A dab here, a swipe there, another coat of mascara and perfectly red-lined lips and all the scars and pain of yesterday are obliterated from the blinding lights of fame and the over enthusiastic cheers of over-excited fans and paparazzi.
We have followed with utter shock and disbelief, the public degradation of the marriage of Melanie ‘Mel’ Brown, a member of the defunct 1960s girl band, Spice Girls. She had accused her husband, Stephen Belafonte, of not only beating her but also on one occasion, forcing her into tweeting a fall prior to one of her shows to cover up a beating episode.
Back home, Actress Tonto Dikeh battled, again publicly, with infidelity in her marriage accusing her husband of physical and emotional abuse, stating that she was running for her life. Just recently we saw pictures and statements from another actress, Mercy Aigbe-Gentry, describing horrible episodes of abuse and injuries from her husband of seven years, including a most recent episode which has resulted in visits to courts, restriction warrants and an impending surgery to correct a damaged eye orbit.
In May, a female drummer, Adebukola Shittu, shared pictures of a badly bruised and bleeding nose, an aftermath of physical abuse by her husband few months into their marriage.
Only last Thursday were we greeted with the gory details of a 21-year-old South African, Karabo Mokoena, who had been killed and burnt to death by her partner whom it was claimed, she was in an abusive relationship with, and was discovered 12 days after she had been declared missing.
These are the ones we are opportune to learn of. How many more go unnoticed?
What domestic violence is
The National Coalition against Domestic Violence (NCADV) defines domestic violence as the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical, sexual, psychological, and/or emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically, however the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.
It is important to note that domestic violence victims are not necessarily only women. Men, children and domestic help can also be victims of abuse in the home.
Not a lot of current statistical data on domestic violence in Nigeria is available. However, the Demographic and Health Survey 2013 implemented by the National Population Commission (NPC) provides us with the most up to date and accurate insights into the statistical data of domestic abuse of men and women in the country.
According to the report, 28% of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical abuse at least once since they turned 15. Over 25% of married women aged 15-49 reported having experienced domestic violence in any of its varied forms from their spouse. 33% of this number sustained physical injuries while 45% never sought help or spoke to anyone about the abuse. Findings from the report show that 11.8% of the respondents who were victims of abuse had no education. 36.5% had only primary education; 38.6% had only secondary school education while 35.6% of the respondents had schooling beyond secondary school levels.
From the report, women who are more educated and live in urban areas are more likely to be victims of abuse than their counterparts who are less educated and live in rural communities.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that in the U.S. 19% of domestic violence involves a weapon. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by a whopping 500%.
The attacker’s profile
Sadly, not enough statistics is available on the number of male victim cases that occur. In this part of the world, not only is an unconscious stigma attached to victims of domestic violence, male or female, for a man, it is considered emasculating to be at the mercy of a woman let alone a wife or partner.