Dr. Ebenezer Tetteh Kpalam, a clinical psychologist, has disclosed that handling domestic violence is complex as it is a cycle between tension, calm, and abuse.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Tema, Dr Kpalam said due to the vicious cycle and complexity of domestic violence, most victims found it difficult to identify it early and look for help.
He described domestic violence as a pattern of one family member trying to control or manipulate the other through the different forms of abuse.
Explaining the various phases in the cycle, he said in a relationship, the victim would realize that all of a sudden there was some tension which then leads to the abuser abusing the victim, after which calmness follows during which they apologize and promise not to do so again.
He said the calmness stage in the cycle made it difficult for the victim to continue talking about the abuse, as the abuser would always apologize and show love and repentance making it look like the violence would not occur again, only for it to resurface another time.
He mentioned that apart from common physical abuse, other abuses that are happening include verbal, emotional, sexual, and economic.
The clinical psychologist explained that physical abuse was in the form of beatings, choking, and kicking, adding that it often involved spousal abuse.
He noted that data showed that more men were being verbally abused by their wives, explaining that words such as “are you a man”, were a form of verbal abuse as they tend to ridicule and degrade the victim, which could result in a negative impact and psychological issues.
Dr. Kpalam said apart from the physical abuse women mostly go through, some also face emotional abuse from their partners, as they put fear in them and also isolate them from others by ensuring that they do not have friends or visit family members, among others.
He said economically, some were also abused as they were prevented from engaging in any economic venture to have purchasing power and money to care for themselves, the abusers he added ensured that their victims were deprived of every form of economic and educational empowerment.
He indicated that sexual abuse was also one of the violence existing in some relationships during which the abuser forcefully has intercourse with the victim.
He said the 2016 Domestic Violence Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) report showed that three out of 10 women experienced abuse mostly physical and economic, while two out of 10 men faced verbal abuse.
Citing some of the factors abusers’ dwell on, Dr. Kpalam revealed that those who were abused as children especially sexually turned out to be abusers, adding that stress in life such as financial problems could also contribute to it.
He said mental challenges, such as anxieties and disturbances in thought could also lead to abusive tendencies, saying that “there are people too who have been told that their spouse is causing their predicament spiritually.”
Dr. Kpalam observed that challenges in marriages such as childlessness, problematic behaviour, and perception of infidelity among others could also trigger domestic violence.