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By Chinemerem Adibe 24–11–2020

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Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Domestic Violence has been visible throughout history. In early Roman society, a woman was deemed the property of the husband and was therefore to his control. According to early Roman law, a man could beat, divorce or murder his wife for offences committed by her, which besmirched his honor or threatened his property rights. In Nigeria, these practices were adopted by our forefathers from the then colonial master and even long after we had gained freedom from generation to generation. Women seeing such violence as a form of correction from their husbands and they tell it to their daughters and their daughters after them to see it as a form of love from their spouse, adding that they remain submissive even up until the point of death. These practices are still very rampant among various culture and even laws in the country

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Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Domestic violence is a problem in our society today. In Nigeria, there is a deep cultural belief that it is socially acceptable to hit a spouse to discipline.` Domestic violence is widespread and shows no sign of decreasing. It takes many forms including; physical, sexual, emotional, and mental. Traditionally, domestic violence is committed against women and rare occasions against men. The common forms of violence against women in Nigeria include rape, murder, acid attacks, molestation, wife beating, and corporal punishment.

Women often face physical violence at the hands of their family member. The most common forms of physical violence include; rape, murder, slapping, and kicking. Some of the reasons that were given for physical abuse include their husband being drunk, financial issues, and the rejection of partner’s sexual advances. Relationships inequality is also a strong indicator of physical violence. High levels of wife beating occur when the woman is making more money than her husband or partner is. Another form of violence which has received a lot recent attention in Nigeria is acid baths. Acid baths are actions of violence where the perpetrator throws acid onto his or her victims’ body, resulting in disfigurement and possible loss of eyesight. Acid baths are a large issue for women that need to be addressed. In 1990, a former beauty queen rejected her boyfriend’s attempt to rekindle their relationship. In relation, he threw acid in her face with the words “let me see how any man will love you now”

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The perception of domestic violence varies based on region, religion and class. For example, the TIV view wife beating as a “sign of love” that should be encouraged as evidenced with the statement, “if you are not yet beaten by your husband, then you do not know the joy of marriage and that means you are not married. All the major ethnic groups in Nigeria; Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa, have strong patriarchal societal structures that lead to the justification of domestic violence. However, the Hausa’s are more supportive of domestic violence and viewing it as an inherent right of a husband

Domestic violence is among the under reported crimes world wide for both men and women. Due to social stigmas regarding male victimization, men who are victims of domestic violence face an increased likelihood of being overlooked by health care providers. Domestic violence often occurs when the abuser believes that abuse is an entitlement, acceptable, justified, or unlikely to be reported. It may produce an inter-generational cycle of abuse in children and other family members, who may feel that such violence is acceptable or condoned. Many people do not recognize themselves as abusers or victims because they consider their experience as family conflicts that got out of control.

In abusive relationships, there may be cycle of abuse during which tensions rise and an act of violence is committed followed by a period of reconciliation and calm. Victims of domestic may be trapped in domestic violent situations through isolation, power and control, traumatic bonding to the abuser, cultural acceptance, lack of financial resources, fear, shame, or to protect children. As a result of abuse, victims may experience physical disabilities, dysregulated aggression, chronic health problems, mental illness, limited finances and poor ability to create healthy relationships. Victims may experience severe psychological disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder. Children who live in a household in a household with violence often show psychological problems form an early age, such as avoidance, hyper vigilance to threats, and dysregulated aggression which may contribute to vicarious traumatization

Shija reports that here in Nigeria, an average of 300–350 women are killed every year by their husband, former partners, boyfriend, or male relations. Most times the incidence is considered family feuds, which should be treated within the family. Most police refuse to intervene and advice the victims to go back and settle “family matters”. It has become a thing of abnormal occurrence to go through the local newspaper or other news medium or outlets without coming across one domestic violence story or the other either shared by a destined survivor or the relative of a not so lucky victim pushed into the arms of death by the cold heart of domestic abuse. I have seen several occasions of this happen. And as if the gravity of its consequence not enough pile to swallow, you come across all sorts of comments about how the devil is trying to break the home, or how the man must have been manipulated by some unforeseen forces, some even go as far as blaming it on the woman to have provoked the man. Domestic violence affects women in Nigeria irrespective of age, class, educational level and place of residence.

Women are more at risk from violence than men; this is because of the differential access to prestige, power, control of material resources, freedom to obtain knowledge and other basic need of life among the gender. Gender-based violence is perhaps one of the most terrifying illustrations of in-equality between male and female. In women, the most common effect of domestic violence is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event. Common symptoms associated with PTSD are flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Dissociation and depression is another symptom exhibited by survivors of domestic violence. Coping with the effects of domestic violence can be overwhelming, often because the survivor’s control over the situation has been taken away by the perpetrators. When this happens, a survivor may have the need to self-medicate or use drugs or alcohol to him or her to cope with the overwhelming feelings. Effects of this include prolonged sadness, feeling of hopelessness, unexplained crying, and changes in appetite with significant weight loss of interest and pleasure in activities previously enjoyed etc.

There exist immeasurable number of governmental and non-governmental organizations, public awareness about domestic violence in Nigeria and the world at large is on the up and up the statistics are daunting. Protection against violence now exists on paper, in many if not most countries of the world. Yet, violence remains pervasive and enforcement weak. In many countries, legislation against domestic violence is relatively like the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015 in Nigeria which is still only applicable in the Federal Capital Territory though some states have on their own, taken up the mantle to enact laws on domestic violence and abuse.

In conclusion, this is a wake up call. Laws on Protection against violence should be enforced so that anyone who commits such offence will be brought to the book. With that, the rate of domestic violence can be curtailed. In addition, it is better to be alive to tell the story than a situation whereby the person could not make it. The best option is to walk away when a partner is often brutally violated, than to still be in that marriage or relationship which can lead to one’s untimely death.