YEARS ago, RIhanna, the “umbrella-ella” songstress was criminally in love with Chirs Brown, also of the popular “No Air” fame. They were a lovely item to behold.
People loved them being together as a couple. They were both young and successful. They were both very good looking. Nothing could stop them; the sky seemed to be their limit but abusive relationships sucks.
Well, it turned in abusive relationships. Records later showed that Chris Brown was physically abusing Rihanna while she, in an attempt to protect their love, covered it up. Then, came the time when they finally lost it at the car park of the awards night where they were both expected to perform in front of a live audience.
He beat her up at the parking lot, she was thoroughly bruised. The press went agog with the news. Women group cried for justice. No excuse was to be allowed for physically abusing a woman, no matter the provocation. Chris Brown was sued and today, they have gone their separate ways and I believe everyone is happy or are they?
A late aunt of mine in her early sixties died in the hands of her abusive husband because she could not bring herself to living him. Her children grew up watching their dad physically assault their mum.
When they could afford to, they jointly got a three-bed room apartment and urged their mum to leave her matrimonial home to move into the tastefully furnished apartment which they secured for her.
In her first week in the apartment, she complained all through to her children. “How can I just leave your father”, she asked no one in particular. “Who would prepare his meals, wash his clothes”? “If I do not go back to him, he would die of loneliness”, so exactly one week, one day and one hour later, without the consent of her children, she went right back in the waiting hands of her husband.
Exactly one month after she moved back with him, another fight ensued, he beat her up; raised the alarm that alerted the neighbours when she collapsed right in his hands. Neighbours rushed her to the hospital; it was on their way to the emergency ward that she breathed her last. She refused to get out when she could. Her children till date, wish she had listened to them, howbeit, her untimely death still haunts them.
Her husband is still alive. Is he sorry that he drove his wife to an untimely death, I don’t know. I know that though he has not remarried, but he is not completely alone either. A very dear friend of mine recently left her abusive husband.
She narrated to us her ordeal in his hands. She told of how he suspected her of infidelity and how he would smell her underpants whenever she got back home from work to ascertain if she had been sleeping around. He would beat her up on the door step, at the living room and even in their bedroom.
The worst part of the ordeal, she recalled, is when he would beg her for sex immediately after beating her up. The abuse went on for years, when he would beat her, beg her, beat her again and again. She could not take it anymore, the scars were everywhere; her thighs, her eyes, presently, she cannot walk in the sun without sun glasses. It is that bad.
Before she left him, she arranged for him to be beaten up at a popular bus stop. They beat him black and blue. I don’t know now if I completely agree with her getting even with him her estranged husband does not know that she arranged for him to be beaten up!
Some stories of abuse are legendary, I know of a friend that was nursing a baby and her husband was flogging her in the full glare of guests with a cable wire! Yes, its true.
Ironically, they are still together. In fact, she called me up recently to invite me to their fifth year wedding anniversary. I recall also the story of Chief Emeka “Wawa” which made news at a time. He pushed his wife to death from the top of their staircase. When a court jailed him for life, his children appealed the judgment, claiming that they didn’t want to lose both parents.
Some abusers claim that they are provoked. Well, this piece is not really about the abusers. It is about whether the one being abused should remain or just leave?
And if they stay; then, why do they? Bishop T.D. Jakes once said it is better to walk away if the abuse becomes life threatening. Research findings, however, show why physically abused women don’t leave.
Fear – The number one reason for not leaving is fear. Research shows that battered women are more at risk after leaving an abusive relationship. If a decision to leave has been made, a safety plan must be put in place, if it is life-threatening. One should not take chances if one’s partner is threatening to kill.
Lack of resources – Since one of the major components of abuse is isolation, one often lacks a support system. Family ties and friendships are destroyed leaving one psychologically and financially depended on one’s abusive partners. Lack of finances and economic reality. The economic reality for women, especially those with children is often times a bleak one. Perhaps economic dependence on the abuser is a very real reason for remaining in the relationship.
Children- Being a single parent is a strenuous experience under the best of circumstances, and for most women, conditions are often far from fair and just when it comes to receiving either equal custodial access of full custody of their children through the authority the court system. The enormous responsibility of raising children alone can be overwhelming. Often times, abusers may threaten to take the children away from their wives if they attempt to leave.
Love for spouse – Most people enter a relationship for love, and that emotion does not simply disappear easily or in the face of difficulty. After a battering, the abuser is often penitent. Because of the low esteem following the incident, the apologies and promises of reform are often perceived by the abused as the end of the abuse.
Religious beliefs and values – Religious beliefs reinforce the commitment to marriage. Many faiths hold that the husband is responsible for the welfare of his family. This may be a power full reason for staying in a destructive relationship.
Social disbelief concerning battered men – Many people turn a “deaf ear” to marital violence and believe that what goes on behind closed doors is a “private matter”. The observance of a burglary, child abuse in the neighbourhood might quickly be reported, whereas, an assault on a husband or significant other may not be reported.
Promise of reform – Oftentimes, abusers became immediately apologetic afterwards with promises of “it will never happen again”, the abused often times also tend to believe it is true.
Feeling of guilt – Sometimes the abused believe that their abusers need them, the idea of leaving can thus produce feeling of guilt.
A woman in a violent relationship has only two choices, and both of them are bad. She can leave the batterer, thereby losing economic security for herself and her children, her position in her community, and the partner whom she loves despite his cruel behaviour. She may also lose the support of traditional minded family and church members, who believe she should endure all things in order to keep her family together.
The second option is if she stays with her partner, she risks losing even more of her self-esteem, she risks painful, terrifying and humiliating abusing; and ultimately, she risks losing her life. A battered woman leaves her partner an average of seven times permanently. She doesn’t return because she is stupid or gullible or a masochist. She returns because she doesn’t want to just give up on someone she loves and has planned a future with.
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She returns because her children miss their daddy. She returns because she hopes that the future will be better, she returns because she hopes that she will be better. And that is what is so hurtful about domestic violence. It could happen to any of us, under that wrong condition, with the wrong partner. Women are so well programmed to believe that our successes are due to luck and our failures are due to laziness or a lack of characters.
Add a violent, angry, manipulative man into the variables that determine self-esteem, and few of us would be able to emerge from such a relationship with our self-esteem intact. Even fewer of us would be able to just cut our losses and walk away.
Instead of asking “why don’t you just leave” ask “why doesn’t he stop beating her?” instead of vilifying a welfare mother, condemn the violent man who made her choose poverty for herself and her children over a painful, dangerous lifestyle. Instead of saying “it is none of my business” call the police and then be a support person for a woman who faces a terrifying future, either with or without the batterer.