just dropping in on people and expecting them to drop everything and host him – and this without prior notice. I was constantly troubleshooting. He would keep on asking everyone for money – “Can I have $20?” Or “Can I have $50?” Or “Can you bless me with $100?” Or “I came to visit you…now that I have visited you, you must buy gas into my car!” I was told most of these things by people and he also did a lot of his begging in my presence. It was humiliating, shameful, and mortifying for me, and I was very deeply saddened every day that I was even remotely connected to him.
I continued to study my bible as people would ask me questions and come to me with their problems all the time expecting me to know things. I feel that out of every adversity, that some good always comes of it, and for me one good thing was that I became more spiritual. I started to pray, I said, “God, if you’re there, then please I want to know all about you and the real truth,” because I was confident that Chris was not a pastor and that he was not even a Christian. He still had his relationship with Mary Stacey going on, and she acted as treasurer for his church. I never asked anything about it. I never asked about money, and I didn’t want to know. He sometimes volunteered that he never got any money from the church because they had to pay the bills and there was never anything left over. I thought it must be true, because I figured if he was getting paid then he would not keep begging people for money.
I was now completely helping out at the church. I had to keep up appearances. There was also a huge part of me that didn’t want to let the people down. I thought I owed it to them to at least let the church be what they needed in a church. I arranged to have an overhead projector installed. And that was really a huge challenge for Chris, as it meant that he had to try and keep up with what was on the projector. I would ask what he wanted to talk about, and the scriptures he would use, and he would tell me, and I would put them up on power point and go over it with him many times until he knew what was on each page and the references to each scripture. He still would ask the church to read along, etc.
I told myself, I am doing this for God…I am doing this for the children of God, but I felt very bad about it. I felt that people were being deceived. I know for a fact now that Chris was not a Christian, much less a pastor, and I thought I was part of this great charade that was being played out. I began to fall into depression. To make matters worse, I got pregnant in November of 2002, and went into severe hyperemesis, like I said before. Suffice it to say, I spent a lot of time at the Nausea and Vomiting Clinic. Once in the hospital Chris came with two people from his church to see me, and I finally asked him. “Chris why all the beatings? You have beaten me almost every week since I met you. Have I done anything wrong to you? To my great astonishment he answered me. He said “My friend John Agalaba told me in Ghana that educated women need to be beaten all the time, or else they will think they are the head. He said if you beat them for about a year, or two years if they are very stubborn, that they will start to obey you and do everything you tell them to.” I couldn’t respond at all. I pushed the call button, and asked the nurse to get them all to leave.
In September 2003, my son, David, was born. I have never known such joy in my life. David was a delightful baby – he was very good, he was healthy, he was strong, very peaceful, and I just disappeared into him. He became my every moment. All the love in me that I had hitherto had no outlet for, suddenly found an escape. I loved my child with every fibre of my being from the moment I set eyes on him.
I was beginning to find some peace at last. I had my son and nothing could compare to that. Also, my dad, who had been quite ill, suddenly took a turn for the better. I spoke with him over the phone on Thursday the 27th of November 2003, and he said he was feeling much stronger. I promised him that I would try to visit home very soon, that I loved him, and that I missed him. He told me, “Amaka, you are like seven sons to me.” And I said, “Don’t worry; I will soon come home to visit you.”
On Saturday the 29th of November 2003, my friend Rosaline came to visit me. She came to the church and we had become friendly. Chris was in the house, so I breast fed David, and I handed him to Rosaline, and I said, “I’m going to run to the store to buy a few things for the baby…I will be back within 30 minutes.” I quickly drove to the store and came back, and as I opened the door and stepped in, Rosaline got up and started towards me with her arms outstretched. She said, “Amaka, my dear…” but Chris beat her to it, “The old man is gone.” He said to me. I looked around confused. “The old man?” I parroted, “The old man?.” Chris said to me, “Your father. Your father is dead.” He said extremely callously. I fell to the floor with a grocery bag in each hand. I heard Rosie scream, “No, no, Pastor Chris, no!” as she came and picked me up in her arms where I wept uncontrollably. I wept for my dad, for all of his pain and his sickness, and for all the comfort and care that I had not been there to provide him, even though I knew he had been properly looked after by my mom.
Ah but my dad loved the adventurous and happy girl that I had been before I met Chris, and I knew that I provided him with hours of just laughter and entertainment; and I knew that he sometimes wondered at his having just fathered the mischievous imp that I had been as a child. I would do anything to make him laugh, and he loved to laugh. He also spoiled me something rotten, and against my mom’s wishes, he would give me a lot of money. He would let me loose in a store, and say you have half an hour, pick whatever you want, and meet me at the front. Once he had come to my hostel in the university, and I wasn’t even in town. He left 20,000.00 naira in my fridge freezer with a letter saying he had left me some ‘cold hard cash’. I called him Daddy CIA for about a month after he had done that. When he asked where I was, saying “I hope you were not running around with boys when I came to visit you.” I said, “Daddy don’t you trust your daughter?” I’m not sure what he made of that answer, but he wisely never pursued it – and now he was gone. I love my father a lot, and I have many good memories of him. He loved me for my intellect and he would discuss things with me in front of his friends. He wanted to show off how smart I was, and I did my best never to disappoint him.
Now he was gone and the news had to be broken to me in so wicked a fashion by the worst person in the world. Rosaline maintains, until this very day, that she has never seen anything as horrible as that evening, and that was when she really started to suspect that Chris was not a good person.
I mourned my dad so much. I couldn’t believe he passed away just like that, after sounding so well, and after he seemed to have rallied. It was as though he was doing better, and he suddenly passed. I would carry my 2-month-old baby in my arms and just weep. I started to get ready to attend the funeral in Nigeria. I had gained a lot of weight both from my pregnancy and from my depression, but I still felt I would be able to explain it away by blaming it on the new baby that I had. The funeral was to be in January, but I asked my family to wait for February so my baby would be over 4 months old, and of course they were quick to agree.
As you can probably imagine, it wasn’t much of a Christmas or New Year. My beloved father had died, and I was living with a monster. The only bright spot was my baby, David, and I lived through him – through his every smile, through his gurgles, just through everything that he was.
One morning, on the second week of January 2004, I dressed myself and David up. I was going to go to my family doctor to get anti-malarial shorts in preparation for my trip to Nigeria for my father’s funeral. When Chris came out of his room, he said, “Where are you taking the baby to on this cold morning?” I said, “Well, I’m going to the doctor to get my shots.” He said, “Make sure the doctor doesn’t give anything to that baby.” I said, “I don’t know if they give babies anti-malarial here. What I plan to do is buy baby anti-malarial medicine when I get to Nigeria.” “Nigeria for what!?” He shouted.
“For my father’s funeral.” I said. “Am I not going to bury my father? The man that raised me and did everything for me my whole life?” Chris said, “You are free to do anything you like. You can go wherever, but that child is going nowhere.”
I could not believe it. I refused to believe it actually. I just ignored it. I went to the doctor, I got my shots, and I kept planning to attend my father’s funeral. I refused to believe that Chris could try to stop me from going to bury my precious dad. At the end of January I told Chris that I would be going and that I would be back, as I had to go to school when I returned. I told him as rationally as possible that I would not give up living in Canada just because of him, and that I wanted to raise my son here. He went into a huge rage and yelled and screamed, and told me that if I thought I would take my son with me, that I had a mental problem. He said one of the women from his prayer meeting had told him that when women had new babies, that they cried all the time and that they became crazy. He told me that he knew I cried every day and that he would tell people that I was crazy. He said if I ever said anything again about going to Nigeria with the baby that he would suffocate the baby, and he would tell the church that I slept on him, seeing as I was so fat.
I said, “You are evil…you would harm an innocent baby…you are really evil.” He said, “Well babies’ souls return straight to God…everybody would know it was you that has killed the baby since you are crying every day” is what he said to me.
Well really, that was the end of my talking about going to Nigeria to bury my dad. I did not attend my father’s funeral. The last time I had seen him was four years prior when I moved to Canada. I also stopped crying to the best of my ability, and if I cried, I would wash and make my face up before Chris showed up. I ate more and more, whatever I could lay my hands on – I couldn’t cry, I had no one to go to, so I ate, and I ate. I settled into a sort of numbness after my father’s funeral had passed in February. I also gave up any hopes of being away from Chris.
My only reality was David, my son. I lavished all my love on him. I ignored Chris and his girlfriend, Mary, and when the tax centre called to ask if I would return to work, I just agreed. Nothing really changed. I would come home from work and grab my child when he was dropped off like he was a lifeline. We still spent our evenings together, David and me. We slept in my room, he slept on my bed with me, and Chris, of course, stayed in his room.
There was an incident that happened when David was about 6 months old. I was still breastfeeding him, and we would regularly get up every night to feed. So I would sit up against the headboard of the bed with about three pillows behind me for support, and then I would use one more pillow as a nursing pillow so that I would have David in my arms with a pillow under him. Well, one night between 2:00 and 3:00 am, I was awakened by the crackling of static on police radios. My landlord at the time was Jasbir, we lived on 85th Avenue, and she had two sons living with her, so I just thought that maybe they had had a party and the neighbours had called the police.
Soon after I heard the radios, I heard a loud banging at the door. I got up and made for the front door. I was in my nursing pajama top and bottoms, and Chris got to the door before me. He was still fully dressed. Two policemen came in. They wanted to know how many people lived in the house, they went through both rooms; they went into the bathroom. I followed them wanting to know what had happened, and little David, woken up by all the commotion, just started to squeal. So, I picked him up in my arms. Once of the policeman took us to the bathroom and showed us holes in the wall from the outside, through the bathroom to the bedroom that I shared with my baby. There was a hole where bullets had passed across the headboard out through to the outside wall. When I realized the implications, my legs just gave way and I fell to the floor in shock still cradling my baby. I was wailing loudly. Chris was still following the police officer outside, and the police officer turned to him and said, “Where are you going? What are you doing? Go pick up your wife! Make sure she’s okay! Go help her!” Chris said, “She’s okay. She always behaves like that. Get up!” He said to me, without moving.
