“A good marriage was my ultimate dream as a young girl”
As a young lady, I have always dreamt of having a good marriage. The kind that will make every young person want to marry. Though in the community where I lived, I could see men verbally or physically abuse their wives. I did not think that it was good, but I never thought it was that bad too because it is a common practice.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I ended up in an abusive marriage that nearly took my life. I say fortunately because I can now help others avoid marry abusers and how they can overcome abuse. Looking back I could have avoided marry him (an abuser) for there were obvious signs of abuse in our relationship. But I did not know any better and no loved one gave me advice on spousal abuse or was there any education on it.
Spousal abuse affects victims, but affects also their children and their children…
Knowing what I know now about spousal abuse, it is my prayer and hope that no young lady should find herself in such a relationship. The abuse has numerous negative effects on the abuse victim like low self esteem, inadequate behavior and worthlessness to mention just a few. Next to the direct victim, it affects the children within the family as well. Children in such homes mostly feel trapped and turn to blame themselves for what is going on between their parents. This apparently doesn’t have a positive effect on their social life, self worth, relationships in the future and their children will also learned from them and this cycle continues.
This cycle has been continuously going on in Ghana and if this cycle doesn’t stop it will continue for a long time. UNICEF Child protection Facilitator’s manual reports that:
• It is estimated that 150 million girls under the age of 18 have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence involving physical contact.
• Also, 17% of adolescent girls age 15 to 19 in Ghana report physical violence since the age of 15 and
• 25% of women aged 15 to 49 reports that their first sexual intercourse was forced and against their will and happened when they were less than 15 years of age.
What if Ghanaian youth would learn what a healthy marriage looks like?
The only advice I received about marriage growing up, was to be submissive and obedient. The quality of the marriage was never the main subject. What if the Ghanaian youth would be educated on what it means to have a healthy relationship in a marriage?
What if the youth would be educated about spousal abuse?What if they learned that they have a choice? Spousal abuse is a very sensitive issue in families and in society but society keeps pretending about the problem in that they do not want to talk about it or accept the fact that most marriages are abusive and that something should be done to make marriages work
I founded Bendoweh Foundation to break the vicious cycle by educating the youth on spousal abuse so that they are able to identify and avoid marry abusers.
First of all the education is focused on reducing teen pregnancy and early/forced marriage in the communities and in Ghana as a whole. Especially in the rural areas, parents force their daughters on men or boys to marry them simply because they (men) got them pregnant. By this education, both parents and girls will understand that it is not the best practice. The fact that a man got you pregnant, does not mean he wants you as a wife. So majority of these girls end up being terribly abused and most of them run back to their parents with two or three children and this makes the poverty situation at home worse. The girls will also learn how not to get pregnant before marriage and that they should never marry any man because they got them pregnant.
Secondly, the education is focused on changing the assumptions young girls have about marriage. Nowadays mindsets as “if I marry him he will change”, “he is rich, so he will take care of me”, “if only I can be pregnant of him, he will marry me” are very popular. The Bendoweh foundation teaches girls how these mindsets could lead towards abusive marriages. They’ll learn to marry men they truly love and respect. So that they will find men who will treat them well to break the cycle of spousal abuse and improve their lives and their children’s lives. For the Bible says, one will put down a thousand and two, ten thousand. They’ll learn to look at the difference; how a marriage can improve an individual’s life instead of ruining it.
At Bendoweh Foundation we belief prevention is better than cure. But next to education, we help those who have already found themselves in abusive relationships. They are supported in any way they need and shown the way forward.
Train women to train girls
Our goal is to train 50 women in each of the 10 regions of Ghana to work in the communities in two years. We want to reach all the second cycle schools and tertiary institution in Ghana with the message in the next five years. We look forward to train 30 girls in each high school to be ambassadors to carry the message to their friends in the communities and towns that we might not be able to reach soon.
How to Get Involved
By talking to friends and neighbors about how important it is to break the cycle of spousal abuse so that the future generation can enjoy marriage
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