Addressing Domestic Violence
October was breast cancer and domestic violence awareness month. Many heard more about breast cancer awareness on the news than they did domestic violence. That’s why we chose to shed some light on the issue of Domestic Violence in our Diaspora. Better late than never!
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence refers to a pattern of violent and coercive behavior exercised by one adult in an intimate relationship over another. It is not marital conflict, a lover’s quarrel, or a private family matter. It often consists of repeated, severe beatings or more subtle forms of abuse, like threats and control.
Domestic violence is a pervasive problem in our Diaspora- one that cuts across class and religious lines. A significant number of us, women and men alike, have experienced domestic violence in one form or the other; whether it is here in the U.S or home branch.
This could be directly as a result of our own intimate relationships with our spouses, or through experience of other family members and/or friends. Whether or not you have experienced abuse or not, you are most certainly going to have close contact with, and be affected by, someone who has. And that someone, unless he or she gets help, will carry the legacy of violence with him or her into intimate relationships. Understanding battering becomes a significantly relevant issue if we intend to reduce violence in our families and subsequently, the society at large.
Progress has been made bringing main stream attention to the issue of violence against women; however, the immigrant and faith community continue to be largely ignored when discussing the issue of domestic violence. People have written extensively on domestic violence in the immigrant community but not so much on the faith community. Not enough attention has been paid speaking about them publicly. Hence, this article is an effort to bring to attention gaps in knowledge, and discusses a little piece of action agenda to help eradicate domestic violence in our society.
Domestic violence or wife beating poses a grave threat to the preservation of Nigerian families and community. I remember when Nigerian movie first landed on America’s seashore.
They portrayed a lot of violence against women. I am glad that there have seen paradigm shifts in ways our women are portrayed in those movies. Women deserve to be cherished as much as our men would want to be revered and honored. One good turn deserves another.
Nigerian women and women of faith, sustain serious and lethal injuries as a result of domestic violence. Nigerians, most of whom are religious, face harsh treatments from their partners because of our culture and religious believes, affecting how they experience and respond to domestic violence. Nigerian culture, which seems to resemble Biblical principles, teaches that men are the head of households; and supposedly to be revered and honored.
Both encourages couples to stay together through thick and thin while society reveres couples that do. Either because of their faith in God or cultural demand a lot of people I know, have gone on to try and keep this marriage covenant under very painful and most humiliating circumstances. This is because, irrespective of how it comes about, commitment to a relationship is usually seen as a positive attribute.
Someone might ask why I may have inserted that some men are being abused. It’s because some women as much as men have the tendency to abuse their partners. Some women have proved to be as aggressive as some men. I have a friend who is currently living it. Nevertheless, in most cases of domestic violence, men are the perpetrators. Experiences of abuse and violence are especially high for women than it is for men. But regardless of who is being victimized, domestic violence is a serious problem that needs to be addressed by our Diaspora and religious communities.
There is no excuse for abuse. No one deserves it. Not even our pet(s).
Abuse is not only demonstrated in the form of inflicting bodily harm. It also involves speaking insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about your partner. When all your partner does is humiliate, criticize you or all you do and wear, monitor all your movements as in stalking, controls the family money, isolates you from friends and loved ones, destroy properties or abuse pets, intimidates you with either a weapon or action as in threatening to hurt you, your children or commit suicide, or revile, malign or commit sexual assault upon you; those are all sings of domestic violence.
Growing up in a violent family is known to lead or make people more tolerant of violence done to them. Using force to solve problems; having rigid ideas about gender roles that are culturally based, and resistant to change, even when presented with teachings that allow flexibility in these roles. Jealousy of other relationships; creating fear in the other person when angry, making the partner walk on egg shells around him or her in order to avoid causing anger.
The use of drugs and alcohol has a strong link with domestic violence, especially if the person denies having problems with these substances and refuses to get help. The threat to have you deported or refusal to file necessary papers to legalize a partners immigration status or deliberately hide or destroy documents indispensable to partners lawful stay in U.S., such as passport, birth certificate or a marriage certificate are all predictors of domestic violence.
Why battered people stay
Battered women and men stay because of the concern about the social stigma associated with being a divorce. Many religious precepts, in fact hold that divorce is sin. Society, as well as most spiritual groups and culture extol the virtues of family unit, a father, mother and children. So, battered people stay. That was my struggle too. For societal expectation and my Christian belief, it was a struggle deciding whether to stay married to an abuser or not.
What I did was consider what was better for me. To die in such a violent way with all the strife and hatred that went with it or ask God for second chance at life; knowing Gods grace will be available for me if I’m alive. The door to repentance would have been eternally closed on me had I died in a state of strife and hatred.