THE LINK: INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE AND MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGE

Ese Ajuyah
Posted March 26, 2017 from Nigeria

Mrs. O usually sits and mutters to herself regularly. Her words are usually disjointed and incoherent at times, however her children and grand-children love her to bits. Her children will tell you their mum was not always this way. She became like this because of the years of sustained beatings she suffered in the hands of their father before they eventually separated.

Painfully this reality is not far from what other women are faced with in their marriages or with their partners. According to the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey 2013 overall, 25 percent of ever-married women age 15-49 report ever having experienced emotional, physical, or sexual violence from their spouse, and 19 percent report having experienced one or more of these forms of violence in the past 12 months (NDHS 2013).

I dare say this number is almost inimical because most intimate partner violence women encounter in their relationships are rarely ever reported. There are social structures in place that do not encourage or support women to report incidence when it occurs. Women rather choose to remain in such harmful relationships and leave themselves open to vulnerability of being traumatized over and again.

As a counselor I have encountered several cases of women who have developed mental health challenges as a result of sustained years of intimate partner violence. These women have from mild depression moved over to raging emotionally states of becoming suicidal. This is of grave concern to me. I personally always say there is a growing generation of highly traumatized women on the increase in our society. The emotional and psychological effect of intimate partner violence is a concern that seems to be down played.

The reason being that while there are high calls to check the physical bruises and wounds inflicted where there is incidence much attention is not being given to the mental and psychological challenge that women have to deal with. This is more dangerous and requires urgent intervention.

In my engagement with women at the counseling table over and again I continue to experience the close link between mental health and GBV. Both are largely inseparable especially where a woman has lived for long in such relationship. Like the opening case I mentioned many women are losing their mental coherence to GBV and this area requires much intervention.

Another challenge I have also identified is that a lot of these women do not readily have the resources to visit professional counselors where they can be helped to check their mental health and where it is getting out of hand be managed till they are stabilized. What is common is that many of them rather choose to visit religious leaders who leave them more traumatized by giving unprofessional counsel that may eventually lead to full blown mental health challenge after having to live with abusive partners over a long duration. This is common especially among women with very low economic capacity who struggle to live within the 1dollar a day status.

I personally believe the time has come for more interventions to support initiatives that would cater for the needs of this category of women. While we are doing the much we can it is time the world begin to look into supporting this form of initiative so that victims can readily access professional help and as such the rising tide of women experiencing mental health challenges or trauma as a result of GBV can be helped.

Comments 7

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Tamarack Verrall
Mar 26, 2017
Mar 26, 2017

Dear Ese,

I am so glad to read your call for attention and solutions for traumatized women. Your words are so important "I personally always say there is a growing generation of highly traumatized women on the increase in our society. The emotional and psychological effect of intimate partner violence is a concern that seems to be down played". Powerful, and it is with this conviction that we all need to continue to move forward together. The extreme violence that so many women suffer globally needs to be recognized and the support thoroughly funded. It is by insisting on the magnitude in numbers and the extremes in these violent acts that we can collectively insist that it end, that those who are suffering deserve loving support for as long as they need it, and that the work being done by women for each other get government financial support as a first step. This is how we embarrassed our government to create the Status of Women government body and fund rape crisis centres and safe houses. It was a start, though we have not ended violence against women all these many years later. I hope that by raising our voices together globally we can press for funding and an end to violence toward women and girls globally. Best wishes with your very important work.

In sisterhood,

Tam

Ese Ajuyah
Mar 29, 2017
Mar 29, 2017

Dear Tam,

Thank you for your kind words. Funding for projects addressing violence against women seem to be dwindling. Most women led organizations are having challenges here on how to fund their interventions. However that wont deter us from still working to ensure that work to address the challenge continues. and like you said with raised voices we can pressure the relevant authorities and organizations to become more engaged in curbing the challenge.

Thank you again.

Ese

Tamarack Verrall
Mar 29, 2017
Mar 29, 2017

Hi Ese,

The lack of funding everywhere is shameful given what we know is needed, as is the whole world economy being held in few hands. Our power is growing now that we are finding each other.

With love and determination in sisterhood,

Tam

Enmita Marin
Apr 01, 2017
Apr 01, 2017

Hello Ese

I loved your story. For a long time I've been searching for articles about psychological mistreatment, and so far I have been unsuccessful. I think our work is very important, and I salute you for that. I encourage you to marshal female groups able to help women who have been victims of psychological mistreatment. If you ever need a real life story or virtual testimony, you can count on me, since I'm a survivor of such tribulation.

I congratulate you for your article and genuine worry for our sisterhood. I sincerely hope you have enough strength and perseverance to carry on.

Best regards.

Ese Ajuyah
Apr 02, 2017
Apr 02, 2017

Dear Enmita,

Thank you for your kind words.. Strength  usually in these kind of instances is drawn from the passion to eefct change. I believe having sisters to walk with you in this kind of journey has the potential capacity to keep me going on.

Thank you for your offer of assistance. i take it to heart and will surely reach out every time I have to.

Thank you again.

Ese

Enmita Marin
Apr 02, 2017
Apr 02, 2017

I stand with you Ese Ajuyah. Your work is priceless and beautiful. I really admire your genuine preoccupation for women. Count on me every time you need. 

A big hug for you.

Billur Ugursal
Jun 15, 2017
Jun 15, 2017

Your observations in your story has resonated with me. I thank you for sharing your concerns about the invisible wounds inflicted by psychological abuse.  There are no legal ramifications for mental abuse and that is why it is so rampant.

Lobbying for developing laws protecting people from emotional abuse is a must.

thank you,

billur