‘Power is the mother of all violence.’ However we choose to look at that statement, it all comes down to violence being a situation where one party has been stripped of power. Don’t you believe me? Ask any survivor of violence.
Power has always been perceived to belong to those who either have a high financial return or are biologically strong, like men. However, today everyone is powerful in their own capacity and thus, results in friction between both men and women. When a wife doesn’t give in to her husband’s demands, he becomes infuriated as he feels that power has been stripped from him. Most retaliate by beating their wives because they want to ‘feel powerful.’
Nobody likes to feel powerless. We all love power, we all want to feel like we are in control of something. Be it our thoughts, finance or general wellbeing. However, because of our cultural background, there is a lot of friction between men and women with regards to power. There are men up to date who control every single part of their wives and children’s lives. When she tries to defend herself, it turns to exchange of insults that lead to blows and in worst case scenarios, homicide.
One of the things that I have dealt with while interacting with survivors of Gender Based Violence is the feeling of powerlessness. Most of them feel that they are no longer in control of anything because that was robbed from them. Someone overpowered them and took their ability to choose what they want through intimidation and threats. The hardest part is to give back power to them. It can take longer depending on the violence they were subjected to, the age of the victim and sometimes the perpetrator especially if they were known to them.
A child who is exposed to the brutality of a father who is constantly beating his mum may grow knowing that power is achieved through violence. He too will think that women have no say and should always agree with everything that he says and should she contradict him…
We are also bent in empowering women, which is a good thing but we forget to empower men on the same who for a long time have felt entitled when it comes to power and have no idea on how to share it. Njuguna, a businessman was constantly arguing with his wife and would hit her every now and then. He admitted that he has not figured out how to share power with his wife. He explained that he was raised to know that authority in the house was a man’s thing and that his wife’s opinion came second. But, with his wife being an educated lady, there is a lot of friction since he feels like he is always undermined and therefore, he retaliates by hitting her.
Before we all start judging Njuguna, let’s all take a second and reflect on this story and if you’re a man, can you relate? We need to stop fighting about who should be in control and share power. And in order to do that, both men and women should be empowered and educated about power sharing as means to end gender-based violence.
When one has been violated, and in this case, it doesn’t matter which type of violence, it leaves them feeling powerless because the perpetrator has taken away that power. We have grown to love power such that we don’t realize when we are crossing the line and becoming terrorists in our homes. We need to realize that times have changed and power needs to be shared. Beating, intimidating, threatening and violating someone doesn’t make you powerful it makes you a terrorist and a coward.