My name is Agnes Akintunde Martin, and I make this declaration under penalty of perjury in support of my VAWA self-petition.
I was born on October 3, 1974 in Lagos, Nigeria. I am a citizen of Nigeria. I grew up in Nigeria. I was 24 when I got married the first time. My husband’s name was Abraham Akintunde. He was also Nigerian. We had two children together: Sarah and Jacob. My first husband and I got divorced in 2003.
In 2004, I came to the US. I moved to Washington, DC. I started working in security for construction companies that construct schools. In 2009, around the summertime, I was working at a school near RFK Stadium. Close to the school was a house. The man that lived there used to notice me when I walked by. He would be standing by my road and say hi and show off. One time he was holding his motorbike helmet to give me an impression that he used to ride a bike, so I should not consider him to be somebody that is not in fashion.
We started saying hi, hello, how are you. I kind of like him. Before I know it, we were going out for lunch, at McDonald’s, calling one another. His name was Luther Martin. He started showing he cares, and me too, vice versa. I got interested in him. His age was kind of sexy. For me, if a man is way too senior, to me that’s sexy. For me that is the most attractive thing.
Then one day I looked at him deeply and saw that he is a cute guy, he is handsome, and that all he needed was a woman’s hand, a woman’s touch, because he lacked it for a while. Before I know it, I was falling in love. He was caring, asking about my kids, how they were doing, knowing their names. He knew their names so fast– that was impressive, yes it was. He has beautiful, youthful hands.
So I decided to give it a try, introducing him to my family. Prior to that I am somebody that understands the meaning of good morale. Just because I didn’t have a husband I didn’t lead a wayward lifestyle. I didn’t want to come home with a different man.
He likes to give gifts, like candy, sometimes flowers. Those small things, those small gestures. The thought of that was what I liked. He was kind of caring. When I would tell him something was wrong about my body, my health, he would try to help me. I told him my hair was ripping, he came to me with a shampoo his dermatologist recommended. He gave me special cream for my hands, that’s how caring he is.
I went to work one day, and he came to me and he said “how would you like to get married?” I said “to who?” He said “to me! What’s the matter, you don’t like me?” I said “yeah, I like you.” So I was like, “are you serious?” And he said “yes.” I said “what about your women?” And he said “I don’t have no women, I’m single.” So I’m like “wow, a man your age single, you’re kidding me.” He said “stay right where you are, don’t go nowhere.” So he went home and bring up his tax returns, and showed me, “Single.” So I saw that and I said “OK, don’t you want to know my family?” He said “when you’re done at work I am going to ride home with you.” I said “let me discuss this with my children first, don’t rush me.” So I did, and that same week, he rode home with me and I introduced him to my kids.
Luther was pleasant and lovely and friendly with my kids. So ever since then he likes to ride home with me, and we were coming up with plans. Marriage plans. He wanted a big wedding like a church wedding and all that. I wanted it small because to me I said our anniversary is going to be big, but I haven’t met your family, so let’s do a small one, and then anniversary, we will do a bigger one. He said OK, if that’s how you want it. He was very happy and I was very happy too. I was very excited because finally I was going to have a husband again, and my kids were going to have a father.
Before our wedding we went shopping for rings. We went shopping in Virginia. It was a fantastic feeling, that I remember. I was feeling happy that I’m finally going to get married again. If I had known how it was going to turn out I probably wouldn’t have gone into it; the whole idea of divorce is not in my agenda. I never saw it coming like that, what he did to me. I remember those days when he would stand by the roadside just to say hi to me, and I would think he’s a very good guy.
We got married on August 14, at City Hall in Hyattsville, MD. My best friend Mary Daniels was there. My children were there. I got dressed up in a new green dress. It was an exciting day. It’s something that -- wow, at my age. This time I understand the feelings. It’s like a commitment. Sleeping together, I am not going to be sleeping by myself, alone. And then I felt sad that my mom and dad weren’t here to experience this.
After the wedding we went out to MacDonald’s. We had a blast. My witness, Mary, came, and my children, and Luther. I have photos of that meal, and they are included with this application. Then we went to Mary’s house and continued the celebration there. I was feeling fantastic. I missed my parents, I would have loved to have them there. Luther was touching me romantically, and he felt bad that we didn’t do it in a church. I told him not to worry about it, we would come up with a plan to do it in the church. I wanted to meet his children and know his family before we got married in a church.
