Opinion

Racing out of abusive relationships with Usain Bolt’s speed – Leticia Osei writes

A brave Sofo Maame from a popular church in the Ashanti Region recently took a bold step and escaped her abusive marriage to a pastor husband. This shocking revelation highlights the prevalence of domestic violence, even in unexpected circles. Pastor husband—yes, you heard right!

I commend her courage in recognizing the need to prioritize her safety and well-being. I doffed my hat to her when a bird whispered the incident to my ears. We need more women who will say enough is enough and will not wait to die or lose an eye or arm before they live.

Tragically, not all victims of domestic violence are fortunate. The recent death of 42-year-old Nigerian gospel singer, Osinachi Nwachukwu, allegedly due to domestic violence, is a stark reminder of the devastating consequences of this silent epidemic. Her family’s account of her tragic fate serves as a poignant warning.

Domestic violence remains a pervasive issue, with many victims suffering in silence, afraid to speak out or seek help. The stigma and fear of judgment often prevent them from opening up to loved ones or reporting the abuse to authorities. As a result, many bear the physical and emotional scars of their ordeal, sometimes until it’s too late.

Sadly, people are dying each day due to domestic violence, and society seems to be quiet about it. People have bruises that they will carry to their graves.

The disturbing trend of domestic violence continues to make headlines, with gruesome stories of individuals being brutally battered and slaughtered by their partners. The alleged reasons for these heinous crimes range from suspicions of infidelity to unforgivable transgressions, with the perpetrators claiming to be teaching their victims a lesson through violence.

According to the 2022 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) Report, released in November 2023, an alarming 41.6% of women aged 15-49 who have had an intimate partner have experienced some form of intimate partner violence (IPV), including emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. This stark statistic highlights the prevalence of domestic violence in Ghana and the urgent need for collective action to address this growing concern.

The statistics are indeed alarming, with children being sexually molested every day. Many of us have likely advised someone to leave an abusive relationship, only to see them return to their partner.

It’s challenging to counsel someone who is deeply in love, but the harsh reality is that some individuals struggle with low self-esteem. They may feel trapped in toxic relationships, believing they are unworthy of love and acceptance from others. Abusers often exert total control over their victims, manipulating their thoughts and emotions to the point where it’s difficult for others to intervene or offer a different perspective. This control can make it nearly impossible for victims to engage in meaningful conversations or consider alternative viewpoints.

Domestic violence affects individuals from all walks of life, regardless of socio-economic status. While it’s often associated with wealth and power, the truth is that both the rich and the poor can be perpetrators. Women and children are disproportionately affected, with men also being victims, albeit to a lesser extent. What’s alarming is that many women, especially those with children, feel trapped in abusive relationships, fearing the consequences of leaving. Some even lose their lives or their sense of self in the process.

It’s a stark reality that raises questions about how a loving relationship can turn sour and escalate into violence. How does a partnership built on love and trust deteriorate into abuse and even murder?

Once a loving partnership can quickly turn into a toxic nightmare, leaving victims wondering how they missed the warning signs. Like burnt food, some relationships are beyond repair, leaving scars that can last a lifetime. While some relationships may be abusive from the start, others may begin innocently enough, only to deteriorate over time. It’s easy to judge those who stay in these relationships, with some even suggesting harsh punishments for those who don’t leave. But the reality is far more complex.

The truth is, anyone can find themselves in an abusive relationship, regardless of their background or intelligence. And the perpetrators? They come from all walks of life, often hiding behind a mask of charm and charisma. Some people have argued that people who stay in abusive relationships need to be whipped with canes soaked in kerosene.

But hey! Is it that simple? You would be shocked to your marrow to know the kinds of people who perpetuate this abuse.

Influential individuals, including politicians, clergy, business executives, bourgeoisie, educated, illiterate, poor, very poor, haves and have-nots, can be perpetrators, just like anyone else. The victims, often silenced by fear and shame, suffer in secret, enduring verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

What’s even more disturbing is that children are also vulnerable to abuse, with some being molested by their stepparents or biological fathers, resulting in pregnancies and births. Christ Me! What an abomination! With all the women in the world, only your glass-hour figure children that you are attracted to? Arrbaah Oga, as a Nigerian man would say, and a typical Asante would also say “3di3n nkoaa”. Some of these issues have been swept under the carpet for a long time.

