DETERMINANTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AMONG COUPLES IN OBIO/AKPOR GOVERNMENT AREA IN RIVERS STATE
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This study was carried out to investigate the determinants of domestic violence among couples in Obio/Akpor Government Area in Rivers State. Domestic violence has been recognised as a public health problem with far-reaching consequences for the physical, reproductive, and mental health of women. The primary aim of this study is to determine the prevalence factors associated with domestic violence among couples in Rivers State. A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted among one hundred and fifty two married couples residing in Obio/Akpor Government Area. Descriptive analyses were performed and a well-structured questionnaire was the major instrument used in gathering data from the respondents. The study revealed that domestic violence was significantly associated with lower social class, alcohol consumption, increasing age disparity between couples and spouse unemployment. The male victims of domestic violence are associated with financial disparity in favour of the female, influential in-laws, educated women and couples within the same age group. While it was also observed that female partners were usually the major victims of cases of domestic violence in the region. The study conclude that there is a need for government to look into economic status of couples by providing more job opportunities and health practitioners should endeavour to create awareness and pre-marital counselling to couples as this will help reduce the rate of domestic violence in the society. It was recommended that anti-social violence campaign empowerment should be organized in order to boost the confidence of the couples especially to underscore the practice of domestic violence.
- Background to the Study
Domestic violence has been one of the determinant factors responsible for the high rate of separation, divorce and broken homes in Nigeria. An average Nigerian married man has this dominating ego over his wife, often times this emanates from the way and manner a male child is raised and preferred over the girl child in most part of the country. Domestic violence among couples is a global public health challenge of human rights concern. Domestic violence is a global issue, regardless of social, economic, religious or cultural group (Garcia-Moreno, 2005). Therefore, domestic violence is not a new phenomenon; neither are its consequences to women’s physical, mental and social well-being reproductive health. It spans history and cultures and affects people across society, irrespective of their religion and socioeconomic status (WHO, 2014). Most reported cases of domestic violence among couples are perpetrated by men towards women (United Nations, 2015); although men can be victims of IPV, this study focuses more on violence against women. Most of the times, domestic violence is usually carried out by a husband or an intimate male partner of a woman and this is often due to the emotional attachment with or economical dependency of women on the perpetrators of violence.
The overwhelming global burden of domestic violence is however borne by women (R Jewkes, 2010). The frequency and severity of domestic violence also vary among partners and across cultures and societies; however, the recurring decimal of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other by the use of force or by coercion (WHO, 2013). Three different dimension of abuse characterize domestic violence, physical, sexual and emotional abuse (National Strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence 2010-2014). Behaviours that commonly occur in situations of domestic violence include various forms of physical abuse such as kicking, punching, slapping, smothering or choking, biting, throwing and threatening with objects. The use of isolation can be a key device, for example, where the abuser restricts communication between the victim and those who are close to the individual. (Task force on violence against women 1997).
According to the (World Health Organization, 2013), domestic violence can be defined as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, intimate partner violence (IPV), battering, and family violence, is a pattern of abusive behaviors by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, family, dating or cohabitation. While sexual violence or abuse on the other hand entails being physically forced to have sexual intercourse against one’s will, or yielding to a sexual act out of fear of what one’s partner might do, or being compelled to engage in degrading and undignifying sexual acts (WHO, 2013). Sexual violence is one of the most common types of violence experienced by women. Domestic violence has adverse outcomes for women ranging from poor psychological health to adverse reproductive health effects such as poor birth outcomes (Campbell, 2002).
Some actions that are manifestations of domestic violence include: physical aggression or assault (shoving, hitting, slapping, kicking, biting, restraining, throwing objects), threats, criminal coercion, emotional/psychological abuse; intimidation, stalking, controlling or domineering; endangerment, unlawful imprisonment, kidnapping, trespassing, denial of access of the victim to family or friends, harassment, humiliation, as well as passive abuse otherwise known as neglect or economic deprivation (WHO, 2014). The unmistakable narrative about domestic violence is the growing awareness of the fact that acts of violence against women are not isolated events but rather form a pattern of behavior that have been accepted in some societies as acceptable societal or cultural norms even though these practices violate the rights of women and girls, damage their health and well-being and also limit their participation in society (Hindin, 2008).
