10 Telling Signs You’re Trapped in an Abusive Relationship

By Emily Lockhart.

The thing that hurts most about an abusive relationship is realizing that you were tricked into it. Most abusive relationships don’t start out with a black eye. Commonly, they begin just like any other relationship or may seem too good to be true, but slowly, your partner may begin to subtly blame you for things beyond your control or pick at your faults. This may slowly evolve into full blown verbal or physical abuse.

The trauma suffered in an abusive relationship gradually ramps up. It slowly drains you of self worth and alienates your support system, leaving you feeling trapped and miserable before you even realize the signs.

Regardless of if you suffer from emotional, verbal, or physical abuse, it can be difficult to comprehend that someone you love, and who claims to love you, could victimize you. And sometimes, your partner may not even realize what they’re doing is wrong.

Here are ten sneaky signs that you’re trapped in an abusive relationship…

1. Humiliation

Humiliation as a form of abuse may start out with subtle jabs or insults in private and then become full blown yelling and embarrassment in public before you even realize it. It doesn’t take much for an abuser to get angry for the smallest of reason and convince you that you’re the guilty party. This type of humiliation is meant to make you submissive and to control you in front of others if they know that they’re public outbursts will make you subservient to their wants and needs.

2. Verbal Insults

You or your partner may lose your cool in an argument, but that never excuses name calling or foul language. Verbal abuse can range from insulting your looks, your intelligence, or your worth and it doesn’t always include foul language. The main purpose of verbal abuse is to wear down your self esteem so that you’re compliant and reliant on your partner—and no one else.

3. Physical Violence

Physical abuse almost never starts with a busted lip. Abusers typically begin subtly with an intimidating stance, a hand raised, a grab at your arm, or a quick slap to get your attention. This almost always graduates to harsher physical slaps, chokes, grabs, or even punches if you let the previous abuse slide. Abusers know that it takes time to breaking their spouse or partner down so they think they deserve the abuse

4. Controlling Behavior

The controlling abuser aims to alienate you from everyone else in your life other than them. That way, your friends or family won’t recognize the signs of abuse or come to your aid. Most abusers want you to be totally dependent on them and no one else. At first this may appear that your partner is just really invested in your life and your decisions, but it will slowly spiral into them being in total control.

5. Unpredictable Mood Swings

The mood swings of an abusive individual can be staggering. For instance, they can go from pleasant and romantic to total rage in a matter of seconds. This extremely unpredictable behavior is almost only aimed at a submissive partner who they know won’t challenge them

6. Picking at Faults

Does your partner treat you like a child? Most abusers who use verbal abuse as their prime tool will treat you like a misbehaved child, yelling and disciplining you as they demean and point out your every fault. However, if you try to correct them, get ready for a seriously defensive and angry backlash.

7. Alienating Your Friends and Family

An abuser knows that they won’t get away with mistreating you if you have supportive friends and family in the picture to challenge their behavior. That’s why they will slowly try to convince you that others don’t appreciate you or value your relationship. Soon you will lose all sense of yourself and only have them for support. What better way to control your every behavior, right?

8. Placement of Blame
You can bet if you choose to stay with an abusive partner that you’ll be blamed for everything that goes wrong in their lives. An abusive lover will never accept personal blame for anything. They are masters at turning things around on their spouses so they never assume any guilt.

9. Manipulation

Abusers are skilled at manipulation—so much so that they actually convince their partners that their physical or verbal outbursts are the result of misbehavior on your part. The aim is to make you doubt yourself and your self worth as a good person. That’s why most victims of abuse continue to excuse or forgive their partner’s cruel behavior

10. Calculated Outbursts
Doesn’t it seem strange to you that your partner only demeans you, yells at you, or hits you in private? They will try to convince you that they have no control over their violet or verbally abusive tirades, but ask yourself why they never lose their cool in front of others or in public.

Husband beats and stabs his wife in her private part after accusing her of cheating

A man named Victor Ojiaku has been arrested by the Nigerian police for allegedly beating his wife mercilessly and then stabbing her in her private part with a broken bottle after accusing her of sleeping with sleeping with a teenage boy who works for him.

Ojiaku, an automobile parts dealer, attacked his wife, Faith Ojiaku, 27, a mother of three at their home in White Sand, Isheri-Osun in Lagos State last week. LIB has photos of the stabbed vagina but probably not appropriate to post here

A man named Victor Ojiaku has been arrested by the Nigerian police for allegedly beating his wife mercilessly and then stabbing her in her private part with a broken bottle after accusing her of sleeping with sleeping with a teenage boy who works for him.

Ojiaku, an automobile parts dealer, attacked his wife, Faith Ojiaku, 27, a mother of three at their home in White Sand, Isheri-Osun in Lagos State last week. LIB has photos of the stabbed vagina but probably not appropriate to post here.
Faith was kept locked up for two days by Victor, making it impossible for her to call any family member or friend for help or seeking medical attention.

When she was eventually allowed to seek medical attention, she used a doctor’s phone to call her sister who the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, who have since taken up the case.

The man appeared at the Ejigbo Magistrates’ Court last week where he was granted bail and case postponed till end of January. He is also faing charges for attacking his teenage worker who he accused of sleeping with his wife.

He is facing a six-count charge bordering on grievous bodily harm, threat to life and assault.
Faith was kept locked up for two days by Victor, making it impossible for her to call any family member or friend for help or seeking medical attention.

When she was eventually allowed to seek medical attention, she used a doctor’s phone to call her sister who the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, who have since taken up the case.

The man appeared at the Ejigbo Magistrates’ Court last week where he was granted bail and case postponed till end of January. He is also faing charges for attacking his teenage worker who he accused of sleeping with his wife.

He is facing a six-count charge bordering on grievous bodily harm, threat to life and assault.


By Ceaf staff


                 MOLESTATION : According to Definition of Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is usually undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. When force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or (often pejoratively) molester.

                CONSENT: permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. In this case only molestation occurs between Kemen and TBOSS also known as TOKUNBO IDOWU and i was shocked that some Misogynistic men also know as CELEBRITIES AND COMEDIAN ARE COMING to  KEMEN RESCUE.

The big brother show in General opinion is a show that lacks morals and  promotes nothing but Sex! Sex! Sex! but an incident that occurred in the big brother house and the way the producers handled it, is perhaps the only sex Education Nigerians would ever get on the meaning of “CONSENT”

             Kemen choose in our opinion at #CEAF to sexually touch a woman without her “CONSENT”. The defense that it is what a ‘correct guy’ would do and i quote “AYO MAKUN”, when a fine babe is beside him, is totally unacceptable. KEMEN OR SEMEN as I like to call him, is a disgrace to all men worldwide and unless he can return in time and undo his act, we shall forever remember him as a total waste of man sperm.

According to the US Department of State, Country Studies on Human Rights Practices; Domestic violence has grown prevalent, and is usually regarded as socially permitted. In Nigeria alone, approximately three in ten Nigerian ladies have experienced actual physical violence since age fifteen. Not to mention the rampant increase of domestic violence in the last 3 years from 21% in 2011 to 30% in 2013. Which is no wonder we hear of everyday people, such as Ronke shonde, Titilayo Arowolo in our local news killed by domestic violence.

