Women and Children, more at risk of Intimate Partner Violence, says Dr. Oyebanji

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Hello Ma, Can we meet you?

My name is Dr. Oyebanji Oluwatoyin, I am a Resident Doctor in the Department of Family Medicine, Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi and also, I am a Missionary with the Peace House Universal Outreach.

Can you briefly explain what Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is?

Intimate partner violence refers to a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, friends or cohabitation. IPV is a form of domestic violence which is a pattern of behavior in which one person attempts to control an intimate partner through threats or actual use of physical violence, sexual assault, verbal and psychological abuse and/or economic coercion

How prevalent do you think IPV is in a country like ours?

According to Afrol News, 2007 one third of women in Nigeria have been subjected to physical, sexual and psychological violence. In Lagos – 66.4% and 50.4% of every married and unmarried women respectively expressed consent for wife beating (Project alert, 2001)

In what different ways does Intimate Partner Violence occur? 

  1. Act of physical violence –slapping, hitting, kicking and beating.
  2. Sexual violence – forced sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual coercion.
  3.  Emotional (psychological abuse) such as: insult, belittling, constant humiliation, intimidation (e.g. destroying things), threats to harm, threats to take away children.

Controlling behaviour including isolating a person from his/her family and friends monitoring their movement and restricting access to financial resources, employment, education or medical care.

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What do you think are the possible causes of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)

            – Low level of education (especially if the partner is more educated than him).

            – Witnessing or experiencing violence as a child.

            – Harmful use of alcohol and drugs.

            –  Acceptance of violence.

            – Past history of domestic violence exposure.

             –  Exposure to violence between parents.

              – Sexual abuse during childhood.

             – Exposure to other forms of prior abuse.

In a Relationship:

                  – Conflict and dissatisfaction in the relationship.

                  – Male dominance in the family.

                  – Economic stress.

                 – Man having multiple partners.

                 – Disparity in educational attainment

Community and social factor:

                 – Gender inequitable social norms.

                 – Weak legal sanctions.

                 – Lack of women civil right.

                 – Weak community sanctions against IPV.

                 – Broad social acceptance of violence as a way to resolves conflict.

                 – Armed conflict and high level of general violence in society.

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Can Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) affect anyone?

IPV can affect anyone irrespective of gender, race, age and socio economic status. Anyone can be a victim.

What role does societal norms and expectations play in Intimate Partner Violence?

Societal norms and expectations actually perpetuate IPV .There are some widely held beliefs which condone IPV. Examples are ;”A man has the right to assert power over a woman and is considered socially superior”, “A man has the right to physically discipline a woman for ‘incorrect’ behavior”, “Physical violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict in a relationship” etc

Who are those at risk?

Studies have shown that women and children are more at risk

How do you assist victims of IPV?

From the perspective of a family physician, assistance is given to victims if and when they present at the hospital by  helping them understand their rights, providing the patient with resourceful information on how to get the needed help, putting together a safety plan well in advance (not waiting till the onset of crisis), and educating them on the cycle of violence.

Are children affected too by this violence? And do you think his could affect their psychology in their environment?

Children are affected to a great extent . Children exposed to IPV have increased rates of behavioural and physical health problems which include depression, anxiety, violence towards peers, attempted suicide, abuse of drugs and alcohol, running away from home, histories of risky sexual behaviours and community sexual assault.

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Are there any bodies set up for this cause in our country? How effective are they and how do they carry out their laws.

There are governmental and non governmental bodies set up nationwide , I  cannot adjudge their effectiveness but I think to a great extent they will be of help to a victim of IPV.

If one notices a pattern or is threatened with Intimate Partner Violence, What can the fellow do? What support bodies are available in our locality? Within our immediate environment, is there support from the government or other non-governmental bodies for victims of Intimate Partner Violence?

The fellow should consult a lawyer, they will give legal advice on how to handle the situation such that the victim and the children would be safe. As I mentioned earlier there are widespread non-governmental and governmental bodies e.g. The headquarters for the National human right commission, are in all the Nigerian geo-political zones, Catholic women’s association (which are in all localities), international federation of women lawyers .e.t.c.  The National domestic violence red diary can be consulted for more information on this.

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