Over the last few weeks a particular set of prayer points have been on repeat for me. They even made special appearances during the Shiloh program of this year. Alongside prayers for a bae (cannot end 2016 baeless), and money (as usual) I’ve found myself increasingly praying that God don’t let me be the kind of man that lays a hand on his wife.
Domestic violence is a well flogged subject – no pun intended – (and one that needs further flogging), but I’ll be honest and admit I’ve always had a long-sighted view of it, until recently. Two days ago I was at a dear friend’s house where her husband was part of a spoken word video shoot on domestic violence. I couldn’t stay behind for the whole production but I got to hear the track and listen to the story. It’s a story we’re all familiar with. Girl meets nice charming guy, damn near perfect, they fall head over heels (or hills, whichever you prefer) in love, he proposes, she tearfully says yes, they marry. It’s bliss for the first few months (it almost always is), then the beatings start. At first it it’s a slap, he swears on his mama never to do that again, the next time it’s more than a slap, this time he leaves a signature on her face/body. Long story short one day in a fit of madness he kills her. As if God really needed me to talk about this, days before this video shoot, my friend Ay put up a very disturbing photo on BBM of a dead lady with a knife sticking out of her head apparently planted there by her husband, it was a rude shock I tell you.
With these two stories ending in death, I asked myself why these women stayed. Why they stayed to be subjected to this form of regular abuse that kept escalating to the point of death. I’ve gone through the literature, I’ve been told the stories and I know there are a couple of reasons why some women stay in physically abusive relationships, and while they don’t make sense on a variety of levels, the Love reason made the least sense.
I can’t pretend to know all the vagaries and extenuating circumstances behind these women’s decision to stay but it seems pretty basic to me that when someone is beating on you, when you cannot predict the temper of the man you’re married to or in love with, when there’s a pattern of physical attacks; the common sense thing to do here would be to create some distance. Basic in-built self preservation. You’re a Christian and you don’t want to divorce him? I don’t think there’s any passage of the Bible that says you can’t pray for him from the safety of a friend’s house or just somewhere where he cannot reach you. After all you have to be alive to be able to love. OR probably, you’re one of those ladies who grew up in a home under a mother who tells you it is normal, it is a cross you have to bear in your marriage (I have heard such reasons actually resist) . It is not normal, neither is it a cross to bear. Traditionally only criminals carried crosses, and they usually ended up dead, hung on those crosses (well…with ONE exception of course)
There’s a phenomenon known as Stockholm Syndrome: feelings of trust or affection in many cases of kidnapping or hostage taking by a victim towards a captor (remember Beauty & The Beast? yeah, that cartoon always weirded me out) You can read up on the details here and more pertinently relating to this post, here. But from the definition alone this is the best description I can use to describe these women.
Like I said earlier, this is a well discussed subject, I just thought I should add my voice to the throng.
Sometimes love just isn’t enough.
You have to love this town. I’ve been here all of 10 days and I’ve fallen sick twice, spent a fortune on transport, spent another few hours of my life in pointless traffic and had my phone pick-pocketed. The last one happened 2 days before this post and I had to admire the young man’s skill; at isheri roundabout he distracted me with some unintelligible mumbo jumbo and smoothly rescued my phone from my pocket, God help me I felt it rapture right out of my pocket, that particular side became instantly light. In fairness to the young man after I called him on it he returned the phone without fuss and I smiled at him and just shook my head.
I grew up here, but I haven’t been here in a very long time except on short visits and every time I remember why I just visit.