Silence in face of physical abuse

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By Ishola Balogun

Despite the dire consequences of domestic violence, couples continue to inflict bodily and emotional injuries on one another after minor disagreements.

In African societies, although men are also affected by domestic violence, it is believed that women experience it disproportionately.

But developments have shown that these days, some women lose control of their temperament to inflict more devastating injuries on their hubbies – though this is considered a taboo in some cultures.

A young man whose wife has consistently turned the tables on him in this regard  told Saturday Vanguard that nobody would believe that the so-called weaker sex could inflict serious injuries at the slightest provocation. “Most times they blame the men for the beastly act of some of these women.  They are more wicked than you think they are,” he said.

The 42-year-old man who asked for anonymity recounted the recent destruction of home appliances by his nagging wife after they had a minor altercation.  He disclosed that she was already working against his moves to file for a divorce in court, maintaining that he had made up his mind to leave the house if she succeeded in the attempt.

According to him, “The marriage is about seven years old but it has been a cat and mouse affair ever since. I have tried my best to manage the situation but all efforts have come to naught. We  have held series of prayers, we have been counselled severally, but there have been no improvements. I don’t want to be killed by this woman, it is better for me at this stage to opt out of the marriage. It is not a do-or-die affair, marriage is meant for mutual enjoyment and not constant pains and debilitating injuries,” he declared.

Meanwhile, many such cases go unreported simply because men are often thought to be stronger and domineering while women are pitied even when they are on the offensive. Besides, men more often than not remain silent in the face of persistent battering by their wives.

The reality, though, is that even if a man is physically attacked by his wife or partner, many will take a beating rather than hit back to defend themselves and risk harming their attacker. And even if they do, they are aware that they then risk being termed abusers themselves. But abuse is not always physical, and a lot of men, in common with many women, face daily emotional, verbal and psychological abuse in silence for years, their self-esteem being slowly eroded on a daily basis.

Whether men or women, the Domestic Violence Law of Lagos state, which was enacted in May 2007, if properly used, will help check the trend.

Other states of the federation should also look into the possibility of enacting such laws.  Domestic violence should be condemned in all ramifications – be it husband to wife, wife to husband or parents to children. In this regard, all efforts aimed at combating this ugly behavior should be supported.

There should be an effective response from government, including the health, justice and social service sectors as a step towards eliminating all forms of domestic violence.

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