According to Heise (2014), violence against spouse occurs in all social and economic classes, but couples with low socio-economic status are more likely to experience violence. As noted by Abama and kwaya (2014), more research is needed to fully understand the connections between poverty and domestic violence. Men in difficult economic circumstances such as unemployment, little job automy, low socio-economic status or blocked advancement due to lack of education may resort to violence as a result of frustration and sense of hopelessness, a condition due to displacement in psychoanalysis, may or may not have direct physical attack resulting to infliction of physical injuries, there may also be verbal attack, aggression, use of derogatory languages, domineering behaviour as well as use of force to have sexual relationship with the wife, (Gamy, 2012). It is observed that the magnitude of domestic violence is concealed because women are usually reluctant to report cases of abuse or assault by their husband even if they sustain serious injuries, pain or even emotional damage, most of them are simply quiet and continue to live under disguise of not having a problematic marriage, others would term it a private matter and most times, attempt by women to report incident of abuse and assault by their husband complicates matters (Anaba, 2010).
Studies have documented between 10% and 35% of women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives (Uthman OA, 2009). In Lagos state, Nigeria, to address the high burden of IPV, the government enacted a law to provide protection against victims of domestic violence in May 2007 (Flury, 2010). The civil society and governments worldwide have recognized violence against women as a public policy and human rights concern since the world conference on human rights in Vienna and the declaration on the elimination of violence against women in 1993. Emotional distress, suicidal thoughts or attempts were significantly higher among women who had ever experienced physical or sexual violence than those who had no experience. In Nigeria, domestic violence is believed to be a family or home affair. Just like in other part of the world example Zambia, all forms of domestic violence are employed to gain and maintain control over the victim, deploy it against partners (Shigas 2017). Hence, the researcher was motivated to investigate on determinants of domestic violence among couples in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area in Rivers State.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The permissive social norms (husband’s right to beat his wife) in African appeared to significantly increase the odds of spousal or domestic violence In Nigeria. These norms are shared expectations of how couples should behave, and they are highly influential in shaping individual behavior in the region. Domestic violence has been practiced for many years. Domestic violence is one of the major social problems that affects both the family and the society. This problem has great effects especially on women and children. Domestic violence is one of the problems faced by the women in the rural areas. As observed by the researcher during her community health experience in Obio/Akpor community, in Rivers State. It was also observed by the researcher that, women were mostly affected in the community. The women suffer physical and psychological health problem. Most of these women were severely injured; some were hospitalized in health centre while some were referred to psychiatric hospital for further management. The effect of domestic violence could be very fetal; women are both intentionally murdered by their partners and lose their life as a result of injuries inflicted on them. The above factors motivated the study on determinants of domestic violence among couples in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area in Rivers State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The primary aim of the study is to investigate the determinants of domestic violence among couples in Obio/Akpor Government Area in Rivers State.
The specific objectives are:
- To examine the socio – economic status of couples in Obio/Akpor local Government Area.
- To ascertain the traditional belief of couples in Obio/Akpor local Government Area.
- To examine the psychological/personality disorder cases of couples in Obio/Akpor local Government Area.
- To evaluate the family traits among couples in Obio/Akpor local Government Area.
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions were carefully raised to guide the study;
- What is the socio – economic status of couples in Obio/Akpor local Government Area?
- What are the traditional belief of couples in Obio/Akpor local Government Area?
- Are there any significant psychological/personality disorder cases of couples in Obio/Akpor local Government Area?
- Is there any significant relationship between family traits and domestic violence among couples in Obio/Akpor local Government Area?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses will be tested in the course of the study;
H0: There are no factors responsible for domestic violence among couples in Obio/Akpor local Government Area.
H1: There are factors responsible for domestic violence among couples in Obio/Akpor local Government Area.
H0: There are no significant effect of domestic violence on the mental health of couples in Obio/Akpor local Government Area.
H2: There are significant effect of domestic violence on the mental health of couples in Obio/Akpor local Government Area.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study would be of great help to victims and parents who are involved in domestic violence. In identifying some problems, and also psychological and emotionally effects with the view to finding possible solutions to these problems. It could act as source of information to gender rights organizations and interested members of the public about how dangerous domestic violence could be and how bad it can affect women who experience it more. It might also be very valuable to members of the society, who are one way or the other affected by domestic violence as it could help them live a normal and fulfilled life, and also equip them on how they can handle domestic violence. The study will be of immense help to married couples in reducing the rate of domestic violence among couples in Obio/Akpor Community through health education and sensitization. The study will help health agencies to organize seminars and workshops to couples and people who are intending to get married on ways to avoid domestic violence. It will also help the government to look into the economic status of the society thereby providing job opportunities for the youths and adults. This research study will serve as a useful source of reference to students and other researchers who may want to conduct further studies on this topic.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study is limited to determinant of domestic violence among couples in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area in Rivers State. The research will cover mainly married couples and single parents in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Determinant: this is an element that identifies or determines the nature of something or that fixes or conditions an outcome.
Domestic Violence: Is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another.
Couples: Is a man and woman that are legally married and living together
Socio-economic status: Is a measure of an individual’s economic and social position.
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