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Domestic abuse: The case of married women (Part 3)

CORRESPONDENT
Social scourge: Domestic violence increased under the lockdown, according to police PIC: VENTURESAFRICA.COM
It would be unconscionable for true men to reduce themselves to silent partners in this grisly corporation that continues to expand its global footprint with a sense of absolute impunity. We will never be able to wipe out every vestige of domestic abuse, but that does not mean we should condone such senselessness. Never underestimate the power of the stone that each one of us can throw at the scourge. From that initial pile of stones will develop a heap that will ultimately transform into an unignorable mountain of protest against this sickness. PAUL BATSHEDI MORE writes

What should be the response strategy of women to acts of abuse? This should start with acknowledgement of the following irrefutable facts. That in the absence of genuine remorse, the undignified behaviour of abusive men will worsen with time. That abusers are not minors. They are majors and therefore fully accountable for their actions.

It wouldn’t only be an absurd leap of logic but also morally reprehensible for abused women to be held responsible for their husbands’ perverted sense of right and wrong. Any outrageous and ill-conceived pursuit of a trajectory of self-reproach as a voluntary or even involuntary response to deliberate misdemeanours of abusers would be irrational. The bottom line? Resist any attempt by your abuser to browbeat you into guilt.

Some women have found value in invoking assistance of non-biased mutually respected mature couples. These mature ones would share with the couple in an abusive relationship what worked in their favour over the years and the sort of guardrails that played a pivotal role in keeping them away from veering off the straight and narrow lane. They would encourage them to adopt certain habits that could transform their marriage from a cauldron of extreme distress to an oasis of peace and happiness.

Seeking professional help could also be effective. Here is a caveat though; the counsel offered shouldn’t be the shallow type that is predetermined by what happens to be trending in the techno-social space, probably propagated by some avid know-it all members of the Fifth Estate.

It should focus on what is practical. And the couple should do it for the right reasons. This would ordinarily require a great degree of objectivity and candour. Clinging to a perverted self-justification course by one or both mates would only result in escalation of tension.

Of course change will not happen overnight. It would require full commitment of the couple. Especially unconditional willingness to change by the abuser. In some cases, abusers accept that they were wrong and make the necessary changes to restore happiness in their marriage.

In a situation where the abuser maintains the supercilious stance of, ‘not even wild horses would make me change’, it might well be that very few people would find fault with a woman who walks out of such a toxic relationship, particularly where her life is imperilled.

Any deliberate delay in taking action might only help to multiply the number of physical scars, both the invisible and more traumatic emotional ones. Not to be forgotten is the fact that the abuser needs help. Very few people would throw stones at a woman who out of loving concern hands that man to relevant authorities.

In the circumstances, it might be the only decent thing to do. The overarching motive should be to compel the man to appreciate the value of breaking free from the grip of abusive behaviour.

Should the woman decide to walk out of an abusive relationship, she might be forced to leave children with the abuser for some time. Away from her home and children, her level of depression might skyrocket.

It would be advisable for her to resist the temptation of immersing her mind in negative thoughts. Starting a new hobby might be helpful. Something she is passionate about.

Or she could engage in some refreshing community-based activities or volunteer work meant to uplift underprivileged souls. She might achieve a sense of self-worth and fulfilment from that.

This could also be an opportunity to break free from inhibitions thus leading to venturing into new and exciting things. Consider writing a poem, or a book. Read upbuilding material in print form or online. Spelunk in the expansive hypogeal cave of the world wide web and delight in finding an interminable virtual superhighway teeming with zillions of upbuilding information. Exploit it to the fullest in a positive manner and avoid the bottomless ocean of unwholesome content. If possible, generously empower others with your newfound knowledge. 

Last year, an online social revolution was launched by the ‘Men are Trash’ movement. Women who were fed up with men who were misbehaving came up with this tagline. Of course this was a sweeping statement, similar to the view conveyed by ‘a rotten apple spoils the entire barrel’ saying.

Some men were up in arms questioning why women would choose to use a few rotten apples to tarnish the entire universe of men. However, women stood their ground, undeterred and resolute in their mission to expose men as trash. Feeling that the unhappy men were simply splitting hairs, the women were not too keen to stoop to the level of entertaining a quibbling match with such folks.

Half a dozen years ago, my boss advised me to cultivate the habit of listening to the unspoken word. This begs the question; what was the revolutionary movement’s underlying unspoken word? Simply that ‘good’ men shouldn’t sit comfortably on their laurels while their friends are busy abusing women. In the abused women’s view, all the so-called good men do not only have the right but also the solemn obligation to hold all the rotten apples to account for their unsavoury actions.

‘Good’ men are capable of coming up with facilities targeting rehabilitation of abusers. They can lead from the front in instituting all the necessary discipline. They should play a pivotal role in creating a conducive environment for breaking women’s silence on the scourge of domestic abuse.

