Let’s Talk About Domestic Violence (DV). by Rev. Wambui Njoroge, M.Sci.
Let’s Talk About Domestic Violence (DV). by Rev. Wambui Njoroge, M.Sci.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is: 1.800.799.7233- Available 24/7/365 Days
From my heart and my notes-DV is not Love in Any Language freely expressed and straight from the heart. DV is a crime. No woman or man deserves to be abused for any reason. It is your life and you owe it to yourself to be safe from DV. You have a responsibility to protect yourself, and protect minor children (Ages Birth to 18 years) who are under your care.
DV Si mapenzi. Ti wendo. It is not love. It is a crime that is punishable by law. If you or someone you know is a victim of DV, The National Domestic Violence Hotline is: 1.800.799.7233- Available 24/7/365 Days. You should not make this call in the middle of an argument and in the presence of your abuser.
You should not tell your abuser in advance that you are going to report them. Intense violence and some resulting in death take place when the abuser becomes aware that their secret will be shared publicly. You should get out of the house and safely make the call. You should have a plan of what to do. You should not report to the abuser that you have made this call. If you are in crisis or your life is threatened, Call 911.
It is better to be safe than sorry. “We only have one life to live” says Dr. Penny Njoroge, Chaplain and Author on the issue of DV. The key is for you to get help before it is too late. So “Arise Shine for Thy Light Has Come and the Glory of The Lord is Risen Upon You.” (Isaiah 60:1).
What is Domestic Violence? DV is a behavior that is used by one person in a relationship to control the other. DV can be between people who are married, single, come-we-stay, in LGBTQ relationships, as well as in polygamous marriages, or among those who are separated or dating. DV can be physical, emotional, sexual, neglect or economic.
As an immigrant, it can also arise from immigration related issues. Examples of DV and abuse include, but are not limited to; hitting, slapping, biting, kicking, shaming, blaming you for family failure, name-calling or put downs, sexual assault, rape, stalking, intimidation, monitoring activities including telephone calls, Text messages, WhatsApp messages, Emails, etc., withholding money, isolating a partner from family, friends, neighbors and fellowship. The list can be endless.
A partner in DV might also be stopped from attending Church. For immigrants the partner might refuse to allow an immigrant to send money home to her/his family knowing well that the family back home is dependent on the money sent. Manipulation and telling lies to family and friends back home why an immigrant cannot travel home alone, or refusing to allow an immigrant to travel home at all, especially in inter-racial or inter-ethnic relationships, delaying filing for papers to normalize immigration status, interfering with getting or keeping a job, discouraging immigrant from enrolling in school or any course work, taking away and keeping money from the victim, threatening physical harm, using the sacred cow-threatening to call ICE on a partner. Please never do this to an immigrant.
Example of a threat: In one incidence, a victim of DV reported that the husband said, You don’t need to visit Africa. It is too expensive. This same husband was reported to the police as having said, “I have one bullet loaded in my gun.
That bullet is for you or for me. The Police made a report and didnt search the house. The next daym she called the counselor and narrated the incidence then asked “What shall I do?” The Good African counselor replied, “Make arrangements now to leave that home. As for tonight, leave that bedroom, sleep in the next room with a widow and always make sure the door is closed.
I will be in prayer for you, she ended the call.” The victim was now a prisoner in her home. But a Good American counselor would have done things different. The counselor would probably say, this cycle needs to be broken today. It cannot be a secret anymore. I cannot let you go back until you are safe.”
And proceed to help the abused partner to make a report of the abuse. The good news is that one day when the spouse was out of town for a weekend, the spouse packed her stuff, rented a U-haul and left her home and the relationship behind to save her life. Years later when the husband died of sickness, a beautiful silver gun was recovered from under his nicely cushioned seat next to the bed. It had one bullet in it. So the threat was not a joke. It was real.
DV is criminal except that emotional, psychological and financial abuse are not considered criminal behaviors. They are referred to as forms of abuse. However, when left alone issues tend to go from bad to worse.
These forms of abuse have potential to escalate to criminal behavior. Watch out because anyone can be a victim of DV. Violence doesn’t know age, gender, sex, race, culture, religion, education, economic or marital status. Although most victims of DV are women, however, men do get abused too, but they are afraid to talk because of the social stigma. DV has negative impact on children and youth in the home where it takes place.
Woiye! Home is supposed to be a place of refuge not of violence. Everyone has a right to feel safe at home.
Statistics: From Online resources-Around the world at least one in every 3 women has been beaten, forced to have sex or abused in some way during her lifetime. Most often the abuser is a member of her own family. In many instances, DV occurs in intimate relationships including dating.
DV is the single leading cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, attacks from Wakoras or rape. Note that 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship report being threatened by a boyfriend.
In US more than 3 women are murdered by their husband or boyfriend. Sasa watu, with such a grim reality, it is unfortunate that in Diaspora community, DV goes unreported to law enforcement until there is a crisis.
It is therefore, important to keep talking about the negative impacts of DV in the community to prevent a crisis from happening. I am a great advocate of the fact that what one can predict in a certain relationship, one can also prevent it from happening. This is an issue of prayer, but it is an outsider responsibility.
