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How ineffective communication, intolerance, frustration fuel domestic violence

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Globally, there is an upsurge of domestic violence. And Nigeria is no exception. The country is currently witnessing a spate of this evil often resulting in grave injuries and, in some cases, death.

Worried by the alarming trend, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu and the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Frank Mba, recently came up with a modality to check the problem.

The police boss linked spike in domestic violence, which includes rape and child molestation, among others, to the lockdown occasioned by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In his view, COVID-19 made people stay at home for long, leading to pent-up emotions of all sorts.

Dr. Raphael James, who runs a counselling outfit for couples and young people noted that the issue has been a recurring issue in the society, saying the current situation is hyped by the social media as people now record all manner of events with their phones and other gadgets for people across the globe to see.

James, a psychologist cum counselor, said that domestic violence could happen among siblings or in the form of fathers violating their daughters or mothers beating and enslaving their house helps.

He observed that some of the problems could be nipped in the bud if family members or friends intervene early, either by reporting to concerned authorities such as the police or cried out for intervention.

James explained that friends, family members or religious leaders should step in once couples get to the point of exchanging insulting words, abusing one another’s family members or threatening themselves.

In doing this, he advised mediators to focus on fostering peace without taking sides, no matter what. He listed causes that often trigger violence to include frustration and nagging.

“When a partner, mostly the male, stays at home without work, while the wife works and provides for the family, it will get to a point when the husband will become jealous of the wife and will even begin to suspect her of infidelity; and may even begin to plan how to pay her back in a hurtful way,” he said.

He advised parents and all those responsible for children’s upbringing and training to inculcate love and the value for human lives in their schemes, saying couples should focus on what brings honour to their families rather than riches. He noted that if all family members have the right attitude to life, there would be no need for battering and molestation, as a result of vexation or mere quarrels.

In his view, fighting or battering is never a solution to settling scores; rather it worsens it. Urging youths not to jump into marriage due to societal or peer pressure.

He said: “The home should be a lovely place for couples and their children. Once a partner begins to raise his/her hand to hit or attempt to hit the other, then know you have to be careful from that point on. When beating starts, it hardly stops; rather, it takes long before the bully gives up. And most times, it is either the beating leads to death or serious injuries.

“At the first beating, it is always good to notify relatives on both sides or people that can talk to him/her. At best, walk away, so you can stay alive.”

James noted that walking away does not really mean ending the relationship. Rather, it gives both partners the opportunity to reconsider if they are compatible and can live under one roof, as well as heal their trauma.

Dr. Oluwashogo Oyeniyi, a certified life coach and emotional intelligence specialist, said there is no justification for domestic violence. He attributed major causes to intolerance, infidelity, incompatibility, lack of effective communication, economic frustration and low emotional intelligence, among couples.

He explained that many couples see these signs early enough in their partners, but they ignore them, thinking they can manage the situation. Unfortunately, such traits usually manifest fully later in life.

He said such red flags like aggression and raised voices while talking or angry must have been evident during courtship. “The things you did not address, while courting will become monsters after marriage,” he said.

He advised couples to seek professional help or at best, leave the marriage when there is threat to life, as it is only someone who is alive that can protect his/her marriage.

“Take an exit and protect your mental health. Some people, especially women may not want to leave because of the stigma. But the issue is: if you die, someone else will take your place. It is good to be logical. I mean someone is attempting to hack you with a machete or cutlass, the person is beating you and you still want to be there because your religion or family tradition does not encourage divorce. Life is more important and self-preservation is the principal thing,” he said.

Oyeniyi called on religious leaders to take courses in counselling, psychology and others that have to do with human behaviour, as this will help them proffer logical and practical solutions when their members have challenges in marriage and other related issues that might lead to violence.

“When a particular matter goes beyond their ability, it is not out of place to direct such matter to professional therapists, counsellors or coaches. Two adults should be able to communicate effective and if the relationship is not working, they should as well peacefully go their separate ways,” he said.

Dr. Fadeke Hassan, a relations and family counsellor, said most singles leave a sham life, which they carry into their marriages, and by the time the truth begins to manifest, the couples begin to have problems.

Hassan noted that some relations sometimes add to the problem, by living with a couple for so long that a partner may start feeling cheated and may want to take this out on the partner.

He said: “These are some of the things we see happening now, where couples that have lived together for a while will take the other’s life in a horrible manner.”

He said no matter the situation, couples should be bold enough to discuss their differences and tell each other the truth, instead of making either of the parties discover it in a shocking manner or through the gossip mills.

The counselor said some people inherit dysfunctional behaviours, such as anger, assault and battering from their parents, and that a child whose parents settle their differences by fighting would often grow up doing the same. Accordingly, parents should show good examples to their children and should always discuss their differences without resorting to fighting.

Hassan disclosed that some couples fashion their marriages after Nollywood and foreign movies, forgetting that the movies are make-believe. He noted that building one’s marriage on movie characters is like living in phantom land, which would bring about conflicts that can escalate.

He noted that in African societies, women are to complement men in marriages, but these days, many ladies do not believe in this, as they see their husbands as their equals.

Stressing that there is no clear-cut formula for couples to live happily, he said life is too sacrosanct for anyone to take. He urged couples to go their separate ways when their differences become irreconcilable, especially if the other party is threatening to do something terrible.

On the way out, Chief Oludare Faleti, a counsellor, said domestic violence is now pervasive because of broken value system.

He said: “In the traditional society, domestic violence is a taboo and offenders are made to face heavy punishment. I think all agents should effectively play their roles in the moulding of the young ones. I also think more stringent laws should be put in place to deter people from engaging in any form of domestic violence.”

He advocated that some offenders be taken to rehabilitation centres, where their minds will be reconditioned for the better.

Faleti also advised parents to pay attention to their children, listen to their complaints about any family member or community touching them inappropriately and promptly act on them, as this will not only help nip assaults in the bud, but also helps the child build confidence to speak out.

 


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