“Till death do us part” – this phrase, a part of the marriage ritual of Christians, is taken very seriously by many of those repeating the ‘holy vows of matrimony’ recited by the priest conducting the ceremony. As time goes on however, if and when familiarity breeds a ‘taken for granted’ attitude by one or both individuals involved in the relationship, which in turn develops into a more unstable and volatile one, the phrase could be taken less seriously as one or both partners consider the options. The real ‘die-hards’ however do tend to stick it out through thick and thin, regardless of the mental and / or physical strain they undergo. This is particularly significant in cases of abuse and assault, where is spite of being the victims of brutal physical attacks, women find themselves unable or unwilling to sever the relationship. Why this is, is an interesting phenomenon which probably doesn’t have a standard explanation due to the distinctive differences of the individual situation.

Heeey, but why yo only refer to women bein abused maaan? How bout dem dominant broads dat give dere men more sheet dan dey can take? Some even beat up on dese dudes.

Java has a point. However, it is reported that although there are cases of wives who assault husbands, by and large spouse abuse happens because men batter their wives and get away with it. Comparative studies indicate that among humans, the dangerous violators are overwhelmingly male. Males outnumber females as murderers, assaulters, sexual abusers and every other category of violent criminal action. Males use deadly weapons for sport, for war, for personal gain far more frequently than do females. The mammalian brain has sex-linked differences associating aggression and male gender and more recent studies show the male hormone, testosterone, to be implicated in violent behavior. However, as Java mentioned, wives have also been known to abuse and assault their spouses,  and I’m guessing that the best known case could be that of the most famous physicist around today – Stephen Hawking. An extract of a report is succinct in its description:

In 2000, detectives launched an inquiry after Prof Hawking made a number of visits to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, suffering from cuts and bruises, and another inquiry was opened in 2003 after his daughter Lucy rang police. Prof Hawking declined to explain how his injuries had come about. A number of his former nurses, however, were in no doubt. They alleged that over the years his wife inflicted a catalogue of injuries on the vulnerable scientist: fractured his wrist by slamming it on to his wheelchair; humiliated him by refusing him access to a urine bottle, leaving him to wet himself; gashed his cheek with a razor, allowed him to slip beneath the water while in the bath, ensuring water entered the tracheotomy site in his throat; and left him alone in his garden during the hottest day of the year so long that he suffered heatstroke and severe sunburn. It is these allegations that police investigated. But a woman who worked for him at Cambridge University says the “unexplained injuries” began “many years before” the police became involved. “He used to regularly come in with bruises and cuts,” said the source.

See? Jus what I bin sayin – som of dem broads could be jus as baad-assed as us som of us dudes when it com to dis sheet. But Java hear from where you be comin maan an it shurre seems like dudes be da greater violaters huh?

Investigating the reasons for spouse abuse would entail a long and tedious study that would include historic socio-cultural and anthropological patterns that would include horrendous violations (by our present norms and values) of women’s rights. Women have been bought, sold and bartered, ritually branded and mutilated, denied education, land ownership, means of travel, and are not yet full partners in owning and controlling the major institutions of this world. In the political context, women are engaged in the long march from slavery and are still relatively eclipsed in the shadow of masculine dominance. When parity in power is sought, too often the seeker is punished and in a ‘domestic’ situation the punishment may be swift, explosive and brutal.

But getting back to the question of “till death do us part” and if it does play a role in the reason for a battered wife to remain with her abuser husband, the answer is very likely to be “no”. For one thing many of the battered wives are not Christian and so have no obligation to these vows.

You know maaan, I bin seein dis movie where dis chick get beaten up so bad by her maan dat her face be disfigured, her bones be broke, she lose her unborn child an still she remain wit dis mahfuh dat might beat her till she be dead. She not be able to leave cos she aint got no place to go, no cash, her chilren need her, she fraid of da cops, dose socshul workers try to take her chilren from her, da mahfuh treaten to kill her if she go. She aint got no freedom and she still get beaten ever time he feel like it. Shheeet! An dis sheet happen too often in real life too.

There are other reasons as well. For some the shame is too much to bear. To heal in private, behind the dark glasses and closed doors is much preferred than to be seen. Very often physical pain is more bearable than shame. And shame is deeper than embarrassment – it is mortification, humiliation, dehumanization and is dependent on others’ views. So the solution for some would be to avoid the eyes, avoid the shame, stay home – and endure. There would also be the ones that have the very slim hope that better times are around the corner and that the cycle of tension, violence and abuse will eventually cease. This fragile string of hope is also a ‘reason’ for enduring the suffering.

Yo tink love have any part to play in dis kinda relashunship maaan? Ah mean, dere mus have bin some love involvement when dey start off bin married, right?

Right. Studies indicate that in some instances a battered wife may love her spouse due to conditions in childhood that ‘taught’ her to love an abusive parent, or to equate love with the intimate enduring dependence on one who provides, but who also hits and hurts. Or, a battered wife may love her spouse because relief from punishment is so rewarding that she has learned to savor this feeling while denying the pain of physical abuse. Or, she may love qualities that are lovable and suppress any outrage in response to behavior that is cruel. Love, as we are probably all well aware of is notoriously irrational, complex and paradoxical.

Dere’s mo sheet on dis subject maaan., but I tink we should now give it a break and let dese folk go dere way. Dis post be getting to be on da borin side – fo me, anyways.

Anyway, it’s something to think about – and also to do something about if you know of someone that may need help but finds it hard to get. Counseling is recommended, but the problem in society will remain. Unfortunate but true

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