Keywords: Abuse, intimate partner violence, relationship, Nigeria.
Abuse in Love Affairs in Nigeria. In what condition can abuse occur in a love affair? Causes of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). What are the types of Intimate Partner Violence? Why won’t women leave their abusive partners? What are the consequences of IPV? Can IPV be prevented? Which way forward from an abusive relationship?
People in an intimate relationship are supposed to be affectionate to each other. They are also supposed to be compassionate, have respect and consideration towards one another. But somewhere along the line, things fall apart and abuse takes over and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is born. Intimate Partner Violence are forms of abuse in love affairs in Nigeria.
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes IPV as the most common forms of violence against women. And it goes on to say that even though women can be violent against men, it is often in self-defense. Intimate Partner Violence is a behavior in an intimate relationship that causes harm.
Causes of IPV.
The causes and risk factors to IPV come from general issues like cultural and religious factors, etc. And there are also individual factors that can cause abuse in love affairs in Nigeria.
Stages of abuse in love affairs in Nigeria.
Before an abuse takes place, it goes through 4 stages. The first stage is the period of tension. During this period, the abuser gets angry and there is a breakdown of communication between the abuser and his partner. Also the victim feels very uneasy.
In the second stage called the period of acting out, any of the abuse types will take place. This will include physical abuse, psychological abuse, etc.
This is followed by the honeymoon period where the perpetrator of the abuse apologizes to the victim, his partner. And he makes promise like buying a car for the victim or take her out to have fun, etc. Even though he is apologizing, he will still blame the victim for causing the abuse.
Then there is the calm period. At this stage the abuse ends and the abuser behaves as if nothing had happened. At his point, he will fulfill the promises he made to his victim. So the car may arrive, or he takes her out, etc. This will make the victim believe that the abuse will never happen to her again and that the abuser will change.
These stages make it difficult for the victim to leave the abusive situation by leaving the abuser. Unfortunately these abusive stages come as a vicious cycle, which occurs again and again.
Type of intimate partner violence.
The physical violence.
Here, the victim is slapped, beaten with objects such as belt, or household objects, etc. The victim can also be punched or pushed and made to hit the head or any other part of the body against the wall, etc.
The perpetrator does not care about the needs of the wife or the children. These include medical needs.
Psychological or emotional violence.
The abuser calls is victim names and reigns abuses on her. He may call her good for nothing, or tell her that she is useless. Some even call their wives witches etc. He often threatens her that she will be sent back to her parents or that he will physically abuse her. He could be reminding her of her parents’ poverty and how he is doing her a favor by marrying her. All in a bid to put fear into her.
The victim is under perpetual watch of the abuser, who monitors all her movements. She can never leave his house without permission, or perform any action without his knowledge. She can even be stalked. He will do all in his power to cut her off from all members of her family and friends. This is to ensure that she gets no social support when she needs it.
The woman is seen as a sex object meant for the man’s satisfaction. So her consent for intercourse is never sort and her participation is forced. Sometimes, abusive men will force their wives to have sexual intercourse with their friends or with strangers for monetary gain.
Financial or economic abuse.
The husband may deprive the wife opportunity to work for financial gain, insisting she be a house wife. Some men deny their wives house hold money. They refuse to give their wives money for the upkeep of the family. And if the wife is working for an income, he will ensure that she spends all her money and have no savings. This is to ensure that she consistently depends on him. Some men insist that the wife submits all her income to him. And if for any reason she needs to collect money from him, he makes sure that she practically begs for it.
Why most women will not leave abusive relationships.
Cultural and religious issues:
Whether a woman leaves or stays in an abusive relationship all depends on her personal understanding of marriage. And this understanding depends on the information she has been given over the years on the role of the women. So she will not leave if she believes that the man is her lord and master, to do with her as he wishes. Thus she sees the abuse as a justifiable discipline for her misdeeds.
She will also feel this way if she is neck deep in her religion, especially if she is the fanatical type. Seeing herself as a role model in church will also stall her leaving. These are all due to the doctrine received from their Christian denominations.
Besides, many of these women are told that if the pray, that their abusive husbands will change their behaviours. There was a slang some years ago called ‘war room.’ Women were told to go into a room and pray for their abusive husbands.
In Nigeria, women are believed to be the architect of all broken marriages. People believe that it is her duty to ensure that her marriage stays intact no matter the condition she faces. And the conditions include facing abuse in love affairs in Nigeria. So when she leaves her marriage for any reason, she is tagged to a sex worker. Thus she is avoided like a plague and so are her children.
