Men say “No”
Growing up, the first school I attended at age 4 to 5 years old was quite a distance from my parents’ house, so one had to walk to school. The world then was much safer, and although I’m old enough to recall a wave of the gbomo-gbomo (kidnapping of children) phenomenon in the late 1970s, I also realise that these days, even for adults, going out has almost become an extreme sport, thus being able to leave your house and return without incident is cause for celebration.In the course of those walks, one got a front seat to witness certain aspects of life, which would have been unseen or unheard of, being that such incidents did not ordinarily occur in my immediate sphere.
On this particular day, I was not too far from my school when I noticed a melee in an apartment, and my curiosity got the better of me. The place was built in such a way that each unit had a veranda, which was (for those persons who could afford it) half-screened off by a wooden partitioning, the upper part of which was made of mosquito net, thus allowing for better ventilation.
A woman’s shrill cry could be heard, I ventured in, meandered through the forest of legs, and there on the floor, sat a woman with plaited hair, but with a streak of blood running in channels, through the places where her hair had been parted, she was holding her head.
There was also this very foul smell which I couldn’t place, they had a gas cooker in the enclosure though cooking gas wasn’t something I ordinarily smelt as a child, being that only my parents and elder sisters could reach up to our own cooker.
However whilst growing up, one of the myths we believed as children was that our brains were in gaseous form (you can stop reading and start to laugh now, but you’re only allowed this one laugh!) hence if we got into horseplay and a stone was thrown which hit someone on the head, their first reaction would be to hold down the spot, not as a form of compress, but to prevent their “sense” from escaping (you’re still laughing, right? Continue…).
A man dressed for work in a white short sleeve shirt and tie, was stood shamefaced, in the midst of the women, whose legs I had navigated past, he was the object of their collective scorn. They were all tongue-lashing him, for beating his wife and causing her that head injury which was earlier observed.
I recall making a vow to myself that I would never allow myself to be in such an position, whereby I would allow my “sense” to escape from my head due to delay in compressing an injury, as well as not losing my senses to the point where I would raise my hand against my spouse, or causing her injury thereby.
Thankfully, I have kept all three vows!
But with time, one got to see more incidents of domestic violence in the world around, though there was always this cloak of silence around the issue, which fortunately in recent times, has started to be lifted.
Conventional wisdom would that most incidents of domestic violence are male-on-female, but there does exist a growing female-on-male variety, which due to societal stigma is much underreported.
However an even more insidious form of domestic violence is the psychological consequences of this physical violence, in addition to the mental abuse variant which domestic violence sometimes takes.
With greater knowledge has also come a broader consensus, that domestic violence is unacceptable and inexcusable, in any form or guise whatsoever.
We have also observed cycles of abuse, wherein such issues ultimately become generational, as children come away with the mind-set that mental/physical abuse of spouses is proof of affection; indeed in one reported instance which is indicative of this syndrome, a woman was quoted as saying “I can’t love a man I don’t respect, I can’t respect a man I don’t fear, and I can’t fear a man who doesn’t beat me”.
The importance of a solid but sensible support system (of church, family, friends, NGOs, social workers etc.) cannot be overstated, and in several instances their forthright intervention has been the needed catalyst for positive outcomes.
For anybody caught up in these situations, the immediate advice would be to take steps that would ensure personal safety; and any advice from the above-mentioned support systems, should be promptly discarded, if it compromises the wellbeing of victims of domestic violence.
Unfortunately due to a potent mix of cultural, economic, social, and religious considerations, this is probably easier said than done, consequently outcomes have sometimes been fatal…
And if you are a victim of domestic abuse.. you can reach out to an organizatio like CADA which is an acroynm of Church Against Domestic Abuse on www.instagram,com/churchagainstdomesticabuse