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Domestic violence can commonly be defined broadly to include “all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence” that may be committed by a family member or intimate partner
Section 3 of the Kenyan constitution of the 2015 Protection Against Domestic Violence Act declares domestic violence as;-
Damage to property, economic abuse, harassment, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual violence within marriage, interference from in-laws, intimidation, stalking, verbal abuse, sexual abuse and physical abuse.
Globally, the victims of domestic violence are overwhelmingly women, and women tend to experience more severe forms of violence. They are also likelier than men to use intimate partner violence in self-defense.
Social stigmas regarding male victimization have made it hard for justice to be found. Right from the health workers down to the law enforcing officers.
Do men suffer domestic violence?
YES, but it is much under reported due to social stigma
In What Form:
Men suffer Psychological/emotional/verbal,- Insults, demeaning sarcasm, degrading remarks, taunting, nagging, pressure, intimidations.
Threats of I will leave, denial of conjugal rights/sex/intimacy-maliza unifunike, not served like a man back in the house .
- Verbally abuse you, belittle you, or humiliate you in front of friends, colleagues, or family, or on social media.
- Be possessive, act jealous, or harass you with accusations of being unfaithful.
- Take away your car keys or medications; try to control where you go and who you see.
- Try to control how you spend money or deliberately default on joint financial obligations.
- false allegations about you to your friends, employer, or the police, or find other ways to manipulate and isolate you.
- Threaten to leave you and prevent you from seeing your kids if you report the abuse.
Economical- Looting, stealing from accounts, wastages, exploitation, (you have heard, ‘nitamkula huyo abaki mifupa’ -and you know the resultant backlash)
Forms of physical abuse may include; beatings, biting, nail attacks, acid attacks, mutilation (you remember the infamous Nyeri male generator. dislocation craze)
Forced/malicious castrations, gang attacks and even murders organized by partner, illegal arrests planned by partner, stabbings, arson attacks-burn husband in the house, or even car, malicious property damage e.g. hit car with a hammer, deflate tyres, break windows, smash phone,
What is key note in my view is that most of the physical abuse is most likely to be retaliatory sometimes but them if it is not resulting in grave fatalities it escalates the violence against the other partner.
where should men seek intervention?
My thinking is that men could be dominant in key places of power like they control resources but evidence shows women are stronger and more resilient.
Most decisions still in leadership are women influenced. If I want something done by a leader, I just have to get the girlfriend or wife. And the decision is made in the bedroom before it hits the boardroom.
However, I would say that man’s creation story presents man as the woman’s host on earth.
Man bears the responsibility to protect and provide for this guest who ought to play a complementary role not competing- he is not presented as the stronger gender.
Men are weak, we are less resilient and actually die early from things women triumph over.
Social norms DON’T allow men to be heard when they cry. Actually they are not supposed to ‘cry’.
The best social support group for men to seek intervention is among their fellow men, the older the better and safer because those are the ones that understand men.
Sadly, these men are increasingly not there, we are having more ladies presented as men( not used in a derogatory way).
what I mean is if my friend peter opens up to me about his wife abusing him, I will seek advice from my wife on how to intervene…the approach then will be more subjective than objective.
The church in the absence of the elders of the old days should be the next stop! Sadly the current church is more women-friendly than men.
So men will now resort to seeking intervention in bars and clubs, drinking and wishing their life on drugs which has achieved one sure thing-dysfunctional society.
Truth is men labour, do odd jobs, even strip their dignity to provide for their loved ones including working thousands of kilometres away fighting wars but with hope.
However, they will come home to faithful, warm, untainted loving hands. On several occasions, it hasn’t been so.
What is the age bracket of most of the reported cases? Do men report?
Men will rarely report abuse because mostly it is witnessed by inquisitive neighbors, they would rather withdraw, indulge, or just play tough as they are eaten inside, hence data on this is scarce.
A police friend informed me that the cases they receive are mostly for those above 40 years. He stated that to him he thinks most relationships are resource and class-based and not love-based.
So when money goes, or the job title goes then trouble hits with children who didn’t apply to be born between the two now bearing the consequences.
The older men are more vulnerable if they lack resources since the women recruit the children on their side and isolate the man.
The abuse among the younger men though can easily be physical with stabbings and acid attacks as witnessed via media reports.
How has silence affected men who suffer domestic violence?
Witnessed alcohol and drug abuse, stress, depression, erectile dysfunction, negligence of responsibilities, retaliatory violence (intimate partner violence in self-defense), imprisonment on trumped charges, loss of property, mental health issues leading to suicide etc.
What is termed as domestic violence as far as men are concerned?
I tend to think that anything that emasculates a man, lowers his dignity, embarrasses him, and portrays him as useless should be regarded as violence
What are the indicators of domestic violence that men should look out for?
Low self -esteem, substance abuse, extreme meekness, absentmindedness, seeming fearful, withdrawal, extreme loners-avoiding relatives and friends, aggressive behavior etc
ways through which men can handle domestic violence?
Being firm with clear principles, it does not just start. Domestic violence is a journey.
It starts as mild abuse or disagreements; this may grow into tensions if not well addressed. The tensions could easily lead to impulsive behaviours like conflict which easily slides into violence, brutality and fatalities.
Moreso; you don’t fight, don’t harm, just walk away to live another day and find a domestic violence shelter.
Those who judge are not in such circumstances. They cannot even be able to term domestic violence definition.
It’s going to be painful for a while, BUT you will be safer and the abuser will be safer too. No deaths, no injuries, no legal or conscience implications.
As an abused man, you may face a shortage of resources, a lack of understanding from friends and family.
If you are in the US, please call New York City’s 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-621-HOPE.
In Kenya, Men facing domestic violence especially during this season of COVID-19 can now call for help through a toll-free line 1196
Legal obstacles area menace, especially if trying to gain custody of your children from an abusive mother.
Whatever your circumstances, though, you can overcome these challenges and escape the violence and abuse.
Odhukhula Johnstone is a community worker. He is currently working with marginalised and disadvantaged youths.
Edited by John Muigai-Author