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GBV victims urged to seek counselling services from specialists

A counselling psychologist operating in Murang’a County Monica Muiruri has advised victims of Gender Based Violence (GBV) to seek help from professionals rather than family members.

Speaking to KNA in her office, Muiruri who has been offering counselling services for the last 13 years, stated that GBV is a serious problem affecting many people countrywide and need to be urgently addressed by trained professionals.

“The victims of GBV ought to seek professional counselling so as to get appropriate advice which might not be offered by their family members or religious leaders, who at times may be biased,” she stated.

Muiruri explained that contrary to popular belief Gender Based Violence exists in different forms including physical assault and psychological. “Many people think Gender Based Violence is only physical assault without knowing that even un-warranted silent treatment toward a partner is a form of domestic violence,” she posed.

The psychologist also noted that the restrictions the government had put in place to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic such as night time curfew had significantly contributed to the rise in GBV cases as partners are forced to spend more time together than they were previously accustomed to.

“The first curfew that started at 7pm every night was the toughest for most couples as they were forced to spend more time together which seemed to increase conflicts,” she noted.

The former teacher further observed that it was the change from coming home late to early that had resulted in more marital conflicts as couples now had time to face issues between them.

According to Muiruri the other major cause of GBV is mistrust that leads partners to investigate each other saying where there is mistrust some form of violence was bound to happen. “If you are looking for something wrong with your partner including going through their phone you will probably find it,” she observed.

The counsellor stated that although GBV affected both men and women, in Murang’a County women were more affected and more so by physical assault. She explained that GBV could be avoided if partners were willing to communicate about their issues tactfully instead of letting them pile up unresolved.

Muiruri stated that drugs and alcohol were also playing a big role in GBV as intoxicated people are likely to be more hostile and unreasonable, adding that different people react to drugs differently. “Sometimes a person may consume alcohol or other hard drugs even without intention of causing chaos and the drugs could make them hostile,” she noted.

The counsellor urged victims of GBV to come out and seek professional help as well as involve the relevant authorities in case of physical assault without fear of ridicule from the public. “Most cases of GBV go unreported because the victims fear being stigmatized by family members and the public at large,” she added.

She advised that couples ought to solve their issues amicably as any acts of GBV towards each other could have a wide range of effects on their children, including making them withdrawn from their peers as well as long lasting psychological effects that could affect all their future relations with adults.

By Anita Omwenga and Purity Mugo

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