On Monday 8 Febuary 2010, a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook which boggled my mind till today. It was the story of Katie Piper - an aspiring model whose future was changed forever when a man (hired by her boyfriend) threw sulphuric acid in her face. Katie's story is a reminder of the many women around the world caught up in violent and abusive relationships. According to the "Real Men" Campaign, in the U.S., domestic violence is a major problem and is the leading cause of injury to women - more than rapes, muggings and car accidents combined. On the other side of the Atlantic - Western Europe, Finland has one of the highest rates of domestic violence. According to Statistics Finland, 43.5% of Finnish women surveyed had experienced violence (from a man) after the age of 15. The statistics are staggering and violence against women is truly a frightening social problem. But one thing is clear: most victims admit that they had been assaulted in the past but did not tell anybody. They often wait until they believe their life is in danger. This leads us to one major reason why domestic violence against women still prevails today despite all the campaigns and education.
Women are tolerant (God bless their souls). I'm not blaming women for domestic violence and under no circumstance should women be blamed for violence against them. But it is plausible to argue that one reason why violence against women still prevails today is because many women tolerate violent and abusive men. They stick around in silence in abusive relationships hoping things will get better.
Before Katie Piper's boyfriend hired someone to throw sulphuric acid in her face, he beat and raped her in a hotel. Katie didn't tell anyone; not even the police. She didn't tell anyone because she feared that he'd kill her if she did. Don't you think it would have made a difference if she turned him in after the initial abuse? This is the story of many women across the world.
It's worth mentioning that a good number of women tolerate violent men for the sake of the children. This, no doubt, is a valid reason. But do you believe it is better to stay in an abusive relationship for the sake of the children? Even if you stay, statistics show that you'd leave the relationship at some point - when your life is in danger. So why wait for the situation to get worse? What happened to the old adage: better safe than sorry? When did physical violence and demeaning words become a normal part of life? Who ever said kids would be better off watching their dad engage mom in "mortal combat?" Most importantly - why do women tolerate domestic violence? Could it be a matter of Self-Esteem? Do women think they don't deserve better?
In a bid to explain why women tolerate domestic violence, Iyanla Vanzant - a woman who tolerated 9 years of domestic violence from her husband said, "one reason is that we have seen other women who get beaten. We become what we see... We accept that as part of the norm. We just don't know any better." Iyanla is author of Interiors: A Black Woman's Healing in Progress. She envisaged that in order to break free from domestic violence, a woman has to make up her mind that it's not going to happen again.
Guess what, "if a man hits you once, he will hit you again." Have no illusions about it.
Before you stay in an abusive relationship, make sure you read the poem entitled "Another Woman."
And in case you missed it - Real Men Don't Hit Women! Men who abuse and violate women should not be tolerated.
Readers Commenting on Domestic Violence - Comments on my Sunday column about domestic violence and how to curb it.
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