Over the last year-and-a-half, Angela Mutie has been rebuilding the pieces of her life after surviving a painful marriage filled with physical, financial and emotional abuse. It has been a difficult and emotional journey, but she is reclaiming her life and is now at the forefront of the movement against gender-based violence in her community.
When people think of victims of domestic violence, many assume they grew up in a dysfunctional home, were insecure and did not feel loved or wanted, so their idea of love was distorted and caused them to fall in love with an abusive partner.
Angela’s story could not have been any more different…
She was raised in a close-knit Christian home and the youngest of four siblings. Her family doted on her and love was never lacking in her household.
“Being the youngest I was everyone’s favourite,” Angela told The Weight She Carries. “But despite being the youngest, I was very responsible. Whenever I was given a task to do, I made sure that I completed it.”
Church was a central part of her family life, and her parents made sure she knew her value in Christ from a young age. This knowledge would sustain her in the particularly difficult years to come.
In 2014, Angela, reconnected with a childhood friend via Facebook. He was a few years older than her.
“I knew his family well and we grew up together. In fact, his mother was my favourite teacher in primary school and I loved the subject she taught, which (I passed) well during the KCPE examination,” Angela said.
The two began dating shortly after. A year later, they married in a lavish wedding ceremony.
“I saw some red flags even while we were dating but I was so in love and thought he would change. On one occasion he told me he was going out with some friends in the evening. He was gone all night and didn’t get home until the next day. I wondered, ‘If one is really out with friends, how can it be for the whole night? At some point they should go home.’ So it began with a lot of inconsistencies and stories that just didn’t add up.” – Angela Mutie
On another occasion, her ex-husband left in the evening with her laptop and returned without it the next day, not quite giving a reasonable explanation for what happened to it.
The late nights out became regular and he would often turn off his phone when he was home or go outside to take calls. This led to many arguments.
“I believed he was cheating, the signs were there and all of his actions pointed towards it, but I valued my marriage so much. I would always ask God to reveal what my husband was doing,” she said.
The relationship turned violent one night when Angela’s husband came home at 3 a.m.
“I was up breastfeeding our 6-month-old baby and my husband just walked into the room with a log in his hand and hit me on my head with it,” she said. “I so confused and shocked. I didn’t know what had angered him out there. He hit me so hard it was like I blacked out. I thought I was dreaming.”
Angela put the baby down and her husband proceeded to hit her again, and then again.
“I screamed and the nanny came running into the room. She was telling him to stop,” Angela said.
Soon neighbors came rushing to the house trying to restrain Angela’s husband.
“I managed to run out of the house but he caught me and pinned me to the ground. He straddled me a began to suffocate me. I was so scared, I couldn’t breathe.” – Angie Mutie
This was the beginning of many beatings Angela sustained at the hands of her husband.
“He never ever apologized for hitting me or acknowledged he was wrong. He also never told me why he was doing it,” Angela said. “By this time, he had isolated me from my family and friends. I was very low emotionally and accepted that this was just the way things were. I constantly prayed and asked God for peace.”
“For the 3 years I had been married I had gone through thick and thin. I had gone through life believing that it’s a woman’s responsibility to keep a marriage/relationship going, and so I gave it my best shot. I played down the violence and when I couldn’t, I made excuses for it.” – Angela Mutie
The bruises became harder and harder to hide and her colleagues at work began to notice. Some days Angela, who is an Aviation Security Officer, would stay home while she healed, but the number of missed days quickly added up.
“My boss pulled me aside one day after he noticed something with me was amiss. He was very supportive and understanding. He didn’t put any pressure on me but told me it was up to me to decide whether I wanted to stay or leave my husband,” Angela said.
“One night I had to flee my home in a torn night dress and seek refuge at a neighbor’s house. When I returned in the morning, he had burnt all of my belongings. I had no money…nothing. All I had were the borrowed pajamas I had on. I was traumatized. I was so afraid of that man.” – Angela Mutie
On a separate occasion, Angela’s husband pulled a gun on her during an argument away from home. She managed to escape and hid in a sewer.
“I remember ducking inside and waiting for him to pass. It was dark and my heart was beating so fast,” she said. “Once he gave up looking for me, I escaped to a friend’s house. As soon as I arrived, she directed me to the bathroom right away so I could clean off the mess.”
