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Stop abuse against women and children - say no to domestic violence.
 Wilderness | Connexions Column : 

Riaan Swiegelaar

Riaan Swiegelaar

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C o n n e x i o n s C o l u m n

Men who beat women

WOMEN may be afraid of strangers, but it's a husband, a lover, a boyfriend, or someone they know who is most likely to hurt them. According to a recent social study, two-thirds of violent attacks against women are committed by someone the woman knows.

In South Africa one of the most dangerous places for a woman is her own home. Approximately 1000 women are killed each year by husbands or boyfriends and about 1 million men beat their partners every year, according to statistics.

When I listen to men who abuse their wives, what I hear is how terribly inadequate these men are. At the same time, we know that abusive men are tremendously dependent on their partners. Fear of rejection, emotional withdrawal, and/or abandonment are major factors that actually cause these men to be violent. Men who batter women are often psychologically incapable of leaving the relationship. Latent anger is also very evident. The anger may not even have anything to do with the woman. It is just that the man keeps the anger inside for so long that it comes out in very violent ways. Some men have no outlets for their emotions, because they think they aren't allowed to cry or show weakness.

No excuses

There are many excuses men use to justify hitting women, but none of them are legitimate. Some would even go as far as saying, "That's how I was brought up. That's all I saw in my household, so this is normal." This is not normal; it's a mental sickness that needs to be rectified.

Truth is: there is no excuse for abuse.
Physical abuse is a very touchy subject for many women. Many women experience it, but none deserve it. It is a senseless and heartless act, and is a sign of a true coward. Women are already faced with the day to day challenges of being a woman and to have added pressure from a careless figure of a man is totally unnecessary. But one of the main reasons many men hit women is because many women allow it to happen.

Warning signs

When a woman meets someone new, she can't tell if he is an abusive person, but as time progresses, he will eventually show signs: He will become controlling and possessive; he will start trying to control her day-to-day life. He will want to know her every location, how long she was there, who she saw, and who she met. He will control what she wears and who she goes out with. He will eventually isolate her, sometimes to the point where she can't even see her family. He isolates her so she can become dependant on him. When this starts to happen, she needs to either end the relationship before it gets physical, or voice her concerns, expectations, and solutions.

When a man hits a woman, it gives him a measurement of his control. He is not treating her with respect. Instead of her being his equal, she allows him to place himself above her while she becomes the peasant. And the only reason why this happens is because those women allow it. Truth be told, a man wouldn't want someone hitting his daughter, so he shouldn't hit someone else's.

Cycle of abuse

A cycle of abuse occurs in some families. The family's life becomes a cycle of violence. Life begins to revolve around anticipating violence; coping with actual acts of violence; or recovering from the violence. Ironically, a family can become tremendously close in the recovery phase. The man who was terrifying and intimidating turns into a remorseful, needy, and dependent man. The woman who was battered then feels sorry for the man and recommits to him in a fantasised hope that the abuse won't happen again. But the cycle of abuse will begin again, often becoming worse. The cycle of abuse can only be broken with awareness and professional help.

Bottom line, men should not hit women and women shouldn't let them. Women can get all the advice in the world, but they are going to stay until they are ready to leave. Until that happens, these men are going to continue to treat them like the peasants that they think they are. So, women... if you don't want to be hit by a man, don't let him…

In the next issue: Do online-relationships work?

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