Zambia
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When abusive relationships turn deadly – Part 1

If there are warning signs or behaviour that make you feel unsafe and your partner refuses to take steps to change, it is important to consider leaving the relationship.
Despite greater public awareness and the increased support from different stake holders on Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the fight for violence against couples some partners have continued to be victims.
Both official police reports and stories in the media document a continuing increase in violence against women and girls the country.
Though there are many forms of abuse, certain abusive behaviour indicate that a victim is at a greater risk of being seriously injured or killed by the abuser.
Studies show that a woman who suffers a nonfatal strangulation incident with her intimate partner is more likely to be killed by the same person.
The most recent case reported in the country witnessed a passion of crime incident which saw social media debate the story while running comments from a video played, showed that the event should not shock the community as the act was inevitable.
Like many, the news disturbed advocates, who say they have long seen a link between GBV and passion of crimes while others suggest leaving an abusive relationship is the best remedy of abuse.
Passion of crime experiences, continue to remind women of the magnification of abuse happening in our community and has touched on the trauma, sadness and pain of women who have escaped abusive relationships.
Zambians for the part, continue to be shocked by the news, others are saddened and outraged of partners killing themselves with some cases including the victims children
A crime of passion is a crime that has been committed under extreme rage or emotional disturbance that is commonly referred to as heat of passion as it something that provoked the defendant, who in the heat of passion, committed the crime
It is important to note that the defendant’s excuse for committing a crime in such a case, may be due to sudden anger or heartbreak.
Commonly these are cases we read, witness a spouse who finds his or her beloved having an affair with another, and shoots or stabs one or both of the coupled pair.
For others, it may be a relationship marked with jealousy separation, divorce, or attempts to dominate the relationship which may turn sour, while some,a battle in child custody is likely to turn into fierce acts that end deadly.
Gender based violence cases are complex, often involving victims who are reluctant to report abuse for fear of further angering their abusers or losing their financial support.
Societal cultural norms and gender expectations that suggest that men should be dominant and in charge of providing financial support and that women should be submissive and have their voice silenced has continued to witness some violence.
A marriage counsellor in Ndola has observed how couples play an important role in building up strong family values in society.
Taonga Kaluba, observed with sadness how some marital disputes are ending up in deadly acts and calls for couples to be engaged in psychological counselling before they get married.
‘‘Apart from the traditional values that we place much emphasis on, there is need to look at the psychological well being of each partner.
This may look like a western concept but it is important if we are going to build healthy relationships and families for our communities.
Yes the cases of GBV has seen more women as victims, though there is need for all stake holders to include the mental well being of women in their marriage counselling as this will help women who may experience any form of abuse open up,’’ She explained
She said every partner in marriage must be treated equally and their decision must be respected, as couples must learn to dialogue and come to an agreement without violence.
She said we still have a long way to go in our African culture as some negative traditional values are transmitted to boys and girls from an early age.
‘‘Girls are reared to be obedient, nice and submissive and in some areas they are still brought up to believe that their role is to serve men, sacrifice their own needs for the good of their partner and the well being of the family.
On the other hand men need to understand what it entails being the head of the house both traditionally and biblically as this will help us have strong family ties.
However, what we are seeing are both men and women entering marriage for the wrong reasons without the full understanding with expectations of their choice, ’’She said
And a female student nurse in mental health said although women have been known to be loving than men, they are still more women out there in the community who are violent.
The nurse who spoke on anonymity said the potential for violence in women is still present, though in most cases it may be in a different form from that in men.
‘‘From my interaction with women who have been identified with cruelty, anger and violence, women’s desire for revenge can be strong.
It is therefore important that we include counseling that will identify the mental well being of partners as this will help address some of the causes of GBV we are seeing.
In any case, the passion of crime cases that we are witnessing have a history of many chances of intervention characterised with close encounters of beatings, and emotional abuse.
Further what we are seeing is the abuser, the one who must initiate a cry for help often doesn’t want to participate in the process of bringing the perpetrator to account for their actions for fear of being divorced or when their economic dependence is facilitated by the abuser.
It is important that we continue to explore many areas of addressing the causes of violence in relationships as we shall continue to ask why and the answers that lie in the silent untold stories of GBV in couples will continue with it’s impact manifesting in unpleasant forms. For comments jessiengm@gmail.com