Why death shouldn’t be the fate for couples in marital dispute

Tuesday September 8 2020

 

By Salome Gregory

Stories of husbands killing their wives have been hitting the headlines in recent years. The question is, why aren’t the murders ending?

The killings, according to experts result from long-standing misunderstandings between couples. They say the murders could be avoided if those involved, as well as society, took the right measures at the right time.

Most murders are caused by jealousy, especially where husbands accuse their wives of being unfaithful. Interviewed experts agree that being unable to control one’s anger during physical and verbal confrontation is what leads to serious beatings, some which lead to murder.

In June, a body of a woman identified as Mercy Mkambala, was found lying in a pool of blood on her bed in Kimara. Her husband, Erick Samson, was arrested by police as the prime suspect.

Two months later, on August 22, Agnes Mushi, 35, died following a squabble with her husband, Jeremiah Duma, who is being held by police as the prime suspect. The resident of Mbezi kwa Msuguri was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

To end such brutal killings, experts say society needs to keep a watchful eye and raise an alarm once they suspect couple behaviours that may lead to murder. Society should intervene before matters get out of hand, the experts suggest.

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Victims should look for telltale signs of an abusive partner and do the necessary to avoid being sent to their early grave.

Bonaventure Balige, a psychologist, says couples should open their eyes wide enough to smell relationship dangers that are likely to happen in future.

He says gone are the days when women were taught to hold on to abusive marriages. Women should consider the fact that abuse is a gradual process that could end up being fatal.

Most women stay in abusive marriages expecting their husbands to change, something experts say is unlikely to happen. Very few, like, Wilhelmina*, a mother of two are bold enough to leave abusive marriages.

Wilhelmina ended her five-year-marriage after she had gotten enough of her husband’s beatings and harassment. Her husband used to beat her in the presence of their children and would also chase her from their home from time to time.

She decided to call it quits after reconciliation measures by both their families failed. Her husband did not show any signs of regret for his actions or that he would even change. She made the decision after she found out that he had been cheating with their house girl all along.

“I am still in pain. I cry every day. I have lost appetite and I don’t feel like going to work anymore. But I believe the pain will end one day and I will start my life all over again. I am currently attending counselling sessions,” says Wilhelmina who is currently living with her parents.

Although she is still hurting, Wilhelmina did the right thing by moving out. Experts advise against staying in such relationships because abuse would probably keep happening since abusers have deep emotional and psychological problems.

While it’s possible for an abuser to change, experts warn against expecting it to happen overnight. They say change can only happen once the abuser takes full responsibility for his behaviour, seeks professional treatment and stops giving excuses for their behaviour. Abusive partners have a tendency of blaming others for their behaviour. They blame their partners, their unhappy childhood, stress, work, their drinking or even their temper.

But why would someone who once proclaimed endless love for you turn into an abuser? Balige partly blames society for this. “Our society raises men in an improper way when it comes to expressing their emotions. They are taught to be bold and are discouraged from crying even when they are stressed and going through difficult moments.”

This alone can lead to their being abusive as the only way of expressing their anger, Balige says. He says it’s time society faced reality by educating men that it is their right to express whatever situation they are going through and allow them to cry when facing challenging moments.

“It is time to let men speak about their problems and allow women to walk out of abusive marriages without judging them. Failure to help men open up to release their emotions could lead to an increase in abuse and murder cases,” adds Balige.

He says among the signs that a woman should never ignore are continuous threats by her husband that he would kill her, continuous beatings, being shouted at even in front of children and breaking things when he is angry.

These signs are an indication that a man needs help. During such times, Balige advises that a woman should stay away from such a man without hesitation. She should never get back until the man has seen an expert to help him deal with his anger.

Juma Hamis, 40, a resident of Mikocheni advises men to seek help once they suspect they are being cheated on. Juma divorced his wife three years ago.

He had a child before he got married and his wife used to abuse this child. She never changed even after Juma talked to her about it. Since she would not change, sometimes Jumawould beat her out of anger. He divorced her to avoid the worst.

“It is not easy to manage anger when living with a woman who does things to provoke you. I never intended to have a child before marrying her but she could not accept my son.”

Dr Issac Maro, infectious disease and public health specialist says, stress and anger management is something one has to learn from a young age. He says our society doesn’t consider anger to be a big health problem but just takes it lightly.

The doctor says it is okay to be angry but it is not okay to be controlled by anger. He advises that people should learn how to control their anger. Things like stretching, taking a deep breath, listening to music, counting up to ten and going out for a walk are simple ways to manage anger.

A lot of people turn to alcohol or smoking, which don’t help but add on to the stress. Dr Maro suggests talking to someone when one is stressed.

“Engaging in a hobby and trying to sleep well helps too,” adds Dr Maro.

* Names have been changed.

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