Reasons why men are the main perpetrators of domestic violence and how we can put an end to it

Jackline Mwende a victim of domestic violence
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The traditional African cultures were patriarchal society where men were seen as the bosses while women delegated to servitude. The patriarchal nature of our society hasn’t changed much and as such cases of abuse of women by their family members usually go unreported as it is seen as normal. A report done by Africa Alliance of YMCA’s indicated that violence against women perpetrated by family and friends was seen as more permissible by the women than violence perpetrated by strangers. This violence against women by family members is commonly referred to as domestic violence. Domestic violence can be defined as an incident of threatening behavior, violence or abuse whether psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional which happens between adults who have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

Here are a few factors that lead to men engaging in domestic violence;

Having grown up in a patriarchal society, men always feel the need to be the dominant partner in the relationship. The domination could be physical, sexual, financial or emotional. This arises due to a need to feel that they are in control of things. In instances where this domination is challenged by a partner some men resort to violence in order to assert themselves. A common scenario is the case of a woman who is well educated and earns more than her partner. Due to their insecurities, some men resort to physical and emotional abuse in order to cut the woman down to size and show them who is the boss. Which in my opinion is very unnecessary, we should learn to celebrate the achievement of our women. A win for one partner in the relationship should be considered a win for the team and not as a source of insecurity and conflict.

Perpetrator of domestic violence could have been abused as children or witnessed marital violence as children. The environment that we grow up in as children usually has a very big effect on our lives as adults something many don’t acknowledge. As a man who grew up in a violent homestead one can either learn from the sins/mistakes of their fathers or unwittingly follow in their footsteps. In most cases men who grew up in abusive homes end up being perpetrators of domestic violence but they don’t realise that they are just practicing what they saw growing up. However, they can also choose to be different from their fathers and vow never to lay a hand on a woman as they witnessed firsthand the destruction and misery it can cause.

Peer groups usually have a very big effect on how we live our lives. That is why we are often told that your friends are for the most part a reflection of you. This is because friendships are often based on shared values which is normally a good thing. However, these peer groups can also have a negative connotation when these values are not positive. Sometimes as men we might find ourselves doing things not because we like doing those things but is what is expected of us by our boys. Take the case of domestic violence, some men believe that the only place for a woman is in the kitchen and as such have no rights whatsoever. These are the men who expect the women in their lives to always obey without question and any departure from this is met with violence. These male peer groups basically condone and legitimize the violence. If you happen to be in such a group, you might find yourself practicing the same even if you don’t believe in such. As they say, it is wise to choose your friends carefully as they can make or break you.

Growing up as a man, one is socialized to be tough and not show empathy or be emotional. This however, can lead to a toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity can be described as traditional norms of behavior among men that are associated with detrimental social and psychological effects. These norms include dominance, devaluation of women, extreme self-reliance and suppression of emotions. Conformity to certain traits also viewed as traditionally male such as misogyny and violence can also be considered as toxic due to the harmful effects on others in the society. Self-reliance and the stifling of emotions, are correlated with harm to men themselves through psychological problems such as depression, increased stress, and substance abuse.

Violence always begets violence and as men we need to be part of the solution rather than being part of the problem. We need to take a stand against domestic violence in any form and realize that in any relationship we need to be partners with our women rather than dominating/violating them. If we are good to our women, they will be good to us and everybody wins!!

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