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December 11, 2023


You might have heard the words “Domestic violence and abuse” and maybe something strange comes to your mind. Have you tried finding out what the real meaning of domestic violence and abuse mean?

From the time of its establishment, Love Uganda Foundation has been working around the clock to deal with issues related with domestic violence and abuse. There is no bad habit that yields good results. The same way domestic violence threatens life and well-being of those who practice it is the same way it affects those that are not victims yet. This implies that no one is immune to this life threat. 

Before we go any further, let us first get to understand what domestic violence means?

What is domestic violence and abuse?

Different scholars have defined domestic violence and abuse in different ways but the underlying message holds it to the point that any behaviours  that an individual gets himself or herself in with an intention of expressing dominance over his or her partner is domestic violence. In other words, domestic violence refers to any physical or psychological behaviours expressed by individuals to show dominance over other individuals or groups of individuals while violating their human rights. 

Domestic violence can happen to married partners, couples in a romantic relationship, boyfriend, girlfriend, other members of the family, etc.  It take on different forms or types and each form has potential threats to the person on which it is being practiced.

Who can be a victim of domestic Violence and abuse?

Domestic violence knows no borders. In other words, everybody is a potential candidate of domestic violence irrespective of your gender, age, tribe, color, origin, sexual orientation, class or religious affiliation. 

In Uganda, cases of domestic violence have been evident in all parts of the country from western to eastern, southern, northern and central regions. Much as numbers vary because of factors like levels of education and cultural reasons. All you need to know is that domestic violence and abuse can happen to everybody everywhere. 

What are the different forms / types of domestic violence and abuse?

Domestic violence can be expressed in different forms and the effects can be felt in different forms. Sometimes it starts as a verbal violence and then graduates to physical violence causing psychological effects. It also important to understand that each person is affected by domestic violence and abuse. Some individuals fly while others fight. 

Below are some of the forms of domestic violence and abuse;

  1. Physical abuse

 Physical violence is one of the deadliest forms of violence since it can easily cause damage and death to the one being abused. It can take on many ways which include; hurting or trying to hurt a partner through, grabbing, hitting, kicking, pinching, shoving, slapping, hair-pulling, biting, burning, denying medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use, or using other physical force. You can tell that your partner is physically abusive and violent when he; Damages property when angry (throws objects, punches walls, kicks doors, etc.), Pushes, slaps, bites, kicks or chokes you, Abandons you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place, Scares you by driving recklessly, Uses a weapon to threaten or hurt you, Forces you to leave your home, Traps you in your home or keeps you from leaving, Prevents you from calling police or seeking medical attention, Hurts your children, Uses physical force in sexual situations.

  • Emotional abuse 

It is sometimes difficult to tell that you being abused emotionally since it is always dying a slow and silent death. The abuser does it to inflict pain on your feelings. Being around your partner gives you a bad feeling, low self-esteem, you feel scared and confused. The goal of the abuser is always making the abused get undermined feelings and less independent. Emotional abuse can be exercised in different forms some of which are physical in nature. You can tell that you are being emotionally abused when your partner; puts you down with words that make you feel like you are not in control, constantly rejects your ideas and opinions, makes you doubt your feelings, makes you feel like you are not good enough, undermines your peers and relationships, calls you fake names like fool, stupid, name it, intimidates or threatens you with fearful words or messages, limits your movements, and many other related ways.  

  • Psychological abuse

Domestic violence can also stretch to the psychology part of human beings. This is more like emotional abuse since emotions make part of the human psychology. The abuser causes fear to the one being abused. There is a lot of intimidation and one might be forced to isolate themselves from others. 

  • Economic or Financial abuse

In this form of domestic violence and abuse, the abuser does a lot to bring the abused under their control financially. They stop them from doing business, confiscating your ATM cards, withdrawing their moneys without consent, forbidding them from attending school and employment.  

  • Sexual abuse

In this form of domestic violence, the abuser forces, coerces or tricks the abused into any sexual things without their consent. It is one of the most dangerous forms of domestic violence since it come with a lot of damage that is both psychological and physical. It usually results into unwanted pregnancies and diseases. You can tell that you are being sexually abused if your partner; Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships, Wants you to dress in a sexual way, Insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names, Has ever forced or manipulated you into having sex or performing sexual acts, Holds you down during sex, Ignores your feelings regarding sex, Demands sex when you are sick, tired or after beating you, Hurts you with weapons or objects during sex, Involves other people in sexual activities with you, and many more things that look like any of these. 

  • Stalking

These activities usually do not have any legitimate intensions rather than making the victim feel harassed or annoyed. It involves frequent telephone calls, constantly following the victim when going to work, shopping, outing, etc. and unnecessary surveillances. 

If you have fallen victim of any of these forms of domestic violence, it not your fault and with the necessary assistance, you can escape the dangers and things get on the right track. 

  • Spiritual or religious abuse

This happens when the abuser is denied freedom of worship or when they are forced to worship what they do not believe in. it may go as far as making sacrifices to the gods they do not believe in and visiting witch doctors. 

What are the causes of domestic violence and abuse?

