Archive for the ‘Domestic Violence’ Category

Surviving Abuse – Abusive Parents of Adult Children. Does it Stop?

September 9, 2015

“Many adult children of abusers continue to deal with ongoing abuse long after we have reached the age of maturity.

Child abuse is always spoken about as a thing of the past. We either deride adults for being unable to “overcome” it or we encourage them to deal with their “wounded inner child.

I was surprised by how many people wrote to tell me about ways in which their parents financially abused them.

If the stories of financial abuse shocked me, the stories of new or continued sexual abuse left me bereft.

People sent me stories about parents who have beaten their adult children so badly they had to be hospitalized.

Others kept their abuse more strategic, mostly to keep them from feeling strong and independent.

And then there are abusive parents who force their children to care for them.

…it is not only possible for parents to continue abusing their adult children, it is a likely outcome. Our default assumption should be that abusive parents never stop abusing. They just change their tactics.”

Wow. THIS is an important read for everyone. Did you think the abuse ended when you left the house? You see how the abuse is continued in adulthood? You need to identify abusers and you need to call them out or banish them out of your life. They will not change, they will continue to abuse you in different and various ways. Its not easy to stand up for yourself, parental bonds run deep.

Did you ever wonder if childhood abuse was just a set up for life long ‘domination and control?

….”the abuse they survived in childhood was their parents’ way of laying the groundwork so that they could continue tormenting and manipulating their children for the rest of their lives.”

One of the most insidious forms of abuse is financial. Either the parent sucks the financial life out of you or they use their money to manipulate you. Doesn’t it just get in your caw when abusive parents expect you to care for them financially without complaint or question? And abuse you if you don’t or can’t? Or guilts you, or threatens to commit suicide…..

That IS abusive behaviour, its manipulative and ignores your self-determination.

We live communally in Africa – for and with each other – but it should be cooperative and never coercive, understanding not exploitative, loving not entitled. Healthy. Not distorted.

Like all abusive relationships no one can tell the victim what to do about it, thats each persons personal decision and choice.

May you be a survivor not a victim.

Grief

Grief

Francis Bacon - Man and Child

Dreams of A Life – the Story of Joyce Carol Vincent

July 4, 2013

Do you remember this story? Broke in 2006 about a woman found dead in her London flat. She had been dead 3 years. I always thought it was an old lonely spinsterish woman at least that is how the media made it sound. Now I learn the woman  was 38, beautiful and accomplished.

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I just watched the documentary Dreams of a Life by Carol Morley about this tragic young woman the media said so little  about even the people that knew her did not recognize her from their reports.  It doesn’t tell the story with any less a stereotypical angle though.

It seems to suggest that she succumbed to depression over growing older and still being unmarried. There is a strong innuendo that this happened because she made wrong relationship choices, or didn’t recognize the men that loved her or something, a morality tale that seems to say this could happen to you if you don’t marry and settle down.

My experience working with victims of domestic and sexual violence says this woman was a victim of some form of abuse as a child. I wonder why the film maker didn’t focus attention on that? Why focus on her failed relationships and not the reason why she was unable to succeed at relationships?

Joyce showed classic behavior of a having been a child victim of abuse if you ask me, her emotional instability, her superficial relationship, pretending her father was dead, avoiding her family, their refusal to speak to the film maker, her lack of drive, her obvious co-dependence in relationships, her lack of personal friendships, a subsequent violent relationship. As easy as a google

The film maker kept on saying her motive was to give a story to the name but I think she may have deliberately ignored or else carelessly missed an opportunity to show how childhood abuse and dysfunctional parenting can impact adults later in life and lead to a tragic and pointless end.

It is a sad commentary on our society that a person can die and no one knows  for 3 years but I also agree with Alistair; Joyce was also responsible for what happened to her. While no one called her she actively sought to avoid her former acquaintances and was obviously not very good at asking for help.

She seemed more interested in pretending things were well or hiding if they weren’t.  She did not like confrontation, according to Martin, if things got difficult she moved, left he scene, took flight. Reminds me of someone, yeah me, that’s what I did for a long time.

I can identify with this young woman. I can imagine most of the people I call friends not worrying if I didn’t get in touch for a year or two. Except for my sons I have no more than the most superficial ties to the rest of my extended family. If they do not hear from me for a year or two they would not worry.

I just don’t stay in touch,  it could be because my father was a bastard that made my life so miserable as a child that its impossible for me to develop more than superficial relationships with people as an adult, or it could be because I just don’t trust people enough to let them that close. Who knows?

Does it matter? This film lacks any real depth and the interviews with Joyce’s friends raised more questions than answers as to what happened to Joyce and what led to her pathetic lonely end. We found out more about them than we did about Joyce really. They all seemed self absorbed.

