Domestic violence has been a mainstay in millions of homes and relationships in Africa with victims finding it hard to leave such
partnership or union. Women often find themselves at the receiving end of abusive relationships. TIMOTHY ODUTOLU spoke to
relationship experts who gave insights on the social menace
In Africa, women are seen as weak species that need men to succeed or be acknowledged in the society. Women are emotional beings and because they want to be seen as responsible women who are culturally conscious, respectful and aim to be flawless in life, they tend to endure domestic violence.
They live in accordance to the mindset of others: What people will say; what people think about them and what their kids will feel about them. Some endure for their children, some for religion. Your life is threatened and you want to stay because you want your children to believe everything is fine in your marriage. African women need to love themselves before loving their husbands or their boyfriends who won’t hesitate to punch them after a little altercation.
Some women with high sexual libido that have happened to be in more than two relationships before getting married or being in a relationship with the present abuser prefers to be beaten by the guy because they believe he’s the best they have ever had. Some consider their age, the man’s money, people’s respect for him and other things. The woman loves him and wants to protect his image but the moment a woman starts thinking about the man alone without considering herself, there’s no more love. It is now fear, slavery and over-endurance. A relationship means a shared responsibility of respect and care, if this is lost, the woman should run. Some women are also lazy, they have been dependent all their lives while the men see such women as pests that can’t survive without their plants. When he hits them, they will report him to his close friends and start crying and saying: “Where does he want me to start from? How do I take care of these kids? What will they eat?” “Oh, my life is ruined”.
At this age, where does he want me to go?” They act and speak in such demeaning manner to themselves, seeking for sympathy and this in turn makes the man feel like he is a god and act more crazily. They have dropped their dreams and aspirations in few years of marriage all in the name of love. They stay in abusive relationships because they believe they have lost all except the man.
Hence, they want to hold on and never let go. Some stay because of their partners’ blackmails and fear of being single or lonely. A woman must first stand up to love herself, if she is to command respect from her spouse or partner.
Anuli Marshall, Women rights activist
A woman who is not able to provide for herself will find it difficult to walk out of a marriage that the man is the sole breadwinner. If left to be on her own, she would not know how to cope or survive. Or in the situation whereby she is not educated and is faced with opportunities of sort, how will she cope or handle it? If she works, how is she going to survive? Therefore, the driving force behind such mentality is survival. Most people stay, some even accept for their children to be abused by their spouses and other people in their families. For these reasons, it is inequality and fear behind staying put in an abusive relationship.
The sooner we get rid of inequality, the quicker we see that people will no longer tolerate this type of treatment and over time, it will be driven out of the society.
Victorine-Iris Nkiruka A Reverend
There are so many reasons women stay in abusive relationships. There are several reasons such as;
• Societal and cultural expectation of normalizing what should be unacceptable, condemnable and unhealthy for the victim and those around her like her children. In some cultures, they see it as necessity to keep the woman in check or make her behave the way of cultural demands and expections.
• Brainwashing is another reason women find it difficult to leave abusive relationships. One of the early tactics of an abuser to keep his victim loyal and stuck in the relationship is to brainwash and strip the victim of herself worth. They take their victim through stages of brainwashing start by being abusive, calling her names, telling her she is no good and even if she leaves him, nobody will accept her etc. This goes on until for a period until she loses herself-worth and self esteem. • After that follows a manipulative circle of abuse. He will abuse and offer some little kindness that will keep the victim hoping he will change. With this, she becomes a prisoner of her own hope. They always believe and say if they stick it out there, things might change because they love their partners.
• Another reason is the societal pressure to have a perfect union….so people tend to pretend and take a life they don’t have and die in silence. • Desperation and the fear of losing love and be lonely again. This is annoying and that is why I also tell many of them it’s better you are lonely for some time and get a better person later than stay and go to your early grave before time.
• Another reason is SELF BLAME. This comes when the victim feels is painful to leave and keep blaming herself and feels she is the problem and that the happiness of the relationship is entirely her responsibility. Regardless of how hard she wants to leave, self-blame pulls her back. Chronic self-blamers will rather stay silent and suffer. Reason is that voicing out for help makes matter worse. It is either the family member blames her for being the cause for not being patient or the abuser will blame her for being the reason of abuse. He will also accuse her of failing to keep her marriage problems private. In cases like this, the victims will rather stay in silence and endure the pains of the abusive marriage.
• The fear of losing what they share together is another strong reason many stay. For instance, like business they started, properties, shared finances, children and even the fear of hurting their various family members. This dependency is worst when one partner is more financially capable. Shared friend, relatives and living condition is another contributing factor. On survey that reveals 34% of women say men are justified in cases of domestic violence The statistics is true in the sense that women who reason that way are among the ones I mentioned above.
They might have been in an abusive relationship where the abuser has brainwashed her to think that way. Abusers are very good at manipulating their victim in admitting they are always the curse of the abuse and they adapt to blaming themselves and other victims for being the cause of domestic abuse. In addition, women who grew up with parents who are abusers, always go through same brainwashing to feel that the victim (mum/dad) deserves to be treated that way because he/she is stupid, not doing something right or is always the cause.
I dont think anyone loves to be beaten or treated like an animal. Even my animal (dogs), I treat them with love, kindness and compassion.
John Oyewole, A Cleric
It is with the hope that situation may change for better. Sometimes, women stay in abusive relationships because of the fear that the alternative may be worse and that no relationship is perfect.
Emmanuel Oyebade Relationship Counsellor, Co-founder (Students’ Affairs Exposé)
To start with, it is relative. That is, individuals know why they remain in an abusive relationship. To some people, they like to play it safe. They are so scared of the unknown, so, they rather stay with an abusive partner. To another person it is for personal gains. This simply translates to the benefits accruable from any of the party, perhaps, financial dependency etc. Also, some as a result of their low self esteem would rather remain with an abusive partner.
More so, some believe in the idea of, “he was not like this before now” hence, they live with the idea that he/she will change in due time, thereby remaining in an abusive relationship. Another reason is the idea of “what will people say?” Most people believe in the idea of managing him/her just not to face criticisms from people. They just do not want to face people talking about their failed relationship.
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