A female victim who witnessed domestic violence during her childhood has this to say;
“I grew up in a home where blood and swollen body parts was a normal way of life. My mother was the quiet one. She rarely challenged my father.
She just endured all the beating and battering and could nearly have died in the process. Several times, I asked her why we couldn’t just leave my dad and start our lives elsewhere, but she replied that she was doing all the enduring because of me and my siblings. Well, it turns out that all the years of battering and life threatening episodes had the worst kind of effects on my mind.
For a long time after I had left my father’s house, I kept seeing vivid pictures of those violent moments; pictures of those nights my mum was chased into the bush to spend the night and I feared that snakes and dangerous reptiles would hurt her before morning. Pictures of sleepless nights spent in fear because the last thing my siblings and I saw before being chased to our rooms, was a sharp knife being pointed at mum. Or was it the fear of being constantly threatened with knives and cutlasses anytime my father had issues with controlling his temper?
Those were enough to make me hate the man and I did hate him for making my childhood like hell on earth but at the same time, I loved him for the good qualities he had and I even wished to have a man like him. But in my choice of men, I found myself wishing for a man who could control my excesses or even override my will forcefully.
But as fate would have it, I eventually got married to a quiet and noble personality. Instead of appreciating that quality, I turned around to be the bully who loved to destroy things and nagged my man till he felt like killing me. It took me time to realize I had a big problem. But eventually I have realized my faults and I’m seriously doing all I can to be a better person because I don’t want my kids to end up like me.”
A child is born; brilliant, good looking and adorable. Everyone expects him/ her to grow up living the best life, getting the best spouse and generally becoming better than their parents. At least that is what Africans pray for. But environmental/parental influence sets in. At the middle of the night, right from an infant age, the child is awoken by ‘cries’ from a battered parent.
As the child grows older, anger begins to build up. The child is bitter, very bitter. Guilt sometimes sets in when they find themselves loving the offending parent. They are torn between both parents and for the very unlucky ones, the battery hammer lands o them as they grow older. Their childhood is filled with memories of bleeding body parts, swollen heads, black eyes and so on.
Well, they survive but with warped minds. They have been taught nothing other than domestic violence. They vow never to be like the offending parent but they soon realize how deep the psychological effect of their past is eating into their present and future happiness.
The first disappointment comes when they find themselves hitting their partner, long before they even wish to get married. Or those with a little more self-control exercise a high level of decorum until they get married and the changes embedded in marital relationships begin to show up.
They hate themselves for thinking wicked thoughts and for hurting their spouses and even their precious children. They are the abusers, the villains, the ones society speak against. And no one, just nobody wants to hear their story. No one is willing to help them heal. Everyone wishes them dead!
And so, they wallow deeper and deeper in their hideous shell; rejected and neglected by family and society. The result is that they begin to wreck more havoc or even commit murder! Those that end up with them as partners or lovers even make it worse by showing their love in the worst kind of way.
Covering up for an abuser for whatever reason is as good as hating the abuser. If things deteriorate to the point of extreme brutality or even murder, you have just sentenced the one you claim to love to jail or to death!
Also, when children are involved, it is wisdom to take them away from the abuser in order to break the vicious circle of the abuser’s past. Take bold steps; take right steps. Don’t die in silence! Get help; financial help, material help, protective custody…whatever it takes, just do it! Help the abuser to stop the abuse.
Silence is a boost to continuous battering and physical abuse. When life is been threatened, find a way to separate homes. Issues like this could be very complicated, but they can always be sorted out. Don’t allow social status, religious belief or even the fear of raising your kids in a broken relationship make you take the wrong steps. Help the abuser, help the children, and help yourself by speaking out and getting help.
And for those being battered in pre-marital relationships; it is foolishness to notice any form of brutality in your partner and still dive into marriage with such a person without helping the person overcome their issues first. It is better to walk away from the relationship than to end up with a messed up life or even dead!
At the very beginning stage of the abuser’s abusive actions, such a person should be advised to go for counselling and rehabilitation. With willingness and love, and abuser’s warped mind can be helped to adjust to a normal life. If at some point in the process, the abuser starts getting very offensive to a point of disfiguring their spouse or kids, or if sexual abuse on the kids and siblings becomes an inclusive issue, then maintaining separate homes (with the help of the law) is an option.
If it gets to a point of criminal brutality, going to jail is better than continuous crime and threat to lives and property. The help of the law is necessary in the sense that, some abusers get so brutal as to visit their spouse in their new house to vent their anger as regards the reason for separation. Most times, they end up causing more harm than they did before the separation. Or, alternatively, hiding under the shelter of a trusted family member could also be an option.
The abuser is a person. Help him or her stop the negative habit by speaking out to the right sources. Love the abuser by getting help… “Oftentimes, we don’t like the negative habits our parents had. But we end up just like them before we know it”.
A male victim of an abusive past has this to say, “I grew up living under an angry mother. She fought with my quiet father at every little provocation and even inflicted injuries on him. She also destroyed household property in the heat of anger and always threw metal and wooden objects at my siblings and me whenever she wanted to correct us.
I grew up hating her especially because she was never there to take care of us till we grew up and became men. But instead of taking after my loving father as a role model, I took after my mother instead. I became an angry soul. I fought my wife from the first week of our marriage; I beat her up mercilessly till we became the talk of our neighbourhood.
And when we started having children, I did disgraceful things to them all in the name of anger. This continued until they grew up and eventually got married or became independent. I was left alone with my wife once again and my children were always calling us regularly, afraid that I would kill their mother if they didn’t monitor me.
And after several years of beating and battering my family, I suddenly realize how much I had taken after my mum and I began to regret my actions and to the retrace my steps. I’m still a work in progress but I’m better than what I used to be. Domestic violence is a terrible vice; its effects go way beyond what we really imagine. I just hope my children never take after me.”
The effects of domestic violence on children can also come up in a twist. The child who has witnessed one parent being continuously abused might end up accepting abuse as a normal way of life. During their school years, they might appear too weak to fight against bullies. They might even silently endure sexual abuse from those they feel have some control over them. Or you find some ladies even enduring being beaten and battered by their boyfriends because they feel powerless or their minds have been conditioned to accept domestic violence and abuse as a necessary part of relationships.
Domestic violence has numerous negative effects on homes, children and relationships. Let’s help the abusers by reporting them and getting them to work on their warped minds before it’s too late.
Let’s not wait until someone dies or is disfigured for life before we act. Let’s not wait until our children turn out to be exactly like our abusive partner before we realize our mistakes. And if you are caught up in a web of uncontrollable emotions as an abuser, now is the time to act.
Don’t wait until you ruin a life or a home before you get help for yourself. Get spiritual help, physical help, psychological help and all the help you can. The largest room on earth is the room for improvement; don’t give up on yourself. You might have abused others in the past, but you can choose to make your future different.
You are not a victim of the past but rather, you can learn from your yesterday and create a better tomorrow.