You know, I will never forget my shame when the policeman came and helped me up. He sat me on the couch before he went out. I will also always remember the disbelieving look that he gave Chris. I thought, welcome to my world. I actually felt quite good that the policeman had looked at Chris like, what kind of a monster are you? It confirmed to me that I was not the only one that thought that he was wicked. So, what had happened was that there was a drive-by shooting – some people had shot a volley of bullets into the front door of the main house, and the garage, and three to four bullets had come through to the basement where my child and I lay sleeping. I have no idea why that shooting occurred. The police never said what it was about, although they did ask Chris where he was coming from at that time of the night, seeing as he was fully dressed. I’m not sure what he told them. When they asked me I told them that he was always out at all hours, and I wasn’t sure where he had been.
After the shooting incident, I was now convinced that there was a kind and a merciful God who was looking after me. Three things convinced me: One, I am a light sleeper. The slightest noise would wake me up, but now as a mom, I was so attuned to any disturbance or the tiniest sound from my child. So for me to have slept through a volley of gunshots was miraculous to me, considering that I had woken up when the danger had passed, to a crackling radio. Secondly, the time that it had happened was my regular feeding time. I would normally be sitting up against the head board nursing my baby, and the bullets would simply have passed through us both, and thirdly, David also slept through all the noise.
I decided I had to get closer to God. I redoubled my efforts, I studied my bible – I had to know more about this God of the bible, and I soon discovered many comforting and reassuring verses. I like the Psalms a lot. They talked about all kinds of situations. I started to pray all the time. I started to ask God to please save my baby and me from Chris and all other evils, and this Jesus that I learned about in the New Testament did not seem anything like what I had heard Chris talking about. I kept studying. I had to find out if Chris was dealing with another God – not the one that I was learning about.
I continued to dote on my son. I couldn’t get enough of him. I breast fed him exclusively. I spent every dollar I had on his clothes, his books, and his toys. I started to read to him before he was 4 months old, and David could read by the time he was 4 years old. I also, of course, had to go back to work at the Surrey Tax Centre, after he was 4 months old. My maternity employment insurance benefits were not very much, and I had to think about the baby as well. I was breastfeeding, but we lived only about a 5-minute drive from the Tax Centre, so on my breaks (I had two half-hour breaks), I would run home and feed him. I did not know at that point about expressing breast milk. I was on my own. I had no friends with whom I could discuss things like expressing milk.
Chris and Mary got even more close at this point, and after Chris had prevented me from going to bury my father, I did not want to stick around the house and watch he and Mary carrying on in front of me, so I figured I better go back to work – and I did.
Mary then started to spend whole days at my house. She was working as a support worker at the Community Living Society, and she would have about one or two of her charges in my house. I would leave for work at about 7:45 to start at 8:00 am. I would come for my first break at 10:30 am to feed my child, and when I arrived, she would be there, and when I came home for the 1:30 pm break, she would still be there. I would come home from work at about 4:10 pm, actually, and she would be there still. I always ignored her. I would just wash up and take my son from Chris in order to feed him and bathe him and spend time with him. This continued until David was about 8 months old. He stopped breastfeeding on his own. He was well into his first solids supplemented by formula. So I was okay with his stopping breastfeeding, although I felt abandoned. It was very hard for me. It was as though we lost a certain connection – just a certain closeness – by his stopping breastfeeding.
I remember once I came home in the morning at about 10:00 am, just before my break, Chris and Mary were on the couch – he was sitting down at one end and she was asleep with her head on his lap. My baby was in his car seat on the floor. I stood outside and I watched them for about 5 minutes. If it was in these days with cellphones with cameras, I would have got a picture of them. She sat up when I entered the house and I said to her, “Mary, I’m tired of seeing you here. You have been here every day for almost a year now. Please do not come here again.” And that was the start of Chris taking my baby and spending the whole day at Mary’s. I would return from work and start to call for my baby to be brought home – he was, after all, all that I had – and Chris would keep saying, “I’ll be home soon. I’ll be back in one hour.” Well, sometimes by 10:30 pm I would not have seen my child.
We had just huge fights whenever he would show up, and I got beaten with anything that he could find. I tried myself to fight him back. I mostly called him names like ‘devil’ and ‘deceiver’ and ‘liar’ and ‘evil’, and I would say, “I know you killed Lindsay, and God will expose you one day!” I also told him that the innocent people that came to the church and spent their hard-earned money, that God would judge him – the true God, the father of Jesus Christ, and not the idols that he worshipped. Sometimes when I called Mary to have my son brought home, she would shout at me as well. I was just really affronted. I told her that she lacked respect for herself and for her children, and she could have Chris – I did not want him. I told her I was not interested in him, and that I just wanted my son. I told her that she knew my work schedule, that if she sent Chris back with David just to drop the baby off, that I would make sure he came back to her, and strangely enough, she heeded my request. When I returned from work, Chris would bring David home and then he would take off again. I did not really care when he showed up, as long as I had the baby.
Now David and I had a little evening routine. We would bathe and then we would watch my recordings of Ellen DeGeneres while we had dinner, and then we would watch Jeopardy, after which we would clean the house. We would go around and pick up his toys and whatever needed to be cleaned up, and I would tell him about my day. We also read our books. We would read his books first of all, and then we would read my books. It was really a funny sight – him toddling everywhere around me while I did chores and I talked to him. David is really well spoken and intelligent today, and I put it down to all the time we spent reading and watching Jeopardy. He also likes jokes and funny stuff.
It’s funny, I distinctly remember one awful evening – I was watching Ellen DeGeneres on TV, I was pregnant with my daughter at the time, and I had David in my lap as we ate our dinner. Chris and Mary came by. I have no idea what they came for, but they soon left. Then, about a week after that, Chris came by again, and at the time David and I were sitting and eating dinner and watching Ellen. I had been laughing at something she said when he came in. He stood by the door for a while, then came over and he turned the TV off. I had a bowl of okra soup in one hand with David in my lap. We had both been eating and watching TV as we usually did. I looked up at Chris and I said, “What’s the problem?” He said, “I heard that that woman is a homosexual. You are watching a homosexual show with my son. I don’t want my son to get any demons of homosexuality by watching this rubbish.” I continued to feed David. I didn’t say anything. I looked at him, and finally I said, “You…you are in adultery, and you have him all the time – the demon of adultery has not got into him. You watch porn – the demon of porn has not got into him. So is it from watching a TV show that a demon of homosexuality is going to get into him?” I said, “The demon is already here! You are the demon!” He grabbed the bowl of soup from my hand and he hit me in the face with it.
David was screaming by then, and I jumped for the bathroom to wash my face. The soup had quite a lot of hot pepper in it, and I just started to cry and wash my face. I was really lucky that although the soup had some hot pepper in it, it wasn’t too much so that David could eat as well, and that’s what helped my eyes. If it was the time prior to my having David, I certainly would have had a very serious eye injury, because I would have had a lot more hot pepper in that soup. Anyway, by the time I had washed my face, he was gone with David, and he brought him back at about 11:30 pm. I am confident that it was Mary Stacey who told Chris that Ellen is gay. There is no other way he would have known.
We fought on a few more occasions about my watching my Ellen show recordings, and he would take David away from me if he stopped by and we were watching. So, I gave it up entirely and we would only watch Jeopardy. I tried to tape Oprah for a while, but a lot of the topics that Oprah dealt with were too close to home for me – they were difficult topics; they were serious topics, usually about people who were undergoing abuse and a lot of other things that I was also going through. A lot of those issues really mirrored my life, and I saw my sorrow and my pain in the lives of others, and I just could not deal with this, so I did not record Oprah. Even until she went off air, I didn’t really watch her a lot. Although, I did admire and I do admire her greatly, and I identified with her eating problem. I told myself, she probably had suffered like me and that was why she ate. Once I saw her in an interview saying that breakfast was her favourite meal, and I laughed because breakfast is my favourite meal too.
Even today, I find it really hard to believe that Chris could be so evil that he would beat me for watching a TV show. Once I asked him about it at a time that we were not fighting, and he told me that it is called ‘transference of spirits’, and that I or David could get the spirit of homosexuality by watching a gay person. I just thought it was rot – I thought it was clap-trap – because it was a daytime show and there was nothing gay about it. The woman is a comedian, and at that point in my life, really, anything that could possibly make me laugh and forget my pain for even a minute, was a very welcome thing. And I remember Ellen DeGeneres, she had the most incredibly beautiful eyes – I don’t know if they are blue or green or whatever – but she had very nice eyes, and she had the most mischievous smile. She had this look in her eyes when she was going to say something really funny or she was going to give a punch line or she was just going to be naughty. I would always be able to tell by this big twinkle and the naughty look that came into her eyes, and I would say to my baby, David, “Oh, look out, here it comes!” And when I laughed, my baby would also laugh right along with me as though he understood what Ellen was saying.
I did give up watching the TV show, as I couldn’t afford to lose my son, and Chris stuck around for a couple of weeks when I returned from work, just to make sure that I didn’t watch Ellen. And, like I said, I couldn’t afford not to have David, so I stopped watching anything but Jeopardy, and David enjoys Jeopardy until now, just from the beginnings that we had.
I will always remember 2004 as the year of living hell with Chris as he continued in the thick of his relationship with Mary Stacey. There was the day I returned from work early, I was newly pregnant with my daughter, and I had just started to feel sick. I came home, and called Chris and Mary to bring David back, and Chris brought David back home. I fed and bathed him and I was just about to have a bath myself, so I was already in my robe, when the front door opened and Chris and Mary came in.
I had actually let out a scream when the door opened because I was not expecting anyone, seeing as David had already been dropped off. So it was Mary, and as they walked in she said, “Why are you screaming?” Chris said, “Yes, why are you screaming?” I said, “Well, I wasn’t expecting anyone to just open the door and walk in.” And Mary said, “Well, we came to cook our dinner as my oven is not working.” And what transpired shortly afterwards will never ever cease to amaze me, even if I live to be 100. That I could be so badly treated that my supposed husband and his girlfriend would not only carry on their affair in front of me, but that a woman who had been married and who had children of her own, could be so callous towards another woman. It beggared belief, honestly.
Chris and Mary carried in their shopping bags and headed to the kitchen of the suite, for which I worked daily to pay the rent, and they proceeded to make fish in the oven. They chatted as they cooked. I just watched them. They made a Ghanaian pepper sauce with the fish, and they brought out KenKey, which is a Ghanaian corn meal. I sat there in my robe just continuing to watch them because I could not really believe what I was seeing. As I sat and watched, David fell asleep in my arms. So I went to put him down and then I went to have a bath. After I had gotten dressed, I came out of my room.
