• “He was beating walls around me. He was enraged and there was a lot of scuffling,” Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi said. “I remember thinking I am an empowered 29-year-old woman. How could this happen to me?”
If you have never been in an abusive relationship, you may not realise it when you find yourself in one.
That was the case for Health CAS Mercy Mukui Mwangangi.
She was fresh from Australia’s University of Adelaide, where she earned a master’s degree in Health Economics and Policy when she had an ugly fight with her boyfriend.
At the same university, she had also been a strong member of feminist groups.
On a night in 2015, a night she will never forget, her boyfriend went berserk.
In the midst of shock and fear, she had to act swiftly to be safe.
“That night at 3 am when we had the altercation, I remember thinking, okay so this has happened, whom should I call?'
"And interestingly the first person I called was my lawyer to see if there was a legal recourse,” she said.
She gave the account on Wednesday during the Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Response scientific conference at the Kenya School of Government in Nairobi.
Though the former boyfriend never physically assaulted her, she said he was full of rage. Abuse doesn't have to be physical assault but it can graduate to battering.
“He was beating walls around me. He was enraged and there was a lot of scuffling,” Mwangangi said.
“I remember thinking I am an empowered 29-year-old woman. How could this happen to me?”
Mwangangi said she was shocked at how she found herself in such an abusive relationship.
“I am privileged I am not from a poor background, and I have resources. I am educated.
"I have my own home, an apartment, my own car, and everything I needed to empower myself to be an independent female,” she said.
“So it can happen to any of us be it male, be it female, young or old.”
Mercy said she opened up so that women understand anyone can be a victim of gender-based violence.
She uses a quote from Maid, a book by American author Stephanie Landon on her experience of domestic abuse and poverty.
It describes her partner's behaviour. "Before they bite, they bark. Before they hit you, they hit near you."
The CAS, now aged 36, separated from the abusive partner.
In 2020, she said, she was in another relationship with “a very supportive partner”.
She told KTN’s Health Digest: “I am highly married to my work, but I do have a partner who is very supportive, and he is another cheerleader in my court."
According to the Kenya Health Information System, from January to June 2020, 7,291 women and 500 men reported being abused by intimate partners.
The number of victims between January and June 2021 rose to 10,997 females and 717 males.
The National Crime Research Centre reports show that cases have been rising all along.
The cases recorded between January and June 2020 had increased by 92.2 per cent compared to those between January and December 2019.