           But most of this cases are of private citizens which only comes to limelight after it is too late. But what happens when such an abuse is done in the public eye by individuals or people who ought to serve us? or the victims are public figure’s themselves? What happens? Domestic violence is not a respecter of persons, anyone can fall victim. Here are other few instances:

Dino Melaye :Domestic Abuse,Politics,Bully.

                 When you hear the name Dino Melaye, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Trouble? Wife beater? Egomania?Bully?

There is no doubt that  Dino’s Melaye over the past few years has been in the news more for the wrong reasons, for what has occurred in his personal life, or derogatory and illiterate  statements he has made, than any real significant change he has brought ever since he joined politics. The only time I heard any significant or positive effect concerning his name was when I was in 200 level Law and we were asked to discuss whether his refusal to obey a court order or not was constitutional, since then NOTHING. All he has managed to do however is cause his two wives to leave him, because he rather display his punching prowess on two women than in the gym.

His first wife , Tokunbo accused him of hitting her, and that whenever they had a confrontation, she would find herself in the hospital receiving treatment for all types of injuries. On September 25, 2013, it was reported that Tokunbo and Dino had an argument , and he held a silver pistol against her head and would have pulled the trigger if he wasn’t distracted when his phone rang. As evidence of his battery, various pictures of her bleeding surfaced online.

I guess further evidence of his ‘manliness’ was when his second wife, Alero Falope left her marriage just after seven months of marriage. Of course, she denied the reason  she left was because of domestic violence, but then we know the stigma that comes with talking about it… Just saying!

           I guess the most popular news involving Dino Melaye that got the nation talking, was when he threatened to rape and beat up Senator OluRemi Tinubu former first lady of Lagos State; particularly since his remark to her after she called him a dog and a thug, was targeted at her as a woman. If he simply called her a dog as well, that wouldn’t have mattered much, besides she insulted him. But to threaten to ‘impregnate her’ and say nothing would happen, and think he has made a worthy rebuttal, shows how low he regards women.I also remember him as someone who objectify women by comparing former Aviation Minister to the latter that he prefers her because of her BREAST AND SHAPE. PROFESSOR DINO, HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?in my opinion,he only see women as sexual object. If we cannot trust our so called leader to live the law he helps make, who then can we trust?


Another celebrity is Tiwa Savage. Okay so this may not have been actual physical abuse; meaning Tiwa Savage husband did not actually beat or hit her, but an abuse did occur. Emotional and verbal abuse, which in our opinion at #CEAF is as bad. It does a lot of damage to a woman’s psychological and mental health being. We at #CEAF do not stand for any kind of abuse, whether it is physical or not, or done by a Woman or not. Kudos to Tiwa Savage for speaking out!

            NB: An advice to TEE BILLZ is that , what happen between you and TIWA may also happen in the future if you don’t get a JOB ,because  from all indication the main reason you had a fall out with your wife was all ABOUT MONEY and Miss-management.


Then Tonto Dike. Apart from being the same ‘incompetent interviewer’ (as some people have said) who conducted their interviews, another thing Tiwa savage and Tonto Dike have in common is an abusive ex-husband according to Report. Tonto recently disclosed that her marriage of less than three years had crashed, and among many other allegations, domestic abuse was said to have occurred. She revealed to the media pictures of herself bruised. This is to show you that nothing is perfect, even the most seemly perfect woman can be going through abuse.Kudos to Tonto for standing Strong.

So whether it’s Dino Melaye(the wife beater )or Teebillz, (the emotional abuser) or KEMEN the MOLESTER, abuse is abuse, and no one, whether celebrity or not should stand for it.

Big shout out to Celebrities and individuals who stood up against Molestation of TOKUNBO IDOWU and if you think what Kemen did was right,it’s shows you are part of the Problem affecting our society.


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Domestic Violence is Real: Scorn Wife pour boiling water on husband in Plateau State for marrying second wife

A young woman identified as one Hafsat on February 20th, allegedly poured boiling water on her husband because he married a second wife. Below is a report by a journalist with Unity FM.
For marrying a second wife, this was what this young girl Hafsat did to her husband in Fill-in Ball area of Jos.

Mubarak and Hafsat have been married for eight years after courting for six years. They have three children between them.Trouble however started when Mubarak decided to take a second wife. This did not go down well with Hafsat who became mad, enraged, infuriated and pissed off.
She told the 37 year old Mubarak to divorce her but he begged her saying she just needs to understand that as a Muslim, he is entitled to marry more than one wife. She became hostile towards him.
Eventually, Mubarak married his second wife on the 28 of January 2017.He however accommodated her in Fillin Sukwa area of Jos, a distant from his first wife’s home. Mubarak as promised ensured equity, fairness, impartiality and justice amongst his two wives.
On Monday 20th of February, after returning from his second wife ‘s home, Hafsat the first wife asked Mubarak to go back to where he was coming from (his second wife’s home).Knowing she doesn’t have the capacity to beat him up, he did not oblige her. She told him if he doesn’t go back, he would regret it. True to her words, she locked the door, when he tried opening the door with his own key, she emptied a pot of boiling water on husband back.What a world.
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Photos: Woman whose hands were chopped off by husband because she couldn’t bear children, is pregnant for another man

The Kenyan woman who made news after her husband chopped off her hands because she could not bear him children, revealed that she is pregnant. See previous story here

Ms Jackline Mwende told the Nation Kenya on Tuesday, that the father of her child is a close friend she was dating before the gruesome attack.

She had conceived about three days before the attack, and she has not regrets for it because she “opted for this route” out of her deep-rooted desire to bear children.

Speaking further, Ms Mwende that the attack might have something to do with the fact that, a day earlier, she had been seen in public with the man she was having an affair with.

“We had sought accommodation in Machakos town because I did not want to bring him to my matrimonial bed,” she explained.

”It was on the Saturday of July 23, and after spending time with the other man I went back home, where I lived alone because my husband had taken off three months earlier.

On July 24th, Mwende’s husband attacked her with a big knife. She was flown to Europe where she got high end prosthetic arms

Update on our recent campaign and Press Release

Update on our recent campaign and Press Release

Global statistics according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), reveal that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/ or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner violence in their lifetime.

These account for the major public health problems and violations of women’s human rights. Advocates for Youth, a 32-year-old Washington-based organization, has recorded that in Sub-Saharan Africa, violence against women is a widespread problem and in Nigeria specifically, 81% of married women report verbal and physical abuse by their husbands with 46% reporting being abused in the presence of their children.

Also, according to the guardian UK, more than 40% (2 in 5) of domestic violence victims are male, contradicting popular belief that it is almost only women that are left battered and bruised.

Founded by Paul Akinyemi Thomson in 2009, Comfort Empowerment and Advocacy Foundation (CEAF) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) created to aid victims of domestic abuse and end gender based violence through public awareness and engagement campaigns and pushing to enforce laws that will protect everyone irrespective of gender.

The team comprises of trained and able counselors as well as experienced lawyers who are ready to prosecute legal causes from start to finish. CEAF has also partnered with the well known Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) of the Lagos State government and the Sexual Violence Counselling team of Mirabel Centre, which is the very first Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Nigeria that also boasts of over 30 sexual abuse counselors, trained to provide psycho-social support for victims of abuse.

CEAF is resolute on breaking social barriers and stigma, normalizing the conversation around domestic violence and sexual assault and as a matter of urgency, increasing resources to address the issue.