By then, Chris and Mary had finished their cooking, and they were now sitting on the floor in the living room and eating together from a big round bowl. I walked past them into the kitchen. The entire place was a disaster from the preparation of their dinner, so now I had no space to make my own much-delayed dinner. I was really upset. I was exhausted. I went into my room and I called a lady from church called Evelyn. I told her that I was really ill and I needed her to come immediately, and she said she would. So, I waited, but she eventually never showed up. I called another man, whose name was Sampson, and I asked him to please come immediately. He said he was in Downtown Vancouver, but that he would leave for Surrey at once.
I went back out to the living room, they had finished their dinner by then, and they were now watching a video on the TV. I looked at it, and it was me on the screen. It was a video recording from the church the previous Sunday, and it was showing me making half-hearted attempt to join the singing and dancing, and Chris said in their native language, “Look at her, she has eaten so much, and she is so fat she cannot even move!” And Mary, laughing, replied, “I am going to tell her what you said.” And he said, “Oh, please don’t, I don’t want crying and trouble this night.” I watched them and hated them both with all of me. I wished them both dead. The whole thing felt very unreal to me.
I couldn’t do anything, so I pull up a chair like the uninvited guest that I was at their dinner, and I sat right in front of the TV so that they could watch me live in person if they really wanted to watch me. When I did that, they were both silent for a couple of minutes. Then Mary stood up. She said, “Let’s go.” So they both got up and they left.
Immediately the door closed behind them, I just broke down and I wept. I really just sat on the couch and I cried and cried about the horrible life that I was living. I didn’t know how I was ever going to be able to escape it all. So I sat there and I wept, and as I sat down and cried, the door opened once more and Chris came in. I kept thinking, what did he come back for?. I looked at him. He saw me – I was obviously crying – and I keep saying until now that when a normal person comes in and sees another person crying, they would immediately ask, “What’s wrong?” Or “What’s the matter?” Or something to show some concern, but not Chris – never him. He simply took whatever it was that he had come for and he made to leave.
I now said to him, “Devil, demon, devil incarnate, monster…so after you messed up my whole kitchen with your fish, you and your girlfriend left without cleaning it up, and now I don’t have any place to make something to eat for myself. You had the guts to make fun of me, even though I was sitting right there. You’re really a devil. When you go out in the car with your girlfriend, both of you are going to have a car accident, and both of you are going to die!” And he grabbed me and he shoved me away, and then he left. I just sat there numbly. I called Evelyn again, and she didn’t respond. I called Sampson, and he said, “I am nearly at your house.” Well in about 10 minutes, Chris came back again and went to grab my sleeping baby, then ran to the car with him. I realized then that it was my car keys that he had come for when he had come in earlier on. I ran after him. He had already started the car, so I jumped on the hood of the car in a bid to stop him from driving off with my baby, but he kept driving even with me on top of the car hanging onto the hood, and this was the scene that Sampson arrived to see.
Now Chris is someone that never wants to be caught doing his evil deeds. He always creates a scene only when it can be his word against mine. No witnesses. Nobody to see. He stopped when he saw Sampson drive up and he came out of the car towards me, and I said, “Stop! Don’t come near me. Don’t you come near me!” And I went to the car, I took my baby, and I went inside. The police soon arrived. The landlord had called. One of the policemen came inside to talk to me and I told him what had happened. He looked around the whole place and he came out and sat with me at the kitchen table. He said to me – and I have thought about him many times over the years – he said, “Don’t remain like this. You say you are pregnant?” I nodded mutely. “And he is the father?” Nod again. “And that’s his girlfriend?” I kept nodding unable to speak due to his kindness, causing tears to flow down my face. He said, “I am talking to you as my sister, and as someone who has seen a lot of these kinds of things. You need to get away from a man that will treat you like this. Pack your bags, take your child, get away, go somewhere else. If you continue like this, you could get badly hurt or killed, or you could be pushed to the point where you would hurt or kill someone, and then where would your son be? And how about the new one that you’re carrying? Where would they be? Leave now. Leave as soon as you can.”
I remember that policeman. I will always remember him. It was almost 10 years ago, but I know that I will recognize him if I saw him. He was the first person that has shown me compassion in years. He said, “Look after yourself,” as he left. He then asked Chris to go away and not to return for 48 hours. I think he was probably offering me the 48 hours to get myself together and to run. And of course, I regret until now that I did not run. I should have.
I really became sick after then. I called my work the next morning and I said I was pregnant and I was ill, and I would take my pregnancy sick leave effective immediately. I just stayed home. Mary Stacey came by the next evening with a bunch of flowers. She said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to laugh at you on the video. It was Chris that made fun of you, and it was just so funny I had to laugh.” I took the flowers from her, and as she stood there I said to her, “You are extremely lucky I am a patient person. Anybody but me would have done something really really horrible to you.” I took the flowers, I ripped them, and I threw them over her shoulders onto the grass behind her, and I said to her, “I promise you, if you ever step into my house again, I will not be responsible for what will happen to you.” Then I opened my mouth and screamed, “Now just get lost!” At the top of my voice, and she left and she never ever came to my house again.
My daughter, Christine, was born in the spring of 2006. She had a foot deformity at birth. I started to take her to the pediatric orthopedist when she was only four months old. The morning she was born, I had been woken up at about 6:00 am by intense labour pains. I had a quick shower and I went to the kitchen to get breakfast for David, who would soon wake up since I was gone from the bed. Chris came out while I was in the kitchen and said, “Where are you going so early?” I said, “The baby is coming so I have to go to the hospital. I am getting food for David. If you will get him, I will get his food and you can drive me to the hospital.” Well, he said, no, he wasn’t going to drive me, he was going to stay at home and look after David. I said David could come, just drive me and drop me and then you can go back, but he still refused.
I called Evelyn’s mother, Hannah, and asked her if she could come drive me to the hospital, but I’m not sure what delayed her, and the times were getting shorter and shorter between my contractions. So, I just went to my car and I drove myself to the hospital. When I arrived at the hospital I parked and I started to walk toward the family birthing unit. I was walking and just trying to hold on to the sides of the wall, I was in so much pain. I looked up and there was a wonderful woman standing beside me. She looked at me and she said, “Oh my god, you’re in labour!” She ran for a wheelchair, which she brought back and sat me in, and then pushed me to the reception. I told them there as were checking my preregistration that I was very close to delivery. I said, “I can feel the baby coming!” And they rushed me to a room. I could also hear them paging the doctor stat. Two nurses were putting sheets on the mattress with a plastic cover, and another one was setting up an IV pole. The one nurse kept saying, “Are you pushing? Stop pushing!” Well, I couldn’t hold back. While they were still trying to get the bed made, I pushed the other nurse aside, got on the bed, and I just had my baby. It was about 9:00 am by then. One push – boom – and she was out, just screaming. She was born so fast, her eyes were blood shot for two days afterwards. She was the most adorable baby girl I had ever seen, and I was completely, just completely in love with her. And my love for my dear Christine has only grown more and more as each day reveals a new aspect of the beautiful, wonderful, kind, cheerful, loving girl that she is – my Christine.
Anyway, when she was about two weeks old, Chris told me that he had an old girlfriend from Ghana, whose name, I believe, was Lydia. He said she had moved to Toronto, and that he was leaving me to be with her. Oh, I could barely contain my joy – freedom at last, freedom! I attributed my impending freedom in part to Christine coming into my life, and we had her christened in the church about two days after Chris told me that he would be leaving, and I named her Ositadinma, an Igbo name, which means that ‘it shall be good from today onwards’.
I was so hopeful – I was so happy. I couldn’t believe he was actually leaving. I said, for sure today is the day of my freedom and very soon I will make a new life for myself and my children, and we will just be together and be happy and be free of Chris. I could not wait for him to leave. Chris told me that he would handle the management of the church through the other people there, and asked how we were going to manage. I’m like, “Oh never mind, we’re fine. David and baby and me, we’re going to be just wonderful.” He said when he was settled he would come and visit sometimes. I said, “Fine, no problem.” He also promised to send money for the upkeep in the future. I said, “It’s all good. Thank you. I’ll wait for it.” I was just so excited. I couldn’t believe that after everything I had suffered at his hands, that he would just like that get up one day and be gone, and I would be free. I was very excited.
A few days after Christine’s christening, he packed his bags and he left. My immediate plan was to move to a new apartment. I called my uncle in the UK the next day, and I told him that Chris had left and that I needed to move ASAP, and could he please send me some money, as I was short. He was very upset. I tried to tell him that it was a very great thing, happy even, and that I was fine, but he was very angry. He couldn’t understand why Chris had left me with a two week old baby. And I said, “Don’t worry about it – we’re fine.” Well he said, “What kind of a person leaves a woman with a newborn and an 18-month old? That’s just crazy.” And I tried to pacify him and ask him to imagine if Chris had died. What if he had died? I would still be able to carry on with my children, so he was not to worry about it.
I started to look for a place almost immediately, and my uncle asked me to give him a couple of days to a week and that he would send the money to me. I was so excited. I was looking for houses. I was checking the newspaper, which is how we looked for houses in those days. And about four days later, Chris returned. I was so surprised when he showed up. I was really taken aback. I was upset. I was shocked. I said, “What happened? Why are you back?” I said, “How about Lydia?” He said, “Oh, I’m back. Things were not what I thought with Lydia, so forget about Lydia. I’m back.” Oh. My dreams were shattered. My hopes were just dashed. It seemed as though I had been teased with the tiniest ray of sunshine in the darkness that had been my life. Oh, how I mourned his return as my return to captivity. I went back to crying every day, not even caring what he said to anyone about my unending tears.
By December 2005, Christine was not even a year old, but she was doing so well. She was brave, she was strong, she wore her cast about – just carried that thing about, not caring. She would sit at the top of the stairs and go down the stairs on her bottom – boom, boom, boom, boom, boom – with her cast making a racket as she descended the stairs. She played like every other little girl. She was unmindful of that cast. She just carried on like a very active and strong and beautiful baby that she was. She, of course, did not eat too much. She was not very great at eating. She was extremely picky, and she refused many different types of food. But, I did go to the pediatrician with her, and we also saw a dietitian – a pediatric dietitian – and they assured me that whatever she would accept was fine. They also gave me a chart with minimum values that I was supposed to adhere to, and I followed it down to the letter just to see that my baby was getting enough to eat.
