What you should know about domestic violence
The recent killing of Mrs. Ronke Shonde by her husband has evoked a lot of emotions and reactions by Nigerians about Domestic Violence. I have particular spent time reading comments and commentary from people on social media and even the traditional media. Sad to say, a lot of the opinions expressed are by those who have never experienced domestic violence in their lives, never related with a victim and therefore would never understand the psychology of a batterer and the battered!
As a victim of domestic violence for 11 years, I suppose I could share some valid facts about this societal menace that is fast becoming pandemic. I sincerely hope that after reading this article people will know how to judge a Domestic Violence victim…that is if they must be judged at all!
Globally, Domestic violence is an issue that cuts across national, socio-economic cultural, racial and class boundaries and has led to the sudden death of many women across the globe. Find here some shocking statistics from UN, WHO and other sources:
1 out of 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced violence by their partners in their lifetime.
Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.
In Russia, 12,000 women die every year as a result of domestic violence.
In Pakistan, 80 percent of women there are victims of domestic violence.
In Bangladesh 50% of the women are murdered by their husbands.
In the United States, at least 1.8million women are assaulted every year by the men in their lives.
25% of women in the UK will be a victim of domestic violence during their lifetime.
In Nigeria however, there are insufficient data on domestic violence. This is because of the stigma and silence surrounding this issue owing to fear and shame. Hence the issue of domestic violence has not received the attention it deserves in this country.
Nevertheless, National Demographic and Health Survey in 2008 said 28 per cent of all women, almost a third of all women in Nigeria, have experienced physical violence.
In an interview with New Nigerian Newspaper, The chief judge of the state of Lagos in September 2014 said that domestic violence, rape, and sexual offence rates have increased in Lagos State.
According to the US Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013, domestic violence “remained widespread and was often considered socially acceptable” in Nigeria. This is the reason family, friends and even some religious bodies do not see domestic violence as such a big deal. They would even say it is the fault of the woman. She would be advised to keep her tongue in check, as that is often the culprit that ignites the provocation of an abuser from the standpoint of an average Nigerian.
There is however a lot more to know about domestic violence and abusers.
According to UN’s Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women Domestic Violence is a violation of the fundamental human rights of women and is therefore not to be treated with levity like we do here. It is not culturally or socially acceptable. On 25 May 2015, the Violence against Persons (Prohibition) act 2015 became law and at least 119 countries have passed these laws on domestic violence.
It expanded and strengthened legal measures providing protection to women (and men). It provides a legislative and legal framework for the prevention of all forms of violence against vulnerable persons, especially women and girls… It also intends to eliminate violence in private and public life and provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims of violence, and punishment of offenders. This is how serious it can get! This law is effective in Lagos and perhaps other states of the federation.
Domestic violence incident is rarely an isolated occurrence. The beatings and attacks often escalate in frequency and intensity over time. So if you take a slap today, the next time you will get three and after that you will be thrown into a wrestling ring for a severe beating bout. As a matter of fact it starts with insults like “you are very stupid” and so on. Then it progresses to loud screams and name-calling. After that, it graduates to a slap and before you know it, the next episode will land the victim in the hospital! So now that you know the steps, be on the look out even while dating for symptoms of a batterer!
Domestic violence or wife battering is an organic behavior; there is no direct cause. Victims often blamed themselves, as they are often times made to believe they are the cause. So they always have to walk on eggshells, as inconsequential infractions would often lead to unwarranted agitation and eventual pummeling.
It‘s extremely difficult to leave a violent and controlling relationship. Women often leave several times before they leave finally if they ever do. And there are many reasons for this which range from intimidation to the shame, disgrace or embarrassment associated with admitting you’re in a violent relationship. Other reasons for not leaving include financial dependence on the abuser and lack of awareness of a support system. So you often hear woman ask, “Leave to who and to where?” Therefore, never judge a woman who has not left an abusive relationship. You never know her reasons and what she is dealing with. And remember what a woman wants is for the violence to end not the relationship so you never know what she is trying to work out. Rather than calling her stupid, pray for her to make the right decision in good time!
The Society often hold women accountable for the success or failure of a marriage so you often hear saying like “It is the woman that keeps the home”. As a result women do not want to be seen as failures so they stay in an abusive relationship till they are killed. If our society would begin to understand that “it takes two to tango” especially in marriage perhaps the pressure will not be lopsided. In the bid to fulfill societal demands and expectations, the life of many young women has been cut short!
Domestic abused or battery IS NOT A RESULT OF PROVOCATION. I’m writing this in capital letters and I hope it sinks in! Violence and Abuse are tools used to enforce control and fear in a relationship or marriage and not a momentary expression of anger. So it is not about what the women did. It is more about the way abusers are…just like you don’t have to do anything to be raped by a rapist! These are men who have lost control of their sense and are overwhelmed at the slightest provocation. So stop judging victims by saying they were battered because of an imagined, perceived or rumored wrong or asking them annoying questions like “what did you do that made him beat you”. Questions like these are somewhat unintelligent and insensitive.
Despite the level of education and exposure in our society, women who leave an abusive relationship suffer stigmatization. They suffer rejection by friends and family, they are chastised by the church for violating the religious commitment of “till death do us part”, they are isolated from community and support networks, scorned and ridiculed in their hometown and they become a laughing stock and gossip item among their peers. This has resulted in low self-esteem and self-confidence that some attempt suicide…that is if they survived the domestic attacks.
Clearly, we all have a role in checking the hydra headed dragon called DOMESTIC VIOLENCE by playing our part in not pressuring a victim to stay in abusive marriage, in lending our voices to say NO TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE in whatever way we can rather than making excuses and justifying the actions of an Abuser, giving the necessary support and help victims may require of us and not being a part of the stigmatization jury that proclaims judgment on victims by our comments or statements implying that they deserved or incited the violence somehow. Let’s all make a personal vow today to be our Sisters’ keeper and help stamp out domestic violence in our society.
So if you know anyone dealing with domestic violence, instead of trying to concoct the reason why she is in that situation, or say “them no dey put mouth for husband and wife matter” Please put your whole HEAD as long as violent attacks and threat to life is involved. You can imagine how those who knew about Ronke Shonde’s pathetic situation would be feeling now. They would wish they spoke and stood up for her and perhaps she may be alive today.
So kindly assist any victim you know get help from the nearest protection agency or call the police on her behalf even if you have to do so in anonymity because it is a matter of life and death. You will be happy that you helped save a life, so will God! Thank you in advance.
Mercy Makinde is a speaker, writer, coach and entrepreneurship advocate. She owns an online radio Station, Iaspire Radio, Nigeria’s first motivational radio Station; www.iaspireradio.com and a motivational and inspirational blog;www.iaspireblog.com.
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