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DSVRT urges survivors to shatter the silence of abuse

By Tobi Awodipe
22 September 2018   |   4:16 am
Nigerians have been urged to speak out and ask for help if they are victims of domestic violence of any sort as well as report incidences of domestic violence...

Nigerians have been urged to speak out and ask for help if they are victims of domestic violence of any sort as well as report incidences of domestic violence to the appropriate authorities, who will deal with it so as to safeguard the lives of everyone.

Presenting the lead paper at the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) annual symposium in commemoration of the domestic and sexual violence awareness month this week themed, ‘Securing the Home Against Violence: Everyone’s Responsibility’, Prof. Fatai Adesina Badru said violence in Nigerian homes must never be accepted or excused. He went on to add that couples living in urban areas are more prone to domestic violence (DV) compared to those living in rural areas. Badru, a sociology expert and professor at the University of Lagos, said he came to this conclusion after carrying out a year-long survey on wife battering and sexual and domestic violence across the state. He went on to reveal that abused children tend to develop mental and physical disorders, phobias, fears and personality disorders while abused women tend to suffer from spontaneous abortions, deafness, contusion or/and brain injury as well as physical and mental problems.

Revealing that at least, five new cases of DV are reported daily in the state, the DSVRT said several factors including poverty, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse as well as the worsening economy are responsible for this upsurge.

Adding that the menace isn’t just limited to impoverished or uneducated people, the Coordinator of the Team, Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi said it cuts across all class of individuals and anybody could fall victim. “However, it is important to note that you are not alone and we are here for you. We believe your story and want to help you.”

Fielding a panel that had the theme, “Talk to me- Communication as a tool for resolving disputes” and “Emerging trends in intimate partner violence,” moderated by Professor Emevwo Biakolo and had Taiwo Akinlami, Olayinka Atilola, Praise Fowowe and Joseph Ogunmola on it, they all took turns educating the audience on the rights of children and protecting children in our homes.

Dr Olayinka urged parents to have ‘open days’ with their children, where they can talk freely and receive constructive feedback on what needs to be done and improved upon. “You are still learning just like your child. Be consistent with good behaviour as children learn from you. The bulk of our communication is non-verbal and they tend to pick up on things very quickly without you saying a word. So if you are abusive towards your partner, they see this and think it is okay even if you hadn’t told them if it was okay or not.”

Urging an end to the culture of violence starting with children, she urged parents to focus not just on the girl child alone but on humanity as a whole. “Women are being trained and empowered daily but who is training the next generation of men to become worthy fathers and husbands? We need to develop alternative ways of resolving conflict other than beating as this only perpetuates a culture of violence.

The second panel dealt with the theme, “Break the cycle of violence, the need to leave to live to resolve,” moderated by Funmi Bammeke, the panelists were made up of male and female survivors of sexual and gender-based violence who shared their touching and shocking stories of how they have suffered violence and abuse at the hands of their carers and partners.

Bammeke reminded participants that those who abuse children are usually the closest adults around and non-availability of primary care-givers increase the chances of abuse in children. “As a man, asking for help doesn’t make you weak. Also, the safety and best interest of the child is supreme even at the expense of a marriage. Don’t stay in an abusive marriage because of the children and if your husband is abusing your child, confront him and take action. If a child comes to you with a story of abuse, believe the child and help him/her.”

Urging survivors to explore short and long-term solutions, she urged the state government to commit to one-stop trauma shelters where survivors can get support and help, she insisted that perpetrators of DV need help as well and must be compelled to go for treatment.

“While we urge the government to implement the many laws we have against DV and SGBV, please shatter the silence, don’t die there. Leave that abusive marriage/relationship and remain alive, if you feel you need therapy, go for it, there is no shame in seeking for professional help,” she said.