CEAF Social Media details:
Visit our website for more information
Website: http://ceaf.ng
Facebook: @ceafng
Twitter: @ceafng
Instagram: @ceafng

For media and press inquiries please contact:

Below are the list of sites and blogs that has been spreading the news with #CEAFNG .

· http://alukosayo.blogspot.com.ng/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://www.entertain9ja.com/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://www.felisterisikeblog.com/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://gistflick.com/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy-foundation-ceaf-is-saying-no/
· http://www.jejetv.com/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://www.getitrightnigerians.com/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://www.rosyomeje.com.ng/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy-foundation-ceaf-is-saying-no.html
· http://www.padigist.com/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://www.mathewtegha.com.ng/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://gistxtra.blogspot.co.ke/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html?m=1
· http://www.deemezblog.com/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://www.heavybrainguy.info/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://www.naija4real.com/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· https://gistcomplex.blogspot.com.ng/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://www.levitoday.com/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://www.blogmallnigeria.com/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://www.frayokit.info/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://www.proudlyblog.com/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://newsengin.blogspot.com/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://andybesttv.blogspot.com.ng/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html?m=1
· http://septin911.net/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-advocacy-foundation-ceaf-saying-no/
· http://www.veenaija.com/comfort-empowerment-advocacy-foundation-ceaf-saying-no/
· http://dsuccesscenter.blogspot.com.ng/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-and-advocacy.html
· http://talktokemi.blogspot.com.ng/2017/02/comfort-empowerment-n-advocacy.html

EXCLUSIVE AND GRAPHIC:Man cuts his wife’s body into pieces in Lagos.

The Lagos state police command have arrested 36 year old Sakiru Bello, pictured above, for dismembering his wife and mother of his three children, Sherifat Bello on February 13th.

According to Vanguard, Sakiru told the police that he never intended to kill his ex-wife. “I called her on February 13th and she came to see me at home. Later, both of us went to the Island. It was on our way back that a commercial bus hit the bike that we boarded and she fell, hitting her head on the ground.

When we got home, she started complaining of pain in the head and then she died. I didn’t take her to the hospital because I didn’t have money. After she died, I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t call her family members since we aren’t in good terms. It was while thinking about what to do that a thought came into my mind that I should cut her corpse into pieces to enable me dispose off her remains easily. So I cut her head, her breast, her leg and other parts of her body. I later wrapped them in a sack before taking it to an uncompleted building, where I buried the parts in different holes.”

Speaking on the incident, the father of the deceased said “I reported the case to the Area ‘B’ Police Command, when we didn’t see her, not knowing that he had killed her. When we called him, he said he was somewhere in Ibadan and gave us an address. However, when we got to the address, he was not there. Luckily, police arrested him in Lagos where he was hiding. He is denying that he killed her, but he cut her corpse into bits. All we want is proper investigation and justice in this case.”

Also speaking, the elder sister of the deceased alleged that her sister had raised alarm a year ago that her husband had planned to use her for money ritual. “My sister is a nurse. She is the one who has been catering for the family, while they were married. She once bought him a bike and later, a Danfo just to ensure that he is gainfully employed. But nothing came out of it. About a year ago, she raised alarm that he wanted to use her for rituals, so the two families came together and they separated


Stop Calling It Domestic Violence. It’s Intimate Terrorism.

What You Need to Know Right Now About Domestic Violence

Domestic violence doesn’t only happen at home. It spills into the places we take for granted as safe—schools, stores, salons, or any workplace. Cosmopolitan investigates how relationship violence puts us all at risk…and how the protective orders intended to give us peace of mind sometimes aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.


June 13, 2012, Buffalo, New York—Receptionist Jacqueline Wisniewski, 33, shot and killed by ex-boyfriend at the hospital where she worked. July 13, 2012, Ellicott City, Maryland—Spa technician Lan Phan, 34, shot and injured on the job by ex-boyfriend. He was violating a protective order. September 11, 2012, Sioux Falls, South Dakota—Manager Amanda Collins, 24, shot and killed at the salon where she worked by her employee’s boyfriend. He was violating a protective order.

September 27, 2012, Orlando, Florida—Hotel workers Carlene Pierre, 28, and Vanessa Gonzalez-Orellanes, 28, shot and killed at the reception desk by Pierre’s ex-boyfriend. He was violating a protective order. October 18, 2012, Cassel Berry, Florida—Hairstylist Marcia Santiago is wounded and her coworkers Noelia Gonzalez-Brito and Eugenia Marte and customer Gladys Cabrera are killed by Santiago’s ex-boyfriend. He was violating a protective order. October 21, 2012, Brookfield, Wisconsin—Estranged husband of spa worker Zina Haughton fatally shoots her and coworkers Maelyn Lind and Cary Robuck. He was violating a protective order. November 1, 2012, Casper, Wyoming—Heidi Arnold, a math instructor, stabbed to death by her boyfriend’s son; he then executed her boyfriend in front of a class he was teaching at the local community college. December 4, 2012, Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina—convenience-store clerk Crystal Lockley, 24, and her coworker, Jennifer Ruffin, both stabbed, allegedly by Lockley’s boyfriend. December 14, 2012, Las Vegas, Nevada—Concierge vendor Jessica Kenny shot in a murder-suicide by an ex-boyfriend in the lobby of the Excalibur Hotel. January 28, 2013, Annapolis, Maryland—Washington Post newspaper carrier Tracy Lynn West shot by her estranged husband. A judge had reportedly denied her request for a protective order.

NO PRIVATE MATTER One in four large employers reports a threat due to domestic violence each year. Ashleigh Lindsey’s ex targeted this café where she worked.

It was Friday the 13th of last July when Tara Woodlee turned on her iPad at her home in Windom, Texas, a remote speck in the hills northeast of Dallas. She was frantic: Two men had been stalking her 20-year-old daughter, Ashleigh Marie Lindsey.

For months, Ashleigh—5 feet 3 and pregnant—had been on the run from her violent ex-boyfriend, Joshua Mahaffey, and his friend Joshua Scott. Now, they seemed to be closing in. Ashleigh was hiding out in Oklahoma at the home of her close friend, Heather Lara. But every hour, the two men bombarded her with phone calls, trying to lure her back.

Then, Woodlee pulled up Scott’s Face book page—and saw a photo of a .22 caliber revolver.

“I thought, Oh, god, no!” Woodlee says. “She was in the worst danger I could imagine.” Her husband dialed the county sheriff’s office, and not for the first time. Ashleigh had filed assault charges against her boyfriend, reached out to the county domestic-violence program, and obtained multiple orders of protection—all of which Mahaffey had blatantly violated. He had made so many threats against the strip-mall café where Ashleigh worked as a waitress that police had considered filing federal terrorism charges against him and bringing in the FBI. He had beaten and burned Ashleigh, kicked her pregnant belly, threatened her family. After all the attacks, the response to this latest call, Woodlee says, was dismaying: “We can’t do anything about a picture on Facebook.”

By that time, the gun had been used.

Hours after posting the photo, prosecu tors allege, Joshua Scott had shot dead his mother’s boyfriend. Then, in the blood-soaked car, he picked up Mahaffey to go looking for Ashleigh.

They all slept late that morning in Heather Lara’s house in Kingston, Okla homa. Ashleigh got up around 12:30 p.m. and headed out for her shift at the café. “I love you,” she called out to her friend.