So what is the morale of the story? If you push everyone away, don’t ever trust anyone and don’t try to overcome your dysfunctional past you could die and rot right on your sofa and no one will look for you but some award winning goody toe shoes might make a misguided documentary about you.

I’m so glad I have children and that we have a relatively good relationship!

Grounds for Divorce in Nigeria – Cruelty & Domestic Violence

November 9, 2012

Cruelty is an old common law ground for divorce which does not exist under the Matrimonial Causes Act but can be used to establish that the respondent has behaved in ways that the petitioner can no longer be reasonably expected to live with him or her as provided in section 15(2).

Cruelty is the intentional an malicious infliction of physical and mental harm and suffering or a reasonable fear of further harm. It also includes the continuous infliction of minor acts of ill treatment that are likely to cause the victim to break down emotionally or mentally. However, temper and nagging are not enough to establish cruelty.

Strong evidence of cruelty includes police reports, medical records and eye witness testimony are desirable but not indispensable. The court is required to consider the entire evidence and decide whether it gives rise to a finding of cruelty. Generally conduct that endangers life, limb or health will amount to cruelty.

This will include persistent, pervasive and excessive violence or threat of violence, deliberately infecting a spouse with a sexually transmitted disease, constant displays of rage, use and abuse of juju/voodoo or religious doctrine neglect of a spouses physical needs for food, shelter and clothing and verbal and emotional abuse.

It should be noted that under the act the requirement is to prove that the petitioner/victim can no longer be reasonably expected to live with the respondent and the burden of proof is significantly lighter than it was to prove cruelty under common law.

The Nigerian case law on section 15(2) is remarkably well developed. Make sure your lawyer is knowledgeable about them and can cite the appropriate cases.

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Grounds for Divorce in Nigeria – Cruelty & Domestic Violence

October 25, 2012

Cruelty is an old common law ground for divorce which does not exist under the Matrimonial Causes Act but can be used to establish that the respondent has behaved in ways that the petitioner can no longer be reasonably expected to live with him or her as provided in section 15(2).

Cruelty is the intentional an malicious infliction of physical and mental harm and suffering or a reasonable fear of further harm. It also includes the continuous infliction of minor acts of ill treatment that are likely to cause the victim to break down emotionally or mentally. However, temper and nagging are not enough to establish cruelty.

Strong evidence of cruelty includes police reports, medical records and eye witness testimony are desirable but not indispensable. The court is required to consider the entire evidence and decide whether it gives rise to a finding of cruelty. Generally conduct that endangers life, limb or health will amount to cruelty.

This will include persistent, pervasive and excessive violence or threat of violence, deliberately infecting a spouse with a sexually transmitted disease, constant displays of rage, use and abuse of juju/voodoo or religious doctrine neglect of a spouses physical needs for food, shelter and clothing and verbal and emotional abuse.

It should be noted that under the act the requirement is to prove that the petitioner/victim can no longer be reasonably expected to live with the respondent and the burden of proof is significantly lighter than it was to prove cruelty under common law.

The Nigerian case law on section 15(2) is remarkably well developed. Make sure your lawyer is knowledgeable about them and can cite the appropriate cases.

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Grounds for Divorce in Nigeria – Cruelty & Domestic Violence

July 17, 2012

Cruelty is an old common law ground for divorce which does not exist under the Matrimonial Causes Act but can be used to establish that the respondent has behaved in ways that the petitioner can no longer be reasonably expected to live with him or her as provided in section 15(2).

Cruelty is the intentional an malicious infliction of physical and mental harm and suffering or a reasonable fear of further harm. It also includes the continuous infliction of minor acts of ill treatment that are likely to cause the victim to break down emotionally or mentally. However, temper and nagging are not enough to establish cruelty.

Strong evidence of cruelty includes police reports, medical records and eye witness testimony are desirable but not indispensable. The court is required to consider the entire evidence and decide whether it gives rise to a finding of cruelty. Generally conduct that endangers life, limb or health will amount to cruelty.

This will include persistent, pervasive and excessive violence or threat of violence, deliberately infecting a spouse with a sexually transmitted disease, constant displays of rage, use and abuse of juju/voodoo or religious doctrine neglect of a spouses physical needs for food, shelter and clothing and verbal and emotional abuse.

It should be noted that under the act the requirement is to prove that the petitioner/victim can no longer be reasonably expected to live with the respondent and the burden of proof is significantly lighter than it was to prove cruelty under common law.

The Nigerian case law on section 15(2) is remarkably well developed. Make sure your lawyer is knowledgeable about them and can cite the appropriate cases.

