Pride Conference

Women and Domestic Violence

Imagine living with someone you care about, but also being so terrified of them!

Domestic violence against women is not often talked about or addressed in families and communities. Domestic violence occurs regardless of cultural or economic backgrounds. Being abused is wrong and women deserve better. Women in a close relationship with another person who uses control, manipulation and domination against them are experiencing domestic violence.

The nature of abuse

The abuser will stop at nothing to control and dominate his victim. There are several ways he can do so. Just because a woman is not being physically beaten up, it doesn’t mean that she is not being abused. Emotional and verbal abuse are also tools of his torment. The abuser will use hurtful words to put-down, blame and threaten the women. The abuser will embarrass and try to control her, along with threats of bodily harm if she does not comply with his wishes. The abuser will also find faults with the way she dresses, and play a seesaw game with her body image. When the abuser takes recourse to emotional and verbal abuse, his aim is to destroy the woman’s self-esteem.

In essence, the abuser wants her to feel as if she is nothing, in the hope that she would likely believe that she is not desired by anyone else, and this would force her to remain in the relationship.

Normally, the abuser will do his best to keep the woman away from her friends and family members. Keeping her away from them is an opportunity for her to grow more dependent on him.

When her energy and self-worth is destroyed for the most part, the victim can fall into depression, experience anxiety and even have suicidal thoughts, which can become a reality.

Unable or unwilling to break the cycle.

Women who suffer domestic violence are usually scared of their partners, and sometimes they feel that they cannot do without their abuser. The can spend most of their time and energy trying to please them. To avoid making them upset, they choose what they say carefully. They go around in their home as if walking on eggshells.

Most men who abuse their partners usually try to make the abused feel guilty – blaming them for their abusive behaviour, saying that it is their fault, and dismissing the victim’s feelings. This oftentimes makes the victim think that they are doing something wrong, and they are responsible for the abuse.

Questions to consider

Does your partner:

  • Find fault with everything you do?
  • Shout at you frequently?
  • Try to control your relationship with others?
  • Make you feel that you could never do anything right for him?
  • Force you to have sex whether you want to or not?
  • Accuse you of not talking to him, even though the many times when you do talk to him, it feels as if you are talking to a brick wall?
  • Call you several times a day when he is not around to check up on you?
  • Do his best to convince you that your family and friends are no good, and that he is the only one that cares about you?
  • Threaten to kill you and himself if you ever left him?
  • Do you often cry yourself to sleep at nights, and feel as if you are going into a state of depression?
  • Do you resort to drinking to cover up the pain?

If your answer to most of the above questions is yes, you should seek help

urgently and not suffer in silence. Every woman deserves to be treated with respect and be valued.

In most abusive relationships, not every day is hellish. You may find that your good days with the abuser are when you are pleasing him by being docile and accepting his abusive treatment. But this doesn’t make him a changed or good person. It means that you have given up your voice and become passive, no longer challenging him.

Many women who are living in abusive relationships, are finding it hard to break free feeling as if they are having a fight between their heart and their head. Friends will tell them that they must end the relationship, for their own mental health and physical safety. But far too many women say, “Hmmm…no be so e be everywhere? Na so marriage be everywhere. I be Nigerian wife. Na so e be everywhere. Any woman whey tell you say her own better, dey lie.” So, they remain.

A lot of abused women say that they do not know why they put up with their abuser. Although the abuser treats them badly, they just seem to stay in the relationship against their better judgment. Whenever they want to leave, fear sets in telling them that they cannot cope on their own, and if they leave, they will fall apart. But this is not true. Part of the problem is that the abuser knows the woman, and makes her feel that everything is going to be okay only if he is part of her life. But this is one of the many lies of the master manipulator.

Breaking free of the vicious cycle

Women suffering from domestic violence must get their lives back from their abusers, and stop allowing themselves to be hurt by violence.

Getting rid of the abusive and controlling manipulator is the first step to solving your problem. There are some women who breakup several times with their abuser, but keep going him back. Sometimes the woman being abused will justify her abuser’s behaviour. You will need someone who can help you to heal, who will also encourage you not to make the same mistake again or go back to your abuser.

What would it look and feel like when a woman leaves a controlling, manipulative and possessive abuser? It is likely that she will reflect on what life was with the abuser.

If you are an abused woman, you may ask yourself, “How am I going to get on with my life now that my abuser is gone?”. These thoughts will come. But instead of being anxious, you should take deep breaths during such moments to help get yourself into a mode of relaxation, with a feeling that a weight is lifted from your shoulders.

You have obviously lost many years to your abuser, but, now you have to say to yourself, “I want to heal. I want to return to the person I was before I was emotionally and physically battered.” You should also say that you are not letting anyone else return you to that abusive place again. Say to yourself that you have to take care of you in order to take care of anyone else (your children for example, if you have any children).  Now, the abuser is gone let it be good riddance to bad rubbish and let it stay that way.

You have to unlearn the negative behaviour and thinking. You have to fight every anxiety that you may experience from being in an abusive relationship. Always acknowledge the way you are feeling. If you think that you miss this person, tell yourself that there is a difference between ‘missing’ and ‘wanting to go back living in a hell of a relationship’.  Keep going forward with your life and never go backwards.

The depression and the emotionless feelings will get better with time. No longer would you have to feel like somebody’s property or sex object.

Your self-image will be enhanced.

Regaining self-worth

When a woman is free from her abuser’s negative world, she can take steps to regain her self-worth and confidence.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Harbour no ill will towards the abuser. Wish him well but do not go back to him.
  • Give it a go! Do something in spite of how you are feeling. If there is something that you always wanted to do, do it now. This could help to offset feelings of depression.
  • Be around positive people, who love and truly care for you. Let your family and friends back into your life if you have alienated them during the years of abuse.
  • Work on improving yourself. For example, do a course at a higher institution. Take care of personal matters in your life and don’t procrastinate.
  • Do some positive affirmations. Tell yourself that you poised, at peace, relaxed, strong, determined and will overcome your obstacles.
  • If you feel unsafe and you can move to another location, you should do that. Never let anyone steal your peace, joy and good mental health.
  • Freedom is one of the best gifts that we have, so use it wisely.

It important to mention that men, especially teenagers and children are also victims of domestic violence.

Sadly, we tend to subscribe to the philosophy of “minding your own business”. But domestic violence is not a private matter, and it is everybody’s business. If you have a friend or a family member who is being abused, let him/her know that you are there to help. It may not be easy, because the person could be dealing with co-dependency, depression, anxiety, shame, fearfulness and doubtfulness. Anyone in an abusive relationship will need support to help them leave the abusive relationship.

Do you know a woman who is being abused? Help her today and you might just saved her life.

Women must never remain in abusive relationships.

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