Rev. Victorine-Iris Nkiruka of the Victorious Virtuous Women Ministry International is a woman of passion when it comes to issues of domestic violence and prison ministry. In this chat with JULIANA FRANCIS, she talks about women who gets beaten and killed by their spouses
How did you get involve in issues of domestic and sexual violence?
I found out that there are so many problems and challenges facing women of my generation and it breaks my heart. Many of them come to me with various spiritual, emotional and domestic problems. Along the line, I discovered most marriages and families are faced with different forms of domestic abuses. Many of these women do not want to talk about it.
I also discovered that 70 percent of the situation most people go through today is as a result of dysfunctional families and effects of domestic abuse. Our society being what it is, women prefer to hide and sweep such issues under the carpet.
Do you think cases of domestic violence are on the increase?
Definitely, domestic abuses and violence are on the rise. The year 2011 was the first majorly publicized case of a husband stabbing his wife to death. Ever since then, there had been upsurge in Nigeria.
Every week, domestic and sexual violence cases often make the headlines of national dailies. It is either a husband had beaten his wife to stupor or death, or a wife has stabbed her husband to death or poured acid on him. Sometimes, the headline would be about a father that had raped his daughter or old men raping under aged children. From all indications, domestic violence in Nigeria is on the increase. The statistics are alarmingly frightening.
As a resource person, what do you think are the causes of domestic violence?
Studies have pointed out many causes of domestic violence, which includes spiritual, physical, emotional, psychological and economical. Nevertheless, all of these causes and risk factors have one underlying cause; the abuser feels the need to exert complete control, intimidation and manipulation over a victim. Some studies indicate that the cause of domestic violence could be a result of both environmental and individual factors. Essentially, this means that abusers learn to use abusive tactics to control others from the influence of family members, people around them, the society and cultural traditions as they grow.
Also, desperation to get married these days has led many into wrong relationships. Materialism is another cause that is so rampant these days. Some people rush into relationships because of material gains; when the materials things are gone, they would not be able to endure any more. Then, there would be constant quarrels and fight, which should not be the case if the foundation had been right.
Family interference is another major cause. When spouses cannot deal with their problems by themselves, they naturally will seek opinions of family members and friends. This gives opening to those who were not in support of the relationships to cause more problems for the couples.
Another worrisome cause is childless. Most women in Nigeria take the blame for everything, especially barrenness or not having a male child. In most cases, this has resulted in maltreatment of the wives. They are brutalised.
What can couples do to check domestic violence?
They can check domestic violence by avoiding the causes mentioned above, and be prayerful. Stay close to God; be tolerant, good to each other, caring, understanding and patient. Avoid external interferences from family and friends. This is worthy of note: Don’t rush into marriage. Don’t be desperate and end up with the wrong person. Whatever will be, will be. Take your time and trust God for the best.
What’s the impact of domestic violence on children?
The truth is that it is always very traumatic on the children. It always results in emotional and psychological breakdown for the children. In some cases, it results to withdrawal from their friends. It affects their social and educational performances.
Some children from such homes end up as abusers. It causes some to become fearful, anxious, and ashamed. They are always on guard because they don’t know what will happen next, or what is coming from their controlling and abusive parents. You may find such kids bedwetting and unable to concentrate in school. They sometimes experience frustration and depression. They could become wayward and resorts to seeking help outside. They would later become nuisance to society.
Clergies have been accused of being responsible for spousal deaths in marriage; they are against divorce. What is your take on that?
You are very correct. Actually, I addressed it sometimes ago on my social media handles. I heard the story of a young woman whose husband amputated her hands after so many years of abuse. She had repeatedly told her pastor her ordeal, but he kept telling her not to leave her husband. He asked her to stay and pray. He told her that marriage was for better and worse.
My question is this; if it were to be the pastor’s daughter, will he give the same advice? How can you, as a man of God, watch a young girl dying in an abusive relationship and you tell her to stay and be prayerful?
Nobody is suggesting divorce, but if that’s the only way to save a life, so be it! God who hates divorce doesn’t like a spouse treating his/her partner as a slave. In fact, God is more interested in a life and its purpose than the issues surrounding the person.
God has called us to peace, not to devour and tear each other apart in strife, anger and violence. My advice to people in that situation is; run for your dear life if it is getting out of hand. Seek help from agencies who are there to help and protect you. It is only a living person that can stay married. Many parents have their share of the blame too. Some of them know their children are going through such treatments, but would advise them to be patient and stay in the marriage because of what people will say. These parents don’t care if such marriages results to death.
What should women who are in abusive relationship do to stay safe?
Woman, if it is getting out of hand and you feel your life is in danger, run! Do not walk. Run! An abuser is always an abuser. He will keep apologising and hurting you, until he kills you. If a man truly loves you, and has anger issue, he will seek for both spiritual and psychological help. While that is going on, stay far away, so you can stay alive to marry and fulfill your purpose. As I always say; the dead do not get married; marriage is not a do-or- die affair. If a woman continues to stay in abusive relationship because of children, the children would suffer more when she dies. Do not keep quiet! Seek for help!
Can you share with one of the most horrific domestic violence cases you have handled?
There are quite a few, but this particular one happened not quite long. Before it got to us, the woman has been through hell in the name of marriage for well over eight years. The husband did unimaginable things to her.
He used hot iron on her body, soaked pepper in water and poured all over her body and her private part. He did terrible things to her that one couldn’t speak out. There were wound scars on her body. All these eventually resulted in this lady having temporary mental disorder. She suffered depression for years and her self-esteem totally damaged.
Although she was existing, not living; she had no confidence in herself and ability to do anything. I tell you, it was terrible. It took a lot of counselling and teachings on self-esteem and confidence to keep her stable and get her back on track. But thank God she’s healing and back with her parents. I am always shocked at what a fellow human being can do to another, in the name of marriage. I am always devastated and pained; I can’t imagine such hatred in the heart of anyone for a fellow human being.
It is this kind of issue that got me more determined to touch the lives of thousands of women going through marital challenges. My resolve is to help as many women dying in silence as possible. I urge all women to speak out, before it’s too late. Don’t listen to a man who keeps abusing and telling you to keep it a secret. He doesn’t love you. This is why most abusive husbands shield their wives from friends and family members. He doesn’t want people to know what he is doing to her so that his power and control over his victim wouldn’t break.
The belief is that illiterate women are prone and tolerance to domestic violence?
To some extent, I might want to agree with that, but unfortunately, some of the recent cases that resulted in death, especially in Lagos, are all educated couples. Illiterate women are prone and tolerant to domestic violence than their educated counterparts in the sense that they are not empowered financially. If she was exposed to adequate knowledge about her rights in a marriage, to some extent, domestic violence will reduce.
Is it true that men also face domestic violence?
Yes! Men are also on the receiving end, especially in cases of verbal, emotional and psychological abuses. Although not in the physical aspect, we all know that most men are stronger than women are. However, we have had cases where some women are physically stronger, and resorts to beating their husbands. But mostly, it’s verbal, emotional, psychological and economic, especially where the woman makes more money than the man.
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