hen you look at Zimbabweanborn Christian, Kudakwashe Nyakudya, it’s difficult to believe that this beautiful 30-something mother-of-two was once a victim of domestic violence and abuse. Although Kudakwashe’s husband claimed to be a Christian, during most of their 10-year marriage, his behaviour was anything but. The couple met in her native homeland when she 17, married, and then immigrated to the UK. Kudakwashe shared that emotional abuse started in the first year of the marriage, the physical abuse in the second. It started off indirectly as ‘play hitting’, but escalated into full-scale abuse five years into the marriage. She recalls, “I’d be isolated into rooms; barricaded in the bathroom; pushed down the stairs; thrown against furniture. In the last five years, when I was pregnant with my second child, he started abusing me sexually.” She also suffered psychological, emotional and financial abuse. All the while, Kudakwashe and her husband still attended church, but she didn’t confide in anyone. She explained, “Where I grew up, I was told it was my duty, as the wife, to present a positive image of my husband, and also that some issues are just private - just for your home - and you don’t expose them. I kept quiet, but there were times I would say indirectly what was going on.” When the violence got too much, Kudakwashe finally started speaking out when the violence became more intense, and she began fearing for her two children, who were experiencing emotional and psychological abuse from their father. The
advice she received was not always helpful. After spending time in prayer and meditation, Kudakwashe realised God hadn’t created her to be abused. “The day I actually called the police, he had confiscated all my documents that you need to show that you ever existed, and I felt he was planning something.” When the police came round to speak to Kudakwashe, they gave her a description of what she’d been suffering – domestic abuse. She was able to move into a safe house along with her children, and it was whilst there, rebuilding her life, Kudakwashe got the idea of setting up an organisation that helped people from faith communities, who had experienced domestic violence. They say that no experience is wasted, and Kudakwashe has put hers to good use and established Kahrmel Wellness (KW). Based in the West Midlands, KW provides support services, and educational and training programmes for the victims of domestic violence.
“I’d be isolated into rooms, barricaded in the bathroom; pushed down the stairs; thrown against furniture” The organisation also seeks to raise awareness of domestic violence in faith communities, through talks and workshops and, such is the impact of Kudakwashe’s work, she has been featured on local and national media talking about the issue.
Visit www.kahrmelwellness.com for more information about the services it provides for victims of domestic violence, and training programmes it runs for churches.
If you have experienced abuse and want to talk through your experiences with a Christian counsellor, visit the Association of Christian Counsellors at www.acc-uk.org. They have a directory of qualified counsellors from across the country. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, you can get support from www.womensaid.org.uk a national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children. They have a free 24-hour helpline on 0808 2000 247, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. S:VOX is a national survivor-led self-help organisation for survivors of any form of violence and abuse. Visit www.svox.co.uk. Kim Bacchus runs an organisation that puts on training courses for churches, so that they correctly handle situations involving domestic abuse. Visit www.kimbacchus.com for more details. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) provides a free, fast emergency injunction service to survivors of domestic violence - regardless of their financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation. Visit www.ncdv.org.uk or phone 0800 970 2070.