Too many sensations assailed her senses. The feel of flesh pounding on flesh,a sound like a deep animal-like howl of pain, the pungent smell and taste of blood mixed with warm sweat and salty tears. After a while, her body lost its valiant attempts to stay awake as it fell into an unconscious heap. But…was this how it was in the beginning? Tunde had been a gentleman. Tall,broad shouldered and oh so very handsome. He was also very soft spoken. She would never forget the day he had spoken to her for the first time. She was very quiet and quite reserved and not one of the usual “flashy” girls in church. So it was to her utter amazement and joy when this Adonis walked up to her with a smile and asked for her name and phone number. He called her later that evening and that was the beginning of a beautiful and whirlwind romance.One she had only dreamt of but never experienced. Tunde was everything she had ever wished for and more.
“But he was still human”, she thought, when she had first seen his flash of rage. Tunde had seen her talking and giggling with Emeka,her friend and colleague at work. She had excitedly introduced Emeka to him. However, with his mouth clamped tight shut like a sledge hammer, Tunde had turned his face away and said nothing. Later that evening, he gave her a resounding slap and warned her severely never to “embarrass” him like that in public,never again. She could not believe her eyes and ears. She left with a vow never to talk to him again. But like the prodigal son, Tunde had come weeping and begging. He loved her so much,that was why he did it. He would never do it again. His tears moved her icy heart and with tears in her eyes,she took him back…Four years later,two children together,here she was; beaten and bruised within an inch of her life….A victim enabling her tormentor.
He sighed deeply as he cleaned the blood coming out from the deep gash on his forehead. His wife,Kimberly,had struck again. What she lacked in height,she amply made up for in strength and viciousness. A cute,petite woman with a smile that seemed to light up the room and a bright vivacious personality, Kim was everything Dave had always wanted in a woman. However,like a double edged sword,Kim’s vivacious personality was matched with an equal measure of short temper and aggressiveness. Her tongue was quick and her nails were even quicker. When angry, she would lash out venom from her tongue and every physical object in sight would be used hurt the object of her rage,usually him.
Normally,after their numerous fights,Kim would more than compensate him with rounds and rounds of make up sex. But now, David was clearly unhappy and confused. Apparently, he wasn’t nearly as masochistic as he thought he was. As a gentleman he had been taught never to hit a woman but he had not been taught what to do when a woman hits him.He knew he must do something quick or else, he would remain a victim;an unreported statistic.
Domestic violence is a phenomenon prevalent in the world in general and Nigeria in particular. It occurs in an intimate relationship or marriage and usually involves a pattern of physical,verbal or psychological abuse where the abuser uses threats,intimidation,physical violence etc to exert control,manipulate and dominate the abused. Most times, the abuser would ensure that his victim is dependent on him emotionally,physically,financially or even spiritually. This would in turn reduce the ability of the victim to resist this abuse. In most cases, the abuser usually seems like a responsible person in the society thus it may be very difficult or even impossible to know one from outside.
The abused on the other hand,acquires a sense of learned helplessness after suffering for so long.Thus, they may feel entitled to and even responsible for the abuse received. The sense of guilt and shame they feel,may hold them under for so long that after a while,it becomes easier for them to remain silent and sink into the shadows rather than open up and get help..
Domestic violence does not discriminate and anyone can be a victim. Though in most cases,the victims of domestic violence are female,statistics have shown that a lot of men suffer domestic violence also. A research conducted by the Mankind Initiative(A centre for abused men to seek help) showed that a whooping 38% of domestic abuse victims are male. The research also showed that when compared to their female counterparts,male victims are twice as likely to never tell anyone about their attacks. This probably occurs because culture and biology teaches that a man is always stronger than a woman. It is hardly believable that a grown man can be abused by a woman. Thus many victims,men and women alike would prefer to remain silent rather than suffer the cultural and social stigmatization which they may receive if they speak out.
Is there a way out? I like to think so. Being such a huge phenomenon enabled by culture and twisted religion,it may be quite difficult to be completely eradicated but it definitely can be reduced. Firstly,the victim should know that he/she is not at fault. They may not have the power to change the behaviour of the abuser but they have the power and responsibility to stop being victims. The second thing is to break the silence. Victims should try to talk to TRUSTED family and friends. Talking to religious leaders may also be helpful . The whole aim is to have a very strong support unit for the victim to rely on.Thirdly,the victim should have a “safety place” ie a safe environment for them and their dependents which would be inaccessible to the abuser. It could be the house of trusted friends or family. The state can also provide protection. In Nigeria, there is the Mirabel Centre which is a safe haven for domestic and sexual abuse victims.
These solutions are not in any way exhaustive but it is always up to the victim to determine whether or not to remain in that condition or to come out of it. There is always a way out. You may have a friend or family going through this ordeal. Encourage such a person to get help. You can be a listening ear or a ready shoulder to lean on. There are various institutions where you can encourage victims to get help. Just do something today.
The free helplines for Domestic and Rape Victims are listed below:
Rape Treatment Centre – 08056268573
Office of the Public Defender- 07080601080
Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation-08085754226
Mirabel Centre- LASUTH Ikeja
*THE PERMISSION OF THE DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE RESPONSE TEAM WAS OBTAINED BEFORE THIS INFORMATION WAS STATED.