Heather’s boyfriend, John Coleman, in the bedroom watching TV, heard doors slam and a gasp. “He’s here! Oh my gosh!”

Then, three gunshots.

Heather lunged for her phone and wrestled with Scott before she ran out the back door. Scott soon fled in the car.

Mahaffey lay dead on the bathroom floor, curled over the gun. And under him was Ashleigh, shot in the head and shoulder, blood pouring from her wounds.

Eerily, her cell phone began to ring. Coleman, in shock, automatically picked it up. It was Ashleigh’s mother, calling her daughter to warn her about the gun.

MOST OF US HAVE HEARD THE GRIM STATISTICS. Every day across America, four to five women are murdered by an inti mate partner or ex, most of them within three to six months of a breakup. What you may not realize is that so-called domestic violence is not limited to the home. Mahaffey’s threats on his girl friend’s workplace and his attack on her friend’s home turn out to be typical beha vior. Nearly one-third of domestic-violence deaths are family members, friends, and supporters of the primary victim, a Massa chusetts study found. And for every 10 targeted victims, more than 8 others, includ ing random bystanders, die in the bloods hed.

Cosmopolitan survey of state data found at least 33 workplace domestic-violence killings in 2011. Last September, a 24-year-old salon manager in South Dakota was killed by a coworker’s violent boyfriend. The next month, men target ing partners killed four people in a Wis con sin spa and four in a Florida hair salon. In December, domestic violence sparked a stabbing at a North Carolina convenience store and a shooting in a Las Vegas hotel. In a Cleveland airport parking lot, a man shot his security-officer wife, fired at a colleague, and took his own life.

Michael P. Johnson, PhD, emeritus professor of sociology at Penn State University, has a chilling term for crimes like these: “intimate terrorism.”

Some gender-violence experts see an underexplored link to crimes like the December school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza’s first victim was his own mother, shot four times as she lay sleeping. Before Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007, two women had reported him to campus police for stalking. John Allen Muhammad, the sniper executed for his role in the killing of 10 people in the Washington, D.C., area in 2002, had a history of abusing his wife. She later said she thought he staged the shootings to make her planned murder appear random. “Most domestic-violence homicides and the vast majority of mass shootings are committed by young men,” says Jackson Katz, PhD, a Los Angeles–based educator who runs corporate violence-prevention programs. “This is hardly coincidental.”

Here’s what else many of these crimes have in common: In case after case, the women had gone to the police and secured a protective order that was supposed to keep them—and everyone around them—safe. “What’s wrong with this picture?” asks Diane Rosenfeld, a lecturer on law and director of the Gender Violence Pro gram at Harvard Law School. “Domestic-violence homicide is so predictable as to be preventable,” she says, yet protective orders too often fail because police, prose cu tors, and courts lack the resources, or the will, to enforce them.

“If they look at it as just one more day-by-day incident, like a car wreck or a burglary, they will shrug it off,” says Mary Lauby, executive director of Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sex ual Assault and Domestic Violence. But a violence complaint is rarely an isolated episode—or a “lover’s quarrel,” as one deputy described Mahaffey’s rampage. It is usu ally part of a continuum of abuse that may easily escalate, Lauby says.

The public shootings we call “senseless” are often not random at all. And every time a man threatens a woman he’s in a rela tion ship with, he could be one step closer to a crime with a greater scope.

GROWING UP IN RURAL NORTH TEXAS, ABOUT 70 MILES NORTH OF DALLAS, ASHLEIGH LINDSEY HAD A DIFFICULT CHILDHOOD. Her father, Wood lee’s ex, couldn’t keep a job and lashed out at his two daughters. “She was dating a lot of different guys and getting used,” her mother says. And then just before Thanksgiving 2011, she met Joshua Mahaffey. She was working in a customer-service call center in Durant, Okla homa, when a coworker, Joshua Scott, introduced her to his friend. Mahaffey was a “cowboy Casanova,” Heather Lara says. “He was very charming—’Hey, give a hug!’—and he looked like James Dean.” Heather warned her friend that Mahaffey had a past—at least one ex-wife and a couple of kids. But Ashleigh was smitten. After only a month, she moved in with Mahaffey.

Woodlee had remarried in 2006, and she and Ashleigh’s stepfather were uneasy. It wasn’t so much anything Mahaffey did or said, Jim Woodlee says. He just left you with a strange feeling in your gut. “There’s something wrong with him,” he warned Ashleigh. “Run!”

UNTIL THE 1970S, MEN WHO BEAT THEIR WIVES OR GIRLFRIENDS WEREN’T ARRESTED. Instead, the courts forced couples into mediation, which rarely stopped the attacks, says Marjory D. Fields, a for mer New York State Supreme Court Justice. In 1976, spurred by the women’s movement, Pennsylvania became the first state to allow residents to obtain protective orders. And since then, women (and some men) have had to rely on this slip of paper to stay safe.

Today, about 1.2 million targets of rape, assault, and stalking receive such orders annually, and many will say the action saved their life. Every dollar spent on protective-order intervention saves society $30.75, a 2009 Justice Department–funded study concluded. But a growing demand for services and drastic cuts in state budgets have created “a dangerous gap,” according to a 2012 study by the Campaign for Fund ing to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. Last year, the National Domes tic Violence Hotline was unable to answer 53,000 calls and 65 percent of rape-crisis centers had waiting lists.

There are nearly 18,000 county, muni cipal, town, or township govern ments enforcing these orders, notes Christine Armstrong, founder of Domes tic Violence Crime Watch, an online resource center. Opportunities for a woman to fall through the safety net seem endless. A judge must give her a sympathetic hearing, then police must find and legally serve the abuser. The offender can respond to the charges in court. Police may or may not collect his guns. Orders expire—they can last years or days—so the woman has to go back to court to renew it. If her ex vio lates it, the police must arrest him and prosecutors must decide to charge him.

Some police forces are more diligent than others.

Abusers violate orders anywhere from 7 to 81 percent of the time, depending in part on where they live. Overall, an American Civil Liberties Union report found, orders were violated in two-thirds of rape cases, half of physical-assault cases, and 69 percent of stalking cases. And when police fall short, women have little legal recourse, as Jessica Gonzales of Castle Rock, Colorado, found out. After authorities failed to enforce a restrain ing order against her estranged hus band and he killed their three daugh ters, Gonzales sued the town. But in 2005, the Supreme Court threw out her action, ruling that she did not have a constitutional right to have the restraining order enforced.

ASHLEIGH’S STEPFATHER WAS RIGHT. There was something wrong with Mahaffey. He could explode over anything. Once, Heather says, “he put Ashleigh’s head through the wall, through the ply wood,” then he took out a penknife and stabbed himself in the stomach. “She told me he would burn her with cigarettes,” Heather adds, horrified at the memory. “He would rape her. He wouldn’t let her go on the Pill. I said, ‘Ashleigh, you need to leave him!’ I begged her to stay at my house.”

Ashleigh’s phone kept disappearing, destroyed by Mahaffey, and her parents kept buying her new ones. She called Oklahoma deputies, but Mahaffey eluded them, sometimes hiding under their house and other times posing as his brother, Neil. Somehow, the police didn’t notice the name Joshua tattooed on his neck and knuckles.

