Domestic Violence: It’ll take inner transformation to change the narrative — Akomolafe
As gender-based violence continues to be a menace in Nigeria, Chancellor of Emotional Healing University, an entrepreneur as well as Founder of P2 International (An Emotional Support Group for Men & Women), and a singer, Omenesa Oruma Akomolafe stated that it would take inner transformation to change the narrative on gender-based violence, as she speaks on other pertinent issues to women.
As an organisation that believes in the welfare of women, particularly Nigerian women, what is your concern about increasing cases of gender based violence across the country?
It is concerning to me that people are narcissistic. Narcissism comes from deep-rooted childhood wounds. Nigeria is a system that uses culture and religion to mask wounds and pain, therefore we carry these wounds knowingly and unknowingly to our marriages and relationships, projecting our pain and ill mechanisms onto our spouses. I am not alarmed by this as my profession has exposed me to a variation of all shades of people, however, the madness must stop. We cannot excuse evil behavior because we understand its origin. Evil is evil. The way your father treated your mother hurts you, so why are you treating your wife the same way? I get it. It’s cognitive dissonance. It’s trained and ingrained. Of course naturally, one would follow in the same trajectory, however, we must untrain our upbringing to match with what we want, though the tendency to be far from our childhood is challenging. We must be overwhelmed by the negativity we continue to live by.
The outcome and results we see from our childhood wounds should propel a man to do things differently in his own home. Women are trapped and bound by abusive men, and their sons are looking at them. Their sons will be worse than their fathers. It is inevitable. It is a perpetual cycle. No need canceling it with the blood of Jesus and all that denial we Nigerians hide under. It is changed with action. God helps those who help themselves.
What do you think is responsible for the menace remaining unabated in Nigeria?
It is unresolved wounds. Watching your mother placate and be subservient for the sake of peace. Being touched by an uncle. Incest. Control, or even being beaten mercilessly by a parent. This told you that it was okay to do the same because after all, these behaviors were coming from a trusted source: a caregiver, a parent. Blood!!!! Though the deep inside of you, you know it is not right but you justify it because you too endured it or watched it happen for so long. This is why many people are unfulfilled in their lives. They have buried themselves and shown forth their mask. We submerge ourselves in our jobs, ministries, cars, and even in people who wouldn’t question us. That’s our hideout. Every individual must take responsibility for their healing and their lives. You cannot become the product of a culture. You must become a product of light, and there is nothing bright about abuse.
Do you think legislation to protect against gender-based violence needs to be strengthened as a measure to tackle the problem?
Yes, it needs to be strengthened, but psychological assistance should also be made available. There are Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Emotional Therapists, and Coaches like myself. The way you see the doctor when you have a headache as an indication of a sign or symptom of a bigger problem is the same way an Emotional Coach will guide you to see that violence is a sign of unaddressed emotional issues. Violence is a sign that you were not heard. You were not listened to. You were dismissed while growing up, even as an adult. You were shut down. You weren’t validated. You were controlled. You were molested, raped, slapped, etc. You see, people who control people are people who lost their control in their childhood. Someone maligned them (Mom, Dad, Uncle, etc). Someone in their childhood forced them to defend themselves. Now they’ve shown up in the world thinking they are always at war, hence they are ready with weapons. Those who abuse people are trapped children. There is a regression in their psyche. They have grown chronologically but not emotionally. Without emotional intelligence, you cannot sustain a healthy relationship, plain and simple. Do you want a healthy relationship? You must first heal yourself. Seeing A therapist doesn’t mean you are mad or crazy. It means you are sick in your heart. It is not rocket science.
Are you satisfied with the level of prosecutions recorded in Nigeria over the issue?
No!!! Women are scared of coming out, that people wouldn’t believe them. They are scared of being stigmatized and they are scared of divorce. They don’t understand that this marital investment is not necessarily loss, but a gain of some sort. The greatest lesson a man can teach a woman is to be taught what she deserves. If women can only ride on this truth, there will be more prosecutions. The sad thing is, women will continue to attract abuse. Why? Because they see themselves as a punching bag. Many women don’t know their worth, so they will be cheated and devalued. Until you know how expensive you are, you will either be sold or bought for pennies.
What can be done to help victims come out to speak about their experiences in order for them to have justice?
Workshops, seminars, protests, authors writing more on such topics. I write on self-help and I am very transparent. I am a noisemaker. Believe me, I am playing my part. When people see authenticity, they will respond authentically. Women who are being abused need to share their story or their testimony. This will encourage others to be vocal as well. But what do we have? Lots of people using diamonds, pearls, clothing, Prados and Pradas, high titles, more academic degrees to hide their pain.
Can you share your success story on helping victims of gender-based violence?
My story is very long. My husband has never raised his hands on me. Men have beaten me. Men have done unthinkable things to me. I too became a man beater at some point. If you beat me, I will beat you, who is your fool? That’s a story for another day. Nevertheless, Violence comes in many forms but it’s easier to prove a physical form. Emotional abuse is prominent in Nigeria as well. There is also financial abuse. There is spiritual abuse. There is silent treatment and manipulation. There is so much I have endured in relationships and even in my marriage. However, the moment I realized that I was responsible for my happiness, and my sadness was not going to heal the world, nor make my assignment on earth any easier, I had to make a decision for myself. I became my husband. I married myself. I didn’t leave my marriage. I just got intoxicated with my Creator and with myself. I still remained a wife to my husband, but I chose myself first. My husband eventually worked on his own weaknesses while I worked on mine. I began to attract a ‘whole’ man because I too became ‘whole’. You attract who you are. Did you know that? I hope I didn’t open a kettle of fish with that statement. We worked on ourselves for ourselves. We didn’t change for each other. We changed for ourselves, and both of us are benefitting from it. I submit to my husband, but I am not subservient, and I will never be.
Do you see the hope of gender-based violence reducing in Nigeria?
We have turned God into a taskmaster. We don’t sleep with our wives when they are on their period. We don’t plan our funerals. We don’t write wills. We don’t allow women to talk, and if she does she is labeled. It would take inner transformation to change this issue of domestic violence. It would take being stripped off the external charade, being naked with ourselves. Things can still change. Right now, Nigeria has very few leaders. The roads are crooked and the people are lost in pain, traditions, poor economy, wicked cultures and man-made religions. If we can all become students of life, we will then become teachers. If we can all become like sheep, then we will become leaders. As for the way I handle my marriage? I have no tolerance for madness.