THE CYCLE OF ABUSE

Growing up, I loved reading books. I still do. My dad fed that monster by buying for me dozens of traditional story books and comics. I loved getting lost in the Adventures of Hare, I cried for Wanjiru who was sacrificed by her people for rain and it did not matter to me then, that she had came back with many cows and goats, it was terrible of them to do that to her. I dreamt of one day becoming like Truphena the City Nurse or Anna the Air Hostess and sometimes also fantasized being the most beautiful girl in my hood, like Ihuoma, in the tragic story – The Concubine. I laughed at the silly stories in Hekaya za Abu Nuwasi. For some stories I was not really sure what the moral of the story was, though I read them anyway. One such story is the Story of Simon Makonde which is a slight variation of the nursery rhyme Solomon Grundy who was born on a Monday, christened on Tuesday, married on Wednesday, took ill on Thursday, worse on Friday, died on Saturday, buried on Sunday. Back then it seemed a bizzare story of man who did things within a week, that the others take in decades!

But maybe now I see the analogy. In many ways actually. Think about it, isn’t that how we are taking life nowadays? Trying to get rich quick and if good ideas do not work as fast, we kill them on Saturday and bury them on Sunday. And what about our relationships? Aren’t we killing them….. no, actually the emerging trend in this case is actually to maim or kill our partners. Gender based violence especially in our relationships has become so common that it has formed part of our daily dose of humor here in our society, we joke that men should avoid marrying from that certain community where husbands are dismembered off their ‘transformers’ by their women or we joke about the certain political leader who was battered by his wife and who should not have gone to report to the police to save himself some embarrassment. Well, we create memes, joke about it and laugh until the next incidence when someone is killed or maimed, then we get really sympathetic and then come Sunday we bury and on Monday another Simon Makonde is born, and the past…. the past is carelessly tossed behind us.

Abuse tends to go through a notable pattern which forms the cycle of abuse. The cycle has four distinct stages which recur:

The Cycle of Abuse

1. Tension Building

During this stage, the abuser seems to be in a perpetual foul mood, getting irritated by unimportant things and may even yell angrily. They got very controlling and possessive. The victim finds themselves walking on egg shells.

2. Abuse

The actual abuse takes place, whether physical battering, emotional abuse through intimidation or verbal assault, psychological abuse such as gas-lighting where the abuser makes the victim question their sanity, or sexual abuse such as rape.

3. Reconciliation

This stage is usually confusing to the victim because soon after the abuse, the offender apologizes profusely, and promises that it will never happen again. They beg the victim not to leave them. They make excuses why they acted the way they did and even blame the victim for making them do it. They promise the sun and the moon, and some do indeed deliver the sparkle of the stars in shiny expensive jewelry.

4. Calm

This is the honeymoon period and no abuse takes place during this time. The abuser acts like the abuse never happened and the incident gets ‘forgotten’.

This cycle lasts for different periods for different couples, from days for one couple to years for another. After the calm period, the cycle begins again and the abuser gets back to the tension building stage. Often the level of abuse keeps escalating from one cycle to the next.

It is reported that this kind of abuse is on the rise between dating couples, and the victims go ahead and marry their abusers under the illusion that ‘it should get better’. Unfortunately, that is not how it works, if anything it gets worse. The only way it gets better is through prayer and seeking help, after you put yourself out of danger. If married, this might mean temporary separation as you seek help. In my opinion both the abuser and victim require professional counselling help…… please note my emphasis on professional; the abuser for obvious reasons and the victim in order to help them deal with the resultant emotional pain, bitterness and fears. Victims need to know that it is not okay to be abused, that it is not their fault, that they are not alone and that they can get out of the cycle.

Abuse in relationships transcends gender. It is time we stop poking fun and instead do something about it. Sensitize a youth somewhere, make noise about it on social media, report a case, educate yourself… just do something!

PS: This Article was originally posted on Arusi Guru Blog Page

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