On May 14, three weeks after find ing out she was pregnant, Ashleigh fled home to Texas. That week, a scream ing Mahaffey besieged the family home in Windom, escaping before Texas depu ties could capture him. On June 4, Ashleigh disappeared to move in with friends in Texas, leaving her frantic parents to file a missing-person report.

Deputy Steve Beebe tracked her down on June 8, and she reported the abuse. When Beebe filed charges, he found that Mahaffey was also wanted for violating a protection order from one of his ex-wives.

Deputies never could lay hands on Mahaffey, although he found Ashleigh easily. When she moved in with Heather in Oklahoma, her parents begged her to come home. But she refused, explaining, “He said if I went home, he would kill you, and he would kill my sister.”

The police had advised Ashleigh to remain in Marshall County, Oklahoma, where they said they would have an easier time arresting Mahaffey (although thanks to the Violence Against Women Act, orders of protection are supposedly enforceable everywhere). Staying put was a terrible idea, Woodlee says. “It made it easier for him to find her.”

Continuing to elude arrest, Mahaffey and Scott harangued Ashleigh with relentless calls to drop the abuse charges. She called Anna Marcy, advocate at the Crisis Control Center in Durant, Okla homa, now serving four counties since cutbacks had closed the center in nearby Madill. If Ashleigh had been able to take shelter in Madill, she could have kept her job. But Durant was an hour’s drive away, and she couldn’t afford the gas.

On June 11, the family got an order of protection barring Mahaffey from “any contact whatsoever” with Ashleigh.

But still, he kept after her. He was once pulled over for speeding, but he showed his brother Neil’s ID and went free. On July 4, Deputy Doug Blevins was at Heather’s house when the phone rang with one of Mahaffey’s incessant calls. Blevins spoke to him for 20 minutes. “I advised Mr. Mahaffey to quit contacting Ms. Lindsey,” the deputy reported. “He refused to meet with me.”

The next day, a third deputy, Michael Henry, visited the Enos Mall where Ashleigh worked as a wait ress. Mahaffey had been calling, “making threats as to where he was going to show up and do bodily harm to the employees,” Henry reported. “Mr. Mahaffey is out of control.”

Ashleigh renewed the protective order on June 20 and, after a brief hospital stay for stress and dehydration, again on July 11. Her parents and Anna Marcy finally convinced her to give up her job and move to a women’s shelter in Texas. But she wanted one last paycheck for the baby. She had already picked out a name: Patience. She never did have much, she said. This way, at least, the Lord would give her a little Patience.

FATAL BREAKDOWNS LIKE THOSE THAT DOOMED ASHLEIGH HAPPEN TOO OFTEN. But they don’t have to, says Suzanne Dubus, chief execu tive director of the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, in Newburyport, Massachusetts. In 2002, the center helped a woman secure a protective order against her hus band. But he came back with a gun to kill her and himself. Hor rified, Dubus and her assistant direc tor, Kelly Dunne, created a new way to thwart such attacks. Called the High Risk Team Model, it has been lauded by the Obama admin istration as the nation’s most effective approach to domestic violence.

The model identifies 20 situ ations that may demand an emer gency response, includ ing extreme jealousy, access to guns, forced sex, and other risk factors drawn from the research of Jacquelyn Camp bell, PhD, at Johns Hopkins Univer sity, in Baltimore. Police are trained to ask questions such as: “Has he threatened to kill you? With a weapon? Do you believe he’s capable of it?”

When women are at high risk, police notify the rest of the team—prosecutors, crisis counselors, hospitals, and proba tion departments—and they work together to isolate the offender while aim ing to keep the woman in the community. One of the best ways to do this is GPS; in Massachusetts, judges now have the option of making high-risk domestic-violence offenders wear an ankle bracelet that alerts the victim and authorities if he is entering an exclusion zone.

Prior to forming the high-risk teams, the Geiger center recorded eight domestic-violence-related deaths in 10 years. Since then, zero. And 93 percent of high-risk women have avoided fleeing to shelters. The model has now been adopted by at least 25 other communities in Massachu setts and others in five other states. With greater awareness and funding from state legis la tures, the center could do even more training, Dubus says.

At Harvard, Rosenfeld heads a team of law students who aid victims seeking protection orders in high-risk cases and work with states to promote GPS monitor ing. Why should a woman essentially be imprisoned, she reasons, while the person terrorizing her walks free? “Shelters were a step forward when they were built in the ’70s, but they weren’t intended to let the justice system off the hook,” she says. “We need to stop asking, ‘Why doesn’t she leave?’ and put the responsibility for vio lence against women on their tormenters. Why don’t we make him leave?”

MINUTES AFTER ASHLEIGH WAS SHOT LAST JULY 13, DOCTORS FLEW HER TO A HOSPITAL IN PLANO, TEXAS. She was brain-dead, but doctors said there was a slim chance of saving her 16-week-old fetus if they could keep her on life support long enough.

Woodlee stood by her daughter’s bed side, gripping her hand as the line on the fetal monitor went flat. She leaned close and whispered, “Ashleigh, honey, I know you were fighting for your baby. But your baby’s gone. It’s okay to go with your baby.” Ashleigh died within 15 seconds.

Police soon found and arrested Joshua Scott, who pled not guilty to first-degree murder and is being held without bail. “What happened to Ashleigh was hor rific,” says Craig Ladd, the Oklahoma dis trict attorney serving Marshall County. He said that police had searched “fairly aggressively,” but “it’s always easy to come back Monday morning” with criticism. Marcy, the crisis counselor, added that “people who were supposed to be working together were not. It takes a community to keep a victim safe. We all failed Ashleigh.”

Deputy Henry confirmed that after Mahaffey threatened Ashleigh’s work place, the plan was to charge him with terrorism—something that would have mobilized the FBI. “All the events hap pened too quickly,” he says. “There are just some things you can’t stop.”

Woodlee doesn’t see it that way. She’s begun speaking to domestic-violence groups and lawmakers, raising money for a documentary, and urging the use of GPS and high-risk teams that might have stopped Mahaffey. “That’s what makes me the angriest,” she says. “There were so many times when he could have been caught. He could have been caught before he even met my daughter.”


When she met Mahaffey, he had been married three times—once for seven days, court papers show—and had a record of violating orders of protec tion, concealing stolen pro perty, and assault and bat tery. He’d shot himself in the stomach in 2008, not his first suicide attempt, leading his mother to tell police he had “mental problems.”

“IF IT HAPPENED TO HER, IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE.” Woodlee hasn’t changed Ashleigh’s bedroom. After the funeral, her daughter’s friends and even strangers deluged her with confessions that they too were in abusive relationships. “They didn’t want to be like her and wait too long,” she says.

It Happened Here…

Excalibur Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada


Last December 14, the 4,000-room hotel on the Las Vegas Strip was bustling with guests, including dozens of cheerleaders in town for a competition. Around 8:30 p.m., Edward Brandt, 31, approached the concierge desk where his ex-girlfriend, Jessica Kenny, worked and fired multiple times with a handgun, killing Kenny and then himself. Debbie Kenny, Jessica’s mother, had talked to her only minutes earlier.

“JESSICA CALLED ME THE AFTERNOON OF DECEMBER 14 UPSET. She said, ‘Did you hear about those 20 kids?’ Newtown had happened that morning, and all I could think about were those poor par ents. Christmas will never be the same.

