Coercive control is the first step in domestic violence. If we can identify it and stop it there, we can save lives.
With quarantine and social distancing during COVID-19, survivors of domestic violence face a new obstacle in receiving the care that they need.
If you know or suspect that a loved one is going through domestic violence, you might feel clueless about the best way to help. Simple actions such as reaching out and letting them know that you are there for them can provide tremendous relief and save a life. Here is a simple guideline on how to support them.
As yet another Domestic Violence Awareness Month came to a close, for all the progress we have made toward awareness, our culture still struggles with its view of a victim’s most daunting struggle – leaving the abusive relationship. From misguided criticism to outright scorn for the victim, the decision to leave or remain with an abusive partner can be an understandable source of pain and division between victims and their family and friends, and even how society perceives victims of domestic abuse. For the outsider, the solution to an abusive relationship is often perceived to be as simple as basic arithmetic. The “math” goes something like this: You + Abuse - Leave Abusive Partner = No More Abuse. Problem solved! It is the mathematical equivalent to 1 + 1 - 1 = 1. And, in fairness, in some cases, it is that simple as victims do end abusive relationships relatively easily and successfully each day.
I am a survivor of domestic violence. Ending a mentally and physically abusive relationship was the hardest thing I have ever done. Nearly 13 years later, the details of my relationship are still hard to share. I know I am lucky to have escaped. I’m thankful to be alive and that my life is free from abuse, control and the exhaustion that comes from living in fear.
I have a problem with the term ‘domestic abuse survivor’. Bear with me on this. I’m saying this from the point of view of a survivor of domestic abuse. Most of my adult relationships have been abusive. I’ve been through physical, sexual, psychological and economical abuse so I tick the boxes. I support all of the campaigns that help victims of domestic abuse regardless of gender, creed, colour or sexual orientation.
The year 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year, more so for victims and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Nigeria who have had to deal with the impact of two pandemics; COVID-19 and SGBV. In May, Uwa was brutally raped in a church in Benin, the gruesome attack led to her death. Barakat Bello was raped and killed in her home in June; and Grace Oshiagwu was raped and killed in Ibadan.
17 years ago I got married for the second time. We were blessed with a warm, crisp and sunny Autumn day and were surrounded by family and friends in the small country house hotel we had exclusive use of for the event. Little did I know then what experiences that marriage would bring me. I’d been married before to a physically and sexually abusive man who had beat me up for the first time on our wedding night. I was adamant that my second marriage would be for life.
GBV is a growing problem among older couples, women of age 50+ but it is not always taken seriously. So, they suffer in silence. It is rampant but mostly hidden because most victims fear reporting. This scenario is as a result of cultural, and social factors and norms, fear and embarrassment to ask for help, and the belief that the menace affects mostly the young women.
When I was in the midst of my abusive relationship, I thought it was all my fault. Thats what I kept being told and thats what I believed. It took me the time to do the work on myself to understand that none of this was my fault. Once I started seeing things in a new perspective, it was a game changer.