With the increased cases of domestic violence in the country, many children have been left to bear the brunt of the vice.
A marriage counselor Nancy Muriithi speaking at the Kiambaa Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) during a seminar for couples at the church Sunday, urged relevant stakeholders to move with speed and address the problem, which was eating into the very family foundation.
She said children were only innocent observers who loved both parents, therefore there was no need of exposing them to unwarranted violence.
Muriithi regretted that many Kenyans only considered marriage abusive when they suffer some form of physical and verbal abuse, or ultimately when death occurs.
“When death occurs, it is too late and in most cases the children are left in the middle of the mix as one parent is laid to rest while the other one spends their better part battling a court case to exonerate themselves” she said.
According to the counselor, “Any attempt by one partner in an intimate relationship let alone marriage to take control over the other is violence too. People wait until death occurs so that they know they were in an abusive marriage but it is wrong.”
She reiterated that married couples should never live in fear of the other at any given time as this was the beginning of enmity which escalates into total violence.
The counselor cautioned that violence escalates from issues that people considered to be minor including simple threats like, “move out of my way, I will hurt somebody, I don’t want someone to stress me,” among others.
These threats gradually graduate into action and afterwards the nation wakes up to another case of a dead husband or wife, who will have been stabbed several times because the other partner did not take the initial threats seriously.
“The perpetrator the heinous act then appears to have prepared himself/herself psychologically long time ago, while the victim continued to live in denial hoping that it was just another joke,” the counselor added.
Muriithi noted that the major contributor to violence was forced marriages, in which one partner may have been compelled by circumstances to get into the union, when their counterpart was not yet ready. She cautioned that victims of forced marriages may be both physically and emotionally affected and that it was important for both in such a relationship to be pretty careful on signs of stress which letter matured into violence.
She cited a recent incident reported by the media from Nyandarua County, in which a man clobbered his wife after she failed to make 20 chapatis from a 1 kg packet of flour. Another example is when a man beat and disfigured his wife in Machakos County, not too long ago after they were unable to bear children in their marriage.
The marriage counselor called on couples to address their grievances in a more diplomatic way instead of resulting to violence.
Muriithi suggested that if one party notices any change in their partners behavior and upon pointing it out the other person is not willing to change, then the would be victim should make the first bold step and walk away, since no one should endure an abuse relationship.
By Lydia Shiroya and Lilian Njoroge