“Jessica and I were living together in Las Vegas. She was my daughter and my best friend. Jess worked evenings as a con cierge, and at the time, I worked as a life-safety operator at the Paris Hotel. My job was to field calls from guests and send security officers to dangerous inci dents. I dealt with domestic disputes all the time—calls from women screaming, ‘I’m being beaten.’ And 9 times out of 10, when I sent the police up, the women would not even open the door. They felt trapped in these unsafe relationships. And I was so glad Jess was no longer in one.

“Jessica met Eddie when she was 22 and living in Lakeville, Illinois, where she grew up. He was a rich kid—he spent all day at the gym. He didn’t like that Jess worked, so when they moved to Las Vegas, in 2007, to be closer to me, she didn’t get a job—but then he never gave her money. So Jess asked to borrow money from me. I said, ‘Jess, this is nuts! You have to get a job!’ She did, and when she came home from her first day at work, Eddie had left.

“I was relieved. Eddie scared me. Jess swore to me that he never hurt her, but when she was living in Illinois, she’d call me at 3 a.m., crying after bad fights. She realized Eddie had serious problems. He called her a few years after he left to say he was in treatment for mental issues. So she was surprised when he called her to say he was staying at the Excalibur.

“That was December 6. He texted her twice over the next few days to ask her to dinner, but she texted back ‘no.’

“A week later, it was a Sunday night, and we had just ordered Chinese food and opened a bottle of wine. She got a text from Eddie that read, ‘I will pay you $20 to go have a drink with me.’ This time, she didn’t respond at all.

“That Thursday, I asked, ‘Have you heard anything from Eddie?’ She said no, and we joked that he’d found someone else.

“And then the next day was December 14. Jess called at 8:30 p.m. to say she was going out with her former coworker Tahnee after work. I told her to have fun and then took her dog out for a walk. When I went out into our courtyard, my friend David showed up and he looked upset.

“He said, ‘Where is Jessica? A guy shot a woman at the Excalibur.’

“I called Jess. No answer. I tried Tahnee, and it went to voice mail. David and I had already jumped in the car when Tahnee called back. She was crying so hard, she could barely speak. I knew then that Jess had been shot. I asked, ‘Was it Eddie?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ My heart burst. I just lost it. The detectives had ques tions for me, but I was too devastated.

“My two sons, Josh and Justin, flew in the next day. Josh said that Jess had told him she was scared of what Eddie might do. Justin said this was his biggest worry too. We all have to live with won der ing what we could have done differently.

“I know Eddie’s mother wants to talk with me. I have no hate in my heart for her—she is in worse shape than I am. One day, when I’m able, I will sit down with her. And maybe together we can figure out what went wrong. If we can do that, then maybe we can protect some one else. This had nothing to do with love—a sickness killed both Eddie and Jessica. The cruelty is that Jessica wanted no part of it. And she died anyway.”

It Happened Here…

Las Dominicanas M&M Hair Salon, Casselberry, Florida


Last October 18, 36-year-old Bradford Baumet was due in court, where his ex-girlfriend, Marcia Santiago, had filed a restraining order against him. Instead, he headed for the hair salon where Santiago worked, wounding her and shooting to death the owner, a customer, and a worker who was five-months pregnant before turning the gun on himself. Kathy Batista, 29, was there with her mother, Gladys Cabrera.

“THAT DAY, I DROPPED MY SON AT KINDERGARTEN AND WENT TO MY PARENTS’ HOUSE FOR COFFEE. I work as an ER secretary at Orlando Hospital but didn’t have to be at work until late, so I asked my mom if she wanted to go to a salon that had just opened about 20 minutes away. Mari was the co-owner and one of my favorite stylists. My mom agreed but wanted to get her eyebrows done at another salon too. I said, ‘Fine, but let’s get our hair done first.’

“When we arrived, Mari intro duced me to her partner, Marcia. Mari was putting dye in my hair when the phone rang. An employee picked it up and said, ‘She’s here, but we don’t want any problems.’

“I saw Marcia stiffen. Mari said, ‘Just hang up,’ and then explained that Marcia was on her way to court to finalize a restraining order. That was her ex on the phone.

“The phone rang again. Mari said, ‘Kat, can you tell this man that you’re a police officer and that you’re going to arrest him for harassment?’ This sounded serious, so I said, ‘I don’t want to get involved.’

“Mari finished with the dye, and I moved to another chair. Then my mom sat in mine, her hair wet and ready to be cut. A minute later, a man entered the salon.

“I don’t scare easily, but this guy put fear in my heart. His eyes were full of rage. Mari walked toward her phone, near me, when he took his gun out and said, ‘Don’t even think about it.’ And then he shot her.

“Mari was like me, tough. I could feel the anger he had toward her.

“I started trembling and saying, ‘Oh my god, please don’t kill me or my mother.’ He screamed, ‘Shut up,’ and then ordered me to kneel on the floor with my head down. I heard him move toward me. My mother said, ‘Lord, no, not my daughter.’

“There was no screaming, just the gun being fired—bang, bang, bang—followed by the tinny sound of the shells dropping on the tile floor. I heard his boots as he was walking through the salon, shooting.

“I thought about running, but I weigh 130 pounds and he was big. Instead, I lay still. Sweat was literally dripping off my face. I thought, This is just a bad dream.

“Then I heard him leave. I looked up and saw Mari next to me, her hand limp on my foot. I locked the door and then ran to my mother, only three feet away, lying very still.

“I know CPR, so I started pump ing her chest, saying, ‘Wake up, Mom! You’re going to be okay. Please, Mommy! You have to be okay.’

“But then I saw the bullet hole in her neck. I closed her eyes and then held her waiting for the police to arrive. I was the only one left in the salon other than the four women he shot: Mari, my mother, and Noelia, another stylist, were dead. Marcia was unconscious. This monster had shot her five times in the face.

“I learned later that day that she’d survived, and he was still at large. Then, I heard he’d killed himself. That made me so angry! What a coward. Why not do that first? Why kill three people? Why my mother? She had nothing to do with him.

“I went home to shower—the whole time I had dye in my hair. All my friends came over to support me. And I kept reliving the scene. Why did I not go to the eyebrow salon first? But my older brother kept saying, ‘You cannot blame yourself.’

“So I started doing research. I learned that Bradford Baumet had arrests for domestic vio lence, assault, and burglary. I learned restraining orders often set people on killing sprees. I know it’s complicated, but I wish there were some way a GPS tracking device could’ve been installed when Marcia first filed that restraining order.

“For some reason, I was spared that day. The only way I can deal with this loss is to make sure it doesn’t happen again. My brothers and I have started an anti violence organi zation called I Am Gladys Cab rera. She is proof that we need laws to pro tect not only victims of domes tic violence but totally innocent bystanders too.”


Last October, Zina Haughton filed for protection from her estranged husband, Radcliffe. Despite the order, he took a semiautomatic handgun to the spa where Zina worked, killing her and two cowork ers and injuring four people before killing himself. Tami Gem mell, 34, owns the spa.

“AT 12:30 P.M., I HAD JUST LANDED IN CHICAGO FROM A TWO-WEEK TRIP. We were taxiing to the gate and I turned on my phone. It started blowing up with texts—just ding, ding, ding, ding. ‘Where are you?’ ‘Our prayers are with you.’ ‘Your sister was there. She got out.’

