Akila was born a tiny, beautiful girl. Everyone around her spoke of her beauty and the grace with which she carried herself.

Akila grew up in a very secure home with a lot of love, and protection from her parents, siblings, and relatives. Because of that love, Akila was one of the most confident young girls in her community. She always approached people with such ease and posed questions without fear.

Akila excelled in her studies and was the life of the party at school. She was always present and playful, while also caring for her peers, so much so that she was once punished for standing up for her friend who was beaten for failing to complete their homework. Despite being made to sweep the school compound as her punishment, Akila remained steadfast in standing up for others and not letting any injustice go unpunished.

She believed that everyone deserved to be treated fairly. And because of her belief and passion for fairness that led to her participating in spaces that spoke out against violence against women and children.

She got her first job after completing her education, and carried herself with poise, grace, and gentleness. Her confident and vibrant personality attracted the attention of many and had men throwing themselves at her feet seeking her hand.

Akila was the perfect embodiment of a wonderful partner. She met Rabai, the man who would become her husband, a short while after she got her first job. Rabai was a tall good-looking man, so charismatic and that you could easily take him for a car sales dealer. Rabai and Akila went on several dates in their courtship, after which he proposed, and the two got married.

Akila was so sold out to Rabai’s charms that she made sure she catered to his every need. The marriage started out so beautifully, they were each other's best friends, always talking about the future, making plans for the babies they would have. Rabai would always take Akila out on dates, and they often surprised each other with gifts and showered each other with the undying love they had for each other.

Over time, Rabai’s behavior began to change. He began staying out late at night, and often ignored her messages and phone calls. He would go through long periods of time not communicating with Akila as he used to. They stopped going on dates and he stopped showering her with gifts and the affection he once had for her.

Akila never understood why Rabai’s behavior suddenly changed. When she tried to communicate with her husband, he would ignore her, and tell her he was no longer interested in her, and that he would not care if she was to move on with another man.

Akila would plead and beg him for attention and for his love and affirmation to no avail. She found herself fighting for her marriage with no understanding of what happened to her once beautiful union a marriage that Akila described as a rollercoaster of pain and chaos, it was a start of a reckless and destructive relationship with the man she loved and held in high esteem.

Unaware to Akila, Rabai had just set off a tornado of pain into her life that would forever leave a deep sore, and darkness in her life.  Rabai, would paint Akila as unstable, inconsiderate, and a nag, often saying she needed “salvation". After years of hearing her husband refer to her in that way, Akila began believing that she was as her husband said, and that she had absolutely nothing to offer to the marriage and family they had together.

Over the years Akila was humiliated and ridiculed. On one occasion, Akila recalled Rabai yelling at her as she said goodbye to her friends at a wedding reception, calling her useless and incapable of understanding the concept of time. He would do this on many other occasions and would go to the extent of leaving her behind if he felt she was running late, even by 5 minutes. If she ever spoke up, he would refer to her as a bad mother to their children, and then proceed to giving her silent treatment for days at a time.

The constant name calling, criticizing and humiliation made Akila withdraw, she no longer valued the things that brought her happiness like going out with friends, spending time with her little bundles of Joy, Swimming, shopping and other selfcare activities that helped her many times find the solace she needed that she never got from her home.

On multiple occasions, Rabai locked her out of their house because she had gone for a party. He would do this every time she went for a night out with friends, or an office party. night out with her friends, office parties, and every time she would return home at or after 10 pm.  Seeking to escape the pain of the abuse, and not understanding why her husband had suddenly changed, Akila began looking for ways to leave her husband, and her marriage that she once held so dearly.

Nothing she did ever seemed to have a positive impact on Rabai or the marriage. Whether she said something, or sat in silence, many times she even tried to keep the peace by taking the blame even when it was not her fault, she was told she would never win. Many times, she cried herself to sleep and each time Rabai found her crying, he would smirk and make fun of her, saying her tears could never move him.   

It was when Rabai threatened to throw her and her children out of the family home, after angrily ranting at them that Akila made the brave decision to seek help and move away from Rabai. This was shortly after emotional abuse had become physical abuse.

After years of torment, self-doubt, and the constant mind battering Akila had had enough and with the help of her family and friends she found the much-needed help she needed. Besides her own emotional and mental health being gravely affected by her husband's abuse, Akila had also noticed her children’s behavior change. Once happy and cheerful, her children had now become very clingy and withdrawn from social interaction. They would always ask when she would return home, even if she was simply stepping outside their home to speak to a neighbor.

It has been a long six-month journey of healing for Akila and her children since she made the decision to seek help.  With the help of all those around her, who continuously show her love, support, and affection, Akila is now on a journey to find her light. With time, Akila hopes to share her experience and share her light to women with similar experiences, and support them toward a journey of healing, as she was supported to find her own healing.

Written and compiled by Gladys Nanyanga.