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Life Lesson

Inner Conversation



Many times I have heard this statement from females in Cameroon, “If your husband or boy friend does not hit you, it means they do not love you.” Domestic violence is a very serious issue in Africa. Most times when domestic violence is mentioned, we often think of gender based violence towards women. A lot of males in Africa are victims to domestic violence too; some can't voice it out because it hurts their ego. The significant amount of deaths and even suicides recorded yearly are linked to domestic violence. A new report by the IRC in 2012 says women are suffering domestic violence at “alarming levels and with shocking frequency” in post-conflict countries in West Africa. In fact, South Africa has one of the highest incidences of domestic violence in the world.
In West Africa, domestic abuse is rarely reported. It is usually perceived as normal and part of marriage. Because of religion, culture and economic situation most victims to spousal abuse endure in silence. What usually starts off as occasional hits overtime accelerates to frequent punches. Several reasons have been attributed to the tolerance of spousal abuse. These reasons include:
-Dependency; when one spouse is totally dependent on the other, the chances of spousal abuse increase. Dependence could be financial, physical or emotional. The victim might not have work skills or a means to stand alone.
-Pride or Fear of shame: Most times persons stay in abusive marriages in order to protect and keep a certain image. In Africa where marriage is highly sacred, divorce in highly frowned upon. Usually a divorced woman is perceived as morally decadent. Also religious views do not encourage divorce, so victims of spousal abuse endure to maintain a religious image. Some persons do not want to feel guilty over the failed relationship.
-Some persons stay because they belief they are the only ones who can save their abuser. Some people are too attached to their abusers. There is also fear that the abuser will harm them or their children.
-For sake of children. In Africa especially, most people endure abuse for the sake of the children.
-The poor response from the authority usually discourages victims from stepping out and reporting abuse.

-If your partner purposely humiliates, yells at you and puts you down, you are a victim of abuse.
-If your partner treats you as property, sex object or toy; then you are being abused
-If you are afraid of your partner most of the time, then you should ask questions.
-If your partner physically hurts you, threatens to kill you or threatens to commit suicide if you leave, those are signs of abuse.
-If your partner is acting jealous and very possessive and starts alienating you from your friends and family, then you are being abused.
-If your properties are destroyed by your partner and you are forced to have sex; that is abuse.
Do not make excuses for you abuser or accept excuses made by your abuser. Abusers are very manipulative, dominating and intimidating. They will threaten you and try as much to isolate you from persons who have your interest at heart. They deny and blame their abuse on you and others. Condoning abuse is highly risky for not just the victims but the kids involved as well. Domestic abuse creates a cycle of abuse which is hard to break. Statistics have shown that kids raised in abusive homes usually turn out as abusive themselves. Sometimes the victims of the abuse take out their frustration on the kids.

If you realize you are a victim of abuse, these are steps you can take;
-Speak out to those willing to listen and help.
-Get yourself and your kids away from the abuser.
-Seek counseling
-Equip yourself with education and skills which will enable you stand conveniently on your own.
-Encourage your partner to seek help. If they don’t do so, it is better to keep away.
-If you know someone who is being abused, do not sit by and watch. If you can secretly talk with them and offer help tips, do.
Love is not supposed to hurt. If the love you are receiving is coming with a fist, then start asking questions. Don’t try to save face and lose your life. Save yourself, save your kids. You are not alone.

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