Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s even worse when he leaves you more than $22,000 in debt.
That’s what happened to a U.K. grandmother, Anne-Marie, 43, who met a 27-year-old Gambian man, Omar, during a night on the town in 2005.
“He told me ‘stay with me and you’ll never want for anything, I’ll treat you like a queen.’”
Shortly after they began seeing each other, he claimed he needed a place to live. “He said he was terrible with money and was struggling to pay rent. It was a natural progression that he would come and move in with me,” she told U.K.'s Channel 5.
Anne-Marie went to visit his family in Gambia and they married there in 2006 — his U.K. student visa had expired. “It was a very wonderful day, very humbling, and very lovely,’ Anne-Marie said, but, “I still had doubts on my wedding day, it was always in the back of my mind.”
The marriage was a disaster from day one. “The day after we were married there was an argument. His eyes were like bulging out of his head.”
“He put his face in my face and he said ‘you are my wife now. You do as you’re told now.’ I was really frightened. And then I thought ‘oh my god, what have I done. I really think I’ve made a big mistake here.’”
Their marriage didn’t improve after they returned to the U.K. “We’d only been back a couple of weeks and he became very very violent and often about money,” she said. Omar wanted money to send back to his family in Gambia. “It was spiraling debts, constant violence, no money, saying no to the kids when they wanted something.”
Omar allegedly became physically abusive. “He held me to the floor with his hand and his foot, and then he took his belt off. He had this thick, studded belt and he started to whip me over and over on the top of my thigh.”
“I was crying and screaming and begging him to stop, but he just kept whipping me over and over again. At one point during it I shouted ‘is this the way you control your girlfriends?’ and he shouted ‘yes’ back at me.”
The marriage lasted for five years. Omar simply left and disappeared, but not before Anne-Marie racked up £15,000, about $22,300, in debt. She estimates it will take her 17 years to pay it off.
Omar told Channel 5 in a statement that, although the marriage was violent, he never beat Anne-Marie with a belt. He also denied forcing her to take out the loans.
The couple divorced in 2012.
Image: Supplied via Metro