Reasons victims are scared to leave toxic relationships

There are various reasons why individuals remain in abusive relationships, and it’s essential to acknowledge the complexity of this issue.

Some victims may feel trapped due to:

Familiarity: Abusers can become accustomed to the dynamics of abuse, making it challenging for victims to break free, leaving them with perpetual unwarranted “marks” on their bodies.

Loyalty: Some victims may cover up for their abusive partners or defend them, often due to a deep-seated sense of commitment. Some even go to the extent of covering up the abuse or defending their incorrigible partners.

Fear: The threat of further harm or retaliation can keep victims silenced and stuck in the relationship.

Society: Society bears some responsibility for the suffering of women and children in abusive relationships. Fear of societal judgment, criticism, and stigma keeps many women trapped, as they believe speaking out will only lead to further abuse and rejection. Instead, they remain in toxic relationships, risking their well-being and even their lives. Society’s harsh treatment of vulnerable victims often forces them to stay in abusive relationships, fearing they will be labeled failures, shamed, or ostracized if they seek help.

Church: The church is to blame for abusive relationships. They will preach and quote all sorts of Bible verses and convince the victims not to leave their marriages. The pastors will try to highlight the various marriages or instances where they faced similar issues but were able to weather the storm, forgetting that not all cases are the same!

Children: Precious gifts of life! Mothers will do everything within their powers to ensure their children’s lives are secured, no matter the psychological trauma they face. They mostly use their kids as an excuse to stay in relationships that are silently killing them. They are beaten right in front of their kids, and in their voices, ‘because of my kids,’ they stay and die or leave when things get out of hand. If you die, will you have achieved your purpose for your kids? It’s a big No! Some kids even grow up and also abuse their partners because that is what they witnessed when growing up.

Financial Independence: Many individuals trapped in abusive relationships cite a lack of financial resources as a significant obstacle to leaving their partners. They often hope and pray for a miraculous change, but it’s essential to remember that empowerment begins with taking control of one’s own life. Heaven helps those who help themselves! Let this sink in, sister, aunt, mama!

Recommendations

Self-esteem: Love yourself. There’s peace in appreciating one’s body shape. Nobody is advising you to leave your marriage, but if it’s abusive, toxic, run! Run without turning back at all. It takes courage, and I pray you gather that when you smell any form of abuse. Don’t allow your partner to body shame and humiliate you when you still have your dignity intact. Be comfortable with your body shape; one man’s poison is another man’s meat. Remember that a responsible man somewhere is waiting anxiously to treat you as the queen that you are.

Family: The family should be more concerned about the safety and well-being of the abused and stop taking a stance that is detrimental to them. Show them love and good counseling. Don’t shy away from openly rebuking the abuser, no matter the size of his/her pockets.

Social Welfare: Social welfare has been doing a great job in this regard, but I think more needs to be done to curb domestic violence in Ghana because the figures are becoming increasingly alarming. Most women are living in fear.

Women Groups: Where are the women advocates, the feminists, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)? Hit the ground with serious advocacy. Let’s save lives from the claws of unrepentant abusers who derive happiness from using their hands or objects to hit their wives or girlfriends.

Stiffer punishment: I advocate for stiffer punishment for persons found culpable of abusing their partners or children. The laws must be enforced irrespective of the suspect.

To my fellow women, please race out of that toxic relationship with Usain Bolt’s speed. Let’s save more lives! Ghanaian and African women’s dignity matters. Let’s all come on board to save them from their sinking boats.

It’s crucial to recognize that victims of abuse are not weak or flawed; they are survivors of a complex and damaging situation. By understanding the reasons behind their staying, we can offer support and resources to help them break free from the cycle of abuse.

It’s crucial that we create a supportive environment where victims feel empowered to share their stories and seek help without fear of reprisal or judgment. Only then can we begin to break the cycle of domestic violence and ensure that no more lives are lost.

It is essential to recognize that domestic violence is a serious human rights violation, with devastating consequences for the victims, their families, and society as a whole. We must work together to create a culture of zero tolerance for domestic violence, support survivors, and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.

source: city newsroom

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