Unfortunately, there are many men who suffer physical and domestic abuse silently. They are the invisible victims who know that no one cares about them.
I have been highly criticized that my writings are often biased against men. I have been told times without number that I am a man hater because I come harder on men than women. True, I am always very biased when it comes to women’s affairs. I write like I do because I am passionate about women even though I want men to be better too. My concern really is to eradicate toxic men, if possible. I want masculinity to be something positive. I understand that my write-ups bruise the ego of some men and I am unapologetic about my opinions in as much as I know I have very good intention. My interest is for our men to recognize their wrong-doings and change for the better. Moreover, things are changing everywhere in the world and the way Nigerian men treat women needs to change too.
However, I want to talk about a subject that we often times sweep under the carpet because we never want to paint the average man as a weakling. We hardly hear about men trapped in abusive relationships because we feel no matter what, a man has to be in charge of every situation. But I couldn’t ignore a publication I saw recently where Lagos State Domestic Violence Response Team (DVSRT) said they received 138 cases of domestic violence against men from May 2017 to March 2018. This statistic is quite alarming for me and I just couldn’t shake it off, because the only domestic violence against men I have seen happened are in the movies. That stereotype of a fat wife and a skinny husband that often comes in as some sort of comic relief in our Nollywood movies is the kind of perception many people like me have of this situation. It is like something that you think never happens in real life but it does happen. It is some people’s reality. They are trapped in these relationships and they are looking for a way out too. Mind you, they are not being abused by fat uneducated women alone. These victims are abused by beautiful educated women too. Interestingly, domestic violence doesn’t happen to the poor alone. In fact, there is a high rate of domestic violence within the middle class and the rich. I used to think that a few men experience domestic violence. But from the Lagos state Domestic Violence Response Team findings, I can see glaring evidence that men are not spared of this dastardly act.
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Moreover, it is often believed that abused men can easily leave their marriages, unlike women. Well, to an extent, that might be true. But findings have shown that most men in abusive relationships also stay for years in it. Unfortunately, these men don’t talk about it because of societal expectations. Rather, they ignore the sad experience thinking it will go away.
Let me take it from the beginning, many boys were raised to empathize only with toughness and stoicism. While girls were allowed to show their emotions openly, boys learn that sharing their feelings is less than manly. For many of these boys who have now grown up to become men, crying is a roadblock to being accepted and identified as a strong male.
Interestingly, telling men to cover up their emotions has a repercussion as well. For instance, it reinforces the stereotype that women are more emotional than men. But I really doubt if this is true because as long as blood flows through your veins, it doesn’t matter if you are a man or woman, we are all emotional creatures. The only difference is that one gender is more dramatic about its emotions than the other. Men have been convinced to believe that hiding their feelings is part of being strong.
Honestly, as a woman, I might not really know the depth of a man’s feelings, but I know that bottled up emotions can affect the mental functioning of a man. Isn’t it unfair that men are allowed to flow with the macho culture even when things are really bad? That is why men who are trapped in abusive relationships don’t talk about it. The society doesn’t even believe they exist. The general belief is that only women are victims of domestic violence.
Unfortunately, there are many men who suffer physical and domestic abuse silently. They are the invisible victims who know that no one cares about them. Even when they try to confide in someone, they are reduced to a butt of societal jokes.
Some years back, I was doing a story on domestic violence and I was asked to talk to both women and men who were victims of domestic violence. I met some women who were glad to speak to me but getting a male domestic violence victim was very hard. I got the women through an NGO and the lady who owned the NGO told me about a man who was also a victim. She promised to talk to him on my behalf to speak with me. So, she called me back a few days later and told me the guy said he won’t be speaking. There was nothing we didn’t say to convince him to speak to the media about his experience but he refused. Of course, I felt bad that I didn’t get my story, but I understood the fact that he was ashamed, embarrassed and afraid that the majority of people reading his story might not believe him. It is only when these men speak up that this problem can be nipped in the bud. I am certain that the rate at which women are killing their husbands will be reduced. But these men can’t speak up or even admit to themselves that they are being abused because of societal expectations.
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There are fewer resources available for men who have experienced abusive behaviours in Nigeria. Most of these men are treated with suspicion by law enforcement agencies.
I think it is high time we stopped downplaying men who are in abusive relationships. Like I always say, there are only two kinds of people on earth. There are good men and good women. Also, we have monster men and women. So, like I called out monster men, I am also calling out all the terrible women out there. Women who don’t deserve these good men should be thrown to the hottest part of hell to burn. To everyman out there reading this, if you are also entitled to the full protection of the law, if you are at a risk in your home, make a report to the police. And if you are not getting a favourable feedback, walk away from this sham you call marriage. Draw out a safety plan and build up your proof that can be used as evidence later in the court of law. An abuser will never change unless such person gets a professional help. So stop waiting for your spouse to change. Your partner may feel remorseful after an abusive incident, but that doesn’t mean the abuse will stop. Speak out to a trusted friend so that in case something happens to you, it can be thoroughly investigated. Although the decision to stay or leave a relationship lies in your hand, always understand the fact that you will lose more by staying in a violent, abusive relationship.
Bros, there is no point proving that you are a macho man, you are entitled to be treated with respect. End that marriage if you have done all you can to make it work and she is not willing.