At this point also, I decided I would go to BCIT to take Medical Laboratory Science. I had researched it, and it seemed the shortest route for me to try to get back into Medicine that I left so many years ago. This was my purpose to coming to Canada – to get an education – and I could not lose sight of that at all. I found out that I needed all of math, physics, chemistry, biology, and English at the grade 12 level, and so I set out to get those prerequisites done. I mean, it was already December, and according to the course outlines, I would not have been able to get everything done by August of 2006 if I was going to start school in September of 2006. So not only did I enroll at VCC, I also enrolled at the Vancouver School Board, and I took my prerequisites concurrently. I was able to complete all of the prerequisites in those eight months.
Chris, of course, refused at first to let me go to school, saying that I would not be able to look after the kids and go to school at the same time, and that he would not look after both kids. I said, “Fine, I will get someone to look after them.” And I did get someone to look after them. When he saw that he couldn’t use the issue of the kids to prevent me from going to school, he still kept trying . “Who’s going to do all the church work that you’re doing?”. He just tried every way he could to stop me, but I wasn’t going to budge this time. I had already dropped out of school twice because of him, and I wasn’t going to do it again. So, I called everyone. I talked to everybody I could talk to in the church. I called the people that he knew. I called people – just everybody I could call, I called – and I told them that he was trying to stop me from going to school, and people just started to bombard him with questions, like why couldn’t I go to school? Once it became public knowledge that he was trying to stop me from going to school, there was really nothing he could do. He had to back down. And that’s always the way he operates. He will always hide his things. All the bad things that he did, he would always hide them so that he would always look so good in public, but once it came to the light that, yes, this is what he is doing, then he would just back off completely as if he had never even done anything like that.
He kept on saying, “If you go to school, where is money going to come from to feed the children?” And that he was not going to go to work seeing as he was a pastor. Therefore, I had to figure out a way for the children to eat. I just ignored him. Lucky for me, I got a grant – a return to work program from the government – and that was what we mostly lived off of. He just continued to refuse to work. One would have thought that since I was going to school and I had somebody to look after the children, that he would go to work, but he didn’t.
The only times he had actually gone to work was in 2002, early 2002, shortly after he arrived. He worked at Wendy’s for about three months before he quit, and then shortly after David was born, he worked at Wal-Mart, and this again for about six months. He worked three days a week at minimum wage as an unloader at Wal-Mart. I actually was the one that asked him to stop working at Wal-Mart and to stay home to look after David so I could return to work. A part of it was after my father died I was so miserable; he was there with Mary all the time, so I didn’t want to be around them and secondly, he was stealing from Wal-Mart. He kept on bringing things from Wal-Mart – stolen items. It was things for the baby, household stuff, and clothes, and clothes, and clothes for himself. And when I dared to ask him, he said, “Everybody does it.” He actually bragged about how when they were unloading the trucks, they would break open boxes of just about anything they wanted. If they were thirsty, they drank juice. There were biscuits and other things to eat when they got hungry. It was just alarming to me, and I was very scared by it. When he came home with things for David, I would ask for receipts, and he would get so angry and rage at me or he would hit me. I discussed this horrible issue with someone, and we agreed that the best thing to do was to ask him to stop working and to stay home. I felt sure that at some point he was going to get caught, and I didn’t really want to be involved in it. I supposed that I could be charged along with him for receiving stolen property or something like an accessory to the theft, or something.
I had actually read something about somebody who was sitting in a stolen car along with the person who had stolen the car got charged along with the thief, and I was afraid that when he got caught, that I would be charged along with him as well, seeing as I had knowledge of his stealing things – and I couldn’t afford to be charged with something that I wasn’t guilty of, and that outside my power to prevent. I knew that I would not be able to exonerate myself from being part of his stealing things from Wal-Mart, and the only option I had was to find a way to get him to stop working there. So after much discussion with my friend, we decided to tell him that I needed help with David and that way he would stop actually working in Wal-Mart, and of course, if he was not in Wal-Mart then he would not be able to steal from there. I just had to find a way to let it seem as though I wasn’t telling him what to do, it was just a suggestion.
I attended BCIT from December 2006 to October 2008. I passed all of my courses, and I aced my professional exams in spite of all of the abuse that I continued to endure at Chris’s hands. It was always one thing or the other. A good example was the issue of my car. I had a Mercury Tracer that I had bought just before starting my prerequisites. The car was dark green with two gold stripes winding around it. Initially, it was just a car, but I soon realized what an excellent commuter car that she was, and I started to really like her. I called her Connie-Tru because she was constant and she was true. I always talked to the car, I said, “You’re an excellent girl, Connie Tru” Or “Thanks for the ride, Connie Tru.” It was just harmless silly talk to an inanimate object. I mean, the car was great on gas, $30 of gas filled the tank and it took me to school in Burnaby from Surrey five days a week and back. It was a really a great car. On weekends, I would put the kids in the car and we would go out for drives all over the place. It was freedom for me and the children. Going to school and coming back, I would pray, I would cry, I would ask God to save me from Chris. The car afforded me a private place to just be myself. I just loved that car. I really did. It was such a reliable car. Of course, I never let Chris drive the car unless he made threats against myself or the kids or he took the keys by force. The major reason was that he had no drivers’ license since he arrived in 2001; due to his very limited reading, he was unable to pass the computer test, and of course, could not get licensed. He actually did not get licensed until 2011, I believe, and this after he had taken the computer test possibly more than 15 times. So, from 2001 until 2011, he drove without a license – 10 years. Once he got a ticket, and the second time the car got towed, and David was in the car with him. He called me to come and pick them up. I had just got off from work luckily, and I went and I picked them up. I never let him drive my car, because I didn’t want anything to happen to my car, and the insurance would not pay for it because it was being driven by an unlicensed driver.
He wanted to know why I named the car Connie-Tru. He also wanted to know why I talked to the car. Of course, I refused to answer him, so he decided that the car was possessed and that he would bring oil and anoint it and that he was casting out devils from it. I would say in front of him (to the car), “Connie Tru, you are not possessed, you’re a good girl!”
In 2009, I remember I was in hospital with a very unstable pregnancy and severe hyperemesis gravidarum, and he brought transfer papers for the car for me to sign, saying that there was a new pastor in his church called Bruce, and he wanted to give my Connie-Tru to Bruce. I refused. I said, “No way! Forget it! Never!” I was in hospital, it was in public, so I was confident that he would not be able to do anything to me, and I was right. He just went away, and he was very upset of course. However, after about a week, I was home from the hospital, I was still bleeding more and more, and I was in bed. I was also still vomiting greatly. The Diclectin, Ondansetrol, and other medication I was getting was barely keeping me from vomiting. I will also admit to smelling not too fresh, because I remember my baby Christine, who was only about four at the time, coming to hug and cuddle in bed and then running away saying, “Mommy, I don’t like your smell, it doesn’t smell like mommy.”
Again, Chris came with the same transfer forms. He had already promised the car to Bruce, he insisted that I sign, and I still refused. The next day, he brought Bruce and his wife to the house. I was in my sick state, I was bleeding, I was vomiting, I was just sick, and Bruce and his wife joined their voices to the pressure. They promised that they would return the car to me if I let them have it. Bruce insisted that they were only here for three months, that they were from the US, and that I could have my car back when they were leaving. So there were three people pressurizing me to sign over my vehicle. I did not have much of a choice. I reluctantly signed the transfer papers under such duress, and my car was taken from me. Chris also savagely slapped and raped me that night for disgracing him in front of Bruce and his wife by refusing to give the car after he had said that they could have it. I told him that if he could rape me the way he did while I was bleeding and in pain, then there was no hope for him, that he would burn in hell. That meant, of course, many more slaps.
I went back to the hospital the next day. I was in so much pain, and I completely miscarried the day after that. I had to get cleaned out after the miscarriage, and I had a Mirena contraceptive IUD inserted. I never wanted to be pregnant again, and I still don’t. I told myself that it was for the best anyway, as it would be too difficult. I did not want to introduce yet another child into the very bad situation that I already was in.
When I returned from the hospital, Chris came with the woman he was now hanging out with – her name was Sharon, I think, and another Sudanese man. I have no idea who that one was. He said that I was a baby killer and a murderer, and that I needed deliverance, so they were going to have a deliverance session on me. I refused. I grabbed the phone and I asked them all to leave. I told them I would call the police if anybody touched me – they had to leave. The woman said all kinds of rude things to me as they left. I was still very ill. I called my friend Rachel. I asked her to come by every day and to check up on me and also to help clean the house and help with the children.
After Chris had called me a baby killer and a murderer, even after I had suffered through the ordeal I had just suffered through, and humiliated me in front of people, I knew I could no longer live with him. I made up my mind to move with the children once I was well enough to. At this time also, a woman from Nigeria came to visit her daughter who was a student here. She said she was a bishop and that she had told Chris she wanted to meet me. So, she came to the house. I was still ill and in bed, and she advised me to take my children and to return to Nigeria. I said, “No, I have nothing to go back to in Nigeria, and I have a good job here, and I will be able to care for my kids here once I am feeling better.” She said, “Look how sick you are. You need to be taken care of. Go home. Go to your mother.” And I said, “No, I am fine. I am already recovering. I will soon be much better.” I thanked her and I said, “I will survive. I am well. Very soon I will be back to work.” I reiterated to her that I was making good income, and that when I was sufficiently recovered I would take the children to Disneyland and just other child-centered resorts so that they could start making some happy memories.
To my intense surprise, after about a week after this woman that said she was a bishop had come and visited, I was served court documents. Chris had gone to court and got an order that said I was not allowed to take the children out of BC without the express written permission of the courts. He said that the bishop woman had told him that I was planning to leave Canada. That really was the absolute last straw for me. I packed up all of his clothes from his room, I threw then all outside. His shoes, his jackets, just everything – I threw them all outside, I was done. I decided that if I was going contrary to the bible, that I didn’t care. That I could not live this hell for a single day longer.