Perhaps embracing the principle of ‘class suicide’ advocated for by a Guinea-Bissauan intellectual named Amilcar Cabral, where they would on their own volition forego privileges that come with being in a position where they are unlikely to be abused, and decidedly lead a social revolution by identifying themselves with the masses of abused

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women, even if that could jeopardise their relationship with some influential men who are at the forefront of peddling the endemic culture of abuse as an acceptable norm.  

By watching helplessly as if they are somewhat incapacitated, seemingly oblivious to the arrogance in which some of their male acquaintances callously trample on the inalienable rights of women, and in the process violating their civil liberties, ‘good’ men are unwittingly complicit in abetting and maintaining the undesirable status quo.

Accomplices by deliberate acts of omission! No doubt there are still some decent men out there. May this clarion call motivate them to stand up and be counted. We don’t need be bequeathed with Solomonic wisdom to appreciate the importance of this positive transformative shift in mindset.

This reminds me of the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s golden oldie that was released close to three-score years ago, entitled ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’. This was Bob’s contribution to America’s civil rights struggle in the early 1960s. The mind grabbing lyrics of that anthemic and timeless ballad are quite insightful, particularly the sobering part that goes, “Yes, ‘n’ how many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free? Yes, ‘n’ how many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see? Yes ‘n’ how many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry? The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.” True, the solution to the abuse suffered by women is simply ‘blowing in the wind!’ Free and within groping range.

It would be unconscionable for true men to reduce themselves to silent partners in this grisly corporation that continues to expand its global footprint, in the process flaunting its wickedness across the globe with a sense of absolute impunity.

True, we may never wipe out every vestige of domestic abuse, but that doesn’t mean we should condone such senselessness. Never underestimate the power of the stone that each one of us can throw at this scourge. From that initial pile of stones will develop a heap that will ultimately transform into an unignorable mountain of protest against this sickness.

It is not easy to identify abusers unless exposed by the abused. While there are a good number of abusers out there, only a few are ever spotted. This reminds me of a weird eel-like creature of the deep seas with an intriguing but unflattering name most of us wouldn’t be comfortable saying aloud within hearing range of our grandparents. It is simply called the bony-eared a**fish.

This fish is not easy to spot because it prefers environs at the very deep end of the oceans. This ugly fish with a very large mouth has another interesting feature. The unique size of its brain! It has the smallest brain-to-body ratio of all vertebrates.

Our comparison of this fish with abusers will only be limited to the fact that it is rare to spot. Of course it is the loving thing to resist stretching such comparison to unsightliness, the size of the brain and the mouth! The bottom line is, it is not easy to spot abusers, but that does not absolve us from the responsibility of finding and helping them.

This reminds me of the Olympic Motto; ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’. Latin for ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’. May all men embrace the ‘non-abuse’ spirit faster, and do all in their power to espouse higher moral values reinforced by a much stronger and enduring spirit of conviction.

Quite worrisome is the fact that following the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns, there was a global upsurge in reported cases of domestic abuse. Botswana wasn’t spared the grief. Wouldn’t it be great if abusers could rein in their emotions, and deeply reflect on this point?

Just as they would not want their loved ones to be abused, they too should desist from abusing their mates. Lest they conveniently forget, a reminder is in order; abused mates also have a contingent of individuals united in their common love for them.

We can only encourage abused women never to give up. Please take a cue from the caterpillar that was on the verge of despair. As it is often said, just as it was about to give up on life, it metamorphosed into a much higher and more intelligent form of life, a veritable butterfly.

Willingly share your story with people who could help. For parents with a boy-child, inculcate in your son the beauty of dignifying women, especially in family settings. And for all married men, let’s note that nothing would ever beat the setting of a good example for our sons.   

There is a slogan that was popularised by France 24 News; ‘Liberté, Égalité, Actualité’. It was coined over two odd centuries ago by an influential French statesmen named Maximilien de Robespierre in support of ideals represented by the French Revolution.

This brought to an end what seemed like a robust, powerful and invincible force anchored on the quasi-inexpugnable bilateral relationship between the monarchy and the Catholic Church.

The three ideals of Liberté, Égalité, Actualité are acclaimed as precursors to the success of a social revolution that transferred governance from a clique of surly self-seeking feudalists to commoners.

This gave birth to France’s First Republic in 1792. Interestingly, these ideals of ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’ lie at the very core of what many abused women desperately seek to achieve. They are eagerly looking forward to a new world order where no man will ever say to them, “Run like a dog,” or “Eat like a dog.” And believe you me, that world is not as preposterous as it sounds.

PAUL BATSHEDI MORE*

*Paul Batshedi More is a motivational speaker and property specialist



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