After that, Luther came back to live with me at 5104 Flanders Drive in Chillum, MD. He bonded so well with my kids. He always took Jacob to school. Jacob is 10 years old. Joshua loved him, they were pals, the best of friends. Luther respected me and I respected him also. I came home and I cooked, he loved my food. I tried to make him the kind of food that would be good for his health (he is diabetic). Sometimes he waited for me at the bus stop. Luther was not working. He would always be calling me, checking in on me. I felt good, alive again, now I had a husband. Sometimes he came to my job, and we would ride home together. On the train, he was all touchy and kissy.
At first, I didn’t see it as a problem, but he was becoming authoritative. About “do this, don’t do that, let us enter the same car in the train – this car is better, that one is better.” Little minor things we started to argue about it, and he was always telling me what to do. I thought it was maybe because he had been in the military and I had to be patient and get to know him better. He also started talking about “I’m going to go to the immigration office, you African bitch” when there were arguments and he wanted me to do things his way. He called me names, putting my spirit down. I felt traumatized and emotionally depressed when he did this, and worthless and fearful.
Luther had this powerful rage, and it made me scared. I still even feel scared, when I remember his expression of anger, even though I live in a shelter now. When I see faces that remind me of him, my blood drains out of me, it’s so scary. He impacted a lot of fear in me. I was very afraid of his shifting moods.
He would constantly demand sex from him, and if I didn’t give it to him, he was not happy with me. He wouldn’t talk to me or eat my food. I would say good morning and he would not respond. I would ask what he wanted to eat and he wouldn’t talk.
I still hadn’t met his family. I asked him how many kids he had had, and sometimes he told me 10, sometimes 5, sometimes 9. So obviously there were questions for me.
One day a friend of mine, a guy, came to visit. Luther answered the door and he said “who you are” in a terrorizing way to the guy, who was our neighbor. Then he told my friend to go away, she’s not available, she’s not around. But I was home at that time. I found out about this from my friend. Luther was trying to keep me away from other people, isolate me. Sometimes he criticized my neighbors, good people.
One day, the doorbell rang and it was Luther’s second son, John, and his wife, Miriam. Luther was not home then. When I met Miriam, I told her my problem with my husband because I believed that they knew each other better than I did, so that she could let me know him better, character-wise. I found out from her that he had had another wife in Georgia, and another in Baltimore. I never found out if he was really divorced from them. John told me “if I were you, I would never believe whatever Luther says to you.”
When Luther got home I asked about his other wives and he denied it. He said he “spread his seed” but didn’t get married. I still don’t know what really happened.
It was like he was changing into a different person. He was arguing all the time. He started questioning anyone who came to visit me with a question. “who’s that?” It was in a suspicious way. He was telling me a lot “I’m going to go to the immigration office, you African bitch. “ He liked talking about how he is a citizen, a veteran, so that makes him higher, and better than I am. He never wanted to file immigration papers for me. At one point I asked about it, and he said “now you want to expose me.” I asked “what do you mean?” and he wouldn’t tell me.
I told Miriam about this, and she recommended me to go to Baltimore to look up records about Luther’s other wife. I went to Baltimore, and they told me that he had been married before, but they wouldn’t give me the information about it. And I couldn’t find out if he was divorced from her or not.
Then Luther started saying that I don’t trust him, and that created a huge gap between him and his son also. He also wanted to report his son to the police because of the information John gave to me about Luther being married before.
In the spring, my friend Norma had a big party for her 40th birthday. Norma invited both me and my husband to the party. He discouraged me from attending. He didn’t want to go, and he didn’t give any reason. I told him that I would go without him, and he told me “I’m the man, and I own you” so I shouldn’t go. I went anyway. When I came back, things were soured. He wasn’t talking with me for two days because I went to that party.
In July, I woke up to use the bathroom early in the morning. By the time I came back I saw Luther’s wedding ring on my side of the bed, while he was busy putting stuff away in the bedroom. I asked him “what is this?” He looked at me and he didn’t say nothing. I asked why he had his wedding ring on my side of the bed. He wasn’t saying anything so I ignored him. The next thing I know, he was smoking in the bedroom. I asked him to stop and he wouldn’t. I went over to take the cigarette and he said “do not touch me.” I told him he had to stop smoking. I took the cigarette, and he took his cell phone and threw at me on the chest in an angry way. It really hurt. I screamed for my kids to wake up. Sarah told him to stop smoking in the bedroom and he told her “fuck you, and get out of my face.” I refused to give back his cell phone. Before I knew it the cops were there. There were two of them, one woman and one man. I told them what happened and Luther was there and he said “it’s all about immigration papers, she’s a fucking African, and she and her kids are fucking immigrants, and they want to use me for papers.” The woman cop said “sir, do you live here?” And he said “yes.” She said “what do you mean, she’s using you for papers.” I was so upset, I was crying, I told them I didn’t care about papers. Luther told me I was a liar and a bitch. He tried to hit me in front of the cops. One of the cops told him he was very close to being arrested. They told him to walk away, walk away now.
