Domestic violence: When should couples consider divorce?

Cases of domestic violence are recorded on daily basis in Nigeria, with some couples having their days in court and seeking for divorce. The recent death of Gospel Singer, Osinachi Nwachukwu, allegedly following complications of domestic violence has thrown up many issues. In this report, PAUL OKAH seeks the opinion of Nigerians on domestic violence.

Couples can separate without divorcing – Egwuatu

For Head of Litigation, Raphael Adekole &Co, Ebenezer Egwuatu, couples can separate without divorcing in cases of domestic violence.

Accordng to him, “When I got called to the Nigerian Bar, part of my resolve was that I will not handle divorce cases. In my first three years of practice, I declined or rejected briefs on matrimonial causes.

“However, I got one brief that I knew that I was not just going to court for dissolution of marriage, but I was actually on a rescue mission; to save the life of the woman.

“The man in question would beat his wife in their matrimonial home and also beat her in her parents’ house where she had run to for safety.

“After hearing the woman’s story, I decided to take her brief. Of course, I got judgement in her favour. Since then, I have successfully done matrimonial cases for both men and women as petitioners.

“On February 2nd this year, I got one judgement in favour of my client, this time a man as the petitioner. His wife was so violent that the man preferred to sleep in his car when he comes back from work than sleep in the house.

“Today, he is free from that; he has his own house and very happy. You needed to see the joy on this man’s face when the judgment was delivered in his favour. His first statement to me outside the court was: “Barrister thank you so much, I am finally free, let her go and buy husband with her money”.

Speaking further he said, “If your life is threatened in your marriage, especially through physical violence, the law has provided a safety net for you, it is called divorce. If you love your spouse so much that you don’t want divorce, please go for judicial separation, whereby you are still married but no longer living under the same roof. When you are back to your senses and tempers are calm, you can live together again. But by all means, save your life by taking proactive steps.

Marriage not do or die affair – Josephine

In the same vein, Josephine Peter, a student to Blueprint Weekend that the way men and women engage in domestic violence, one would think all it was a competition, whereas women are mostly affected.

“All women have running mouth, but wise men walk out, or reply her, not to use hands to beat her. Many of these women do not even need to talk first. In a slight argument, he’s already saying ‘talk again, let me släp you’. It means he’s always ready for action. Nobody says you shouldn’t separate if you find her disrespectful.

“Do not put your hands on anyone no matter how provoked you are. Look at Will Smith and Chris Rock’s situation. The only reason Will did not go to jail and is not in court is because Chris did not press charges against him. When your wife provokes you with words, please walk away momentarily for peace to reign.

“Most men are the reason their wives behave the way they do. Respect your wives. Treat her exactly the way you want to be treated. Women are known for bragging about their husbands. No woman will complain when she is treated right. Nigerian men’s definition of submission is akin to a master-servant relationship.

“Staying together is not a do-or-die affair. Let women learn how to control their mouths, learn how to respect your husband as a woman. I could remember one of my neighbours that fought one time like that. I later called the husband and told him that it is not good for him to beat his wife. He told me that it is not his intention of beating his wife, that each time they were having small argument, his wife will be the first to slap him. Not once, but like two to three slaps before he will retaliate and beat her so that she will not have control over him.

“He went further and told me that ever since they got married, that it was the second time there were fighting because his wife will be the first to slap him. He said I should help him and warn her wife to stop slapping him whenever they are having small argument.

“I met the wife and the she admitted that she always the first to slap her husband, but it was out of anger. I told her to always control her anger that her husband is not a violent person. Thank God the woman has changed, they will have argument without fighting and they will still settle that night.

“What I’m I saying is sometimes my gender is almost be the cause of men beating them. Learn to respect your husband. However, leave if you are not treated right and cannot take anymore in your marriage.”

No need to die in marriage – Aisha

For legal practitioner, Aisha Yahaya, there was no need to die in marriage.

Speaking to our correspondent said, “The issue of domestic violence is getting out of hand in the country. It can be from the man or woman. Some women have killed their husbands, some work and plan daily to kill their husbands, while some husbands have also killed their wives, so it is not restricted to a particular gender.

“As a lawyer, I have seen and heard things, some that will leave you wondering why some couples married in the first place or how they got to the level of killing themselves.

