Recently, there was a post on twitter 10 Divorced Nigerian Celebrities Yet to Re-marry. The controversial post was by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to former president Goodluck Jonathan, Ruben Abati. Within minutes of his post, his timeline was flooded with comments from people expressing their disappointment:

Though there was nothing unpleasant written in the article about these female celebrities. Some felt his intention was clear, to rouse the online crowd and create an online frenzy on divorced Nigerian women. After all, divorced Nigerian women were a close second to single Nigerian mothers on the list of vilified subgroup.

Some days ago, I watched a video online, it was a woman sharing what she went through in her turbulent marriage, before it ended in divorce. I watched her compelling narrative of years of verbal abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and her discovery of her husband’s drug addiction. She shared all the ways she tried to save their marriage especially for the sake of their two boys. At certain points she would be unable to speak as tears ran freely down her cheeks. Sadly, even when the woman shared her story, there were people in the comment section accusing her of jumping to divorce instead of putting more effort.

Maybe, there are women and men who get an adrenaline rush from divorce, maybe there are people out there who get overly excited at the thought of divorce; but this is not about them. This is about women and men who wrestle with this decision and do not make it out of convenience but because it is the best thing to do.

Yes, being far removed from a toxic union, from an unsafe home, from a dangerous person is the best thing to do. Divorce may be the first line of action for many but for some it is a last resort. For the latter it means I have done all I can to make this better, make this good and it has failed. Divorce is more than ‘I am not happy’ as people tend to say to disparage women or men who opt for this. It is a feeling of emotional, mental, physical and psychological imbalance. The unending fear, emptiness and hopelessness that has become their existence, that is what it feels like for some whose marriages end in divorce.

After watching the online video, I realized her story could very well be the story of countless women around the world; perhaps some of the women on Reuben Abati’s list. Women who felt unsafe, unloved, women who tried all they could to hold it together until they were left with their last resort-divorce. So, before you turn up your nose at that divorced woman, understand that while you may have heard stories that justify your disdain, there are stories that call for empathy.

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