Dealing with a Violent Spouse - The Way Forward
Having touched extensively on the characteristics of a violent or abusive spouse, the question is “Does it really pay to be violent or to treat one’s spouse violently? Does domestic violence provide answer or lasting solution to our marital problems and differences? Marriage counsellors give an emphatic “No”. Some of their reasons are:
- Violence in the home usually becomes more frequent and severe over time. The abuser’s apologies do not mean the violence will not occur again.
- Children who grow up in violent homes come to believe that violence is normal. They come to see it as an acceptable way to control someone else. The majority of adult violent prisoners today are said to have been raised from violent homes.
- Violence is not an evidence of love; in fact it is an indicator of the dearth of true love and affection. It is often part of a pattern of threats, insults, insane jealousy, explosive temper, and attempts to isolate and overpower the victim.
- Psychologists have found that women in such relationships are far more distressed and fearful than their husbands or boyfriends. They feel intimidated; they feel caged and therefore lose their honour and dignity as well as the joy of marriage. If they choose to remain, it would be more out of a resolve to endure rather enjoy it all.
- How unfortunate that in the long run, a male victim feels threatened as his egocentric balloon suffers deflation, hence he becomes more violent while on the other hand, the female victim oftentimes feels degraded and worthless. She loses her self-esteem, sees herself as a failure and lacks the impetus to forge ahead. And if the man is the victim of spousal abuse, he equally loses his self-esteem and feels so completely worthless that he may resort to alcoholism, keeping late nights, having concubines and other vices out of frustration and shame. In fact, he may even resort to packing out of the matrimonial home or committing suicide.
And so everybody becomes a drifter, a defaulter and a failure.
Marriage counsellors uphold that there are better ways of handling relational conflicts. According to Mrs. Yinka Akindele, “It is high time you find out if truly you cherish your marriage and the future legacies you want to leave for your children. Don’t use physical violence as a way to reduce emotional stress or as a defence or as a way to maintain control in the relationship. Resist it; it does no one any good at the end of the day.”
Talking about the way out, Akindele urges intending couples to be sincere to admit that there is problem when they see the warning signs. “Love is not blind. Love is true and sincere. It does not pretend. It does not gloss over things that are so fundamental to the peace and stability of a marriage. So, I urge our young men and ladies to shine their eyes and look before they leap.”
And for those already caught in the web, she urges them to seek professional counselling and therapy on anger management and self-control but cautions that where the life of the victim is threatened, he/she should move out of the matrimony first (to avoid losing his/her life) while seeking ways to address the problem and settle their rows.