Domestic Violence: How Social Media Is Helping Victims Find Their Voices
To get an idea, all you need do is cast your mind back on the recent tragedy out of South Africa where a man killed his girlfriend and burnt her body.
In general, Many have been scarred, killed, and others permanently left numb to the happiness that marriages/relationships are meant to be about.
Recently, I came across a narration by a daughter on Twitter, of how her mother suffered continuous physical and emotional abuse from her father.
So bad was this abuse that the mum lived in perpetual fear and knew no happiness until she split from that man. [Ironically he initiated that divorce process.]
In the past, women hardly came out to talk about these things, choosing to bottle in all the pain and suffering in silence – and when suffered domestic violence, they could not bear the shame of even breathing a word of it to anyone.
These days, thankfully, people are becoming more ‘vocal’ about abuse, and this is largely due to the availability of social media platforms.
Actress Mercy Aigbe alleges that she was battered by her husband, Lanre Gentry; Singer Muma Gee released pictures alleging that her enstranged husband had abused her, Tonto Dikeh also came out on Instagram to talk about being abused.
Even Fuston Utomi, who owns the Foston Musik which Patoranking is signed to, has been called out on Instagram by Ajoke, his ex-wife, for his alleged acts of savagery on her during the time they were married.
Although Oladunni Churchill has come out with counterclaims of his own against Tonto, it is still obvious that a pattern is emerging here – social media has provided an extra avenue for people to come out of the closet about abusive marriages.
In the past, people only had the options of forever keeping quiet, reporting to the police, members of the abuser’s family or theirs.
These days though, abused persons are running to the haven provided by social media to share their stories and narrate their ordeals.
So great has been social media’s influence on recent domestic violence narrative that even men have hopped on these platforms to raise the alarm when they have also been subjected to abuse.
Take for instance, Twitter user Rosanwo who narrated that his wife had ceaselessly abused him, once leading to a shift of his spine.
Will domestic violence suddenly end because few perpetrators have been called out on social media platforms? Is this even the way to go about putting a stop to domestic violence?
Of course, stopping domestic violence is a very serious matter which surely goes beyond sharing painful stories and narrating marital struggles on social media.
But you could refer to these shared stories as the cliché first few drops that later form a mighty ocean, or more accurately, the first footsteps taken on a journey of a thousand miles.
There is still a lot more that needs to be done – first, the laws guiding these matters need to be better, and punishments need to get stricter than 3 years for men and 2 years for women as established in sections 353 and 360 of the criminal code.
The police will also need to do better in enforcing these laws. A lot better.
There has been much talk about how men wouldn’t go to the police to report domestic violence because they’ll be laughed at, and called weaklings who can’t even ‘handle’ an ordinary woman.
It has also been heard that some women would complain to the cops about being beaten by their husbands and the issues would be treated as a triviality.
These things are unfounded, of course, but we all know what they say: no smoke without fire.
Anyway, the fact remains that only a small sample of victims actually come out to report these cases.
So how exactly is the police supposed to crack down on offences that are not being reported, or why should new laws be made to curb an offence that is not being ‘perpetrated enough’ to warrant a review of the existing laws?
The first step to containing this ever-present epidemic of domestic violence is to have victims – men and women – speak out about what they are going through.
There can be no doubt that social media has so far helped to drive forward the narrative on domestic violence, its damaging effects and the need for both abused men and women to speak up before it’s too late.
One can only hope that more abused people get the strength and bravery to come out from the shadows where they stay and suffer the battery and torture in silence.
And as evidence has proven, social media will always be an available outlet if it ever gets too hard or embarrassing to reach out to anyone in person.