I watched that video clip that went viral last week of a pregnant woman being mercilessly battered by her husband. It was gripping, unnerving to watch.
I may be naïve, maybe even vain, but I don’t believe there is any justification whatsoever that can warrant a man to lay his hand on a woman. No matter how annoying her behavior, no matter how atrocious her actions may be, she does not deserve a beating. There is no justification whatsoever for domestic violence, period. I however do acknowledge that there are women who abuse their men too — that I know.
Now, each time I learn of a domestic violence case, the first thing that comes to mind is: how was this child raised? Did they grow up in an environment where abuse was common, perhaps even normal? Was it an accepted behavior? Did they grow up in the kind of culture where beating one’s wife is regarded as a sign of love? Where men believe it is the best way to discipline their wives? Did the child grow up believing this is how men exercise their masculinity and authority in the home? And did the battered woman grow up believing that being physically assaulted is all part of submission? Those are the first questions I ask myself whenever I hear of a domestic violence situation.
Now, allow me to speak as someone who is raising boys only — we have two sons aged two and four years. We are keen on raising our sons in a healthy environment, one that has no room for that kind of assault. What we are trying to do is raise our boys to become men whose interaction with women will be one of respect, understanding, appreciation and courtesy. We will raise them with values that will help them understand that it is never right to hit a woman, no matter the circumstance, no matter the rage that one is feeling at that particular moment.
Further, we will offer them lessons that will inculcate in them a sense of responsibility; where they will be responsible enough to take action in case they come across a domestic violence incident and not merely be onlookers — just standing there and witnessing a woman being battered while doing nothing because ‘it’s none of my business’, but men who will be bold enough to intervene and assist. We will let them know that it’s not just about doing nothing, but actually doing something too.
We are also aware that we are our sons’ first teachers; their role models. What we do, they will do. How we behave, they will behave. How they see their father treat me is how they will likely treat their wives. How they see me behave and treat their father is how they will likely expect their women to behave. We are acutely aware of and conscious of this every other day, because we know that children learn more with their eyes than with their ears. We are not perfect parents, but we will do our best to raise model gentlemen, so help us God.
I also have a word to fellow parents raising daughters — how are you raising them? Are you raising them to be confident enough, to know that they don’t have to depend on a man for their existence? Girls who will grow up knowing that they can still go on to have a meaningful, happy and productive life without necessarily clinging on to that man who batters her senseless? Women who are brave enough to walk away from the man they love — for the sake of their own lives and those of their children? Women who will not succumb to society’s expectations of them — that they must be married?
We have to do this together — we who are raising sons and we who are raising daughters. We must raise a generation of respectful people.
The writer is a motherhood blogger at www.mummytales.com