This topic is not one I was thinking of writing about anytime soon, but listening in to a group of young women having a conversation around it, I decided to see if I can make sense out of what they were discussing.
They were talking generally about domestic abuse, and one asked if the other two had hit a man before as she had never done it and would consider any woman doing that as one with a death wish. One of them replied she had actually slapped a guy she was dating back in school and when she was asked the reaction of the guy, she said the guy was shocked and he simply walked away probably because he knew the gravity of what he did and he knew he deserved even more than the slap he had just received. Well…!
Truth is domestic violence or abuse against men is not what anyone wants to really discuss though it has been around for centuries but has been a largely hidden issue. It is a common knowledge that it isn’t just women who are victims of domestic abuse, there are abused men too and they live in our society. Domestic abuse against men takes many of same forms as it does against women; physical violence, intimidation, threats, sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal, property damage and social isolation are some forms of abuse men go through as well. And like some of their female counterparts, abused men often face many barriers to disclosing their abuse.
In Nigeria, we have many support groups and services for abused women but I have not seen any of such for the men who are being abused, mainly because there is a perpetual bias against these men and little understanding of the issues the face. I have heard about women who poured acid on their men because they cheated, some cut off their man’s penis, and not too long ago, a picture of a burning Range Rover car surfaced on the social media, the story behind it was that the owner (a man) cheated/broke up with his babe and the babe set his car on fire. Last month, Freeze of Cool FM posted pictures of injuries he sustained from violent abuse from his ex-wife, but was there outrage? No, rather people were abusing him especially on blogs’ comment section. Some asked him to grow up; some called him a drama queen, some called him an outright liar, while some simply call him a weak man – most of these comments were from women.
Whenever I date, I always try to look out for your level of aggression; I have always believed an overly aggressive person will someday become an abusive person. Of course you don’t have to believe in what I believe in, but when you are too aggressive even to other people, we can’t even go far. I remember one ex of mine I dated when I was 20. I just rented my first apartment – a very small room somewhere in Agege and was feeling like a big boy. One day we had an argument over some neighbor (a girl) she claimed I was talking to and she wasn’t comfortable with; the argument became serious, then she became wild, turning the apartment upside down, tore my calendar into shreds, yanked my clothes off the hangar, tore the nylon containing foodstuff, threw the kerosene stove outside and was still looking for other things to destroy but there was none, because I didn’t have any electronic gadget- not even a transistor radio. I allowed her to cool off and after about two weeks, I broke up with her. I am not a crazy person and I would rather let crazy people date one another.
A lot of men who are abused cannot come out the way Freeze did because they are afraid they are likely to be told that there must be something they did to provoke the perpetrator’s abuse. They suffer shame, embarrassment and the social stigma of not being able to protect themselves especially from their friends and fellow men. And in cases of married partner violence, they can fear that if they disclose the abuse or end the relationship, their partner might become more abusive and/or take the children especially if the partner is more financially stable than they are. Support services are less likely to ask whether a man is a victim of family violence, and when they do ask and he confirms, they are less likely to believe him. In everyone’s mind, a man must be the perpetrator and never the victim. And because of these barriers, men are much less likely to report being a victim of violence in a marriage than women. We have seen advocates of abused women argue that proponents of female perpetrated violence and abuse especially in marriage are part of an anti-feminists backlash, and are attempting to undermine the problem of male perpetrated abuse and violence by championing the cause of the battered man over the “much more serious” cause of the battered woman. They believe if we talk about female perpetrated abuse in marriage, the notion that domestic abuse is an extension of patriarchal dominance would no longer be valid.
But does it mean that we men don’t do things that would make a woman feel like pounding our face with a pestle once in a while? No. But if we think domestic violence and abuse against women is bad, no matter the level of provocation from the woman, we should say the same for men too. Women shouldn’t go around slapping men, burning their cars, destroying their properties and throwing acid on them just because they felt whatever they did is bad and deserving of such “punishment” we are all human beings and should be treated like one. For me, DOMESTIC ABUSE AND VIOLENCE is a NO, and there can never be anyone deserving of it at any time, be it a woman or a man.
#WeStandAgainstDomesticAndFamilyAbuse #TogetherWeCan #ShatterTheSilenceNow #TheLOtusVoices