When he returned to find his things outside, he tried to force his way back in. He was punching me and beating me. I called the police, they came, and after I told them what he had done, I really expected them to arrest him just to get him away from me. I was amazed. I remain convinced that he hypnotized them or he did something to them because why else would they not arrest him? They did ask him to leave though, and he did, and that really was the absolute end of the sham of the marriage – a marriage which I had been deceived and manipulated and coerced and forced into, and in which I had been forced to endure all kinds of public humiliations and beatings, and just years of despair and sadness and sorrow and intense depression. I had been forced to apply for Canadian residency for a man that I hated and I feared. It was really awful.
Well, I was finally free. I moved to another place – a nice two bedroom suite. I got a bunk bed for the children so that we could be close to each other. We lived on 81 Avenue in Surrey, and my kids and I started to enjoy a measure of freedom. I got a babysitter, and we started to live together and just be happy. Of course, Chris soon found out where I was and then he moved to 85 Avenue, like a stalker to keep tabs on us. But at least he was not in my house. He did not live with me anymore. He wasn’t there to sexually assault me just where or anytime he wanted. He wasn’t there to beat me or do any of the awful things that he had been doing to me. So, I was happy for the first time in almost 10 years.
I remember during the years that I was attending BCIT, I hardly ever went to the church for the main reason that I was just too exhausted. My week was busy, very busy, and Saturdays were for the children, so I really only had Sundays to try to get some rest to prep myself for the week ahead in terms of school work, and also for meal planning for the children and then to study and get my homework done. It was just a really busy time for me.
On one Friday in early 2008, I remember a member of the church called and said to me, “You need to talk to your husband about Camille. People are beginning to talk.” I said, “Who is Camille?” This person laughed and they said, “Who is Camille? Where have you been?” I said, “Well, I’ve been going to school, everybody knows that, and I’ve been looking after my children, so I really haven’t been at the church, and I haven’t heard anything. Who is Camille?” They said, “Well, you better show up at the church on Sunday.” I said, “Okay.” I went on that Sunday just out of curiosity. It turned out Camille was a young girl, possibly in her early to mid-20s. I saw the way Chris was all moon-eyed over her. I was really terribly amused. I didn’t think it was possible that he could be so obviously just besotted with someone. I had seen him with Mary, when they had their thing going, and shortly before Camille arrived with another woman, but it was nothing compared to the way he was over Camille.
When the church ended and people had gone and the place had been cleaned up, I took my children and said we were going out. Chris said, okay, he was going to take Camille home. I later found out, to my extreme amusement, that she lived in Vancouver, so he would drive her home to Vancouver after the church services. It was hilarious. He and she would spend hours on the phone talking. He was always like Camille this and Camille that. I really enjoyed it. I would tell him that younger girls like her like trendy guys, and that he needed to cut and texturize his hair. And before I could say jack he would be at the barbers getting his hair cut and texturized. He looked like an idiot. He also started to dye the grey out of his hair so that he would look younger. It was very amusing. He was never at home and I was totally free of him. He was also very happy, and that trickled down to us as well. I would sometimes ask, “So how is Camille?” And he would say, “Oh, she’s fine. She is like a daughter to me.” And I would think, yeah, right, the daughter you are sleeping with! Anyway, it was really obvious that he was spending whole days with her because my kids started to say Camille said this and Camille said that. I didn’t really mind at all, because from what I had seen and heard from the kids, she was nice to them, and I had always prayed that whomsoever he ended up with would be kind to my children, seeing as they would inevitably have to spend time with her when they visited him. I was always thrilled when he had a new girlfriend, because it was a ray of hope for me that one day he would leave me and start another family and just leave my kids and me in peace. However, I knew that the chances of Camille settling for him were very slim, and that this was only likely a very temporary thing, but I decided I was going to enjoy it while it lasted. It was really nice while he was happy and in his dream world about Camille, because we were free of his rage. I was free of him in my bed, and the children and I enjoyed many happy evenings together without him coming home before we were in bed. Before too long, Chris told me that Camille was having trouble in her family home, something about her and her mother’s boyfriend, and that she had been forced to move out of her mother’s house. He said she was going to stay in a room at the church, and that he and she were going to have a 30-day prayer and fasting session. He would go every night and they would have all night prayers until morning. I said, “Okay, no problem. Why are you telling me this?” And he said that when he came back in the mornings, he would want to sleep and that he didn’t want to look after the children. I said it wouldn’t be a problem that my sitter was still there so that he could sleep all he wanted.
There was also a couple from Fiji, Adam and Suki, who came to the church. They said they had been pastors in their homeland in Fiji and had come to Canada to try to resettle. Their papers hadn’t come through yet, and they needed a church to help them out. As far as I know, they were good people. They were really nice to me, and I paid Suki to babysit my children sometimes. I lack enough words to describe how poorly they were treated by Chris. Immigration is such a delicate matter, and these good people needed Chris to help with extending their religious worker Visas. They brought the application and all, and I filled out the necessary paperwork. Their visas were extended for the first two years, and as I recall, it had to be renewed every year or two.
Chris had them at his beck and call. He had church on Sundays, choir practice on Mondays, prayer meetings on Tuesdays, and bible studies on Wednesdays. Thursday was free, but Friday was all-night prayers, and Saturday was choir practice again to prepare for Sunday. A good number of the church members balked at having to come into the church every single day of the week, and I heard many complaints and appeals of ‘can’t you talk to your husband?’ I would always assure them that they had a much better chance of getting anything done than I did.
Anyway, Suki and Adam were forced by their obligation to him to be at the church practically every waking minute. I requested at that time that my name be removed from the church board, and that Adam be put in in my stead, and Chris was very happy to do that. This put Adam really deep in his nets, because that was the way Chris operated. He would do something for you and you would now be obligated to him and be paying through it for as long as he could possibly milk it.
When people discovered that Camille was living at the church, they were quite understandably very upset. They made quite a huge stink about it. People complained and threatened to quit the church. I had unending phone calls about it. However, I was not able to come between Chris and his Camille, so I said nothing to him. I was always cautious and pleasant to her so that she would inevitably report back to him that I was nice to her. I told the people that called me that, sorry, I didn’t know what they were talking about, and that they had to talk to him directly or talk to other members of the church board, that I was no longer on the board.
I continued to be overly nice to Camille just so that she would tell Chris that I was nice to her and that would keep his fists away from me, and it really worked. I would also mention things to her, like “Don’t you think David needs a haircut?” And without fail they would have his haircut. Or sometimes I would say to her, “Hmm, I think David needs new boots,” and sure enough I would see my son with new boots. It really worked all around for me. When the complaints of the congregation became too much for Chris to bear regarding her continued stay at the church, he asked Adam and Suki, who had a two bedroom basement suite, to allow Camille to move in with them. I don’t think they had too much of a choice than to do as he said, so she moved in with them. But really, this soon proved to Chris’s undoing.
One evening, about three months after Camille had moved in with Adam and Suki, Chris barged into the house shouting at the top of his voice, “I am going to kill him! I will kill him!” I got up, I screamed, and I ran to grab David, thinking that it was my five year old that he was talking about, and I thought David had maybe broken something and had somehow angered Chris, who had discovered it and come to punish my son for it. “Please don’t hurt him!” I was already in tears as I grabbed his arm. He gave me a vicious blow, and I said, “David run and hide.” Chris came over and continued to beat me saying, “Shut up, shut up, shut your mouth! It’s not David!” When I heard that I calmed down, I stopped crying, and I said, “Oh, I thought you were angry with David.” I quickly took the children and I put them to bed.
When I came back, he was in the kitchen downstairs, he was pacing back and forth, he was so angry. I decided to brave it. I said, “What is the matter.” He was practically in tears as he told me that Camille was pregnant and that Adam and Suki’s nephew or cousin, I don’t remember exactly what the relationship was, but that that young man had gotten Camille pregnant. He said he was going to kill the man, and I said, “Well, maybe you shouldn’t say you’re going to kill him. If anything happens to him, whether or not it is you that has killed him, you will be held responsible for it.” He said, “Shut up! What do you know?!” Oh, nobody told me to run upstairs. I had a quick bath, and I went to barricade myself in the little crawl space where I started to do my homework. I did not come out until 1:30 am. I tiptoed around the house, and he wasn’t in the living room where he usually slept on the couch or on the floor, nor was he in David’s room, where he also slept sometimes. He wasn’t in my bed, of course. I actually checked Christine’s room as well, and he wasn’t there. So, I gratefully locked the door and I went to bed. I was rudely awakened at about 5:30 am by him viciously raping me. He took out all of his frustration at the loss of Camille on me. I had a microbiology exam that morning, and I can’t ever forget it. I threw up all the way to school. I was throwing up so much that I actually had to stop at one point on the side of the road to vomit. I drove to school in tears. I strengthened my heart, and I wrote my exam. Strangely enough, I actually did quite well on that exam.
As for Chris, he fell into this strange sort of depression after that. He was always around when I came home. I said nothing to him. I just looked after the kids and I hid in my little crawl space and studied. I locked the door and slept there a lot of times. I would hear him on the phone all the time fighting with Camille and also fighting with Adam and Suki, accusing them of having introduced Camille to their nephew or cousin. He said in the church out loud that his heart was broken that an unmarried girl became pregnant. He was openly crushed. I didn’t dare say anything. A lot of people expected it to be his baby that Camille carried, and said as much to me. I said I didn’t care because I really didn’t. She was a great and a much-needed diversion for me. And I for one was sorry to see the end of their relationship.
Well, poor pastor Adam and Suki also had to pay the price for their perceived role in the whole process. They were forced to resign from the church and Chris sent their letters of resignation to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, of course, effectively withdrawing the jobs that kept their religious worker Visas valid. They ended up moving to another province, and I never heard from them again. I don’t know if they remain in Canada or not. I hope they do. They were nothing but kind to me, and Suki did help me with my babysitting quite a bit. So, I bear them no ill will at all.
Chris’s madness over Camille’s issue was unending; it spilled over into every aspect of my life. After my graduation from school on my very first day at work, I was to work an evening shift from 4:00 pm to midnight. The children were, I think, 6 and 4-1/2 at the time, and all he really had to do was to give them dinner and put them in their beds. I had bathed both of them already. I could see that he was in quite a terrible mood, and I stayed away from him.
