It was 9.pm and I was just checked-in to my hotel room for the night. I sorted out my clothes and hung them in the wardrobe. I was going to spend a few days in the town. Tired and completely exhausted from my journey, I crashed on the sofa in the middle of the room. I must have slept off probably for about 30 minutes when suddenly I was startled by a sting on my stomach. I jolted now fully awake and my first thought was a scorpion bite. As I struggled to unwind my jeans zip, I felt another sting now on my waist, I hurriedly pulled down my trouser and then I saw the object as it fell off to the tiled floor. It was a black medium sized cockroach.
This was strange to me, I didn’t know that cockroaches bite. You probably didn’t know too. But believe me, cockroaches like all roaches bite, I was a victim. Strange as I felt, I refused to accept my friend’s interpretation of witchcraft. The cockroach probably fell into my body while I was arranging the wardrobe and was trapped in between my blouse and my jeans trouser. It had to bite in its bid for escape because there seemed to be no way out of the trap. This is the story of most domestic violence where the man is the victim.
Domestic violence which often occurs between people who are or have been in a close relationship can take many forms of abuses, including emotional, sexual, physical or stalking. Abusive relationships always involved an imbalance of power and control. An abuser uses intimidating, hurtful words and behaviours to control his or her partner. When this is done repeatedly the abused loses self-esteem, withdraws from society and in many cases develop a mental disorder that may be catastrophic.
It is not uncommon for a married woman to be assaulted by her husband. Statistics has shown that women are vulnerable and are more victims of domestic abuse than men. This seems to date as far back as creation where I try to imagine in my little mind what Adam must have done to Eve after she ate the apple and they were thrown out of the garden. He probably dragged her on the ground angrily and railed abuses on her as they exited the garden. Domestic violence against women in particular often occurs when the abuser believes that abuse is an entitlement, acceptable, justified, or unlikely to be reported. Sadly so.
Today the table is turning and women have in more recent times shown that no one has a monopoly of violence. Like the black cockroach, the woman is no longer contented to remain trapped in between the folds. That men are victims of domestic abuse therefore is also no longer news. However, men are often reluctant to report abuse because they feel embarrassed, fear they won’t be believed, or are scared that their partner will take revenge. So most violence against men except for extreme cases go unreported.
Why and how can a woman who is often described as the “weaker sex”, vulnerable, susceptible and defenceless successfully attack a man? Did the man just sit and watch her kill or assault him? What weapons are available for the woman and how easy was it for her to use it against him?
A review of domestic violence cases reflects that it is an outcome of a buildup, a combination of multiple assaults that climaxed into real violence that may or may not result into death. Often times the woman is like that black cockroach, trapped and pushed to the point of reaction. Or like the goat that suddenly attacks the dog that pushed it against the wall. There are many stories that often leave us wondering why?
There is the story of Udeme Otike-odibe (a lawyer) who allegedly killed her husband in 2018, Damilola Ayeni in 2018, and Maryam Sanda who also allegedly killed her husband in 2020. All of these and many more are real life stories that are in recent past and happen in our society (Nigeria) where we have had very few reports on domestic violence against men.
- Why are women now taking up arms and fighting back?
- What are the options to reduce this growing spate of violence?
- Why must one remain in an abusive relationship?
- Is the culture fuelling abuses in marriages?
- What is the role of religion in abused relationship?
- Is separation the only solution to abusive relationship?
The answers to the above questions are not far fetched and as we cast our mind on the subject of domestic violence, we would all agree that no one has a monopoly of violence in a relationship. The once-upon-a-time docile partner can turnaround to be the violent one. Similarly the abusive partner may end up being the victim of his/her previous’ “victim”.
It’s no use remaining in an abusive relationship only to end up a murderer. While the sanctity of marriage must be kept and maintained in line with biblical and cultural injunction, partners in abusive relationship must not continue to endue hoping things will change. Steps must be taken to resolve amicably. Seek counsel if you must, maintain contact with and seek support from family and friends. By all means do not remain in an abusive relationship and do nothing. Either way, you may react when pushed over and the consequences may be disastrous.
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