“I got on the phone with a friend, and she told me there had been a shooting. I started to hyperventilate, to dry-heave. I have 65 employees, 64 of whom are women. I feel respon sible for all of them. I just had to get out of that plane.

“When I finally got there from the airport, police had surrounded the building, and the witnesses were at a bank two doors down. There were public buses to provide shelter for my employees, and they were reuniting with their families. The Salvation Army was there and people from the Sikh temple. They brought water, food, tissues.

“I found my sister. She still had a towel around her head. And she was barefoot because she had basically run out of her shoes. She cried, ‘Maelyn was doing my hair when he killed her!’ He had run after my sister but had to reload. That gave her time to hide in a supply closet.

“When we learned that Rad had killed himself, there was a little bit of relief, but then you think, it’s just so pointless. He left behind a 13-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old stepdaughter who worked at the spa and witnessed the entire thing. I mean, to take their mother from them.…I don’t understand that.

“Police told me later that Zina had taken out a restraining order. She had called 911 20 times over two weeks. Officers came to her home and saw Rad had a gun, but Zina refused to press charges. Police say, well, she wasn’t cooper a tive. But that’s why we have laws to protect people who are terrorized by somebody who claims to love them. They’re not going to cooper ate. They’re scared to death.

“I guess we all knew about domestic violence, but it’s never in the forefront of your mind. You hear about these things, but it’s on TV. It doesn’t happen to you…until it happens to you. And then you’re very much thrust into the facts. And the facts are, this is a very real threat, and it’s going unchecked.”


When Violence Happens


Whether you know it or not, one of your coworkers is probably threatened by relationship violence. Homicide is the second leading cause of death for women at work—and the vast majority of those murders are at the hands of an ex. “Even if the abuser doesn’t know where his ex lives, he knows where she works,” notes Pam Paziotopoulos, a corporate consultant on workplace violence. The good news is, companies are realizing that “private” violence is a public-health crisis. “The most dangerous situation is thinking, It can’t happen here,” says Kim Wells, executive director of the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, which helps companies tackle the issue. “People in any workplace, big or small, can help prevent it.”


Join the No More to violence campaign at NoMore.org.



“In a perfect world, a victim can tell her employer she needs help,” Wells says. In the real world, this takes tremendous courage. If you can take the first, difficult step of admitting the problem, these steps come next.

1. Ask yourself, can I approach my boss and not lose my job? See if your company has a workplace policy online or in its handbook. If there’s no policy and you’re worried you won’t be supported, call the national hotline at 800-799-SAFE.

2. If you do speak with a manager, human resources, or security, start by saying: “I’m coming to you with something very private. I trust that you will keep this confidential.”

3. If you feel comfortable, let your employer know if you have a protective order, and include your work address on the order, suggests Maya Raghu, an attorney for Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence. Give your employer a photo of your ex to show security, reception, and coworkers.

4. Ask for a new phone extension. “You can also ask that your old one remain, so the perpetrator doesn’t know,” Raghu says.

5. Change your routine: Drive different routes to work; ask for a parking spot close to the entrance (or a security escort from mass transit). You might try to come in earlier or leave later, work different shifts, or even transfer to another site.


The most important thing is to create an environment where victims know they won’t be ostracized or fired if they come forward. Having a domestic-violence policy helps do that, and in some states, it’s the law. Start here.

1. If you are a small business, invite a local domestic-violence service provider to come talk to your employees. “This sends a message that domestic violence is an issue you’re committed to address ing,” Raghu says.

2. Hang posters in the bathroom or on the bulletin board that say domestic violence will not be tolerated. As Wells notes, “If victims are working for you, that means batterers are too.”

3. Do a workplace-safety assessment: How easy is it for members of the public to enter and exit the building? Is the parking lot well lit? Are there hedges near the entrance where someone can hide?

4. For larger employers with human-resources departments, set up awareness trainings with your local domestic-violence organization or your employee-assistance program.

5. Finally, create a domestic-violence policy that addresses various scenarios, including what to do when an employee tells you they’ve sought a restraining order. Visit CAEPV.org or WWorkplacesRespond.orgfor ideas and sample policies.


Cubemates are often the first ones to notice the abuse, but that does not mean you need to get deeply involved. In fact, Paziotopoulos says, you shouldn’t—it’s straight-up dangerous. Follow this advice instead.

1. Recognize abuse. “Changes in mood or behavior are signs a colleague is in trouble,” Wells says. “Maybe she no longer joins you after work for drinks or she seems withdrawn.”

2. You may see physical signs—long sleeves in summer, injuries she explains away. And her work may suffer, as she’s likely getting distressing calls or texts and taking sick days.

3. Approach the topic generally without making assumptions (not “Did your idiot ex just call again?”). Raghu suggests you say, “I’ve noticed you’re not yourself, and I’m here if you need anything.” It’s an invitation for her to confide in you.

4. Don’t be a hero. “No one is looking for you to be a social worker, therapist, or bodyguard,” Raghu says. Consult your job’s policy; if there isn’t one, give her the hotline number.

5. What you can be is an advocate: If your company doesn’t have a policy, ask for one. “Don’t wait for something bad to happen in order to get a work-safety policy in place,” Wells says. Walk in to your manager armed with this article.

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Abusive Relationships

The beginning of the end started with a pointed finger jabbed into Rita’s shoulder. It was just forceful enough to knock her off balance and leave a slight bruise … but not a huge deal, right? Wrong!

Rita had been dating Mitch for a year and a half. The Dallas couple had begun their relationship with strong attraction, intense feelings, and high expectations. Mitch was a guy his friends would describe as “high strung.” He was known to get into shouting matches when discussing the latest Cowboys’ loss, and he sometimes blew his cool during fiercely contested racquetball matches. No doubt, he was hot-blooded, passionate, and emotive. Which was one thing Rita liked about him initially — he wasn’t afraid to express his feelings toward her and make a big show of how much he loved her. But as the months went by, it became more and more evident that Mitch had a hard time controlling the emotions he felt so strongly.

As their relationship settled into a predictable routine — and the ecstatic feelings of new love wore off — Mitch had begun to yell at Rita over minor mistakes. Discussions became heated debates. Soon he started regularly lobbing verbal hand grenades — putdowns, sarcastic remarks, belittling names. And then came that finger jab into Rita’s shoulder, and she knew their relationship had crossed an unfortunate threshold. It wasn’t much longer before she gently broke the news to Mitch — their relationship was over. A nasty break-up, to be sure, with accusations and threats by Mitch, but Rita stuck to her decision while being cautious to protect herself in the process.

How did Rita find the courage to end the relationship when it started to go sour — and abusive? She explains: “I’d had friends who got entangled in toxic dating relationships where they ended up being physically abused — slapped and punched by their boyfriends,” she said. “I knew that once a relationship started heading in that destructive direction, there’s little chance it will turn around. Once the red flags begin showing up, it’s best to get out and move on as quickly as possible.”

This problem is more widespread than we’d all like to admit. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, from 25 to 50 percent of all women in heterosexual relationships are abused in some way. When we hear the words “abusive relationships,” our minds immediately go to the most obvious and apparent forms — physical or sexual assault. But there is a continuum of abusive behavior that ranges from subtle to obvious. Emotional abuse can be as damaging as physical abuse, though it is often harder to recognize. This kind of “covert warfare” causes self-esteem problems and psychological damage. And this situation certainly is not unique to women — men are also the victims of abusive relationships as well.