Don’t blame the Church or ministers. There is a time and a place for everything. You don’t see many Churches holding workshops on DV.
It is because there is a thin line that Churches have to walk on. Churches have boundaries too. This is your individual call. This should be an issue of breaking the cycle of violence, the code of silence and reporting. You were never meant to be a secret keeper of DV. It is better to be safe than to be sorry.
Get wise counsel. “In the multitude of counselors, there is safety” (Proverbs 10:14). No counselor in their right mind would tell a woman to go home and submit to an abusive husband, or you should learn how to cook this and that dish. Dress this way and that way to please an abuser because it just doesn’t work like that. That is sheer nonsense…since DV is a crime, how would such a silly advice help a victim.
Jameni we have to be in touch with reality. No woman is abused because they didn’t cook. In many cases, whatever attracted that man to you is the same qualities he now hates. For example: If it was because you are hard working, he will resent that you make more money than him. If the woman was a caterer or is hospitable, does she think she knows how to cook better than his Mom.
Or accused that she wastes family money entertaining guests. If it was education, he might say you like showing off, you wear your education like a dress or you are a liberal feminist. If it is beauty, he might want to put scars on your face and body. Your love for children becomes an object of his jealousy…you love the kids more than you love me. They listen to you, but they don’t listen to me. And especially a child that resembles you or is named in your family of origin. If it is your love for Church/ministry/community, he might want to stop you from attending fellowships, and “those women retreats, conferences and workshops.” So there is no safety for you. Haiya Gutiri gwaku kwega.
All in an effort to control your every move including your thoughts…like hurting you and maliciously saying, “Honey it is your fault and buying you flowers and gifts in the cycle of violence” believe honey nothing. It is not your fault.
It is important to be aware of how a person can hate the very qualities and abilities that first attracted them to you. In Kenya when I was in High School, a man who was married to a typist would brag about how wonderful his wife was. This was immediately after 1969 so all the secretarial jobs prior to Independence were held by men. They were the typists, switchboard operators, and short hand typists.
But when he got drunk, he would become violent and abusive. He would attempt to harm the children too. He was overheard repeating and threatening to cut her fingers. He also told her that on her face, got a knife and attempted to cut her. She fought him off. Now someone please tell me, Who in their right mind threatens someone like that confess they love her with all their heart and soul? Perhaps the song is true, “Once I loved you with all my heart and soul…Come kiss me love before you leave me, come kiss the one you have betrayed…” The woman was smart.
She took the repeated threats seriously and left that relationship with all her 10 fingers. “Am done, ” she said, and proceeded to file for divorce. Even before this age of Internet and being Online, I can still remember reading a hard copy of that notice about “Final Divorce” in the Kenya Gazette.
Break The Silence/Speak Up: If you are a victim of DV know that It is not your fault. Domestic violence is a crime that thrives on terrible family secrets. Nobody has a right to hurt you. When you speak up, If the Police, your Doctor, your Pastor or your family don’t take it seriously, they are wrong because it is not your fault. You are not alone and I suggest you ask for help while praying about it.
Keep asking for help, keep speaking up until someone listens and takes you seriously. DV will not just go away no matter how sincerely you pray, serve God and people. It is important to pray in the spirit, but better still pray with understanding. You need intervention and please know that help is available. It is only a telephone call away. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13-ESV).
The live you save is your own. By the way, it is not really such a secret. It is living a lie because if you have children who have acquired language skills they talk about it openly.
When the children report to school, teachers and counselors ask-“How is home?” “How is Mom and Dad?” Some have been known to report, “Mom and Dad fight and quarrel.” We follow up that answer with -“And how does that make you feel?” The child might answer “It makes me feel Sad.” So your friends and neighbors know, your Church women know and whisper behind your back.
No one has the courage to face you with the truth. No one want to get into your issues and personal business. And sometimes well meaning people are just as afraid of the abuser as you are. The old adage here doesn’t work well that a problem shared is half solved. This is a problem that only you have the power to solve by the actions you take. You owe yourself the truth. Look in the mirror, just like Michael Jackson’s song, “Am looking at the man in the mirror”…Look at the woman or the man in the mirror. What have you become? Is this really you? What do you want to see changed? The Serenity Prayer can be changed somewhere to read what you want to change.
I have used it in counseling with great success. Borrow this one I have rephrased, and put in your name:
“Lord Grant me the Serenity to Change the People I can Change.
And the Wisdom to Know that it is ME.”-Wambui Njoroge
Finally, Things don’t just change because we want them to change or wish they would change without intervention. If you are in the USA, you should know that in your county of residence and State, there are in built mechanisms to respond to these types of issues. So the question is not: Why are you staying in an abusive relationship? The questions should be: Why have you not left? Is there a good reason why have you not sought help?
, Access Internet resources under Domestic Violence Prevention, Family Violence Prevention.
Remember only you can make a difference in your life. Get help before it is too late.
What next? Immigration related options for victims of domestic violence. Read my next article.
His Servant & His Friend,
Rev. (Mrs.) Wambui Njoroge, M.Sci.