After I got the children bathed and dressed, I went to David’s room, where Chris was on the phone talking to a man from the church called Robert, about Camille. I went in to say “I’m getting ready to leave for work, please mind the children.” He said, “Hold on.” to the person on the phone, and he turned to me and screamed, “Can you not see that I am on the phone?! Get out! Get out from here before I slap your head!” So I left, but as I left I said sotto voce, “That’s why she left you for another man, because she knows you’re evil and you will slap her head.” I didn’t know he had heard me. He grabbed me in a headlock and started to hit me. “Don’t let me hear you talk about Camille ever again!” I was struggling madly to get away from him. I had only had a towel wrapped around me and that came loose and fell to the ground, and as I struggled to get free from him, I reached around him toward the shelf trying to get something to hit him with. My hand grabbed the cover off of a 2 liter jug of bleach and it came off in my hand, and the next thing I knew, I was drenched in bleach. This monster had poured bleach on me from my head to my toes, and the bleach just burned, and I ran into the bathroom half blind and I started to wash off myself. I cried and cried for the miserable life I was living.
After I had bathed and got dressed, I called a woman called Uyi who was mostly looking after the children at that point. I told her to please come over as soon as possible, that Chris was raging, and I had to go to work, but that I was afraid of leaving him alone with the children, seeing as he was so angry. I felt that if there was another person in the house, he would not be able to do anything to them. Uyi said she was in Vancouver and that she would come very soon.
I called another person from the church, and he was fairly new at the time. His name was Manas. I wanted there to be somebody around Chris to provide a buffer between him and the children, seeing as he was in such a very angry state of mind. Manas soon arrived with another man called Emmanuel. These were both young guys in their early 30s, I believe. Also, unbeknownst to me, there was a third person, called Michael, who was in the car who had driven them down. I met them at the door and I asked them to come in. I said, “Please wait until Uyi arrives.” Chris then came down and asked them to leave. I gave Manas my key and I said, “I invited you, if he locks you out, just open the door and come in.” Chris said, “Okay, you’re not going to work then! Get back inside!” And he started to drag me back in. I fought him off, and I think one of them held him, and I asked the men again to please wait for Uyi, who was going to arrive soon. I wanted there to be somebody there with my kids and with him. So he said, “Okay, if you guys want to stay, that’s fine, but I’m taking the children and I’m going to go out.” So when I got outside to go to work, I went to the van that he usually drove – it was my van, I had got it – and I disabled the gears. That way he would be unable to drive the car with the kids in it, seeing how enraged he was. I went to work.
Until now, I have no idea what transpired in my absence, but within two hours of me being at my new job on my first day, a policeman came to my work. He said he wanted to talk to me, so I took him to the conference room, we sat down, and he asked me what had happened. I told him a little of my history, and I also told him what had happened earlier in the afternoon. He said that he had been told a different story. He said he had been told by Chris and by a man called Michael that I had stabbed Chris with two knives, and he had pictures of the knives. He said Chris had told him that I poured bleach on him from head to toe. I said, if I was carrying the jug of bleach, I would not be able to reach up to Chris’s head, seeing as he was 6 foot 2, and I was 5 foot 8 and not dressed so that I would not be able to reach over his head. I also asked how about his clothes? He was fully dressed, did he show you clothes? He said, well no, but Chris took him upstairs and showed him the carpet stains where the bleach was and that the bottoms of his pant legs were bleached stained. I pointed out that if he had actually been poured bleach on from his head to his toe, all of his clothes and all of his body would be bleach stained, contrary to myself, who was not dressed and who had had the bleached poured from my head to my toes.
I said, okay, so if he said I stabbed him, where were the stab wounds? Were there marks on him? I told the officer that, look, I wasn’t seeing when I was trying to grab onto anything, so I grabbed and I touched the bleach, and that the cover came off in my hand, and that was how he was able to just get it. But the officer said that both the men had said the same thing, so he had no choice – he had to arrest me. He however said, “Go and grab your things, grab your purse, grab your jacket – you and I are going to walk out of here like friends. I am not going to handcuff you.” I thanked him. I called the shift supervisor, I said I had to leave, and then I went with the policeman. He didn’t cuff me until he got to the car. He was almost apologetic at the car, saying “Sorry, it’s regulation. I’m must put cuffs on you.” I said, “That’s fine.” He was really extremely kind. I was taken to jail again. I was there for two days. I was marked as a no-show at work, and I almost lost my brand new position, but for my union rep being so tough. I appeared in court the next day. I told the duty counsel my side of things, and they let me out on bail restricting me, however, from seeing my kids or going to my house. I stayed with Uyi at her boyfriend’s place for the 10 days before I appeared again in court. When I came to the court, the prosecutor called me and he asked to speak with me. I told him the entire truth about what had happened, strongly stressing that none of the men were around when it happened. He said he thought the story Chris had told him was too strange, and he didn’t believe a word of hit, especially given the bleach from head to toe without the clothes the show, and the stabbing with no evidence of any wound. In the court, he dismissed the charges completely, and I was free. I went home to my kids.
One would ask me at this point why I continued to stay in light of all that happened to me. My immediate response would be that, I don’t know. I am not sure. For one thing, I was not thinking clearly. I had undergone too much trauma. I thought that it would not be the best thing for my children. I had seen women endure real horrors in their marriage just for the sake of their children, and I was also fairly sure that the way Chris was with other women, that soon he would find someone else he wanted to leave me for. The biggest thing though, I think, is I did not know then that as a Christian, that I had the option of leaving a terrible marriage. I had, after all, gone to Pastor Phillip for help, and all he had said to me was, “Go home and sleep with him, and that should make things better.” I also didn’t know who to go to for help. I didn’t really have a friend who would be able to help, and I knew nothing about services for women in trouble, so I stayed. I was resigned to my fate, and I suffered.
Later that same year, I came home one evening after work and I took my kids as usual to bathe them. As I undressed Christine, I noticed that her underwear was bloody. She was not yet four years old – why would her underwear be bloody? I was upset beyond belief. I called Chris asking him for an explanation. He said he had had to go to a meeting, so he had left my children with Manas and Michael and another woman, who I think was Michael’s girlfriend, and that when he got there to pick him up, Christine had no clothes on and that she and David had been put in separate rooms to nap. I was panic- stricken and upset, I was outraged. I was almost apoplectic. I was unable to breath. I called the police immediately. Chris started to rail about me calling the police, saying why would I let a member of his church get arrested? I told him he was insane and it looked like my daughter had been assaulted, and he was talking about his bloody church.
The police took statements from me and we were asked to go to BC Children’s hospital immediately. Christine was examined, and they told me that they could not find anything really conclusive. The doctor in charge of the assault team said there was some trauma to her labia, but that it was inconclusive. I took a few days off work. We were referred to VGH counselors as well. At the end of the day, they were unable to reach definite conclusions, but I remember one of the counselors in charge, she said to me, “Keep your daughter away from that man Manas, because it was he that Christine had mentioned his name over and over.”
I stopped allowing Christine to go to church, seeing as Manas was in charge of the kids there, but when I was working, Chris would still take her there and leave her with Manas even though he had been specifically told not to expose her to him. That was how uncaring he was towards her. He also frequently would leave them with people we didn’t really know. Once, on my break at work, I called and I asked after the children, and he said “They’re here.” So when I asked to speak with them, he said, “Oh, I left that at the beauty supply store near the Royal Bank, because the woman told me she was from near your village in Nigeria.” I asked him to go pick them up immediately, and said if he did not pick them up right away that I was going to call the police to go pick them up.
After Chris moved out in 2009, the kids and I finally had breathing space. I was finally at peace. I applied for a nights-only position at work, so I was able to fully care for my children. I got a sitter who I paid $30 a night to be with the kids while I worked. It came to $600 a month, which I paid very gratefully. I would take them to school and I would sleep until it was time to pick them up, then I would go pick them up, I would spend the day with them, and we would all go to bed at about 8:00 or 8:30 pm, then I would be up again by about 11:00 pm to go to work. It really was perfect.
However, after about a year, Chris went to court again to say that he wanted to have a valid order to be able to see the children on weekends. He wanted it in writing. He was already seeing them on weekends at that point. They were actually going to him and coming back. He said he wanted it documented. He said he also wanted to be taking the children to school in the mornings and dropping them off after school. I said I was perfectly fine with the arrangement I had. He refused. I was served documents again. I had to report to court. When I arrived at the court, his lawyer was there. I was unrepresented. I did not have the wherewithal to fight it, so I just gave in. Soon after, he started trying to have sex with me again, and I got a restraining order against him. So all he really could do was to pick up the children and then drop them off. He would always, always be late dropping them off and picking them up, and I complained about it. I felt that this was just going to continue forever, my continuing to have problems with him back and forth. I decided for the sake of peace of mind for the children and for myself that I would put some distance between us. I also did not want to risk getting raped again, seeing as he was now coming around ostensibly to pick up the kids and to drop them off. There were always phone calls or something about the children. At the end of 2010 I applied to and I got admitted to the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton to complete my degree in medical laboratory science, starting in September 2011. I told Chris in March that I would be going, but I would send the kids back home for holidays to see him. He said he would only agree if I would go back to sleeping with him until August when I would move, and that he would come along to New Brunswick for the first month until the kids were settled in school. I said that I would think about it. I had obtained $17,000 in funding, and my family in Nigeria had also sent me $20,000 so that the kids and I really would be fine. I told myself it was worth doing. I told myself I would sleep with him – after all, I had done it many times before. I knew how to pretend that I was not really there; I was not the one who he was sleeping with. I knew how to disassociate myself and my mind from the actual act of having sex with him. I really tried to convince myself that it was for a good cause; I was sacrificing for my children, that my going to school would be a good thing for them, that they would be in New Brunswick in a French environment, seeing as they were in French immersion, and that would really help them at school. I said my education is a good thing for myself, it’s a good thing for the children, and I would be living by example to them, to show them how important school was. I had, after all, come to Canada over 13 years ago at that point to go to school, and Chris had managed to stop me the whole time.
