Relationships begin with the promise of a fairytale, happily ever after ending. There are hopes of ponies, chimes and glamour. These hopes are cut short and banished after a while especially in relationships where there is an abusive partner. Violence among intimate partners is a common fabric of many societies and cultures worldwide. It is now quite widespread, that it goes unnoticed. Such violence does not receive the concern it merits, despite its devastating effects on women, children and whole families. Yet, to end that relationship which is toxic evokes many sentiments and proves to be a hard task.
It is estimated that one-third of women in the world have experienced or will experience some forms of violence in their lives. Also, up to 60 per cent of women have experienced physical violence at least once in their lifetime. Domestic violence occurs in as many as one in every four United States families and approximately two to four million women are physically abused each year. In Nigeria, high incidences of domestic violence have also been recorded. 70 per cent of couples experienced abuse in their families with 92 per cent of the victims being females. A miserly 8 per cent of persons who reported that they had been victims of abuse were male. Although women, men, boys and girls can be victims of domestic violence; women and girls are disproportionately affected. This range of violence occurring between individuals in a loving relationship is called domestic or intimate partner violence.
What constitutes domestic violence
Violence among intimate partners involves any action, behaviour, or attitude against other people based on anger and frustration. Bodily injury or harm is not the only expressions of violence in intimate relationships. While fighting, beatings, destruction of lives and properties are widely recognized as forms of violence, other types persist in relationships. They include actions such as threats, denial of human rights, harassment, intimidation or forcing people against their will. For instance, sexually, psychologically and physically coercive acts used against women by intimate partners are recognised as domestic violence. Existence of any form of violence in a relationship is a strong indicator that it’s time to quit. Hence, here are six forms of domestic violence to watch out for:
• physical abuse
• sexual abuse
• economic abuse
• emotional abuse and
• spiritual abuse.
1. Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is the worst form of abuse because it attacks the essence of the human being. It involves threatening to harm a person, their possession or sense of self-worth. This puts him/her at risk of serious behavioural, cognitive, emotional or mental disorder. Emotional abuse manifests in name-calling, criticism, social isolation, intimidating or exploitation to dominate and routinely making unreasonable demand. It can also include terrorizing a person verbally or physically or exposing a child to violence. Shouting at a partner has been found to be the most common form of domestic violence. It is strange that many persons do not recognize this form of abuse when it is rampant and severely damaging.
If you are in a relationship with a person who abuses you emotionally, two options are available. Option 1 is to talk about it with your partner and together with a counsellor. If your partner does not improve, then you have to accept the second option. Option 2 is to walk away real fast and end the relationship. Abusive relationships will put a person down and prevent them from enjoying a fulfilling life.
2. Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is the most recognizable and reported form of domestic violence. It entails the use of physical force in a way that injures the victim or puts him/her at risk of being injured. It includes beating, kicking, knocking, punching, choking, confinement. Female genital mutilation is also regarded as a form of physical abuse. Physical abuse is one of the most common forms of abuse. Up to 70 per cent of women in Nigeria has reported some form of physical abuse. In case you were wondering where it ranks, it is the second most common form of violence against women. Where this has occurred more than once, immediate separation has to be the next step. People who remain in abusive relationships have high chances of been maimed or killed.
3. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is forcing a partner to take part in a sex act when the partner does not consent. This includes all forms of sexual assaults, harassment or exploitation. It also involves using a child for sexual purposes including child prostitution and pornography. Marital rape is a form of sexual abuse, but unfortunately; many women regard this as a normal part of marriage. But it isn’t. all persons have Sexual and Reproductive Rights which should be respected. Persons who have been sexually abused can seek redress using applicable laws.
Neglect includes failure to provide for dependents who may be adults or children. Acts that deny family members food, clothing, shelter and medical care are also considered as neglect. People who are considered dependents deserve protection from harm, to feel loved and valued. It is advisable not to take on dependents if adequate care cannot be provided. Neglect has been observed as one of the most common forms of abuse faced by the elderly especially, the women. It is a common practice for wealthy families to engage the services of poorer individuals. Helps employed under clandestine arrangements where there isn’t a contract are prone to neglect. This creates opportunities for neglect. Persons who are already enduring neglect must find a way out as quickly as possible.
Economic abuse includes stealing from or defrauding a loved one. It also entails things like withholding money for essential things like food and medical treatment. Other ways economic abuse manifests include:
• manipulating or exploiting family member for financial gain
• preventing a loved one from working
• controlling his/her choice of occupation.
Giving up one’s economic independence should not be seen as a sign of love or submission. It is evil because it robs individuals of their freedom and rights. Partners in an intimate relationship ought to encourage each other to be economically stable. That has to be the true sign of love.
Spiritual abuse can be understood in two lights. First, it entails preventing an intimate partner from engaging in his/her spiritual or religious practices. Second, involves using one’s religious belief to manipulate, dominate or control him/her. I think that this type of abuse is quite popular in Nigeria and many other African Countries. It is often disheartening to see religious leaders live in affluence while their followers are abjectly poor. True equality must begin in spiritual centres because a popular teaching says that all people are equal in God’s sight.
Relationships can be fulfilling experiences. Basics precepts of Human Rights suggest that all people are equal at every point in their relationship. Relationships should build all parties up and not put them down. If at any point, you find that your relationship has become a source of danger and unsatisfying life. Then it is time to quit. Your life coach would probably say that quitting is for losers. It is better to lose in your relationship and keep your dignity and all-around fulfilment. What do you think?
Michael is a Project Manager with years of experience in nonprofits and managing startups. He shares what he has learnt over time with like-minded persons. He gives classes to persons who plan a future in the nonprofits sector or as entrepreneurs.