On April 8th Alizee, a Nigerian singer and her daughter were allegedly murdered by her husband. It was all over the media and a lot of people heard it.
There was shock and outrage. There was uproar in social media and discussion because……….
She was a celebrity.
But according to the CLEEN Foundation, 31% of women in Nigeria have confessed to being victims of domestic violence, there is no clear percentage of women who have lost their lives through domestic violence or partner abuse.
Most times there’s no collective outrage and demand for justice because no one knows
Some women with not so stellar lifestyle that dared murmur about abuse are judged, found guilty and deemed worthy of abuse based on their lifestyle.
When did we become a society that justified abuse based on lifestyle?
Women are being ruthlessly murdered by those who should love, protect and carefully nourish them and we’re busy looking for a reason to justify a heinous act.
The strange thing is that when the terrible happens, friends , parents and neighbors talk about how long the abuse has been going on and people who talked to her and asked her to leave , come out to speak up.
And that when the question starts ‘why did she stay’?
According to Alizee’s father she was previously beaten to a coma but she later went back to her husband
What made her go back or to stay no one may really know.
Ronke’s neighbor, another woman and a banker who was also allegedly beaten to death by her husband in their home had this to say “He would tie her, beat her and take her mobile phones away. She should have left him long ago”
What made her stay?
In Janine Canty’s words “Don’t ask me why I stayed. I can’t answer that. Don’t ask me why your sister or neighbor, or friend stays. I can’t answer that. Not in black and white. Not in simple words. It’s individual to the person. Like hair color. Do I suspect fear? The all knowing, all powerful, crippling, freezing, fear? Yeah. I suspect it hides behind the curtains. It keeps company with the shattered dishes. The broken dreams, and the bruises no one else can see. Don’t ask me why I stayed. Ask me why I left”.
You can’t really know why people stay and suffer abuse, maybe its stigma of being called a failure, of going back to your parents house, maybe it’s the children, maybe society expects you to stay , grin and bear it.
Maybe it’s all of those things.
Some argue that its lack of financial independence, many women are stay at home, husband dependent moms and fear that leaving will leave them with no money, a place to live and possible suffering for them and their children.
At the same time, there are women who are financially independent and “strong”, that are abused, yet choose to stay.
Yet others stay because of their spiritual or cultural belief.
I believe that it’s not just one factor, it’s a combination of all this things that make women stay, hide abuse, pretend to their friends, make excuses for their husbands and suffer in silence.
Maybe it’s the belief that the man will change, the promises, the makeup, the remorseful love bombing and then the prolonged calm that makes you think that you’re walking on egg shell and the predictable storm. Again!
Or maybe it’s just concern about what people will say.
It is better to be alive and have people say what they want, than to go into darkness and still have people ask why you stayed back when you should have left.
The foundation of any healthy relationship should be love, respect and tolerance not fear.
Not just in marriage but in every relationship; between you and your house help or keeper, your driver and your employee. Marriage is a place of ‘knowing’ one another not ‘fearing’
Anyone who has ever seen a spider, or a snake, knows fear. Living with that fear everyday is another thing. It cripples and ages you.
We are used to seeing physical abuse that we forget that there are other forms of domestic abuse that are as evil as physical abuse.
These forms of abuse leave no visible or physical scar.
They hurt the soul and diminish your worth as a human being and leave you feeling like nothing.
There are 4 other forms of abuse that are not physical
Emotional and psychological abuse involves withholding affection, undermining your sense of self-worth, constant criticism, intimidation, treating you like a servant, threatening to harm you and isolating you from friends, family and loved ones. Stopping you from what fulfills you spiritually or using their own spiritual belief to manipulate and control and enforce rigid discipline on you and the children.
It also includes controlling your personal freedom of movement, choice and activities; publicly and privately humiliating you denying you access to important personal items like certificates and passport.
Verbal abuse: Calling you derogatory names and telling you, you would have amounted to nothing if not that out of the goodness of his heart, he married you and took your family out of the poverty and misery they would have endured all their lives. Constantly yelling, mocking and shouting at you and verbally humiliating you either in private or in company and blaming you for their own failures.
Sexual abuse: Forcing someone to engage in sexual acts they find offensive like group or anal sex is an abuse. It also includes denying a woman or limiting her reproductive rights by preventing use of pregnancy preventive methods and forcing abortion.
Forcibly having sex with a woman when she is sick is also an abuse. Recently, a woman complained of excessive sex by hubby even when sick on social media and women told her she was lucky her husband even wanted sex with her and their advice? Just give it to him.
Even though I may not agree with her coming on social media to discuss her private life but the comments from women shocked me the most.
Maybe, when men start thinking of their wives as their sister, friend or daughter their treatment of them as mental and physical punching bags will change
Economic abuse involves making or attempting to make a woman financially dependent, rigidly controlling finances, withholding money or denying you access to money. This includes making you account for every Kobo and Naira you spend, preventing you from working or choosing your own career and sabotaging your job by his actions. It could also be restricting or outright denial of basic necessities like, food, medication and clothes.
These forms of abuse are not seen but they also endanger the lives of women. Withholding finances and care could make a woman not to seek medical attention on time or at all and this could result in harm to their health and wellbeing.
You took a vow to protect, nourish and carefully protect your wife, the moment you start doing things contrary to the vow you made, that’s an abuse. So, women nag, insult, call you names? Walk away, separate from her for a time or divorce her. It doesn’t make you less of a man.
To everyone woman out there living in fear, you have a purpose and a gift waiting to be shared with the world, no one talks, behaves or loves like you. You are unique. Know when to walk away. People will always talk whether you leave or stay. God who created you wants you alive. Your parents, children, siblings, friends and family want you alive. Know when to walk away.
Yes, there are women, who endured, suffered, survived and are now having a blissful marriage but is that you?
Even though I’m not telling you to jump out of your marriage at the first argument, I know people can change, an abuser can change, and marriages can be mended. I totally agree but all I’m saying is know when to see a therapist, make a report, see your spiritual head or whoever you believe will tell you the truth and protect you first before protecting their name, belief and calling.
But be aware that most abusers know when you’ve had enough and are ready to go, that’s when they become more violent and controlling, they feel you slipping away and that’s when the ‘terrible’ happens.
You alone know what goes on behind closed doors when everyone leaves, you alone know how scared you are and how the fear that you might not survive the night is choking the life out of you.
You alone will know when you’ve had enough and are ready to go and you alone will ever know why you chose to stay. It’s your decision…. Your choice.
I may never meet you or understand certain things but even though we may never meet…….. I know one thing. I want you happy, alive and well and sharing your gift with the world.
Your parents, children, siblings, colleague, friends want you alive.
And yes I am a wellness and life coach but I’m also passionate about women and their wellness not just their body transformation. So, as far as I’m concerned freedom from abuse is also part of wellness for women.
And yes body transformation is good but domestic and partner abuse is an insidious evil. You can only emerge and transform your life and body when you are well in every area of your life and this includes your relationship.
If you feel there’s someone who needs to hear this message, please feel free to share it
“Nigeria.” Social Institutions & Gender Index. Social Institutions & Gender Index, n.d. Web. 01 May 2016.