I knew of what Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) is through experience. I had not heard of its definition or legal classifications until the day police started to help me flee from my perpetrator, though I could describe what it was and how it manifested. Many people assume that DVA only relates to physical abuse but the reality expands far much further than that. This is shown by the extent of trauma survivors suffer.
Physical scars many times heal quicker than psychological and emotional scars. In fact, I see psychological and emotional abuse as the preceding and primary form that also becomes the foundation of any other type of abuse. The more visible abuses like financial and economic, sexual, and physical abuse are perpetrated in addition to this foundation.
Therefore, DVA is not only limited physical abuse, or to one society group or religion. I call it a “pandemic”. It is like a widespread disease, that affects many around the world. It kills more women than cancer or road accidents. In the UK last year, out of 2.0 million DVA victims, 1.2 million were women. In addition 536 000 were victims of sexual assaults.
DVA manifests in a number of ways all founded on the principles of “control” and “power” by the perpetrator. Having suffered all manner of deep rooted DVA for 10 years, I support the UK government’s definition which states, “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, financial and economic, and emotional” aspects.
I have to emphasise that I have concluded that there are 2 types of DVA. Type 1, which is perpetrated by intimate partners, and Type 2 perpetrated by family members or relatives. The one commonly referred to when people mention DVA is the first, but the latter has more overbearing consequences, as its existence is facilitated by community groups not individual perpetrators. It is under the Type 2 where other social pandemics like female genital mutilation, forced marriages and honor-based violence exist. The physiological harm and suffering through this type of DVA is inter-related to Type 1, with physical, emotional, & sexual violence & abuse as subtypes.
Like any other aspect in life, for us to find a solution for this pandemic of DVA, we need to know and understand its nature, impact and the consequences of its impact, and how it manifests even after victims separate from their perpetrators. Only then can we find plausible and long standing solutions. For some women like me, we understand DVA through adverse experience. For many more, knowledge of DVA is through witnessing affected friends or relatives, or through professional circles.
One thing I will confidently mention is that, it is possible to live a fulfilled life after a period of the devastating pandemic. It is immensely reviving to know, understand, and experience complete restoration. The power of God’s healing is much stronger than any extent of brokenness.
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© Kudakwashe Nyakudya 2013. All Rights Reserved.
Updated 12 November 2015