Through the eyes of a little boy | The role family plays in raising violent men

by Itunuoluwa Adebo

Domestic Violence. Broken ribs. Emotional abuse. Shattered self esteem

Those were the hot topics blazing the social media space all week and we are not killing the conversation anytime soon. Why? Because this is a phenomenon that NEEDS to STOP. Relationships shouldn’t be the breeding ground for boxers and murderers. The very painful hashtag of the South African lady (#RIPKarabo)  who was beaten to a pulp by her boyfriend, not stopping till she breathed her last and it wasn’t enough. He then picked the body and did what? Set fire to it.

I’ll say no more.

That story, the most recent in the tales of pain and anguish of women across Nigeria, and Africa as a content is heart-wrenching. The most recurrent question being “What sort of monster men are these? “Who raised these men?  Men who raise their fists to “discipline” a woman, beat her up till she’s unrecognisable, break her ribs, kill her and even set her on fire.

Research over time has helped us to understand that the family background of a man plays a huge role in forming his actions with his family, studies show that 3-4 million children between the ages of 3-17 are at risk of exposure to domestic violence each year. The children of these women often witness the domestic violence. Witnessing can mean seeing actual incidents of physical/and or sexual abuse, hearing threats or fighting noises from another room etc All this has a lasting effect on the children, especially the boys. He wants to protect his mother, but he’s too little  or too afraid to try,  so pent  up rage and humiliation build up inside him.

Most children who grow up with abuse are expected to keep the family secret, sometimes not even talking to each other about the abuse so  how can they seek outside help? Because as children, they have a natural tendency to identify with strength, they may pick sides with with the abuser and lose respect for their seemingly helpless mother. Abusers typically play into this by putting the mother down in front of her children and calling her names , “crazy” or “stupid” or “whore” and that they do not have to listen to her. Seeing their mothers treated with enormous disrespect, the children invariably learn  that they can disrespect women the way their fathers do.

Experts believe that children who are raised in abusive homes learn that violence is an effective way to resolve conflicts and problems. They most often replicate the violence they witnessed as children in their teen and adult relationships and parenting experiences. Boys who witness their mothers’ abuse are more likely to batter their female partners as adults than boys raised in nonviolent homes. For girls, the belief that threats and violence are the norm in relationships.

Do you see how that little boy becomes the handsome monster? It’s much deeper than we think, easy to heap the blame on the men forgetting he was raised by a couple. So how do we kill this monster? It starts from you and I, in our homes. Watching the way we relate with our spouses in the presence of the kids, not talking down on your partner because you remember your actions will be emulated by your sons and daughters unconsciously. It’s saving lives by reporting cases of violence and abuse in your neighbourhood rather than turning a blind eye. The family IS the society and the family NEEDS to start raising boys who won’t love with their fists and girls who know love is not pain.

 

P.S:For every man who hits his wife, there’s a man who hit his mother.

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