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What Would You Do If You Heard Your Neighbour Violently Abusing His Wife?

July 12, 2012

UPDATE: Mrs. Uzoma Nnanna-Kalu Domestic Violence Victim Appeal

May 4, 2012

Uzoma is still in critical condition. She is no longer on ventilator and is struggling to breath. The medical director says he has done his best and is suggesting she be transferred to FMC Umuahia where there are no facilities to manage her case. She will only get care.

In the past 2 days we have raised NGN89,000 for her. We are grateful for all who donated so far. May God replenish each of you. We still have a long way to go. We need more. Please continue to share her story.

Our legal team is preparing to file papers on Monday and an investigative team is going to Enugu this weekend to visit Uzoma and meet with her doctors. We are creating a page on my web site http://www.lesleyagams..com where we will post updates, videos and pictures.

Please help us save Uzoma’s life. We can’t do it alone. Please send your donations to the Women’s Crisis Centre. Our account details are

Name of bank: Guaranty Trust Bank Pls

Beneficiary Name: Women’s Crisis Center

Account Number; 321 551 465 110.

Thank you and be blessed.

Posted by MzAgams with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Mrs. Uzoma Nnanna Kalu a Victim of Domestic Violence Currently on life Support Needs Your Urgent Assistance

May 2, 2012

Mrs. Uzoma Nnanna-Kalu is in an Enugu neuro surgical hospital fighting for her life. She presented with neurological symptoms in February 2012 and has steadily deteriorated since then.

Her condition could be the result of blunt force trauma to the head and a resultant blood clot. The doctors are hesitant to confirm the diagnosis.

Her husband has refused to pay her hospital bill or to visit or care for his wife and the mother of his two sons since she was admitted om March 13, 2012.

The medical director has said he can no longer continue her treatment unless it is paid for upfront. Her drugs, oxygen and her hospital bed and care are approximately NGN40,000 per day.

We need to keep her in a stable condition while we go to court to compel her husband respect her fundamental rights to life and dignity by paying her outstanding accumulated bills and committing to a thorough investigation and treatment of his wife’.

In addition we are compiling necessary documentation to get an injunction restraining the hospital she is in from switching off her life support if she needs it.

Please help us. Mrs. Nnanna Kalu is paralysed from the neck down and cannot breath properly on her own. She has been taken off the ventilator and is currently being supported on oxygen which her family buys at NGN12,000 per cylinder and lasts 1 or 2 days depending on her needs.

We are also assisting the neuro surgeon with diagnosis by connecting him with neuro specialists around the world that can help read the test and image results and tell us more about her prognosis and the cause of her condition.

If you know a neuro pathologist or radiologist that would be willing to donate his time to look over Ms. AB medical records and results refer them to me through my email address or phone number.

You can send financial support to Women’s Crisis Centre. GT Bank Garki Branch Account Number 0023731452.

A web page with updates and news will be added to my website in the next couple of days. http://www.lesleyagams.com.

Your support will ensure timely legal action on her behalf and pay for daily medical costs arising from her care.

Please help us save a life.

Posted by MzAgams with WordPress for BlackBerry.

A Herstory Reflection; The Making of an Activist

March 17, 2012

The year is 2001. Aba. Appolonia is taking a nap in the airy yard behind her home after a long day of hard unrelenting labour. Her 26 year marriage has been one long nightmare of childbirth, manual labour, beatings and abuse. She has five or seven sons. I wish I could remember. She does it to be a good Christian mother.

Her husband sends all the young men out on errands. He is alone in the homestead with Appolonia. The youngest aged 20 comes back just in time to see his father crack his mother’s skull open with a machete where she sleeps. Even the hospitals think she’s dead.

I am seven. We have a female visitor from Denmark. She’s touring the US visiting old friends. There is a storm brewing between Lilia and my father. I take our visitor to the local shopping mall, a short stroll away.

We return to the apartment an hour later. My father is calmly mopping blood off the floor. Lilia is a blood soaked mess panting on the bed. I’m sent to my room. I day dream. No one is looking I sneak out and just keep walking. Its summer.

Agnes tells me he first hit her shortly after the wedding. They don’t speak for days. Eventually he apologises. Says it wouldn’t happen again. Is really nice for the next few weeks. Almost like a honeymoon. Until he hits her again.

Agnes is expecting their 7th child. She looks older than her 35 years. The beautiful woman in her wedding pictures is gone. One night I come back from lectures to find them fighting. I try to take her to my house. She pushes him inside theirs screaming ‘You must kill me today.’ Locks the door.

I feel myself flying across the room. I bounce off a wall. Land on the concrete floor. It occurs to me as if its happening to someone else that I’m getting the shit beat out of me. I don’t feel any pain. Just the impact of the violence to my body, senses reel, shock, disbelief. My body crumpling.

