Thursday, 21 May 2015

It's not about the size

Domestic Violence is indeed ‘the secret sin’. It’s happening in so many families and most of the time, women are the victims and we’re keeping quiet. It is not a joke and women are dying all over the world because some people still believe that it is something that can be trivialized. People continue to stay with domestic partners for fear of societal reproach and judgment. We are the society and we should stop providing an environment which condones remaining with an abusive partner.

Chances are you know at least one person that is in an abusive relationship and it blows your mind that they don’t “just” leave or maybe you are that person. If you don’t belong to either one of these groups, still read this because you might be in an abusive relationship and not even know it.

Nobody wears a sign on their head saying “Hey date  me and I’ll be sure to abuse you in the future!” The fact is that many relationships that are abusive didn’t start that way. On the contrary, they start out almost too good to be true. I read of a couple where he was so in love with her that he decided to marry her. He asked her parents for her hand in marriage and that’s where the first seed of abuse was planted. The girl’s family exploited him. They did it with his dowry and did not care that he was not in the best financial position. They accounted for every penny of clothes, school fees and other costs of raising "this prized possession of" a daughter. He was nearly financially wiped out by the time the wedding took place. Too embarrassed to say anything, he shut his mouth and got through it. A few months later, still unable to recover from the financial plummet, he started falling into depression, frustration and of course anger. One day, he asked his new wife to make him a sandwich, her response wasn’t favorable and he beat her. Explaining to her that he paid with his life’s savings to buy her from parents who acted as if they were selling property, not sending a daughter off to happiness. In this case who was abused? They both were. Him by her parents and her by him. So here is the take away from this one: Someone can become abusive that wasn’t before.

Abuse is not only DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Many times, abuse happens long before it shows up as domestic violence. Abuse is simply the cruel or violent treatment of someone. So again violence is only part of the story cruel treatment is the other part, and that happens to many of us more than we are willing to admit. There are many people in “Emotionally abusive “relationships/marriages. This type of abuse is no less terrible than physical abuse. Emotional abuse is a non-physically violent but terrible form of abuse. You may think that physical abuse is far worse than emotional abuse, since physical violence can send you to the hospital and leave you with scars. But, the scars of emotional abuse are very real, and they run deep. In fact, emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse—sometimes even more so. It is usually characterized by behavior that chips away at someone’s sense of self worth. Some examples are shaming, humiliation, intimidation, fear, withholding basic needs, name calling, threatening, and of course using guilt (perhaps of a past mistake) as a source of power over the other or for emotional ransom. Don't cover abuse by claims of possessiveness, anger problem, jealousy, drunkenness or love.

One of the telling things about a healthy relationship is that two people need each other by choice.  Each chooses to depend on the other for something(s). Not so with abusive relationships. Abusers create a world where the other person is dependent on them by force. A counselor once spoke of an abuser who found out that his girlfriend got a new job that required a car that she could not afford to buy. He bought the car “supposedly for her” but she was not allowed to drive it. Only he could. She needed her job so she needed him and put up with his abuse for the sake of the job she needed. Another example is a "rich" man having the belief that he owns his "poor" partner because he is sponsoring her in school and perhaps caters to her needs and that of her family. Remember, an abuser’s goal is to control you, and he or she will frequently use money to do so. Economic or financial abuse includes: Rigidly controlling your finances, withholding money or credit cards/ basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter), making you account for every penny you spend, restricting you to an allowance, preventing you from working or choosing your own career, sabotaging your job (making you miss work, calling constantly), stealing from you or taking your money, etc.

Abusers are experts at making a person feel that they are not going to be accepted by the world  and that they are the only ones who are accepting of the victim and so are doing a favor. They give the victim the impression of themselves that says “I am really bad/ugly/ not-good-enough/ not educated enough, that no one out there will tolerate and love me." They erode the victims self esteem so much so that the person starts to think “The monster I know is better than the ones I don’t." You should never allow yourself be put down, humiliated and disrespected by anyone especially not the one that professes love to you.

We may have more “domestic violence” cases reported by women, but that does not mean that men don’t go through domestic violence as well and it certainly does not mean they don’t go through abuse. The truth is that men don’t really have an outlet to talk about themselves as victims. When women share this pain, they often get a host of sympathizer. Everyone comes to their rescue.  Men get nothing but snares and taunting. Right from when men are young, they were told to just suck it up and be a man. So when a wife throws a tantrum at home, cries at the slightest nudge, PMS for 30 days, they suck it up. They don’t go having sleep overs at their friend's and break down in tears about how she threw the flower vase at him last night or how she has refused to perform her matrimonial obligations in weeks. They don’t tell their parents that the woman they live with emotionally abuses them. They don’t do that because they don’t get any support and even if they did, it’s too embarrassing. So know that abuse is not a gender thing. You might even be a female abuser and not realize it because you’re thinking “well I’ve never hit my man before” but remember, abuse can happen long before anyone physically hits the other. It’s Not the Size of the Bruise but the Violation of the Sense of Safety.

A wife who beats her husband to the best of her ability and throws items at him is just as abusive as the man who hits his wife. Just because the bruise from the man is bigger doesn’t make her less abusive. The fact is that we should not be hitting each other! A woman who threatens to embarrass her husband and expose something shameful about him unless he does or buys her something is just as abusive as the man who threatens to stop financial support if a woman doesn’t sleep with him. We should not be extorting or exploiting each other. If someone feels like you have the potential to violate their physical, emotional or psychological safety, you are already abusing them.‎

I gave a lecture in my NYSC CDS on domestic abuse and thought to share with you. Unfortunately, I can't find my references at the moment, i'll update the post when I do. This is not the end, there is a part 2 and maybe 3, please wait for them. I love you for reading, Anuoluwapo.


Launna said...

Anuoluwapo, I agree a man or a woman can be abused... my ex husband was emotionally abusive... it started out with little things I should not have tolerated and escalated over the couple if years we were together. Finally I found my way out and left him... it was a good day...

I understand the first story about the man spending all his money for a wife... I don't understand him beating her.... he should be mad at her parents but he should not havr attacked her.

It's sad that both men and women suffer in abuse for the fear of ridicule and blame... no one should blame anyone if you have not walked in their shoes...

Very good post :-)

Anuoluwapo said...

He transferred his anger unfairly on her. He should never have consented to his in-law's "conditions"

I'm glad that you're not only in a happy place but also an inspiration to me

Blogoratti said...

Abuse should not be accepted in any way, shape or form. If you are in an abusive relationship, please exit fast. Your well being is more important than an abusive partner who could get you killed in the end.
Thanks for sharing!

esquire said...

Wow. Such a long educative read. I learnt a few things here. Keep it up.

Unknown said...

There's the verbal abuse that comes from parents too especially when comparison among children is made. It isn't just restricted to partners alone but I can imagine why the latter will be worse because this is the partner you are supposed to spend the rest of your living days with.

Abuse is terrible, whatever shape it takes. It is also sad that a lot of people are aware still they remain as a result of shame. I don't know if I should cringe in shame for an advice I once gave best friend have this older couple friend who parted ways as a result of physical abuse. He had been out of work for so long and passed on the frustration to his wife, she got tired and decided to separate from him.

My friend and I pleaded with her to reconsider as the husband seemed genuinely remorse but she refused - she knows best. I respect the sanctity of marriage. I truly do but I also detest abuse of any form. Were we wrong to advise her to return to him?

Unknown said...

All types of abuses in the world is unacceptable to me....honestly...even the least which is verbal, doesn't work for me...

Lovely post mami..

NaijaLEARN said...

To me, no abuse is worth an excuse. Bad is bad. No other explanation.