While Nigeria’s general elections were ongoing on Saturday, February 23 2019, one of the sideshows on Twitter was the news of a certain twitter user who was being pitilessly dragged for beating his girlfriend so badly till her eyelids had blood clots in them.
Following the accusation here, he claimed that his hand had mistakenly fallen on the woamn's face, posted an ill-advised and later-deleted clip of an altercation between him and the girlfriend in question [in the hope of exculpating himself from social media blame?] and later conceded and apologised when the heat became a torrent he apparently could no longer bear.
There’s a lot to be said about the whole story - for example, how is Twitter the first place people go to in cases like this when there are authorities such as the police and other interested agencies they should have had first recourse to? And is a public apology on social media enough to let someone off the hook of crimes committed?
But these do not really have much bearing on this piece like the issue of women feeling shameful when they have been assaulted by their partners, people they have [had] romantic relationships with.
In the Twitter drama narrated above, the victim of abuse did not say anything about the beating. It was a third party, presumably a friend, who called out assailant, calling him an abuser and detailing the sequence of events in a thread of allegations.
And even that came a whole month after the incident itself.
Naturally the question is; why wait that long to report the occurrence, and why not by the victim herself? The answer to this is contained in one of the screenshots of a chat she had a with a friend where the victim claimed to have been too “ashamed” to say anything or tell anyone.
Why would victims suffer shame alongside the disrespect and inhumanity of being battered by a partner who should be affectionate to them?
Suffering violence, suffering shame
One would expect women to feel indignant, angry, resentful, bitter, vengeful and other feelings that would typically portray that they’ve been hard done by. Shame is not something to be typically ‘expected’ from victims of domestic violence. Yet, it is not uncommon for women to feel this.
One big and obvious reason for this is the prevalent culture of victim blaming and shaming. When women suffer these awful treatments and intend to come out with their stories of abuse, they know from the experience of others that they will hear questions like “why didn’t they speak up sooner?”, “why didn’t they just leave?”, and “why didn’t they tell anyone?” among others.
Obviously this is simply not right. When it is established that women have been physically abused in relationships, the blame - all of it - is the partner’s. It does not matter if the woman ran her mouth or if she was insultive. If it was not done in provable self-defense, it is abuse to hit a woman, or for a woman to hit a man.
In simple language omen cannot bear the undeserved pain of being hit and be made to carry the shame of it as well. All the guilt, shame, punishment of domestic violence belongs to the perpetrator – not the victim.
Abuse is not your fault
Abusive partners and sometimes family, friends and to a large extent social media could make you feel that abuse is your fault, or that you are the reason why your man partner is abusive to you. This is not true at all. Each partner has control over their actions. One partner choosing to be abusive is never the victim’s fault.
You don’t deserve it
There is nothing anyone could ever do to deserve to be abused. Both partners deserve and should give respect at all times. You don’t deserve to be put down or called names, told who you can or can’t be friends with, or to be controlled or hurt. In a healthy relationship, each partner should be able to communicate their feelings without resorting to violence or abuse of any kind.