How one call from the police stopped abusive sms messages

13:43 Aug 26 2015 Eldoret, Kenya

View original report on: Kenya

Caroline* Otieno's (28 years old) woes started two years into her marriage to her husband John* who was 20 years her senior. John had two children in their teens from his previous marriage.

The first message received on July 5th 2014 at 1.00am.

The first message she received was from an anonymous number asking her to vacate her husband's house or she would be forcefully evicted. Shocked, and woken up from sleep, she sat up and raised it up with her husband who said it must have been just a random text message from a wrong number.

After two days, on July 7th 2014 at 15 minutes to midnight, she received another message giving her an ultimatum that if she didn't move out within two weeks, she would be forcefully evicted from her house.

Thereafter, the messages kept coming. Through a series of text messages, Caroline learned from the abuser that she (the abuser) knew who her (Caroline's) parents were, where they lived, knew her siblings well and that she was the only legitimate wife of John who was now living with Caroline as his wife.

Then Caroline knew that this was more serious. Upon confrontation, and the use of the true caller app which she installed on her phone, she learned from her husband that the abuser was not actually his ex wife but someone he had dated before meeting Caroline. Caroline asked him to intervene and stop the abuse or she would be forced to move out for her own sanity.

After John's intervention, the abuser became more aggressive and sent 275 abusive messages to Caroline in just three days.

At this time, Caroline was expectant and quite emotional. She was ready to leave her marriage because she felt her husband John was not doing enough to protect her.

She resorted to sharing her ordeal with her sister, a journalist who lived about 400 kilometres away.

Caroline's sister advised her to report the matter to the police, armed with all the evidence that she had. Caroline did not do so.

The next time Caroline called her sister crying that she was packing to leave her home for good. her sister intervened and made a number of calls till she found a police officer that could handle the case. She linked the officer and her sister up and this gave her sister the push she needed to finally take action.

The police officer made one call to the number of the abuser, introduced himself and threatened to press charges if she sent one more message to Caroline. The police officer clearly spelt out to the abuser that the messages were enough evidence to put her behind bars to serve time.

That was the end of Caroline's ordeal. That call was all it took to stop the abusive messages. It is more than a year now since Caroline heard from her.
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