Sometime last week, the wife of the Ooni of Ife,
Other top actresses and celebrity ladies who participated in the walk which was a part of the launching of the Olori's advocacy project, 1in3Africa under the Stop The Violence Against Women campaign, were Kate Henshaw, Ini Edo, Monalisa Chinda, Uche Jombo, Funke Akindele, Seyi Shay, Adunni Ade, Ndidi Obioha, Chika Acholonu, Ifeoma Williams, amongst many others.
Olori Ogunwusi had said in a press statement that heralded the walk:
“It is our God given right not just to show empathy towards victims but to help them find their voice. Silencing the abused is also a form of abuse.
Men also have a crucial role to play in speaking out against violence. This awareness also includes demanding a change of the cultural and social stigmas that perpetuate the problem. Together, we can help those who need us.
1in3Africa Campaign is a call to action to spread awareness to end domestic violence and sexual abuse against women across the continent. 1 in 3 Women have been beaten or experienced sexual violence.
The United Nations estimates that 70% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime."
Those words are not only lofty but noble coming from a noble queen like the Olori. It is not known if the Queen has ever suffered violence in her marriage to the handsome and regal King but some of her partners in the walk have all been in the news after they came out with news on how their husbands battered them on several occasions.
But what many women do not want to agree or accept is the fact that men also suffer from domestic violence, be it physically, emotionally and sexually.
Domestic violence is typically thought of as something that happens only to women, but men suffer it too, many of them more severe than what the women bring to the fore.
For women and women groups, only women suffer from domestic violence, not knowing the extent some men go through the torment just because the society frowns at a man coming out to say he was abused by his wife or girlfriend.
In the clime we come from, such a man is seen as not being man enough to handle his wife and should not be counted in the comity of men. The funny thing is that while they see a man who beats his wife as not man enough, the one who gets beaten by his wife is also seen as not being man enough.
What an irony?
New research has shown that 46% of men have been victims of domestic violence during their lives and such abuse includes slapping, hitting, kicking or forced sex as well as non-physical abuse like insults, threat, chronic disparaging remarks or controlling behavior.
Studies have also shown that men are often reluctant to strike back in self-defense and are unlikely to report the abuse because the society will see them as weaklings. Many abused men feel ashamed because of societal expectations for men to be tough and in control.
Some of them feel the abuses would go away just as it started but once a pattern has been created, it will be very difficult to curb it as it will be a leeway for the woman to continue unabated.
This also brings us to reasons why men choose to suffer in silence instead of organizing themselves and walk against the abuses.
To protect the children
Just like women, men worry that leaving their spouses will harm their children or prevent them from having access to them. Obtaining custody of children is always challenging for fathers, as is the prospect of raising them alone.
Feeling of shame
Many men feel ashamed at being beaten or abused by a woman, or feel that they have failed in their role as a protector and provider for the family.
Fear of stigma
The biggest fear most men have is being seen as being not men enough to put their wives under control. Their fellow men will make fun of them, call them derogatory names and look down on them while women in his neighbourhood will pick on him at any given opportunity.
Parental and societal pressure
Most men continue to fear what their parents and the larger society will say if they ever come out to say they have been abused by their wives. They think the parents and society will feel let down that they have not been able to stamp their authority in their homes as the man and thus, decide to keep shut and suffer these abuse in silence.
Just as with women who are domestic violence victims, denying that there is a problem only prolongs the abuse. Men who find themselves in such situations believe that they can help or change their abuser, but change can only happen once the abuser takes full responsibility for her behaviour and seeks professional treatment.
Yes, men also fall victims of domestic violence but they are not given the same kind of space or support women get to seek help without the risk of being ridiculed and stigmatized.
So who will bell the cat and start a march against domestic violence against men?