The issue of domestic violence is wide but what concerns me today is battery.
Weeks back, someone sent me a short video clip of a street interview conducted by a local tv station. It was more of a vox pop. Would you stay with a man who’s rich yet beats you or would you prefer someone who’s poor yet treats you well?
Shocking find, all the millennial interviewed said they would stay with the rich guy who beats them. The surprised TV reporter asked over and over again why they would and responses ranged from;
‘…I would cheat on him…’ one said
‘I would gradually steal his money and later run away….’ Another said
‘I will bear the pain because it is better to suffer rich than suffer as a poor person…’ from yet another respondent.
Clearly, those girls are victims of our society; already, they don’t see the need to fight back or voice out the abuse. It was pathetic to listen to them agree to put up with domestic abuse just to survive. It was even worse to hear their ‘revenge’ plan. I couldn’t tell who was worse, they or their so-called abusers.
Oh, I understand the need to survive. I understand that several of these young ones have aged parents, siblings, family members that are dependent on them. They have lives and they need to keep up appearances and I will never begrudge them any of these.
What is obvious is they have tied their success in life to their abusers. Only one respondent said she would stay with a poor man and someday, she would make it in life!
That’s what we need to start teaching our girls.
It is not ok to put up with domestic abuse. It is not ok, to think that without your abuser, you will never amount to anything.
It is not ok to feel shame for being abused, don’t own that shame, send it to your abuser and you should not be silent.
In certain depraved circles, it is ok to slap a woman around, just to ‘knock some sense into her.’ The woman, of course, being the ‘property’ of the man has no right to fight back. If she does, she’s dead or close to being so. More so, she should forget about getting the police involved, they will tell her they never meddle in ‘husband and wife matter.’ Therefore, many women have had to bear the abuse and continue in the relationship, comforted by the sad fact that they still have a roof over their heads and a ring to boot.
When I posted on Facebook last week about a woman left with a damaged kidney and a broken arm from her husband, a good number of women responded. Many agree women are silent about being abused because of the stigma attached to it. Many said, fellow women are generally unhelpful, it’s either the abused is told to bear her burden in silence or be shamed as a fallen woman in public.
This particular woman had been told by her husband the only reason he lashes out is that she offended him. So beats her and blames her for his weaknesses; his lack of restraint, his bestial nature shrouded in a cloak of religion…he’s a pastor by the way.
However, there was a general consensus, anyone can be a victim! Domestic abuse victims cut across all strata of society and like the disease it is, knows no gender nor level of education of both perpetrator and victim.
The other thing that came up was the need to talk more about domestic abuse, to enlighten women on their rights, help victims find succour and assure them they are not at fault for being abused. The shame lies with the perpetrator.
Most importantly, there is an urgent need to inculcate in our daughters and sons that domestic abuse is not acceptable in decent society!
I do not want to rehash what we have heard over and over again and talked about over and over on why women must stand up and say, ‘NO! You can’t claim to love me and still beat me’ and if you must beat someone, go pick someone your size. The motor park is full of touts who will hit you back!
So why do women stay?
The reasons are as wide as the pacific. For the kids; ‘who will raise them if I leave?’
For the money; ‘I have aged parents and his money helps support them’
For personal comfort; ‘I have no job, I need a roof over my head’
For whatever reason a woman bears up with domestic violence, she owes herself the duty to report the abuse, for her sake and her children’s. Of course, the government must brace up and put its weight behind the domestic violence law such that the public must begin to shame perpetrators openly…
So far, Lagos state appears to be the only state putting its money where its mouth is, thanks to the Domestic Violence Law 2007 but I think we should take it a step further.
For instance, perpetrators must not be given any form of honour or recognition in public places nor be allowed to take a public position. If you are a wife-beater or husband abuser, no more the honoured seat in public places, no more accolades from the crowd or recognition in any way.
However, we can pardon them…if they repent and change their ways, shikena!