With the number of domestic abuse cases rising daily, it is important now more than ever before to discuss ways to protect yourself if you are in an abusive relationship. Find six ways to do that here!
The news of a young man in Lekki, Lagos, torturing his fiance to death before committing suicide hit social media a few days ago. There were reports that the man killed his fiance after he discovered the true paternity of her second child. It was also rumoured that the couple's relationship was an abusive one, which eventually resulted in death.
While it is difficult to wrap one's head around the abuse of a partner by someone who claims to love them, the fact remains that cases of domestic abuse occur daily.
"He loves me" "I love him" "He isn't always like this" "He'll change" "Things will get better" are some things victims of domestic abuse tell themselves, ultimately excusing the behaviour of their partner and staying in an abusive relationship.
If you are in a physically abusive relationship, find below six ways to protect yourself.
Abusers never change. They vow to, but they never do. So, if your partner is physically abusive, do not stay with the hope that they will someday change. That day will never come. But do you know what day is sure to come? A day when your abusive partner will leave you with more bruises than the previous day or in a body bag. Now is the time to leave. This sounds cliche, but tomorrow may be too late.
2. Have a Support System
Abusers revel in the thought that you do not have people to turn to and therefore cannot get help. This is why they keep you away from friends and family, controlling you and watching your every move. They manipulate you into thinking that you do not need anyone but them. It is a mistake to stay silent. Speak up about the abuse to trusted friends, family and an NGO that supports victims of domestic abuse. You need all the help you can get now.
3. Be Cautious
Yes, we have said that you should leave, but be cautious when doing this. Do not tell your abusive partner that you are leaving. That is like poking a crocodile in the eye and expecting it not to attack. Abusive partners do not want you to leave. They want to be in control of you and your life always.
Once you leave, do not return - not for any reason. They have probably not forgiven you for leaving, and if you return, they will act on their anger. Also, remember to change your phone number, passwords, usernames and take legal actions to prevent them from stalking you and making your life miserable after leaving.
4. Create an SOS Code
You should create a code for domestic violence, one that your friends and family would know. It could be a word that your friend would understand while speaking with you over the phone. It could also be a sign or gesture to your neighbour, to a friend or family when you are on a video call with them. This is a code that someone close to you besides your partner would recognize and act on. When people know that you are in danger or in a distressing situation, they can get you help.
5. Have Proof
You might need proof of domestic abuse if you are getting a divorce and going to court. You will also need proof if you intend to report the case to the police. Well, we know how reporting cases to the police in Nigeria is, but this does not mean that you cannot get help from them sometime. Proof of abuse will also make the process of fighting for custody of the kids - if there are children involved - easier.
6. Be Prepared
If for some reason, you still find yourself in an abusive relationship, always be prepared to leave. Have an emergency contact - a friend, family, colleague - that you can call any time. You should also have an emergency bag that contains your immediate needs packed. It should be small, one that you can grab quickly when leaving. Prepare for an emergency exit - keep your car keys somewhere within reach but hidden and have enough fuel in your car.