The woman cop told me “with what I just saw, you need to not be around that man, you need an Order of Protection.” Luther didn’t come back, and I didn’t hear from him, I didn’t see him anymore. The kids kept asking me what happened. I was worried about his whereabouts, how he was, his health, how was he eating – he needs to eat good. I missed him, too. The kids missed him, especially Jacob. I called his son John, he was also worried. We were all calling him, and he wasn’t picking up his phone.
Luther knows where I work. I came to work one day, and my co-worker told me that my husband had passed by on the street. Another day again, he walked past. I knew that he was looking for a way to get back to me. I gave him a call and he picked up. I said “Can I see you?” and he came to me right away. We talked things over and eventually we were going to fight again and I said “let’s just move on, I’m not your girlfriend, I’m your wife.” The he moved back in. This was in the end of August.
Things were going fine again. We were eating out and he was apologizing very sincerely, and I was apologizing. We talked things over and moved on. He said he missed Sarah’s birthday, and mine was coming up, and he would make it up with Sarah. He apologized to the kids and mended fences with the kids, telling me that he missed me. That was when I decided to really let the marriage work. We were planning how we would get our own apartment, a bigger one. I really tried to make things work – I didn’t bug him about taking his bath, or what he was eating.
He didn’t want to do things for me. He didn’t want to open a bank account with me – I wasn’t able to do that for a long time. He didn’t want to put me on his health insurance. He didn’t want to file immigration papers for me. I asked him to file for me and he kept saying “I will do it, I will do it,” but he never did. I think it was because he was insecure and jealous, he didn’t want me to be legal in America, and I might earn more money than him, and he didn’t like that.
One day, Luther went to work, and his co-worker discovered paper for smoking marijuana on the floor and his boss fired Luther. Luther didn’t tell me this. But he started asking me for money all the time, and I got suspicious. Then he didn’t go to work when it was time to go, and he told me he was feeling a little bit sick. One day I was talking with my boss and he said “did your husband tell you he’s not coming to work again?” And I said no, and my boss told me what happened. That night I asked Luther why he didn’t tell me he was fired. He told me his side of the story, and denied what happened. I told him not to worry about it, I would call someone else I knew to get another job for him. Luther was really bitter, and he started verbal abuse, “you fucking African bitch.”
On that very fateful day, I was at work. Luther called and asked where I was. I told him I was at work. He told me he was coming to see me. I said OK. He told me he had called Eddie, our boss, about his last paycheck. Luther said he didn’t get his last check, and Eddie said he didn’t owe him anything. I brought out my phone to call Eddie, and Luther told me not to do that. He started cursing and threatening “you are fucking illegal, you’re not supposed to work, I’m going to immigration office, and the labor office, I’m going to report you all, you fucking immigrants, you come to this country and you making money, You said you don’t need us Americans, why are you here, all you fucking Africans, you can’t do that to me and America, to a citizen.” “You bitch, you don’t even call my name right now, because I’m going to fuck you up. I tell you I’m a citizen of this country, and you will understand what it means to be an American.” He was saying all this, I didn’t say nothing. I was scared but I thought I could calm him down. I started consoling him, saying “Luther, listen to me, you cannot do that to the company, you are not supposed to work in the first place, my boss did it to help us.” Luther wasn’t supposed to work because he was on disability. He said “you motherfucker, are you saying I’m ungrateful.” I told him to calm down, I would sort it out. I said “by the way, did you eat your breakfast.” He said no. So I thought to myself, a hungry man is an angry man, so I touched my bag and I found $20, and I said “Luther, take this money, get yourself breakfast and a pack of cigarettes.” He said “you think I’m a pity case? Listen, before I fucking met you, I live good, I don’t need none of your money.” I said just take it, and he eventually did.