When she reported the domestic abuse to the police, she was told the matter did not concern them.
“The officer refused to help me and told me it’s against our culture for me to report any domestic violence by my husband,” Angela said.
In addition to the violence, Angela had to deal with women calling and claiming her husband. It was a blow to her self-esteem and she constantly compared herself to the other women.
“My mind, body and soul had taken enough of the abuse. They say that rock bottom is a solid foundation. I expected it to be for me but it took months, which turned to be a year+ trying to settle the war within me – whether to stay or leave the abusive marriage.” – Angela Mutie
The day finally came when she had had enough. She had to leave.
“It got to a point where I couldn’t take the abuse anymore, and it had dawned on me that if I didn’t leave, this man would one day kill me,” Angela said. “The reality that I could not say no, had been isolated from friends and family, had been constantly invalidated and had been made to feel it was all my fault..”
Angela packed her things and left for her parent’s home with her baby. Her family welcomed her back home and she began to slowly heal.
Upset that she had left, her husband started bullying her on social media, claiming she was a witch.
“I knew he was just trying to get back at me, but I didn’t let it shake me. I’ve always known who I am – I am a child of God. So, I didn’t even bother with him,” Angela said.
“After walking out of the abusive marriage, I had to bear the tagline of a failure. I had failed spectacularly in scaling the societal heights and expectations set for me at the time – that a woman should wallow in the s**t that an abusive marriage brings. I saw the imminent death of this marriage as an additional personal failure. I have now become used to raised eyebrows and whispers behind my back that I am a failure.” – Angela Mutie
It was during this very difficult time that she came across DIVAS SPARK – a 12-week life-transforming program that connects a woman to her purpose by encouraging her to break away from self-defeating masks.
“I signed up for the classes, though I was completely heart broken. During one of the sessions, we were watching a video clip and at the end one could say whether they felt beautiful or not,” Angela said. “Most of the ladies claimed they felt beautiful. When it was my turn, I couldn’t face the other ladies or the coach. An awkward feeling of shame and bitterness shadowed me. I felt lost. The pain was so real that I made a note to the lady seated next to me that I felt ‘not beautiful’ since I had lost everything – my marriage, my property, my investments, my self-esteem and my self-worth. After the lady read what I had written out loud, the room was so silent you could hear a pin drop.”
Suddenly all eyes were on Angela, who was shaking terribly.
“They all were crying to the Lord for my redemption and healing. It is at that particular juncture that the Lord spoke so clearly to me that He would give me peace, and peace in abundance,” she said. “Since that day, I have experienced immense peace that only God can give.”
About a year later, one of Angela’s friends saw a flyer on social media calling for contestants for Mrs Universe Kenya 2018 with the theme “No to Domestic Violence.” Angela seized the opportunity, signed up, and was later selected as one of the contestants representing Machakos County.
“God used me in my season of pain and I emerged the winner in my county. Who else is like this God? I found my purpose in the midst of my pain – working with domestic violence victims and survivors, especially women,” she said. “My past does not define me. I know who I am. I believe in myself. There is something inside me greater than any obstacle out there, and I am proud of the woman I am becoming.”
According to a 2017 report by World Health Organization, 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual abuse in their lifetime, and up to 38 percent of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner.
Angela is among the fortunate who survived.
“Truth is not all relationships end in that coveted walk down the aisle. Not all relationships can last forever, in fact, not all relationships should. Some relationships are supposed to end especially when one’s life is at stake – and mine lies on this category,” Angela said.
“I am inspired be seeing people overcome adversity and difficult situations like the one I was in. I am also inspired by sheer beauty of nature which reminds me of how lucky I am to be alive. My son inspires me too. What a gift from God – for me to be bestowed with the privilege of raising a son. I am so grateful to Him.” – Angela Mutie
To get in touch with Angela, email her at email@example.com, or call her on +254 721 360 488.
Vimbai E. is a writer, journalist, ghostwriter and the founder of The Weight She Carries. With hundreds of articles publishing online, in print and for broadcast, her love of language and storytelling shines through every piece of writing that bears her name.