I told myself I only had to endure this for less than a year. I agreed to sleep with him once a week. The first night he came, I tried really hard to wait until he was done. His perfume was overpowering, I was physically ill, and I was just very sick inside. I hated myself for agreeing. I knew that I was being manipulated and blackmailed all over again. It was almost as if I never left him, even though it had been over a whole year and a half since I left. I thought I was free, but this brought it all back again. I was his captive one more time, and I knew that I could not go through with it again. After he left I went and I had a shower for what seemed like forever, and I just vomited, and I tried to clear my head and my body of him.
Well, the next week when he called and said he was going to come, I said, sorry, I had my period, and then the week after that I said I was sick. I managed to put him off for about a month, and then he got frustrated and angry. I told him that, sorry, I could not sleep with him, and that he had other women, and why could he not be with them? There was nothing special about me, that surely there were other women who would be willing to sleep with him – what was important about me? What was special about me? I actually offered to pay him $5000 instead, and he said that $5000 dollars was too little. So we argued, he tried to get me to continue, and I said I absolutely could not, that I couldn’t stand it and I would not. So, sorry – if he didn’t want to take the $5000 dollars that I was offering, that there was really nothing I could do.
I honestly thought he would come for the money, because he wasn’t working, he didn’t have another source of income apart from the women who financed him and who bought him trips and stuff, and I didn’t know if the church was paying him at the time or not, I was fairly confident that he would accept the money, but he didn’t come for it.
I told my co-worker who headed a department that I planned to go away, that I would just move to New Brunswick, and that Chris had never obeyed any of his court orders, and that I felt he would not come after me to New Brunswick. She said she had seen a case before where the mom had moved with the kids and she had got arrested and forced back to British Columbia. She suggested I get a lawyer and I decided to try. At the end of it, though, we were unable to reach any sort of agreement, because they wanted me to agree to pay for him to come and visit the children in New Brunswick every month. How could I possibly afford to be flying him back and forth to New Brunswick, once a month? That would effectively decimate my savings, and I wasn’t planning to work while I was going to school. The judge said, well, there’s nothing you can do, we have to bring the case to trial, and the trial was set for August 2011. Well, I decided against going forward to trial for two reasons. First, I could not afford the legal costs, and secondly I would miss the beginning of the school year anyway. If the trial started in August, then I would not have time before school started in September for me to be able to start school with the rest of the class. So, I gave up on that. I said well, Chris has managed to kill this dream one more time. I sent the $20,000 dollars back to my mom, who was really actually quite grateful to have it back seeing as she had run into some financial distress at that point.
I just continued to go to work, and take the kids to school, and at the court hearing he was ordered to pay $235 dollars a month in support. I wasn’t successful in stopping him from doing the pickups and the drop off of the kids to and from school, although he was never on time, so I still maintained my day care registration, and sometimes in the morning I would drop them at day care anyway, and he would pick them up after school. He would never be on time with the checks and once he brought the money, he would collect it all back within two weeks, saying that he had no money for gas or for milk for the children. He would also give me grocery lists to buy things for him, saying that he had no money, that the children would have nothing to eat when they came to his place if I didn’t give him the money. I soon got tired of buying food for his house, so I gave David my son the spare key, and asked Chris to drop them at my house immediately after school, and feed them, as I would always have food. He took the key from David and very soon, a lot of things started to disappear from my house in general, and from my freezers in particular. He would help himself to toilet paper, bath soap, the texturizers I bought for David, cleaning supplies, deodorant, beef and chicken from the freezers, meals that I painstakingly cooked and froze for our convenience he just made off with. Anything that he could take, he did. When I queried him, he would say “What? A big woman like you, working in a big hospital, you are crying about common food? What is food? You are a big educated rich woman, what is chicken to you? He always said mockingly. He also lied to the courts that he was working at a glass cutting factory. I know for a fact that he wasn’t working. He made arrangements with a friend of his who owned the factory to make out contract payments for him. I think the man soon tired of it, because within three months of the court saying he had to get a job, there was no further talk of his working at the factory.
His style of parenting was strictly at his convenience, and I was glad that I still had the convenience of the day care. He would frequently leave Canada and go to different countries, sponsored by women that he met on Facebook and on the internet. He would say he was going for church functions. I really didn’t care in the least, to be honest. My children and I were fine and we were safe, and I wasn’t bothered. When he was absent, it was always a relief for me, and I think that Christine was also relieved as well, because when he picked them up from school in the afternoons, he would force her to eat large meals, which she really hated. She would always complain that he force fed her until she vomited. I told him over 20 to 30 times that if she said she was full that he absolutely had to stop feeding her, but he is not someone you can reason with or tell, please don’t do this or such and such – that was just impossible. So he kept force feeding her, even until now, and she’s almost eight.
I am still trying my best to take the children to another province to begin our lives again. I know that if I am better educated, my children will be better for it. I will be more financially able to provide for them, and they will not have the constant influence of Chris who keeps on telling them that education is not important. He mocks my educational goals. The children says that he says all this ‘book book and school school thing is not important’. I, on the other hand, cannot stress enough how important an education is to their lives. So, they’re getting conflicting messages. My son recently tore up a homework paper saying it wasn’t important, and that, of course, is because of the message that has been hammered into his head by Chris.
My mother’s youngest brother moved here from the UK in August 2012. He is not much older than I am, and my mom raised him, so I often call him my brother. He started to talk to Chris immediately when he arrived, and Chris assured him that this time if I wanted to go to school that he would not do anything to stop me. My uncle let him know that I would not be able to leave the children behind and go to school, so they would need to come with me. Chris agreed. My brother told me, and I immediately told Chris that I wanted it documented by the courts. He said he would get his lawyer to do it. I said “Let’s just go and get a consent order from the courts, so we will not need a lawyer.” He refused.
He came back to me about a week later to say that his lawyer said it would cost $1000 dollars. I said, okay, I would try and get the money after the New Year. He also wanted some money immediately. I said I had nothing for now. I reminded him that he was collecting back the $235 that he brought to me in obedience to the court order, that he missed a lot of payments, and that he continually took money from me – that even when he brought the $235 dollars, he would take it all back within a week or two. He said he had no money and that if I didn’t bring the money that he asked for, the children would walk everywhere. He harassed me for gas money all the time, sometimes two to three times in a week. I don’t know where he kept going, but he never had gas in his tank. My son told me once that the car stopped in the middle of the road and they had to get out and walk to the gas station. This is how irresponsible Chris is.
On Monday the 21st of January, Chris came to my house by 9.30pm, saying that David had called him and asked him to come, and that he had promised that he would see him before he went to sleep. I agreed, and he went off to David’s room. He said that they had to attend a function on the weekend, that he needed clothes for David. I asked him to come for the clothes on Friday, but he insisted that he was already here, and would be quick. I asked him to call me before he left, so I would chain the door. I went to my room, and was reading the news on my phone, and I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I felt was Joshua on top of me, using his knee to force open my legs. I felt his breath on my face, and the cloying perfume that he douses himself with at all times smelt very strongly. I actually thought that I was having a nightmare about him raping me, as I had had so many times in the past, and I was struggling to wake up from it. I started to struggle against him when I realized that it was actually happening. He is not a small person. He is 6’2” and 235-250 lbs., and I had been taken unawares. I have also been asthmatic my whole life, and anything that even mildly impairs my breathing is a huge cause for panic for me. He had his arm on my upper chest stopping me from drawing a full breath. When he finally managed to penetrate and started doing his thing, I stopped struggling for about a minute, to calm myself, and then I used the palm of my hand to hit him in the face. That was a shock to him, because all the times he had raped me in the past, when I stopped fighting because it was too hard to breathe, it usually meant it was over, and he would finish. He said, “stop, let me finish, let me finish”. I managed to feel for my phone in the bed, and said I will call the police and report you now. Get out! Get out!! I was still whispering because I did not want my children to come out and see me crying. He said ‘You’re my wife and I will fuck you when I want”. I raised the phone still threatening to call; he grabbed his things. I said if you ever try that again, I will kill you, I am strong now. He said you can do nothing, and you will pay for hitting my face. He left, and I chained the door. I went to work the next day, and on my way home, stopped by at my friend Rachel and told her about it.
On Wednesday the 23rd of January, I had a meeting with Christine’s teacher at school. My children are both not doing great at school, and one of the reasons behind that is that their father continually tells them that school is not important. David recently ripped up his homework, telling me that ‘School is not the most important thing, and I am going to be a pastor like daddy’.
I always tell Chris to come to the meetings so that he can hear from the school authorities for himself. I was late for the meeting, because I hadn’t been feeling well since the recent rape attempt and I was nauseous at the thought of being near him again at the meeting. Chris said I was trying to call you, and I told teacher that I had forgotten my cell phone in my rush, else I would have called. At the end of the meeting, the teacher said that the School Based Learning Support Team (SBLST) had decided that Christine would be removed from French Immersion, and she would receive additional support in English. I was asked to take her for vision testing, hearing testing, and an Auditory Processing Testing at the Surrey Hospital.
It was 4.30pm when we left the meeting. David said he wanted a salad for dinner, and I said we would go to Superstore to get his salad things. I said we would also go to Staples because we needed ink to print out the evening’s homework. Chris said, “why take them to run all these errands in the rain”? I said, they are not made of salt; a little rain does not hurt anyone. He insisted that they go with him, that I could buy the things on my own, and then come and pick them up on my way back. I did not want to argue in front of the children, so I left. It took me about 45 minutes in rush hour traffic to run those errands. I went to his place to pick them up. I do not go to his house unless I absolutely have to, for instance if his WIND phone is unreachable, and it is late on a weeknight and he hasn’t brought the children home. On the two occasions that I was there, the door was unlocked, and I had said, why do you keep the door unlocked when the children are in the house?
I got there, and tried the door, and truly it was unlocked. I went in, and said ‘guys come on lets go’. Chris said they are watching a Jesus movie, they have to finish. I turned to the children, and I said why didn’t you get started on your reading Christine or you David? They both said daddy is using his computer. I looked at the screen, he was on Facebook. I said, so after everything you heard today in the school, you still won’t allow these children to study, you are on Facebook. He jumped up. Can you not see that they are watching the suffering of Christ on the cross? What is all this school and book rubbish about? You that you went to school, what are you now? Where is your life, are you not still useless, is your life not destroyed? I was already starting to cry. I said if my life is destroyed, it is because you destroyed it with all the evil that you have done to me; but I will not allow the lives of my children to be destroyed. I went to grab Christine’s jacket, and he grabbed me. “I said they are not going” he yelled. He said who asked you to enter my house. He grabbed me and started to pull me towards the door.