Its like a bad dream. This can’t be happening. I avoid the abusive type. The ones that remind me of my father. Or do I? When I see the blood on the floor I wonder if I’m going to die and mentally check who knows I’m here. I limp for months.

What else can I possibly do but try to stop or mitigate domestic violence? Then after seven years working with DV victims one day I realise I’m not happy anymore when a woman walks into the centre for help. I’m exhausted. I droop.

Compassion fatigue they say. Symptoms similar to PTSD. Flashbacks, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, hypochondria. The result of working with trauma victims. I need a break. I need to remember a time when men and women were happy. When I was happy. I re-assign my cases.

A brief career in international development works wonders. I support promising young social entrepreneurs, travel, build my skills, meet wonderful people and generally have a great time. I am witness to lots of beautiful healthy relationships.

But there’s no feeling like I get when a woman looks at me and her eyes speak volumes of her gratitude for saving her life. I’m saving lives again. With the very personal and immediate gratification that I thrive on.

I’m learning to manage the emotional burden of sharing other peoples trauma. I’m learning to manage my own trauma. I’m considering a degree in psychology. I think it would improve my effectiveness as a family lawyer and as a writer. Make me a better person.

I am five. In kindergarten they ask us what we want to be when we grow up and why. I say I want to be a doctor so I can ‘fix broken people’. I didn’t become a doctor because I can’t stand the sight of blood and gore.

I guess a lawyer/writer with a psychology degree can still do something to ‘fix broken people.’ And a social entrepreneur could fix the systems that breaks them. The future looks bright after all.

Posted by MzAgams with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Child Custody Proceedings In Nigeria I

January 23, 2012

 

In divorce proceedings  in Nigeria under the Matrimonial Causes Act the party seeking custody must provide details of the maintenance arrangements made for any offspring of the marriage. Offspring includes adopted children.

When filing for an uncontested divorce under section  15(2)(f)after living 3 years or more apart that is the primary thing that the court will look to determine. If you are looking for a quick uncontested divorce then be thorough and detailed in writing up a maintenance agreement.

Anticipate any future conflicts that may arise; don’t just agree that school fees will be paid by either parent. Agree and document which schools you as parents would like the children to attend and make it an integral part of the agreement or the party responsible for paying may insist on a cheap but sub standard school and deadlock payments after your decree absolute is granted.

Stipulate precisely how custody will be shared if you intend to share custody or have a regular visitation schedule.  Don’t accept a vague ‘spending some weekend with father (parent) depending on the situation and exigency of work.’ A parent has to make time to regularly and in a non disruptive manner visit their offspring.

Children need stability and routine, not a father or mother that ‘drops in’ when they please or on a whim. That is in the best interest of the child and should be reflected in establishing visitation rights and schedules and in the maintenance agreement.

In addition if offspring are to spend alternate holidays with one or the other parent the agreement should be specific on the provisions made for childcare as it can become a contentious issue if the children are exposed to danger or threat.

Some men in Nigeria see child custody as their property right. In many customary legal systems once a bride price has been paid for a woman all children born to her thereafter ‘belong’ to her husband till the bride price is returned. They may lack the capacity to care for children in a nurturing manner but use this obnoxious custom to deny an ex-wife custody and visitation either punitively or vengefully.

Others leave custody to the women and refuse to support children financially so long as she has custody or until the children are old enough to seek them out independently.  Some women do the same thing, leave and have nothing to do with their children till they are of age to seek them out.  The offspring grow up traumatized not by the divorce but by the separation from mother or father.

The Nigerian Supreme Court  has warned that custody should not be used punitively against an erring party, i.e. presumably the one whose behavior led to the grounds for divorce.  The fact that either party committed adultery or was violent to the other is not enough to deny that party custody. The petitioner must prove that the children’s physical, mental and spiritual welfare is at risk from that party’s behavior.

Under the MCA and more recently the Child’s Rights Act custody is decided by the court based on the child’s perceived best interest. If you are a mother seeking custody and your spouse is contesting custody now is a good time to tell the court if he’s a closet alcoholic that spends days hiding in his study while on an alcohol binge but be ready to provide evidence.

If you’re considering a divorce except there is a clear and present danger you shouldn’t be too hasty about taking the first step. A divorce or separation is a major transition and should be planned for with as much care and thoughtful insight as the wedding was, part of those preparations include collating evidence to support your grounds for divorce as well as making sustainable economic plans.

It also note worthy that the party requesting custody is required under the MCA to reveal if he or she has committed adultery. So if your spouse is likely to demand custody proof of adultery could block that request.