Even her parents and relative will stigmatize her and believe that she has brought shame to the family. Some parents will on their own take their daughters back to the abusive husbands.
Fear of losing custody of children:
The traditional family practice in Nigeria is patrilineal inheritance. This means that inheritance goes to the males. This means also that all the children belong to the husband. So even if the woman leaves the marriage, the man will take the children no matter their ages.
Fear of continuation of the abuse after separation:
Some women are afraid that their partners may continue to abuse them even after they have left the relationship. And truly, many abusers do continue the abuse after the separation, in many ways such as physical abuse, deprivation, etc.
Some of these women lack the economic means to care for themselves and their children. So they will remain in the abuse. This is the brain wash their husbands put into them having psychologically abused them and depriving them of financial powers. Many women will not want to see their children suffer any form of wants, needs or death.
Some women still leave no matter the odds.
Actually it may seem that many women do not want to leave an abusive marriage. They do want to leave, but when they consider the odds as above they stay put. Those who finally do leave on their own, do so after multiple attempts. Some leave when they discover that their husbands will never change. They will leave when the abuse becomes more serious than usual, or once their children become affected also.
What are the consequences of intimate partner violence?
The consequences of IPV are so vast that they cannot all be contained in this write up. But it is important that we know that the consequences affect the victim, the abuser and the entire family, nuclear and extended. It also affects the society at large. The consequences of abuse do not end when the abuse ends, most are lifelong.
These consequences include physical injuries that go from skin bruises to organ damage, like damage to liver, spleen, etc. There can be also broken bones or to head injuries. New disease entities can arise, like sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, hypertension, heart conditions, diabetes, etc. And old diseases can become worse such as asthma, etc. Of course death can ensue from any of these.
The reproductive health is also negatively affected. The unborn child can be injured, have low weight, be born prematurely or die in the womb.
Then there are psychological consequences such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia and stress other related issues. Abuse is a risk factor for the victim to also develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ( PTSD) and even acute stress disorder. The victim can begin to abuse substances as a coping method.
The social consequences include promiscuity, where the victim maybe seeking for love to cope with the situation. There could be homicide which will include murder. Suicide can also occur. The victim can also become an abuser to other people, especially at the work place. Abuse also reduces the quality of life.
Effects on children:
The children are definitely not left out. In any family where the woman is being abused, the children are also abused. It could be physical abuse, neglect or psychological abuse or neglect.
Prevention of IPV.
To prevent IPV, involves a spectrum of actions. This includes educating the masses on what IPV is and its dangers. So there is need for the media and advocacy. Those who have survived from IPV need to come out and speak out on their experiences and their survival tactics. There is also need for those being currently abused to also speak out, because secrecy fuels the abuse.
The masses should be educated about the evils of abuse and made to reform their traditional and religious doctrines. They should be taught behavioural changes that will promote women empowerment in all spheres including economic empowerment. Women should learn social skills that can help them survive within and outside the relationship. And parents should be taught proper parenting skills so as to avoid child abuse in any form.
Laws in the country criminalizing abuses should be made and strengthened. There should also be the strengthening of rights of women the owing of properties, inheritance and child custody.
The way forward after an abusive relationship.
The best thing to do in an abusive relationship is to leave the relationship. No one gains or becomes a hero from being killed in such a relationship. But know that it will not be easy for the woman to leave. The abuser will always want to continue the abusive hold.
Leaving an abuser requires good planning, because if it fails, the abuse may become fatal. So never tell the abuser about the plan to leave. Quietly take out the very important documents and keep them at a safe place away from the house. Next also take out some of your clothes and those of your children. Make sure that when leaving, the abuser is not in the house, and take your children with you.
Go to an undisclosed location and cut off all communications with him. Go to social welfare and place and make a report. Going to the police is also important, but in this country, the police see such matters as domestic affairs. And of course remember that the police are the products of the community that they come from. Also make sure that you have skills for economic empowerment.
If there is any reason to meet with him, never go to see him alone. Remember that the violence at this point could be fatal. No matter the amount of apologies and promises, remember the honeymoon and calm stages of abuse described earlier in the write up. So insist that he gets psychiatric and psychological treatment. Also ensure that the entire family gets psychiatric and psychological help. Without these, it is not safe to return to the relationship.
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