Quite a number of factor lead to the occurrence of domestic violence and these are things that are in our day to day lives. These causes are social and economic in nature and include among others but not limited to the following; 

  • Alcoholism
  • Ignorance of the law
  • Cultural reasons
  • Suspicion of Infidelity
  • Child parents (becoming parents at a tender age)
  • Self defense
  • Poor child upbringing
  • Historical factors
  • Relationship retention behaviours 
  • Poverty
  • Famine
  • Mental illnesses
  • Chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS
  • Unemployment

What are the signs / indicators of domestic violence and abuse?

Where there is smoke there is always fire. Before the domestic violence and abuse occur, there are some sign and symptoms that may come to play. In the event that you know these signs earlier, domestic violence and abuse would have been dealt with. 

Below are some of the indicators of domestic Violence and abuse;

  • Dress in clothing designed to hide bruises or scars (for example, wearing long sleeves in the summer or sunglasses indoors).
  • Injuries hidden in the name of accidents.
  • Frequently misses school or work
  • Constant isolation
  • People who have be outgoing gradually become introverted
  • People who have been confident have low self-esteem
  • Feelings of stress and anxiety
  •  Some people develop suicidal tendencies 
  • Some people reach an extent of crying especially when they are alone. 
  • Playing blame games all the time
  • Etc. 

How can I deal with domestic violence and abuse?

Dealing with domestic violence and abuse requires you to first accept that you are either abusing others or you are being abused. Knowing the disease is being half cured. You can create a safety plan and take make some decisions step by step. Eventually, you will realize that you are no longer a victim of domestic violence and abuse.

  • Prepare to escape in case you cannot stand the violence. It is better to run away than staying around and you get harm. Always have an emergency bag with clothes and other essentials that you can use after you have escaped. 
  • Talk to a friend you trust for advice and help. Friends are meant to be with us in both good and bad times. Go to a friend’s house and sleep over instead of being abused. 
  • Know exactly where you will go and how you will get there in case the abuser starts threatening. 
  • You can also protect your communication and location by; 
  • Using your phone courteously 
  • Use your home computer courteously since our abuser might use spyware to monitor your emails and the websites you visit. Consider using a computer at work, at the library or at a friend’s house to seek help.
  • Turn off GPS devices so that the abuser does not track your movements
  • Change your passwords and other access codes frequently 
  • Clear your viewing history 
  • Clear your call logs
  • Clear your social media chats
  • Contact the hotlines that can be of help such as police, Human Rights Organizations, local councils, etc.
  • Seek help from the local associations such as the church of Uganda Mothers Union groups and other local units. 
  • Seek help from mental health specialists
  • Seek justice from the local courts

What are the effects of domestic violence?

If not dealt with as soon as possible, domestic violence can be of great impact to both the abuser and the one being abused. Effects of domestic violence stretch to children, parents, workmates, friends and families.  It can result in; 

  • Depression 
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Self-neglect
  • Increased risks of cardiovascular disease
  • School dropouts
  • Alcoholism
  • Diseases like HIV/AIDS
  • Lameness 
  • Death
  • Premature mortality
  • Etc. 

Is it only men that abuse?

Some people believe that it is only men who exercise domestic violence and abuse. This is not the case as it has been on several occasions proved beyond doubt that women also exercise domestic violence and abuse. It is a habit that cuts across all gender and if we are to eliminate it both men and women have a role to play.

Does Uganda have laws against domestic violence and abuse?

Uganda, like many other countries in the world is against domestic violence and any other form of human rights abuse. This is why the laws of the land prohibit Ugandans from exercising the behaviours related to domestic violence.

According to the Domestic Violence Act 2010 (Laws of Uganda), anyone who practices domestic violence directly or indirectly should be reported to relevant bodies. The court should hear the case and make judgments in accordance with the law. Whoever, indulges him or herself in domestic violence in Uganda commits an offense and he or she is liable to relevant punishment which may include imprisonment

What can I do to stop domestic violence and abuse?

Domestic violence takes place with in our families, villages, districts and other societies. This implies that there is something that we everybody can do to eradicate it. All we need is changed mindsets and attitudes which do not tolerate such kinds of behaviours in our societies. You can choose to make change or wait for the situation to worsen. 

Report any cases of domestic violence in your family or village. You can as well help those who have been abused heal through encouraging them. You can also create awareness campaigns against domestic violence and abuse.

How do I help those that have been victims of domestic violence and abuse?

If you have been a victim of domestic violence, take heart, it is not your fault. Whether you are the one who was abusing others or you are the one who has been abused. All that you need is embracing the fact that change is something possible. 

We can help those who have been victimized through encouraging them, being by their side when they need us. They do not have to have a low self-esteem simply because they are victims. Together we can make a change in our societies. 

Dominance and power should not mean inflicting violence on others.

Majority of the people abuse others in the name of showing dominance. Some do it to prove that they are the heads of the family. However, this should not be a fertilizer for domestic violence. We are all equal and have a role to play in the lives of others. We can dominate in good things but not in practicing domestic violence. 

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