The hall was filled with guests all gallantly dressed to the kill. Sitting down in the congregation, it was difficult to discern the distinct scents of the several perfumes that filled the air. Everyone looked happy after all that is what people were meant to be when they came for a wedding. The groom was already at the altar and the bride had just started walking in. People seemed to have taken the cue from an invisible signal and everyone stood to their feet as they watched her majestic march till she got to where her groom was but instead of stopping, she walked past him and took the side exit door, leaving most people stunned.
It was one of those things you read in novels or saw in movies, not what you thought would happen in your own relatives’ wedding. A friend was distraught when she called to recount these details to me and I felt sorry about the whole episode. The bride must have struggled with the decision not to go ahead until the last minute. Perhaps somewhere in her mind, she had been hoping some issues would be resolved and the flicker of hope kept her to this last moment when she realized to go ahead was a sign of a consent that it didn’t really matter as much.
I applaud her bravery because I believe she did not want to go ahead with a lie. There was no need to put up with appearances. If she had concerns about the vows she was about to take, then it was better to address the issues. So many people have gone ahead to repeat marriage vows thinking that they would indeed be loved and cherished only to be hurt and disappointed by the pain the relationship affords them on a daily basis. I am not referring to the difficulties that come with “ two becoming one” and all the drama that comes with the daily grind of marriage.I am referring rather to a repeated pattern of coercive behavior which is domestic abuse.
The Governments definition of domestic abuse is:
“Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.”
As you probably know, the purpose of this blog is to help healthy relationships and this month is a very crucial month for us. In case you are unaware, November 25th is the Awareness Day for Domestic Violence but the term Abuse is much more encompassing because it covers all the other non-physical forms of abuse which is used to control an individual. Most times, these other forms exist and then degenerate to physical. Abuse can be verbal, emotional, financial, sexual or spiritual.
Statistics show that one out of every three women (one out of six men) are affected by domestic abuse directly in their lifetime globally(WHO 2016). Basically, what that means is one in three to four of your girlfriends or sisters may be facing abuse and to think the Christian home is excluded is one of the biggest myths and obstacles to dealing with the problem.
Before I relocated to the United Kingdom, I was brought up in a denomination that do not believe in divorce. It was ingrained that marriage is for life. I wholly accepted the idea but when I came to the United Kingdom and started seeing the level of abuse in some marriages, my heart broke. I knew that if some people remained in the marriages they were in without any intervention; it was only a matter of time and they would either lose the remaining sanity they had or would probably get killed by their partners. Although they were experiencing everything but love, it was puzzling that leaving was not one of their first options
Leaving is not as straightforward as it seems. Some women(men) have been so brainwashed that they can hardly trust their decision-making abilities. This could be coupled with some financial implications as well as societal expectations and a sense of failure. More so when children are involved or immigration matters a consideration, the leaving option becomes messier. Leaving can be dangerous and should not be embarked without a proper safety plan as research has shown that people are more likely to get killed by their partners/ex-partners when they leave.
Not many women(men) recognize that they are being abused and even when they do, they are ashamed to discuss it. Sometimes, they rationalize that it is their fault as they are repeatedly told by their partners who are experts at mind games and it is quite easy for such an individual to become isolated. This even makes it difficult to get the necessary help and support she(he) needs.
There are some helpful things we can do when we meet victims of abuse. If they open up to us, we must, first of all, believe them, secondly, support them to express their feelings and allow them to make their own decisions. There is actually no one size fits all approach and there is a way to respond biblically and rightly Let us resist the temptation to imply that if they were more prayerful or more submissive, the abuse would not occur. The truth is people who abuse others decide to do so. It is actually a power and control thing. Perpetrators know when and where to act appropriately and what side they project at any given time.
There are several other things I would have loved to say but we will talk more this month however, I greatly solicit your support and ask that you join us in the fight against Domestic Abuse.
And a word to those experiencing abuse, REMIND YOURSELF
-u are loved
-U are valued
-we believe you
-God cares you are hurting
-u deserve to be respected.
We love you and are dedicating our posts this month to the issues of domestic abuse and so if you would like to share your story, kindly get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org