Gender-based violence is a vice that has continuously gripped the nation. Every week there is a case of someone who beat his wife or stabbed them to death. This past week we have seen two cases on the same 1) a clip of a woman being dragged into a dark room and beaten senseless by her husband and 2.) the husband who went Awol after his wife succumbed to injuries he inflicted on her.
We have always allowed the perpetrators to walk away without any sort of repercussions while blaming the victims. What has happened to all those men that have been charged in the past? Have you ever heard of a single conviction? I haven’t! if there was, these abusers wouldn’t be doing this with so much impunity.
Some Kenyans will blame you for anything, even death. “Why didn’t she just leave?”, a lot of people ask. Classic Kenyan move, ‘always blame the victim’. Why do we always assume the victims have the power of choice? It is so strange that when we think about violence on women we tend to look at measures the female should have taken. When a woman is raped she should have worn decent clothes when she is physically abused she should have known better. It’s always fun and games until you find yourself in an abusive relationship. Then all your ‘common sense’ flies out the window.
The reasons why she may stay are:-
1) Fear is the greatest reason why a woman may stay in an abusive relationship. Fear for themselves and their children. How do you leave when the man threatens you that he will hunt you down and kill you? Fear of the unknown. What will happen when she leaves the relationship?
2) When a woman is hit multiple times her self-esteem receives a nose dive so great she goes through life assuming she is worthless. Most abused women are constantly being put down and blamed for the abuse by the perps. So they will start believing it’s their fault that they are being abused.
3) Society and guilt
In our current society marriage is the do all and end all of a woman’s existence. We are taught that it is our job to support our partners and
maintain the relationship, (enter marriage counsellors and chauvinistic co-hosts) so, of course abused women will feel guilty about leaving. They will, in essence, feel like they have “failed” if they did leave.
So yes, you will leave him but of course, all your colleagues and friends will sneer and say how you didn’t vumilia. We live in a hypocritical society! It is easier for abused women to live with their abuser because society is a bitch and it will judge them if they did leave.
Most often abused women live an isolated life. It would have started innocently enough with the boyfriend/husband telling her who to hang out with, to leave her job and stay at home. So when the abuse starts, there is no one to run to. No support system. Some family members after seeing how many times she went back would not want to help again. So in this isolation, she will choose to stay.
5) History of abuse-There are people whose whole life has been one series of abuse. They had an abusive parent. Probably they saw their mom being pushed around and they are convinced all relationships are the same. They will eventually end up with an abusive partner only because that is what they understand.
6) Last but not least they will do it for Love. This coupled with the hope that their partners will change will ensure a victim stays in an abusive relationship.
I think it’s imperative as a society to smoke these abusers out. Let’s bring them to book no matter how rich or connected they are. As we do that let’s refrain from victim shaming and judging. The most important thing we can listen, because I am sure living in an abusive relationship is never easy.Let them know that they have options!