Domestic violence (also known as intimate partner violence and abuse, spousal abuse, and family violence) violence is often defined as the physical and/or psychological abuse of an intimate partner. In our understanding, however, domestic violence includes physical and sexual abuse of children within a home, as well as economic exploitation, intimidation, emotional abuse, coercion, threats and isolation of intimate partners, and children.
Domestic violence in Nigeria, as in most other parts of the world, is not restricted to any specific culture or religion.
Although in Nigeria, it is more widely seen as merely physical violence, domestic violence and abusive behaviour range from:
- Emotional/psychological abuse (such as constantly belittling the other person; constant blaming, or bringing up past sins and secrets in order to shame; treating the person as a child and constant belittling of their actions and decision-making, emotional neglect);
- Verbal abuse (such as name-calling, shouting and yelling, and insults) and physical violence;
- Controlling behaviour aimed at compelling another to comply with an abuser’s wishes. The abuser may try to control both big and small decisions taken within the home – from what meals are made and when, to whether or not the spouse can see friends or family. Such control can be exercised over conceiving a child or removal of a pregnancy. Such control can be exercised through insults, name-calling, withholding of affection, and withholding of financial support;
- Neglect – emotional and physical neglect, including refusal to provide for basic needs;
- Extreme Jealousy:
- Physical violence includes all kinds of hitting – slapping, pushing, shoving, and other more extreme forms of violence. Physical violence also includes sexual assault and rape, and being forced to do sexual acts that the abused would rather not (including within marital relationships); and
- Sexual abuse of children in domestic situations.
- The signs of abuse and violence in affected victims may vary from one person to the other, and may be displayed in various ways. These include but are by no means limited to:
- An unusually withdrawn, quiet attitude in one who is usually lively;
- Extreme deference to a spouse;
- Physical signs such as black eyes, stiff walk, limping, bruises, swellings, broken limbs
- A tendency to being accident-prone and unconvincing explanations for such accidents;
- Developing physical ailments and illnesses including ulcers, hypertension et cetera.
Current legislation in Nigeria recognises the multi-faceted nature of domestic abuse and violence.
The abuse is often intended to, and typically has the consequence of, wearing down the other’s self-worth and self-respect. In many cases the abused is made to feel that she/he is responsible for the abuse. This is not true. The abuser alone is responsible for his choices.
If you are wondering if you are in an abusive relationship but are unsure, please visit our Domestic Violence and Abuse Checklist.
You deserve to live free from abuse. Please seek help. You can start by going through the information on this site and seeking help through the channels and guidance provided here.
The Impact of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a serious social concern. It is also a violation of fundamental human rights. It has severe adverse impacts on physical and psychological health. Fatalities occur frequently in domestic violence in Nigeria.
There are also many intergenerational effects – there are negative consequences which often reflect in the lives of children who grow up in domestic violence situations. These include, but are not limited to, grave distrust in intimate relationships and a repeat of abusive patterns, with some offspring becoming abusive themselves or becoming predisposed to being abused, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle of abuse.