Whenever we hear domestic violence, we automatically limit it to physical and visible blows. In the absence of these visible marks, especially if the person complaining of violence seems to the OKAY, we are often quick to rule out domestic violence. Talking about domestic violence is broad. It encompasses all the physical, mental, emotional and financial aspects of life.
During October, which is also Domestic Violence Awareness month, I saw posts after posts of some friends adding their voices to say #NoToDomesticViolence by donning shades of purple. I was privileged to add my voice to support my friend and sister Ms Helen Yensi of The Hope Center to Break the Silence around domestic violence. The culture of silence around domestic violence continues to claim a lot of victims.
While doing this awareness, the sickle cell warrior and advocate in me couldn’t help thinking about violence and the sickle cell warrior. Many hold the belief that because of our weakened state and constant health battles we cannot be victims of domestic violence. Probably because those with this school of thought think we rather get love and support. That is basically not true as victims of abuse cut between all spheres of life, religion, ethnicity, tribe, profession, you name it. I have written about domestic violence some time ago and you can read about that here. Today, I would like to look at domestic violence through the eyes of a sickle cell warrior.
Let me break it down to different focus points for easy understanding.
Like I mentioned above, many believe that because of our weakened state of health, we cannot be victims of domestic violence. The truth is, I have read a few articles and posts online to know that physical violence against warriors does exist. However, many may find themselves trapped in an abusive relationship because of many factors which may include the stigma and misconceptions surrounding sickle cell disorder. Many believe people with sickle cell do not deserve to get married for instance, because they die anyway. If a sickle cell warrior gets married, some may consider that a fait accomplis for a relative few. Therefore, the feeling that they may have been done a favour by their significant other turned abuser and the fear of being booed for leaving a marriage many yearn for would force many warriors to stay in abusive relationships or put up with abuse. The truth is, NOBODY is doing any warrior a favour by marrying them. This is because we are just as capable and equally have a whole LOT to bring into any relationship. So, if your significant other doesn’t see that and abuse you, na dem loss. You are worth more than a blow in a relationship. Know your worth and refuse to tolerate abuse.
2. Emotional and Mental Abuse.
This is by far one of the most common but often neglected form of domestic abuse. When those around you use debasing and painful words to talk to you, they cut deep and you die a thousand times over. For the sickle cell warrior, a life time of pain is not an easy life to live. Imagine while going through that pain all you get are insults and painful words. “You no go die leave me alone?” “Badluck pikin, them send you make you come kill me?” “Carry ya badluck go and no touch ma gas, no touch ma things, just die go!” “Witchpikin!” “Half Die like you” The streams of insults are many and unending. They open emotional and mental wounds which are carried throughout life and can easily kill us because the emotional weigh in addition to the pains are heavy and one of the leading causes of depression in sickle cell. They say ‘sticks and stones can’t break me but words can’. This is true for warriors. Physical blows may be missing but words cut deep and bleed more. All we as sickle cell warriors ever asked for was a little more love and understanding to deal with a life journey we had no bargain in. Parents should do well to remember this especially; next time they think their warrior kids are a nuisance out to plague their lives.
3. Financial Abuse.
When you fail to support your child financially and or refuse to buy them drugs and pay hospital bills, you are depriving them and also abusing them. Of course, the financial toll on parents and families with a sickle cell anemia child is not an easy thing. But again, we didn’t choose to be born with sickle cell and parents need not make our care a financial thorn in the flesh; constantly reminding us how much was spent not as a way for us to be aware of what goes but as a way to lay the guilt trip on us is wrong and abusive. Am I even making sense here?
Anyway, these are just some of the areas where sickle cell warriors do experience domestic violence. And as October comes to an end and the domestic violence awareness comes to a wrap, remember the need to continue to speak out to break the silence and stigma around sickle cell which also knowingly or unknowingly, make many in addition, victims of domestic violence.
Did you enjoy this? Let is know what you think. Drop a comment, thank you.
ARREY. E. AGBOR-NDAKAW