Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects, beating up, etc.), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic abuse.
The dictionary describes domestic violence as violence committed in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation. In this article, we’ll be looking at domestic violence in marriage. There are different types of abuse that could arise leading to domestic violence in marriage.
Types of Abuse:
- Physical Abuse.
- Sexual Abuse.
- Emotional Abuse & Intimidation.
- Verbal Abuse: Coercion, Threats, & Blame.
- Using Male Privilege.
- Economic Abuse.
One major or popular cause of family violence includes deeply held beliefs about masculinity. Perpetrators tend to blame other people, alcohol or circumstances for their violent outbursts. Perpetrators often minimize, blame others, justify or deny their use of violence or the impact of their violence.
Below is an illustration to describe domestic violence via a real-life narrative. Angela (names have been changed) in her early thirties narrates a story of her experience, which demonstrates the different types of abuse I have listed above.
“My husband became a complete stranger when I became pregnant for our first child. His attitude towards me became very condescending. He became distant, uncaring and insensitive to my condition. He refused to register me for antenatal care as he claimed it was too expensive suggested I should give birth at home as women far younger than me did. Out of desperation, I resorted to taking herbs which I gathered from friends as my parents were very far off from me. The herbs as prepared by a local midwife sustained me until I got to my ninth month, when I resolved to return home as my husband’s absence and neglect had gotten to me at this point.
My mother knew nothing of my situation and received me without complaints. She nurtured and cared for me the best way she could and even got me to a hospital. Unfortunately, I was rejected at the hospital for being late but then after some persuasion from my mum and other patients, I was allowed to register at a very high price. To cut the long story short, the baby didn’t survive. I was under too much pressure which affected the baby and it couldn’t survive it. My husband did not only fail to visit me but also hesitated with the excuse that he had no money. I was so ashamed especially when people started asking questions. All I could do was cover up for him to avoid raising suspicion.”
This story demonstrates a different phase of domestic violence. It doesn’t say that there’s any form of hitting, beating or physical violence. The woman in the story suffered emotional or psychological violence. Her husband caused her emotional abuse using control, intimidation, isolation, and possibly verbal abuse considering that he was always drunk and keeps late nights.
Domestic violence does not have to be physical abuse only because some men feel that because they do not hit women, every other form of abuse doesn’t count. In fact the worst form of abuse is the one that affects one’s psych (the mind). It’s more dangerous and can lead to depression and eventually suicide if not properly managed.
The effects that the domestic violence had in the health of the fetus in the story was that the baby had a delay in prenatal care, and the risk for low birth weight had gone up.
There are recommendable solutions to any form of domestic violence. Reporting to the authorities is one way but the reporting could be risky (depending on the kind of domestic violence in question). It could even distort a victim who already had safety plans established. This could cause the victim to make drastic decisions that could increase the possibility of danger. But one positive thing about mandatory reporting laws is that they can increase the detection and documentation of the abuse done to the victim. It can also help the investigation of the perpetrator. It can improve the data evidence on domestic violence as well. Also, knowing about the domestic abuse a patient is going through can help his/her doctor find better ways to assist the patient. Mandatory reporting can hold the perpetrator responsible for the injuries of the victim. Another effective way is to refer the victims to help within the community; a church or a community leader, an elder or even a friend. These people should be sworn to secrecy; they should be able to keep their victim’s information private monitoring and carrying out private investigations until justice has been served.
The whole idea of creating domestic violence awareness is to reduce the risks in the nearest future while also correcting the ills already existing. It is also intended to give hope to those affected; it is intended to help victims find solutions and most importantly to avoid future occurrences.
(Story from a radio program, Anambra state 2018)