Diana and her sister grew up in an average home in one of the leafy suburbs within Nairobi city, they had three square meals every day, decent clothing and attended some of the best schools.
That seems heavenly right? However, to taint the seemingly beautiful picture was a nasty habit that scarred them for life.
Their mother was too tough of a disciplinarian, a woman with anger issues and an odd delight in making people fear her. She would often pick fights with other relatives and even her own husband, often beating him up in front of the kids whenever she felt he had offended her, be it genuinely or for mediocre reasons. Of course this was taboo and disturbing but they always somehow made up later and for some inexplicable reason, Diana’s father held on to the continuously toxic and abusive relationship.
Whenever two bulls fight, it is often the grass that suffers most. This is the same case with domestic violence. The children who grow up in homes where parents fight almost daily, are often affected by the situation they have no clear understanding about and live in constant fear of watching their parents kill each other or end up divorcing.
Most of the children also end up in abusive relationships because they consider it as a norm or actually expect to mete out or receive verbal or physical abuse so as to feel loved and appreciated in the relationship.
Any type of abuse in a relationship or marriage is wrong and unacceptable. While conflicts are a normal part of relationship, we should ensure to resolve them in a mature way that will be both beneficial to our relationships and the children.
Domestic violence is propagated by someone who has personal issues, and the people on the receiving end, be it the wife, husband or children are the victims who continue to tolerate the problem in denial that it exists, or calling it the norm, or hoping and praying it will someday go away if they love as best as they can.
Victims of domestic violence often find themselves in a very tight spot where they are confused about leaving someone they love and how separation will reflect on them as individuals and affect the children.
This is why they need all the help and support they can get. Here are a few tips how;
1. Be the proverbial friend in need. Provide a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear without being judgmental or thinking you have the best solutions. Most people often have answers to their own problems, they just need someone to hold their hand and walk with them through it all.
2. Talk candidly to the victim if they are in denial. Help them see the reality of the matter so that they can make a wise decision to put an end to the suffering.
3. Help the victims find a good and affordable or even cost free counsellor.
4. Help the victims get professional legal advice and services.
5. Encourage them to believe in themselves. Often people who enjoy staying in abusive relationships have low self-worth thus they think they don’t deserve anything better than what they have even though it isn’t good for them.
6. Involve other members of the family or close friends for mediation talks.
7. Be unconventional. Decide to be that black sheep in the family that advocates for separation rather than telling a victim to hold on to an abusive partner. Customs are important but should be sensible too. A life, sanity, peace and happiness are more valuable than a marriage.
8. Support the victims in starting afresh if they opt to separate. Take them out for fun excursions, discover new restaurants, play sports, watch movies, sing in choir, join a dance class anything to get distracted and refreshed.
9. Explain what is happening to the children in a simplified manner so that they can understand clearly, move on from the situation without harboring negative emotions.
10. Keep them in your prayers.