The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Let's Put an End to Abuse

opinion

ABUSE is rife in many homes. It may be in your home, your neighbour's or a friend's house.

Because domestic abuse is not always about violence, in most cases, it has gone on unchecked

often resulting in the breakdown of marriages and, in extreme cases, death, hence it is critical that we also deal with other forms of abuse in the home.

Domestic abuse largely emanates from the undue desire to control.

It is about ensuring that the other party conforms to one's desires.

It is unfortunate that in some instances victims of abuse in the home are unaware that they are being abused because they fail to recognise the behaviour of their partners as abusive.

Whether overt or covert, all forms of abuse result from failures of compassion and when one stops caring about the family he or she is drifting into abuse.

Domestic violence or abuse knows not the type of family setting. It could be in the Christian or secular home. Christians and non-Christians should thus be on the look out for traces of abuse in the home and seek corrective measures.

According the journal marriagebuilders.com, abusive behaviour usually begins when a couple tries to resolve a conflict the wrong way.

Instead of finding a solution that is agreeable between the two in marriage, one party makes an effort to force a solution on the other spouse and exert control.

In most cases resistance is matched by increasing force until one party browbeats the other into submission.

As Zimbabwe battles increasing statistics of domestic violence, it is critical that a deliberate effort be put in place to deal holistically with abuse in the home.

Even when it has not manifested in physical abuse, that leaves the wife or husband with a bruised face, it should have shown signs through other forms.

These forms may include one or all of the following abuses: emotional or psychological abuse, economical, sexual abuse and sometimes spiritual abuse.

Emotional or psychological abuse is characterised by a person subjecting or exposing another to behaviour that may result in emotional trauma, including anxiety and depression and is often associated with situations of power imbalance. It usually includes name calling, humiliating you in front of other people, jealous, denying contact with family members.

According to one journal, psychological abuse does not always lead to physical abuse, but physical abuse in domestic relationships is nearly always preceded and accompanied by psychological abuse hence the need for people to be on the look out for it.

Economic abuse involves the use of financial strength to exercise control over a spouse.

In economic abuse, the spouse wants to control family assets, manage family accounts and deny the other an opportunity to work so that he or she depends on them for survival. In such instances, the financially powerful spouse will hoard or refuse to share money or other assets, controls all bank accounts and thus restrict the other's budget. Although economic abuse is often overlooked as abuse, it is taking toll on the family institution and needs to be addressed.

In the past, women used to be on the receiving end of such abuse but current economic developments have changed this and some men are now suffering the same type of abuse. It is critical that people move away from not accepting that there can be sexual abuse in the family. Many people are suffering and because of some traditional beliefs associated with the marriage institution, can not come open and thus seek help.

Sexual abuse includes all action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don't want to do.

While the weaker partner may not able to deny the partner's will, the spouse is left emotionally traumatised. With the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act and the increasing recognition of the annual 16 Days of Gender Activism, it is important that families start acknowledging the existence of other forms of abuse and thus seek a way of eliminating them so as to create safer homes.

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