TO many people, domestic violence is about a husband or male partner/boyfriend physically bashing their wives or girlfriends.
But a few unfortunate Zimbabwean men in the UK would tell you otherwise.
And more-so they would rather suffer in silence than bring shame to themselves.
The revelation came after I wrote an article last week about a Zimbabwean woman who killed her five-year-old son after her husband had left them.
Many men thought the article was one sided because it painted Zimbabwean men as irresponsible to the needs of their children.
“I don’t know the circumstances that led to the incident, but the man could have been a victim of domestic violence, maybe that’s why he left,” George, from Oxford said.
George (surname withheld) recounted his domestic abuse ordeal. He came to the UK in 2003.
In Zimbabwe he used to work as a chief executive officer for a very big company, but his misery started when he came to the UK and began to earn a fraction of his wife’s salary.
“When I came to the UK I endured a lot of domestic abuse from my wife,” he said.
“If I wasn’t strong, we would have divorced by now, but I humbled myself and accepted my fate.
“I have been married to her for more than 25 years.
“In Zimbabwe I was the bread winner, I paid all the bills, mortgage, and school fees, bought all the furniture, and bought her a car.
“I never asked her for her pay.
“I considered it as her pocket money.
“But when I came here, she came before me and got into nursing, the tables were tuned and I found myself on the receiving end.
“I was on her visa.
“She was working for an Agency as a nurse and getting paid between £30 and £40 per hour (between US$50 to US$60 per hour)!
“I was working as a cleaner in a big retail shop, imagine, from being the CEO of a company that employed more than 250 people, with my own company secretary, to a cleaner!
“I was getting pittance compared to my wife, less than £8 per hour (US$13 per hour). My wife was earning five times my salary!
“Our roles were reversed. She was now paying the bills while I bought food. “She started going out with her friends, sometimes she would tell me that she was going out with friends, but other times she would just go.
“We started arguing and clashing. When I objected, she would tell me that if I was the ‘man’ in the house then I should pay all the bills.
“Apa mari yacho handina! Worse still I was her dependent on her visa. She was being influenced by her friends. Eventually I kept quiet. For most Zimbabwean men, the major setback is that when we come here we find ourselves doing these jobs that we never thought we would do in our lives.
“We leave our careers in Zimbabwe and become nothing. As a result it is easy to be easily agitated by small things. You are always on the edge. You are traumatised by your experiences. You have to adjust to a new culture that supports women.
“One of my very close friends developed mental illness because he couldn’t adjust. I think varume vane vakadzi manurse tisu tiri patight ye domestic abuse kunyanya.”
Another man who refused to be named, told me how he has become a victim of domestic violence after finding out that his wife of 18 years is an escort, not a care-worker as she made him to believe!
An escort is a female or male who provides adult services (including sex) to clients, mostly those who want to be discreet.
They get paid a lot of money for brief stints, some earning thousands of pounds in a day.
An escort interviewed by the London Evening Standard in January this year, said: “I was a high-class hooker.
“Call me a courtesan, call girl, escort, whatever.
“Basically I was a hooker.
“Just very well paid. My clients were on the Forbes list. Men who owned private islands, who were huge in property, international industry and oil.
“These clients were powerful, powerful men.”
When this Zimbabwean man found out that his wife goes out to entertain rich men while he is left to look after the children, he said;
“I didn’t know that’s what she was doing until recently.
“She used to do care work, so she leaves me with the children and goes to ‘work’.
“I also work, but mostly night shifts, so she became so discreet. I became suspicious. I set up a trap and caught her. When I confronted her she reminded me that I am on her visa.
“We argued and she called the police. I was dragged to court. She told many lies. Now I have been ordered to pay her £400 (about US$630) every month for child maintenance. We are still living under the same roof though.”
Peter (pseudonym) who lives in Coventry said he left his wife of more than 30 years when she became abusive and lied to the police that he had tried to strangle her.
“I left her because I realised I was living under house arrest! It’s house arrest because ndakanga ndatova musungwa wake.
“Aiita madiro, ndichinyarara nekutya kusungwa.
“The wife that I had married in Zimbabwe had been replaced by a monster. If a woman calls the police, even wangomusimudzira ruoko, they don’t listen to you.
“Once you get a criminal record or caution, that’s it. It becomes impossible to get a job.
“Saka ndakati MaDube sarai henyu.
“I have friends who were imprisoned or deported because of domestic violence.I know some men whose wives talk to their boyfriends in the presence of the husbands!”
Domestic violence against men is not only affecting African or Zimbabwean men.
The Daily Mail (December 4 2013), questioned, “Why are so many men becoming victims of domestic violence?
“It’s one of Britain’s last remaining taboos, but abuse against men in the home is on the rise.”
Domestic violence against men is common in the UK.
One Zimbabwean man said he thinks it is one of the reasons why some men from Zimbabwe are turning into homosexuals.
Other men, especially British, found a solution by going abroad, mainly Thailand, to marry women who are more ‘traditional’ and ‘submissive’.
This was highlighted on Channel 4 television through a documentary, My online Bride; and another documentary Thai Bride.
A social worker (from Zimbabwe) said she has presided on many child protection cases involving Zimbabweans, as a result of domestic violence.
In one of the cases she came across recently, the man was a victim of physical abuse from his wife, but wouldn’t do anything because he is on the wife’s visa.
“He told me that he gets beaten by his wife in front of the children,” she said.
“If he fights back she calls the police. Their children are now going into care.”
All these men who shared their experiences, did so because they don’t believe that in the UK a man would just walk away from his wife and children. Domestic violence against men does exist, and many men are suffering in silence.
This is complicated by the fact that we don’t have the extended family (anaTete nanaSekuru) to intervene.
As a result many people seek refuge in churches, especially Pentecostal churches, where they end up being exploited because of their vulnerability.
in This is the UK, a land of milk and honey!