“I once handled a case whereby a woman was trying to kill her husband. The reason is still unclear. She tried her best to kill him, including lacing his cream with the deadly sniper pesticide. She also added sniper to his toothpaste. After taking his bath, he wanted to rub his cream and noticed that it was mixed with sniper and the scent was different. He had to leave it. Also, while applying toothpaste to his brush, he noticed that the smell was different. He saw a reflection of his wife in the mirror laughing at him. He had to drop the toothpaste.

“When the woman was questioned by family members after the husband reported the issue, she could not deny it. The woman’s excuse was that she wanted to purge him. Tell me, since when has sniper led to purging, if not instant death? If a woman can go to the extent of adding sniper to your toothpaste and cream, what would prevent her from adding it to your food and killing you? That is the extent many women go to kill their husbands and the society will not know as autopsy is not conducted most times and the man could be ruled to have died in his sleep, while the woman will shed crocodile tears.

“On the other hand, I have also received a brief of how a man so much maltreated his wife that she lost confidence in herself. Here in Abuja, the man would be monitoring the movement of his wife and laying accusations of cheating on her to the extent of even preventing the woman from going anywhere in order to prove to him that she was not seeing another man.

“What type of marriage is that? If it gets to the extent of a man not trusting his wife and accusing her of infidelity on a daily basis, then the whole essence of marriage is defeated.

“The most annoying is hearing and seeing men beating their wives. It is the lowest any man can go. Once a man hits you once, there is every tendency that he will hit you again and will continually abuse you physically and emotionally until you are either divorced or a party is killed. “Indeed, while fighting back physical abuse, some women have killed their husbands in self defence or else some have been killed by their husbands. That will be the end of the marriage as one partner would be dead and the other in prison.

“So, if it is not working, let the couple divorce. It is better to be divorced than to be dead. There is no award given those who die as a result of domestic violence. For instance, late popular singer, Osinachi Nwachukwu, was said to have endured domestic violence and prayed for her husband to change. However, she is dead now and it was only after her death that many people came out to make allegations of domestic violence, so who is to blame? It is indeed a pathetic development and I will still advise couples to divorce if they can’t keep their marriages.”

Leave when threatened, Adekunle insists

On his part, civil servant, Matthew Adekunle, said: “I am against any form of domestic violence, but some of us condemning domestic violence are also guilty of it. At any slight provocation, you abuse or hit your husband, wife, co-wives, parents, brothers, sisters, children, housemaids, etc, inflicting emotional/psychological and physical damages on the victim.

“In as much as it’s not proper to hit a woman, women should try not come at a man. I have a neighbour that always tries to fight her husband and when the man retaliates, he will be called a wife beater by both the wife and the people around.

“But people will watch this woman hit the man first. They’ll watch the woman hold the man on his trousers, saying: ‘Oga, you must do your worst, you are not leaving here today’. The woman will be slapping the man until the man loses his cool and land her a dirty slap then she’ll start shouting ‘that’s all you know how to, do beat me’. She abuses the man verbally yet what people will talk about is when the man retaliates.

“During courtship, when everything is rosy, 80 per cent of certain ugly life can never manifest from both men and women, unless the man is naturally wicked or the woman is naturally bad mouthed. “Marriage generally requires maturity. As a lady, know when to end an argument with your husband. As a man, know when to end ugly discussions that may lead to insult.

“Maturity comes into play when both of you start having children and changes of life weigh in, how do you treat and talk to your man when he loses his job or doesn’t provide as usual? Also, how do you treat your wife when God starts to bless you? “Women need care, love and respect too. Toxic relationships don’t start from onset. Challenges of life gives birth to many negative things, but maturity conquers everything. 90 per cent of women in abusive marriage are actually architect of their own doom. The key to end it is in their mouth and behaviour, they can end it 100 per cent if they want, but not in all cases.

“I don’t share same roof with abusive women. Whereas I will never raise a finger on a woman, I don’t stay in a relationship with abusive women. I simply take my leave once I discover the woman is uncontrollably abusive. There are better things to face and accomplish in life than expending energy on domestic conflicts and abuse.

“I am a million times against domestic violence. It’s total waste of energy. Besides, a soul can be lost in the process. I always advise and that’s what I practice personally, that if two people cannot find a way of staying together peacefully, managing their misunderstandings civilly without unnecessary escalations, then they should quietly separate.”

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