As we celebrated ‘Father’s Day’ on Sunday, the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) revealed that one in ten victims of domestic violence is a man.
Rachel Coomer, the Public Outreach Manager at LAC says that when we speak about domestic violence we often talk about violence against women, but this also affects men. “Statistics indicate that one in ten victims of domestic violence is a man and nine out of ten victims are women,” she said.
Coomer says that with the higher number of female victims it does not mean that violence against men should be forgotten. She believes that men need the same level of protection and support that female victims of domestic violence receive. Meanwhile, according to Coomer, too often male victims of violence may be afraid to report the violence, because they are ashamed.
During the study of ‘Domestic violence against men’ the LAC also interviewed a police constable who noted that men and women are equally victims of domestic violence, but that men are more reluctant to report it. “Most of them are too shy to report or to say that they have such a problem of physical abuse at home, or to admit that a woman is causing violence. We must treat all abusers with the same zero-tolerance and give all victims the same high-quality level of support that they need,” he noted.
“The stories of domestic violence that we see reported in the newspapers are just the tip of the iceberg. There is far more violence that goes accepted and unreported. The tide must change; we must use alternative means to resolve conflict. Talking through a problem can be difficult and it takes longer, but it is far better than resorting to violence,” Coomer advised.
An employee at the Oshakati ‘Woman and Child Protection Unit’ said that, “Men are also abused and they come here also. We try to make them feel comfortable”.
So what can be done to help reduce the violence? According to Coomer the problem of violence starts from an early age. She claims that children absorb information like sponges. “When they see violence around them in daily life, whether it is seeing their father beat their mother, their mother beat their father, or if it is when violence is directed against them in the form of a beating or hiding rather than a positive form of discipline, they learn that the use of force is acceptable. If Namibia is serious about eradicating violence we must eliminate violence from daily life and act as positive role models for our children,” she said.
Coomer concludes by saying that she can picture a world without violence, but that goal can only be achieved if everyone made a resolution not to use violence in their relationships. “If we start today we would already feel a change tomorrow,” she suggests.