When we hear of abuse in a marriage, the stereotyped imagery this evokes is of a man either physically beating up his wife or emotionally battering her with his words and cutting her to size with his actions. I believe that men are also experiencing abuse in marriage- it may not necessarily be physical – though I’ve heard of a few instances. A physically abused man would hardly come out in public to admit his experiences, because of the mockery and ridicule it would cause him, and I think that is why we do not really hear much about this form of abuse and the statistics are scant or barely existing.
When a friend tagged me to a post on verbally abused husbands, it made me think about this issue, which I’ve made a cursory mention of, in few of my write ups. You get to see women who are said to be nagging with vitriolic tongues, difficult, strong-willed, bossy, harsh,tough, argumentative or aggressive, and though a case can be made for each individual attribute on its own merit, depending on any given situation, these traits are sometimes explained away as being the results of things they have had to go through in life. I’d say that everyone or most people have had to deal with challenging scenarios, but not all take it out on their adult relationships.
I have heard many men say in conversations that, ‘that is how women are, and that they are naturally moody and emotional , hence their irrational outbursts.’ But I think that an emotionally intelligent woman would not put her husband in a situation where he has to tread on eggshells around her, so as not to provoke her anger, leading to a verbal onslaught. Yes, they are good days and bad days, and every one- male or female experiences them, but verbal assault and/or irrational behavior is not ‘normal!’
Any wife who constantly puts down or demeans her husband- whether in private or publicly, calls him all sorts of names, humiliates him regularly, unfairly compares his efforts with those of other men, is being verbally/emotionally abusive! Some women try to control their partners by being verbally abusive and from what we all know of abuse, the ultimate aim of an abuser is ‘control.’
Our ibibio people say, “etang eno nnyen unen, entang eno ndukpo” (as you scold the chicken, scold the hawk too). Much as many women have been abused in marriage by men who promised to protect them, so have many men too are suffering the scourge of verbal abuse from women who vowed to be their helpmeets through life, which has made these men resort to working overtime and avoiding home for as long as they possibly can, become withdrawn or even cut off from family because they are married to women who would unleash the verbal police if they dared help their own families, lost their self esteem and worth as men and a whole lot of the symptoms of abuse the women also face. I personally know a man, who has had to resort to swallowing sleeping pills to be able to sleep at night, and became a shadow of his once vibrant self, because of an abusive wife. He is trying to pick up the pieces of his life today.
I believe that as we scream to the rooftops about women being abused, we should also open up conversations about the men who are being abused too by their women and have had to lick their boots in shame.
I feel that it’s a case of double standards when a woman rains invectives on her husband and other forms of verbal abuses, and it is excused away as a gender weakness, ‘oh women are like that- moody and mouthy,’ but when it’s the reverse, there’s a hue and cry over it. Whatever happened to treating others the way you’d want to be treated? There should be no excuse for treating another human being badly!