Sunday, February 03, 2008

Domestic Violence

What do you do when you hear your next door neighbours fighting constantly? I have heard the fights between (I assume) the husband and wife for a very long time now. Typically the man is shouting angrily and the woman is returning his verbal assault with equal measure. Sometimes what you hear is sounds of beating and the woman screaming. Sometimes, it's the man thundering in pain and anger after (I assume again) the woman has flung a breakable object at him. A lot of times, you hear things been thrown about and a torrent of curse words. This is what is going on right now. This morning, it was the plaintive wails of a child being beaten.

The thing about violence within a family is that it is frequently endless. The father physically or verbally assaults the woman and in some cases she retaliates, in many cases she does not. Often, she feels that she is powerless. Always, the children are caught up in this spiral of violence as they suffer from a parent or parents who can only resolve disputes in anger. They also learn from their parents' relationship how to behave in their own social interactions.


cybelline1 said...

I am so glad you asked. There are many things you can do but there are dangers as well. The last time I called police on my neighbors based on the tumultuous crashing fight they were having with broken furniture, smashed windows etc., he was arrested then released. Then the two of them engaged on a campaign of harassment and intimidation against me which ended up with me having to move to another city. You have to expect that abusers are going to continue to be abusive. They are also going to coerce victims to act against their own interests in a multitude of ways including denying that abuse is happening at all. Standing up to abusers takes courage and fortitude but it absolutely saves lives. Failing to help could easily be equated with acceptance of the abuse. Failing to help may easily kill people. Some good strategies include using a tape recorder to record the event or better a video recorder. Keeping notes on a calendar about what you have witnessed over a period of time. Documentation of injuries, bruises and such. It helps with written documentation to have the record itself notarized. This proves in court, the date it was created on. Let the person you perceive as the victim, know that you support him or her. If there are children involved let local social services know what is going on, share with them your evidence. If there is a local domestic violence agency, let them know about the situation. Remember that there are only three ways that abuse in intimate relationships ends: One, the abuser goes to jail. In this way the victim gets a short time to decide what to do but they are safer for a small window of time. Two, the abuser dies. This is a long term solution but not necessarily the best one. The only other way that abuse in an intimate relationship ends is if the abuser stops being abusive. The victim has no control whatsoever over the level of chaos and violence. The victim cannot change their behavior enough to conform to what the abusers wants, the victim cannot change the situation. I have been working with violent perpetrators here in Wisconsin since 1984. I now administer and teach a batterer's education program. The advice I have given you here may indeed save your neighbor's life. However whenever we intervene we need to understand that the abuser may well turn their attention on us. Keep good records, make recordings and build a body of evidence. That is how you win in the legal system.

Here is a link to an important video message on this subject from YouTube.

Good luck - I am glad you asked.

Ore said...

Cybelline, thanks for the info below on what outsiders can do in the case of domestic violence. I am not sure how this translates to the Nigerian environment, as there tends to be a 'don't ask, don't tell' mindset.

I will look at the video you sent and also ask people who work in domestic violence here. Thanks for the info.

Frances Uku said...

well-intended but absolutely impossible to implement in today's Nigeria, in my opinion. unfortunately, this sort of thing stems from a larger social problem we have in attitudes towards women. see funmi iyanda's recent post Strongly Pro Human for more on this (depressing) issue.

education (and in many cases re-education) is the only solution i see.

Anonymous said...

pmAbeg all of una, no be the fight they make the marriage sweet, if fight no dey, how them wan make junior now. Some people like beat some people no like, if you no like make them beat you, you fit call your brother make he sound your man for you if he touch you with im dirty finger. Abeg yea, yea, yea , na slap you dey slap me cletus, wait make i get you, foolish man, soup money you no gree leave, na me you want come they daze this morning, yeye man, ogogoro dey smell for him mouth sef. Sister Ore, wait, I dey come , make i deal with this craze man first.

nneoma said...

i think in this situation, you should make your opinions known. this is one of the few situations that you are allowed to stick your nose into and know that it is for the better. grab a friend or neighbor and go together in order to shame the perpetrator of domestic violence. it's high time we let people know that domestic violence is not a personal affair between couples or between parents and children. violence against a particular population damages nations. it's not okay - be vehement about it - regardless of how they may perceive you. in regards to education - i am not sure how that will work. i have seen some of the most educated women tolerate abusive relationships - and for them it is even worse because it is even harder to admit.