Domestic violence is a serious concern that we do not take seriously enough. The other day I was listening to a radio program and the presenter asked if we would intervene should we see a man beating his wife on a public road. To my dismay, the consensus from the listeners was that they would walk on by.
Last year my mum’s neighbour was beaten to death by her husband in front of her 12 year old daughter and 6 month old child. Already here are 2 lives that are going to be horribly affected because one man’s domestic violence was ignored. What happens between a man and his wife always ends up in the bedroom. This was a proverb that was quoted to support why we should quietly walk on by when a man is beating his wife to stupor.
Toyin Ojora-Saraki is someone who is speaking out against domestic violence and her article on the Huffington Post speaks on why we should all see domestic violence as something that touches every one of us. Read an excerpt of her article Orange the World: How We Can Help Victims below:
A few months ago, I wrote about the need to bear witness to domestic violence in Nigeria. A couple of nights ago, I was a witness to domestic violence in a busy restaurant – a sad reminder of importance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
At dinner, I witnessed a man at a table near mine, speaking to his wife in an increasingly aggressive manner, with their young daughter looking on. His wife sat motionless, and the young daughter was expressionless as she stared at her father. The man berated her continuously, culminating in the threat, “I will beat you all over.”
A terrifying silence filled the room. The daughter turned to look at her mother, whilst her father stroked her tiny hand. The threat hung in the air for several moments, when the mother rose to her feet and took her child to the ladies’ room. I immediately rose from my table and followed her. I was not the only diner who was concerned, as another lady was in the room asking if the woman was ok. To which, the woman answered, “yes, I will be fine.” Her young daughter, clearly concerned, interrupted with “but how do you know you’ll be fine?”
Comforting her child, by saying, “Daddy is just jealous, don’t worry…men get jealous sometimes”, her body language denoted a certain stiffness and submission. Quietly, I slipped my card into her hand. She looked at it, thanked me, and returned to her table. Some minutes later, the young family left the restaurant.
Since that night, I have felt uneasy, asking myself the same questions over and over again. What is an ordinary quarrel and what is domestic violence? Could I have done anything more without seeing him actually physically harm her? What would the effects of witnessing this threat have on the child?
Since 2010, I have sat on the board of the Global Foundation for the Elimination of Domestic Violence (GFEDV), and am a signatory to the Peace One Day’s Global Peace Declaration, supporting efforts to end the global epidemic of domestic violence and gender-based abuse. The organisation, which I founded, Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), has taken a strong stand against domestic violence through the production of documentaries, peaceful awareness marches, social media campaigns, and joined the Nigerian Legislative Advocacy Coalition on Violence Against Women (LACVAW) to lobby the Nigeria’s National Assembly to pass the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill. We want our nation to bear witness to the dark secret that affects one in two households in Nigeria, and have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the issue.
But when faced with a suspected domestic violence case, what can you personally do to help? You may feel powerless – like I did at the restaurant – but there are in fact, many things that you can do.