He stood up, and then he said “I’m going to fuck up Eddie.” I kept quiet because I needed him to go. He started talking and talking and talking, and I pretended as if I was sleeping, just for him to just go away. Then I told him I needed to divorce him because for the past few weeks I’m not comfortable staying alone with you – you make me panic when you talk like this, threatening me. He said “I don’t give a fuck, I don’t give a fuck about you, about your job. I’m going to fuck you, I’m going to fuck your boss, you’re going to understand I’m a citizen.” Then I saw that his shirt looked puffy, like there was something under it. I asked him what was under there. The next thing I knew, he threw his cell phone on the ground, all his cards, his eyeglass on the ground. He broke his glasses in two, he broke his phone in two.
Now I knew he was very angry. I stood up and said “Luther go home, think about what I said, I’m going to talk to Eddie, but right now I am at my job.” Then he stood up in front of me in a fighting way and said “are you walking out on me you bitch?” He moved away and I went inside and I shut the gate and locked it. I said “Luther, I gotta divorce you, I’m not happy the way everything was going on.” He wasn’t happy with that. He started run walking to the other side of the road to come to the school main entrance. I sensed it. It was a very rainy Tuesday. I peeped to confirm that my co-worker was in the construction trailer. I walked to my own position.
Before I got there, my instinct told me to turn around. I saw my husband already in the building. I got scared. My brain started calculating really fast, I was so fearful of him. A lot of things came to my head, I thought of my kids and if I could really take him down, and the custodian, I thought I saw him and I prayed he was still there. As I thought of all these things I thought I had to face him. He walked to me and said “are you walking away on me you bitch, are you walking away.” The next thing I know, from nowhere, this man suddenly came out from nowhere and hit me on the head with something hard numerous times and I fell onto the ground, blood everywhere. I held his hand tightly, and he hit me with his head, and he was trying to pull out my eyes from my face. I screamed “help me, help me, somebody, please help me.” I shouted and shouted and god brought me the custodian came to help me. He immediately called 911 and ran to the trailer to my co-worker. It was God who brought that custodian, the angel of God, because that man would have killed me. Eventually my co-worker came to me and pulled Luther off me. Then the police came and they took the weapon from Luther. That’s when I saw that Luther had hit me with a heavy metal pipe, and a bulky metal chain, like they use to lock the gates. Before the police came he was trying to hit my coworker.
The police took pictures, and they took Luther away. They took me to the emergency room. I had to have stitches.
The hospital gave me information about shelters, and I called and I ended up living in a shelter through Catholic Charities. Luther is being prosecuted for what he did to me. And I am still living in the shelter. I thank God for this shelter, that they came up with this for women.. I go to group counseling every Monday.
When I look back I think I should have known better because he was always talking violence talk. When we were out together and someone bumped into him he was talking violence “I’m going to punch him, hit him.” I should have seen this, he was an aggressive person. I see now why he didn’t have a woman in his life, and I was going to be his savior from that. All his movies were violent movies too. Serious violent movies, I had to tell him not to watch those with the children around. These were red lights for me to have noticed and run as fast as I could.
Even now I still feel scared when I see faces that look like Luther, they just remind me of him and I am petrified. It’s like my heart will cut when I see someone who looks like him. I ask God when am I going to be healed of all this.
I also want to explain something I did a few years ago. Back in 2005, I was on my own and I wanted to be able to live my life in the US. I was hoping and praying for something to turn around, maybe law-wise, I heard about LULAC. I wanted to be able to bring my kids to join me in America, but I knew that I needed to be working to support them. I was working at that time, but I was way underpaid, around $5 per hour, and they cheated me by not paying me for all the hours I worked. I really wanted a work card so I could work at a better job where I wouldn’t be cheated and used, and I would be able to pay my taxes and belong to the country and bring my kids here.
So people were telling me all about LULAC applications and I saw them getting their papers and working. So I decided to do it too. I went to a French African lawyer guy, and I paid him to help me. He filled out all the papers for me. Then I got a work card. Then I got a letter saying that Immigration was going to deny my case. I called two guys who used to be my friends. They are Americans. I told them I was in a bad situation and that I needed backup evidence letters saying that they knew me in the early 1980s, and so they cooked up some stories about how they knew me then, and I sent their letters to immigration. But Immigration still denied my case.
I am really ashamed of what I did with the LULAC applications. I am glad that my kids don’t know about this ugly deed I did, because I like to be a good example to my children. It is a sin, and it sears my heart as I write this. I am so sorry that I did that. I was just arrived in this country and I didn’t understand the system, and I allowed the pressure of my life to lead me to do this. Now I would never advise even my enemy to do this. I hope and pray in the bottom of my heart that Immigration will now forgive me for this. I am so so sorry for this.
I ask now that you approve my VAWA application so that I can get my green card and move on with my life, to support myself and my children.