Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that one person in a relationship uses to control the other. The behavior may be verbally, emotionally, physically, financially, or sexually abusive. Anyone can be a victim. Domestic violence can impact anyone regardless of their gender, race, age, culture or religion. However, most often women and children are the victims of domestic violence. Many children witness the abuse of their parents, especially mothers.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a global campaign spanning from 25 November through 10 December, is taking place this year against the backdrop of an unprecedented global outcry.
In Kenya, an estimated 20% of the women have been victims of violence in one form or another. The Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014 indicates that rural women are more likely to be victims of violence than their rural counterparts. According to the survey, more than 50% of the women aged 15-49 years from Nyanza, Western and Nairobi provinces reported having experienced physical violence since age 15.
Witnessing can mean SEEING actual incidents of physical/and or sexual abuse. It can mean HEARING threats or fighting noises from another room. Children may also OBSERVE the aftermath of physical abuse such as blood, bruises, tears, torn clothing, and broken items. Finally children may be AWARE of the tension in the home such as their abused parent’s fearfulness when the abuser arrives home.
Children may find their own coping strategies and some do not show obvious signs of stress. Others struggle with problems at home, at school, and in the community. You may notice changes in your child’s emotions (such as increased fear or anger) and behavior (such as clinging, difficulty going to sleep, or tantrums) after an incident of domestic violence. Children may also experience longer-term problems with health, behavior, school, and emotions, especially when domestic violence goes on for a long time. For example, children may become depressed or anxious, skip school, or get involved in drugs.
Most experts believe that children who are raised in abusive homes learn that violence is an effective way to resolve conflicts and problems. They may replicate the violence they witnessed as children in their teen and adult relationships and parenting experiences.
A strong relationship with a caring, nonviolent parent is one of the most important factors in helping children grow in a positive way despite their experiences. Your support can make the difference between fear and security, and can provide a foundation for a healthy future.
Parents, asking for help is hard. But it’s important for you and your children that you get the support you need. You and your children deserve to be safe. When you leave an abusive relationship, you show by example that violence is wrong and that it’s possible to make healthy choices.
If you feel unsafe now and need help for yourself, your family, or someone else in a domestic crisis, contact:
- 911 for emergency police assistance
- Sexual and Gender Based Violence Rapid Response System and Toll Free Helpline 1195.
- Childline Kenya operates the National Child Helpline 116, Kenya’s only 24-hour, toll-free telephone and web-based helpline for children. The easiest way of getting in touch with the helpline for children is by dialing 116 from any mobile or landline phone. Calls are always completely free of charge for the caller.