In the UK, as soon as a victim reports a case of domestic violence, the first thing they do is take the victim and all dependants to a safe place. From lodging in hotels to shelter homes, and then to council flats or rented apartment….depending on the financial capacity of the victim.
While at this, the society do not give you the impression that you have failed. They won’t blame you for your plight. They won’t tell you that you were rude to your abuser, they won’t make excuses for your abuser, you will not be stigmatized if you decide to get divorced from your marriage with your abuser.
The police will not tell you that it’s a family issue. They will not ask you what you did to your abuser that made him or her abuse you. They would usually take your abuser away immediately while they keep you safe.
They will also give you the option of whether or not you want to press charges, and this only happens if there’s no enough evidence. If there is, the state will press charges, with or without your consent.
In the US and Canada, similar procedures are taken in cases of domestic violence like in the UK. Except that since there are fewer shelter homes and council houses; the abuser will be asked to leave the house for the abused (in most cases), and a restraining order issued immediately.
*** Now let’s come back home to NIGERIA***
If for instance a woman reports to the police that she is being abused by her husband, they will tell her that it’s a family issue. They will ask her what she did to her husband that made him beat her. They will ask her if she is doing everything right, they will make excuses for the abuser.
If she goes to church, the Pastor will ask her to go and pray, the pastor’s wife and elders will ask her to be submissive, the church will not fail to blame her for not being a perfect wife, hence turning the husband into a monster.
If she comes to Facebook, they will ask her to watch war room, and the rest will request for the other side of the story. Because in Nigeria where I come from, by default, the victim gets blamed and the abuser enjoys the benefits of doubt. And we spend more time and energy telling the victim not to overreact than we do telling the abuser not to abuse.
If she goes back to her parents or family, they will offer to help her go and beg her husband, they will tell her not to bring shame to the family by seeking divorce, they will tell her to do it for the sake of the children.
If she goes to the husband’s family, they will tell her that they paid her bride price.
If she leaves the abusive husband, the society will mock her for being a divorcee. She will be called a failure for not being able to remain married to her abuser.
And if she goes back to stay put in abuse and she gets killed or marred for life, same society will ask her why she didn’t leave before it got to that level…. why she had to die in her marriage, and why she couldn’t use her brains.
You see, in the Nigerian society, female victims of domestic violence never win. Whatever they say or do will always be used against them. They are always wrong, it’s always their fault, there’s always something to blame in the victims. The victim is inherently guilty as charged.
The psychology of the Nigerian woman is nurtured to believe that the ability to remain married, even to the most deadly monster is all there is to life. If for any reason you don’t get married or remain married, then you are a colossal failure.
This is a mental slavery that many still live in. Not very many have been able to emancipate from such mental slavery.
The ability to emancipate from this mental slavery is not in the level of education nor exposure, it’s an inner decision that people get to make at different stages of their lives.
My cousin who has just WAEC to her name, jobless and was fully dependent on ex husband walked away with her 3-month old baby girl, and went back to her VERY POOR parents.
On the other hand, I still know medical doctors, Lawyers, PhD holders and other high earning professionals who are still living and putting up with abusive partners.
With my cousin’s poverty, and at the age of 25 (she got married at 23 and got divorced at 25, now 28), she had emancipated from the mental slavery, even before other women who are by far more educated, exposed, richer, and enlightened than she is.
Not until we stop blaming victims, not until we stop shaming single mothers and single fathers, not until we stop preaching the gospel that the ability to be and remain married is the sole reason for the existence of women; more women will keep dying in domestic violence. Because this sermon is what builds up over the years, and gets passed on from generation to generation as our mentality… a “sacred culture”, and this is the foundation of the mental slavery most women who continuously put up with domestic violence live in.
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