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Leave abusive homes to stay alive, women enjoined

By Maria Diamond
22 December 2018   |   2:41 am
Women have been advised by professionals to leave domestic violence riddled homes in order to stay alive, as it seems to have become a norm in our society for everyone to be quiet about abusive marriages and relationships in the name of perseverance....

Funmilayo Akinlami, Executive Director, Taiwo Akinlami Academy (left); Simi Olusola, Founder, Aspilos Foundation; Dr. Uju Mbanefo, Mr. Austin, Osasu Paul-Azino, Founder, THR Media (Initiators of the Herfessions mobile App); Barrister Olayinka Adeyemi; Director, Office of the Public Defender, Dr. Gbonjubola Abiri; CEO Redi-Med, Bose Ironsi, Founder, W.R.A.H.P, Tosin Akinbode; CoFounder, THR Media at the event

Women have been advised by professionals to leave domestic violence riddled homes in order to stay alive, as it seems to have become a norm in our society for everyone to be quiet about abusive marriages and relationships in the name of perseverance and keeping a home, forgetting that violence transcends, and violence to a woman is violence to the entire family and society.

Any society that witnesses a lot of ills tends to question everyone around them leading to insecurity, Based on these detriments, which not only affect victims but an entire society, Osasu Paul-Azino, Founder of THR Media, recently organised a one-day event in Lagos titled: Proffering Solution to Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV).

Paul-Azino, who said she has worked in the gender-balance sector for 10 years and discovered there is no house support spaces for women who are victims of domestic violence to tell their stories, decided to put together a mobile application called “Herfessions mobile App” that can anonymously give victims technical and peer to peer support online where they can find all the needed strength to come out.

“There is a directory on the mobile application where all the stakeholders who operate in Nigeria can use the app. So the idea of this event is to gather stakeholders to garner support for the mobile application and for them to include their beneficiaries on the platform so that together we can help abused women to survive,” she said.

She noted that domestic violence is in itself a public health problem that needs to be tackled because it’s not just about a woman but the entire society and if there are children in the relationship, it would affect them and invariably affect their perception of life. “It is critically important because when we treat the issues of domestic violence we’re able to better the society.”

The event presented a host of professionals from the medical field, psychiatrists, social workers and survivors of domestic violence who spoke on the day-to-day experiences of clients who have been violently abused either sexually or domestically.Dr. Gbonjubola Abiri, CEO, Redi-Med said, to curb the menace of domestic violence against women, parents should teach their male children to treat girls and women right. “Everyone should work towards stopping SGBV and domestic violence before it develops into anxiety/depressive symptoms and other related life-threatening issues. Children who are raised in violent homes, society and environment always have the tendency of becoming violent, while some find it unbearable, leading them into diverse problems. Domestic violence affects children, leads them to psychotic experiences and in most cases ruins them,” she said.

Abiri who further said doctors should pay absolute attention to their patients and should not be the reason a patient cannot seek help noted that, in this part of the world women tend to learn to live with helplessness over a long time, which comes from having little or no self-love. “It is important for every woman to love herself and teach the children self-love, confidence and self-esteem.”

Barrister Olayinka Adeyemi, Director, Office of the Public Defender said, there is a policy in Lagos State that mandates reporting any form of abuse and anyone who harbours abusive persons will face the wrath of the law. “Most victims of domestic violence keep quiet because of societal stigma, cultural restrictions and other vices,” she said.

Dr. Uju Mbanefo, a survivor of domestic violence said, even as an educated woman, she was married to an abusive man who physically hits her over everything and anything until she sought help from Domestic Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT).

“Awareness is key. Women in Africa have the mentality of going extra miles to keep their marriage, so they put so much pressure on themselves. Most women insist on staying put in an abusive marriage because of their children without the core understanding of the fact that they have to defend themselves first before they can defend their children. Parents would insist their daughters mustn’t return home even if her husband abuses her. Even the Nigeria Police does not help as they further harass and abuse victims. So the challenges women face are numerous, ranging from physical, emotional, social and cultural challenges,” she noted.

She noted that a woman is usually held accountable and responsible for all her bad experiences and decides to keep quiet to avoid being blamed because people do not ask what the victim went through before condemning her.“My husband put me in a cage and dehumanised me, I was a total destruct. When I eventually got help and left my marriage, my husband made it impossible to see my kids but the DSVRT got them back for me. Women should not for any reason stay in an unhealthy marriage,” she advised.

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