I said I’m not leaving without my kids. He said when I finish with you, you will never see them again, that your big job that makes you a big woman, you will never work again, you will be on welfare, and the Edmonton school you want to go, you are not going. I said it’s a weekday, they are with me. He was still trying to throw me out physically. I grabbed the front of his sweater to keep from falling over. He grabbed my glasses off my face and tossed them out, then my bag and coat. He was still pulling me, and I was pushing against him, refusing to leave. As he pulled me nearly out the door, the picture frame that was on a small stool by the door fell and broke. I pushed against him to avoid the broken glass. The children started to cry, I said run outside lets go, he said, remember what I told you, now go inside the room and lock the door. He took a stick, and started to hit me with it, spat on my face calling me a prostitute. I spat back on him, and he chopped me in the neck with the side of his hand. I fell on the floor. He said I told you I would deal with you for hitting my face. When he made to continue to hit me, I got up and ran towards his TV and held onto it for dear life. I said, ‘If you lay another hand on me, the TV is coming down with me”. He said I’m calling the police; you will see what will happen.
I never did manage to land even a single blow on him. I stayed by the front door, screaming all kinds of names at him. I called him a rapist and an abuser. I called him evil and wicked, just that sort of thing. I gave that up when I didn’t see him anymore, and went to the door where the children were and started to talk to them through the door. I said David please give me the password to your phone, I need to call for help. I was still talking to them through the door when two policemen came in. One of them said, I was hearing you yelling up the stairs. The other one went to talk to the children. The one talking to me, Officer Stark, said what is going on? I said, I would like to pee first please, he refused. I said you can come to the bathroom, I have nothing to hide, but I need to pee. He still refused, so I said ok, here is what happened. I had just started to tell him what happened, when the other one came out and said don’t bother the children corroborated his story. Stark said, you are under arrest, reading me rights. He handcuffed me. I was standing there in handcuffs, listening to them conferring as to what charges to lay. They came up with four. Stark asked, should I tack on breaking and entering as well, the other said ehm no, it might look a bit much. How about something about the children, Stark asked, the other said I think what we have will do. I said, I was the one attacked, you are doing the wrong thing, you need to listen to me, but they would not. I left it at that, and refused to say another word to them, keeping silent through a lot of what they were asking me about understanding charges etc.
I went to court the next afternoon, I wasn’t allowed to speak. When I heard the judge say I couldn’t see my children, my life just left me, and I fell on the floor, struggling to breathe. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me again. It had happened before when Chris had got Michael and Emmanuel, refugee claimants from his church to say that I had threatened him with a knife. On that occasion he had been trying to prevent me from going to work on my first day on the job. The prosecutor didn’t like the stories at that time, and the charges were stayed. I later asked one of the men why he had done that, he said that Chris said if he didn’t, that he would tell immigration to deport him, so he had to. When Chris did find out that he had told me the truth, he exposed him to immigration, and Emmanuel got deported.
The duty counsel, who spoke in my defense, a woman with straight dark brown hair, came to me on the floor, looked me in the eyes and said in a strong voice. “Get up Amaka, you are strong, compose yourself, and fight this. You are strong, you are okay you can fight this, get up!” Something in the heart of me heard her. I have been at peace since I heard her voice. It is as if she gave me new life, new strength. I am going to try again. I haven’t seen or touched or hugged my children since January 23rd, but I am not in pieces because of her. It is as if for the first time, someone saw me, and tried to help me.
I know that my children are not thriving while they are with him, and that they are basically camping. He treats Christine differently that her brother for the mere fact that she is a girl. They both constantly complain that “Daddy never listens”, and were both extremely excited at the prospect of moving to Edmonton. They are being forced to attend night-vigil prayers at his church every Friday night, and they return from this extremely exhausted. Chris has extreme fundamentalist Christian beliefs, and I am continually trying to correct some of those views that he has foisted on my kids. There was one awful day when Christine came home in tears. She said that “Daddy made me do 100 frog-jumps”-frog jumps are squats…She had to hold both her ears and squat and get to her feet repeatedly for a hundred count. I asked why? It turned out that Christine and her friend had been playing “Justin Bieber dating” and that “Justin Bieber” had had to kiss the “girlfriend”. I said did you try to explain this to your father, and she had replied, “but he never listens”. He had also done “deliverance” on her to cast out the demon of homosexuality. I called him, and warned him that if he ever did anything like that again, that I would take both children away; and that he would never see them again until after they were eighteen and voluntarily sought him out. I am willing to finally forgo getting my education done, and defeating the purpose for my coming to Canada so many years ago in order to protect my children. I know for a fact that he has been systematically indoctrinating my son, and I am not willing to allow this to continue for much longer.
Chris has made allegations against me once more, and criminal charges have been brought against me. He claims that I choked him; I state emphatically, that I did not. If had managed to land even a single blow on him, I would not feel so bad, but as it is, I and my children are being punished based on his lying accusations.
He alleges that I spat on him. He spat on me first, calling me a dog and a prostitute. I spat on him back, and told him that his mother was the prostitute
A third allegation was that I threatened to kill him. Yes I did, but not on the day that he claims I did. This was on the day that he had raped me, and I had warned him never to try it again. This further goes to buttress my point; that he set me up in order to punish me for fighting him off and throwing him out after he started to rape me on the 21st of January.
He claims that I broke a picture frame on a stool by his door. That did break, but it was entirely by accident as he dragged me to the front door to throw me outside. I was charged with mischief for that.
The neighbors’ daughter that was there that day says in her statement that she heard me say “…if you lay a single hand on me again your TV will break”. This sentence points to the truth that he was beating me, and I ran and held onto the TV, so that if he dragged me down, the TV would come down with me. I was trying to save myself.
When I asked the children to run outside, he said, get inside the room and lock the door. “You know what I told you”. What had he told them? Again, this smacks of premeditation in all these acts and accusations that he has made.
I am asking for help. My children have not been home since January 23, 2013. They are wearing hand-me-down clothes from people that I do not know. My daughter has gained about 10 lb., which lets me know that she is being continually force fed. If it is true that I am innocent until proven guilty, then why am I and my children being punished already? The children are basically camping. They are being forced to attend night prayer vigils. My son has been baptized in the icy waters of the White Rock beach in this cold winter weather. Chris is unable to afford to care for them, never having held down a job, and when he was recently asked how he planned to look after them, if he got them, he pointed to the welfare and child tax system. Chris has used the Justice system to bully me practically since he got here, and he has been continually enabled – not a single person has asked why he seized the children on a Wednesday contrary to the existing court order that says that I have primary custody of the kids, and that he gets weekends. Why has nobody addressed his seizing them on a week day?
He started to beat me on January 23, 2013, as my daughter said in her statement, that “He took a stick…” I fought him off to defend myself. If the altercation involved us both, then why should the kids be with him? He is not by any means able to care for them. He just makes allegations and suddenly my children and I start to be punished? Where is the part about being innocent until proven guilty?
How does anyone know that the children are safe with him? The justice system has failed me time and time again. I have been horribly treated and maligned, and the courts have punished me and my children without any proof of any wrongdoing on my part. The Ministry for Children and Family Development (MCFD) were involved, and they had no concerns. They suggested that I got to see the children until the court process was over.
We had a court order, which said I was unable to move the kids from BC. I lost $17,000 in funding over that, as I didn’t move from BC in obedience to the court order. We also have a court order that says Chris can only have the children on weekends, which he flagrantly disobeyed, and then is rewarded for that. Is this justice?
It’s a baffling thing indeed. I cannot afford any more lawyers. I am in need of help. The Ministry for Children and Families had told me that Chris said I was suicidal. I am not. I have no intentions of killing myself. I have no reason to kill myself. I need to be here to look after my children, Christine and David.
Chris plans to continue to keep me as his prisoner and his slave, and to continue to use the justice system against me. I had for the sake of my children endured unending abuse, and have even in the face of the said abuse, tried my best to maintain a civil relationship with him in order to give my children a sense of ‘normalcy’. I now see that this was probably the wrong thing to do. The best thing, as my friend Estee has pointed out, would simply to have made a clean break, because there is nothing normal about it, we are soon to be divorced, and that the children would adjust after the fact. She maintains that I should have clearly defined the boundaries, my home is where we live, and Chris’ home is where they visit on weekends, and there should have been no blurred lines in between. I continue to say that I thought that I was doing what was best for the children. Even to the extent that if Chris took them out, he would always send David to get some money from me. I bought the gas he drove with and provided endlessly, just to try to do the best for my children.
How anyone can question the safety of my children when they are with me is beyond me. they were safe in my womb for 10 months each; they were safe in my arms as they nursed, they have been safe with me in the almost 10 and 8 years since they were born, and all of a sudden, because Chris couldn’t succeed completely in raping me then my children are suddenly unsafe with me? It doesn’t make any sort of sense. This is the system failing very badly, at a cost of hardship to my children.
I was asked if I wanted to plead guilty in criminal court, and I said absolutely not, I am not guilty of even half of one of the charges; even though that would have possibly brought my children home, but a guilty plea also possibly brings an end to my career, and the source of income for caring for my children and preparing them for a better future. I also firmly believe that the truth will prevail eventually. A trial date has been set.
I was asked again today why I didn’t leave Chris and run away before 2009 when the court order came to be. My answer remains the same: Every time Chris beat me, with his hands or with a stick, I lost a little of myself. Constant abuse takes away more and more of who you are, until soon you feel completely lost and unrecognizable to yourself. Your spirit gets broken, you lose hope and joy, and you then become invisible. Nobody can see you or hear you. You feel that nobody will ever help you. You stop to look after yourself. That is how it has been for me. Each time I try to recover Chris does something else to let me know that he still considers me his prisoner. My children are my lifeline, and he has always punished me for any perceived wrong doing by taking them away, or trying to take them away, effectively punishing the children as well.
I am asking for some kind of intervention and help, or else this is never going to end. I have been criticized for not asking for help and not reporting all the crimes that have been committed against me for the past 15 years. I am asking for help now.
I am already $16,000 in debt. I need to get my children home. I need to get my school resumed. I cannot afford any lawyers; I am at a loss for what to do. So please, somebody, help me.