Domestic Abuse - a Risk Factor for HIV Transmission

When Kate Njoroge met the man of her dreams, she was 22, beautiful and naive. She was pursuing a degree in sociology at Kenyatta University while her boyfriend was on his way to becoming a doctor.

“I pictured a perfect family. My boyfriend looked and met the cut,” Kate says. In her second year she moved closer to her dream family when she got pregnant. After her studies she moved in with her beau. “Things were really working as I had figured out as a little girl,” she says.

But that’s an old story. Kate is now 41 and bitter at how her happy ending turned out. The mother of two’s marriage turned septic a few years later after moving in. First, her man became unresponsive then he started having multiple affairs. Then he turned violent.

“I didn’t have a job when I completed campus and then my family got evicted in the 1992 tribal clashes, which meant my dad, a farmer, couldn’t support my siblings. I had to step in and help out. Though my husband was working, he was unsupportive. Then he started seeing other women,” Kate narrates.

To counter the dejection Kate got her MBA in record time and soon landed herself an international job.

“He didn’t like it one bit,” she says. “He couldn’t stomach that I had got my Masters before him and now was bringing in more money. He would now go missing for days, and I learnt that he had actually moved in with another woman and got a baby,” the NGO programme manager says.

Wary of the strings of women her husband was hosting, Kate decided to stay away from the marital bed.

“That’s when he hit me really hard. I was so swollen. I had withheld sex for a month insisting that he must get tested,” Kate recalls.

For years that became her life, and since she could not insist that her man uses a condom, she resigned herself to her fate. In December last year, after numerous bad encounters and walking out three times, she decided to move out. For good.

“I am lucky I didn’t contract HIV. God must really love me. But I am bitter that I wasted more than 20 years trying to make it work,” Kate, who says she stuck it out for love and children, shares.

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