Psychological and Emotional Management for Victims of Gender Based Violence

Ese Ajuyah
Posted April 6, 2017 from Nigeria

A few years ago I was called suddenly that a friend had been hospitalized and was asking to see me urgently. Because I had been with her a few days before I wondered about the reason for her sudden hospitalization. Eventually when I arrived at the hospital I learn't she had tried to commit suicide!

I had been speaking with her for some while before then. We had held several counseling sessions on the abuse she was experiencing with her husband. She was a victim of both physical and emotional abuse. This had been a long ongoing process in her marriage. According to her she decided to end her life and save herself from the continuous abuse she had been experiencing. It was a long walk from there after this incidence we had several sessions together where she was able to learn to believe in herself again and find the will to live meaningfully.

Her story is just one woman from the thousands experiencing same who are not accessing help. Many women are still living with terrible emotional and psychological wounds in them and some do not even realize the harm that is being done to them. Hence they are left to suffer painful and even debilitating long term effects of the abuse they are living with. This is so because most domestic abuses thrive in secrecy and denial. I have counseled with women who hide their abuse for years. While they are not happy with the violence they are enduring with their partners they choose not only to remain in the abusive environment but to encourage it by being silent about it. Many justify the behavior of their abusers and have become accepting to it as a way of expression between intimate partners making it a huge challenge for them to be helped.

In incidences where a woman has been living in a continuous vicious circle of abuse she need to first understand that violence is not an acceptable way of life. She needs to know that there are other constructive ways for partners to address their issues and resolve their differences other than violence. Abuses are strengthened when victims accept the behavior of their abusers as normal. Where conscious steps to stop the abuse is not done and a woman chooses to remain in such relationships the eventual long term effects’ resulting from the continuous experience of abuse develops in the victims and sometimes even go unnoticed for years.

Some of these signs may include; emotional instability, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, becoming suicidal, eating disorders, dissociation, etc. These long term effects are usually very devastating and costly for the victims of the violence. Many women going through these experiences and are not aware that these challenges are the effects of long term of abuse. The first step towards recovery for victims always begins when they start to talk about their experiences. Talking has a therapeutic effect of emotional healing. It is the first step towards emotional and psychological wholeness.

Incidences of domestic violence often receive swift physical interventions whereas the emotional and psychological damage caused by the experience are mostly ignored. A quick counsel here is that women should be encouraged to seek for emotional and mental help where they have experienced or are experiencing violence.

Another area to focus on is where women access help. It turns out that not a lot is being done to meet the emotional and psychological challenges that arise from continuous exposure to domestic violence. In many parts of the world where religion plays huge roles in the lives of people huge numbers of females are encouraged through the use of religious innuendoes to remain in abusive relationships. They receive counsel from religious leaders who do not have proper understanding and knowledge of how to manage victims in abusive relationships. Some resort to being judgmental and shaming when handling reported cases this has led to the loss of lives for many victims.

Victims of violence need to know that they encourage their abusers when they choose to remain silent in abusive relationships. In seeking for help, professional care cannot be downplayed. Seek and look out for organizations that offer professional care and are sensitive to managing incidences of violence against women. They are in a vantage position to offer solutions outside of sentiments that would have long term beneficial effects for the victims.

Comments 5

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Jill Langhus
Apr 07, 2017
Apr 07, 2017

Hi Ese. Thanks for sharing your important story, work and strong message that women who are abused need to seek help. I totally agree and wish more was being done for women globally in abusive relationships. I think self worth is at the core of these issues, enabling an abuser to keep abusing and not leaving, or at least speaking up. I also think the media and video games enables and encourages normalization of physical and emotional abuse by making it mainstream. It makes it more "acceptable" then. Are there any shelters in your area for women to go in these situations where they need to get out immediately?

Ese Ajuyah
Apr 10, 2017
Apr 10, 2017

Dear Jlanghus,

Thank you for your words of encouragement. There are very few shelter homes for women faced with domestic violence incidences in my country. However they are not meeting the needs of the huge number of women who require these services. Much still needs to be done. One thing I have noticed on the field of my work experiences is that more attention is given to the immediate physical response where a woman is going through violence in her relationship. Painfully the more graver aspects which cover the  mental, emotional and psychological needs of victims are not being identified or addressed which is where my focus lies in addressing GBV issues.

Jill Langhus
Apr 11, 2017
Apr 11, 2017

You're welcome:) I see. How can there be more carers implemented in the shelters or elsewhere to address these concerns more effectively?

Ese Ajuyah
Apr 11, 2017
Apr 11, 2017

Like I mentioned earlier there are a few homes doing their best to address these issues but more needs to be done. One key issue that affects having more carers in this field is the challenge of resources to meet the expense of running a shelter. Material and financial resources is a major issue here there are rents to be paid, staffs to be paid, equipment to be bought and so on. Funding options are very few even almost non-existent and makes it difficult for them to meet up with demands. Also the number of shelters are not enough to meet with the number of victims of domestic violence. I am personally working towards having a counseling and emotional healing center for women in my locality. Putting up a physical structure has been a major challenge because of resourcing. I am still working on how to make this a reality. I am looking forward to having a center where women victims of violence can walk in and have their emotional and psychological needs met.

Jill Langhus
Apr 12, 2017
Apr 12, 2017

I see. I thought they were mostly focusing on the physical challenges and not the emotional. Yes, that would make sense. What about adding your cause to GlobalGiving.org or Kiva.org? Sounds awesome. Good luck and keep us posted.