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It is also called abuse!

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Once a hidden crime, the issue of domestic violence has become increasingly put into limelight. Despite the media attention, activities of focus groups and government’s efforts, domestic violence rate is constantly rising and many victims still find it difficult to speak out about their abusive situations. According to the government data, less than half of all incidents of domestic violence are reported to the police, but they still receive one domestic violence call every minute in the UK.

In Africa, where there is a dearth of statistical data regarding sensitive issues such as this, there is a high rate of domestic violence and the abusers often get away with this inhumane act. Infact, the shame behind being abused by a partner is so much that several victims just hide it and attribute any visible scar to a home accident of some sort.

However, the focus of this article is not only on the physical form of domestic violence- although, physical abuse is the most visible form of abuse but abuse is not always physical. There are several other forms of domestic violence:

Verbal abuse is a bigger problem that we often think. When people talk about domestic violence, we tend to picture a battered woman (or man in some rare cases) who have been physically assaulted. However, many suffer from emotional abuse, which is no less destructive. This form of abuse is often minimized or overlooked- even by the victim. The aim of emotional abuse is to chip away at their victim’s feelings of self-worth and independence by using- yelling, name calling, blaming, isolation and all forms of verbal lash out. Words hurt much more than sticks some times. For example, telling the partner over and over again “no one else would have you” or repeatedly calling the partner “stupid” or “worthless”

Emotional/Psychological Abuse: Emotional abuse is any use of no words, no voice and no action; meant to hurt or demean another person. This type of abuse is more difficult to define and identify than physical or verbal abuse. The abuser makes sure to act as normal when a third party is around and immediately switches back to the silent mode as soon as the coast is clear. Emotional abuse of this sort if repeated, often leads to depression and self-destruction. Survey shows that 25% of suicides are as a result of victim suffering tortures of emotional abuse from family and friends.

In this part of the world where I hail from, husbands often assume that a matured way of ‘punishing’ a woman for a wrong doing is by the silent treatment, and this often goes on for awhile. Bear in mind that I am not referring to the ‘silence is golden’ type of silence, I am on about the one we call ‘marital malice’

Economic or financial abuse: This is a subtle form of emotional abuse. The ultimate aim of an abuser is to control their victim and money is always a powerful tool to use. The most common instances include—not declaring one’s actual salary; hiding capital projects from spouse; withholding money or credit cards; making your spouse account for every penny they spend; withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter); restricting the spouse to an unrealistically meagre allowance, regardless of inflation or increase in the cost of living; preventing spouse from working or choosing their own career; sabotaging a spouse’s job (deliberately making them miss work, calling constantly). The list is not exhaustive.

Sexual abuse: Any situation in which anyone is forced to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity is sexual abuse. Forced sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner is an act of aggression and violence. Statistics have shown that, people whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed. Other common examples of sexual abuse includes–demeaning remarks about the partner’s body or appearance; minimization of the partner’s sexual needs; berating a partner’s sexual history; refusing to comply with the partner’s request for safe sex; exposing the partner to sexually transmitted diseases; withholding sex as a punishment.

So dear abuser, whichever chromosome group you may belong- albeit XX or XY, learn not to be judgmental when you hear about physical abuse, you just might be guilty of some other sort of less publicized form of victimization yourself.

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