Further, what Rita said was correct: Abusive relationships are almost always progressive — they only get worse over time. Emotional and verbal abuse frequently changes to more overt threats or physical abuse, particularly in times of stress.

Although it’s impossible to go into detail in this short space, let’s look at several behaviors that qualify as an abusive relationship:

Intimidation. Does your partner make you afraid by using menacing expressions, posture, gestures, and tone of voice? Does he make threats—or even carry them out—to harm you? Does he bully you to get his way?

Belittling. Does your partner put you down or try to make you feel inferior? Does he embarrass you or make fun of you in front of others?

Harassment. Does your partner call or text you excessively? Does he follow you or show up to make sure you are where you said you’d be?

Isolation. Does your partner try to control what you do, where you go, and who you talk to? Does he try to keep you away from certain friends or family members?

Emotional abuse. Does your partner manipulate you or play “mind games”? Does he minimize your feelings, dismiss your complaints, or blame you for all the problems? Does he exhibit “Jekyll-and-Hyde” behavior: nice one moment, nasty the next?

Unwanted sexual advances. Does your partner ever touch you inappropriately? Does he pressure you sexually for things you aren’t ready for?

Physical boundary violations of any kind. Does your partner treat you roughly—grab, shake, push, shove, or hit? Does he restrain you from leaving?

The bottom line is this: You deserve a healthy, respectful, loving relationship. Refuse to settle for anything less! If you see warning signs that your relationship is turning abusive, then do yourself a huge favor — move on to someone who will treat you with utmost care and kindness.

For more detailed information about abusive relationships, please see: The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Also see: Women’s Center at University of Virginia, Sexual and Domestic Violence Services.

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Women are forced to respect tradition at their detriment – Odumakin –


Two out of three women in Nigeria are subject to domestic violence in their homes. Domestic violence affects all social groups and can consist of physical, sexual and psychological abuse. In this interview, human right activist, Dr. Joe Odumakin explains that although men can also be affected by domestic violence, but in most cases women are always at the receiving end of domestic violence.

According to her, the trend of domestic violence in Nigeria is increasing on a daily basis because the religious and cultural beliefs make the woman to always submit herself to whatever prejudice she suffers in the hands of any man.

What is the rate of domestic violence in the country now?

Domestic Violence is “pervasive” in Nigeria. About 20 percent of Nigeria women experience physical, sexual and psychological violence from spouse or male relative.

Joe Odumakin

The level of violence against women in Nigeria are increasing by the day with two out of every three women in certain communities experiencing violence in the family.

It is difficult to determine the extent of domestic violence in Nigeria because official statistics on violence in the home are not collected. Incident of domestic violence tend to go unreported.

How is the trend related to poverty and socio-economic challenges of the country?

There is no doubt that the high level of poverty and socio-economic challenges in the country have contributed in no small measure to the prevalence of domestic violence in Nigeria.

Economic and financial hardship, unemployment and the attendant challenges lead to frustration and emotional stress for many men and young people who after-all visit  the anger on their counterparts through battering, sexual assault among others.

Also, the fear of financial insecurity has made most women embrace the culture of silence even at the face of great danger and death threats in situation of domestic violence.

To what extent have religious and cultural beliefs affected the cases of domestic violence.?

Religion and cultural beliefs continued to encourage domestic violence in Nigeria. Domestic violence in Nigeria affects women of all communities. It involves women of all ethnic and religious groups and all socio-economic groups both in the rural and urban areas. Nigeria for instance has experienced virtually one or more types of domestic violence and culture of polygamy involving spousal abuse is particularly common in Nigeria.

All the religions practiced in Nigeria encourage women to endure the atrocities of men and keep their homes. Most of the religions profess that women are “home makers” at all cost even in the wake of violence against them.

Cases of domestic violence are rampant because most of the people are encouraged to respect tradition even when it is harmful or barbaric.

How many cases of domestic violence do you receive in a week, and how many have you been able to conclude or settled?

At the Women’s Human Rights Clinic which provides support, an average of 3 cases are received in a week.

Most of the time we adopt Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR mechanism to resolve the cases if the level of injury is not severe or if the abuser is a first offender, the abuser is taking through two weeks counseling session, and is thereafter issued a “yellow card” a kind of warning and an undertaking to stop the abuse. This is adopted in cases of spousal abuse, such as battering among others. In this instance not less than 300 cases were settled amicably between January 2011 and May, 2013.

But, about 20 cases are pending in the cases of rape and grievous injury we have three cases on-going in court.

Which of the cases is more prevalent these days between battering and rape?

The case of battering is more prevalent while rape is also on the increase. However, we receive more of battering cases (spousal abuse) than rape.

How has the issue of stigmatization been affecting your intervention and prosecution?

The issue of stigmatization is more pronounced at the intervention level and it has been a serious impediment to achieving success or plugging the gap of domestic violence in Nigeria. For instance the Nigerian Police do not respond adequately to complaint from women on domestic violence. Domestic violence is generally regarded as an issue to be settled within the family.

At the religious level, most pastors believe that women should be submissive to their husbands and therefore should endure whatever treatment they get from their husbands. Some will say, “what God has joined together no man should put asunder.” So most times it is the women that will be at the receiving end.

Most people and institutions often dismiss issue of domestic violence, most especially when it involve women as a non-issue, so, most of the time they try to frustrate one’s effort at getting justice.

How functional is the prohibitive law in deterring or curbing domestic violence?

Well, the law of prohibition of violence against human persons or domestic violence law exist in Lagos State and its provisions if well implemented will surely deter or reduce domestic violence.

As I speak, there is a low awareness of the law among stakeholders in Lagos State. A lot of people are not familiar with the law and its provisions, even some lawyers.

Also the Chief Justice CJ’s office which is bequeathed with the responsibility to implement the law will need to be alive to its role of ensuring that the law is fully implemented for example, the CJ’s office is mandated by the law to establish counseling centres in all the LGAs of Lagos State where victims can report and get support services, this is yet to be done.

But I am sure that with adequate awareness and full implementation of the prohibitive law will no doubt help in curbing incidence of domestic violence in Lagos. The Domestic Violence and Related Matters Bill is yet to be passed into law at the National level. There is need to intensify efforts at ensuring the passage of the bill at the Federal level.

Would you blame the institution or individual or emotional and physiological collapse which are mostly responsible for violence at home?

There is no need to emphasize the fact that the collapse of institutions, bad governance and high level of corruption are responsible for the prevalence of domestic violence in Nigeria. Government institutions have failed to respond to the immediate needs of the people. Government at all levels have also failed in their responsibility to the people as well as ensuring the welfare of the people so we continued to experience high level of domestic violence as the people visit their frustrations on one another.

As an expert in this area, what is your advice in stopping the trend in Nigeria?
Implementation of pro-people policies and programmes that will put roof on the people’s head, food on their tables and safe movement from place to place will surely stop the trend of domestic violence in Nigeria.

Also, the enactment of the Domestic Violence and Related Matters Law at the National and State levels will also help in curbing the situation of domestic violence in the country. The Passage of the Equal Opportunities Bill at all levels will also provide equal opportunities for men and women thereby enhancing equal participation and reducing the existing gaps.

Civic education, training and re-training of the Police on issue of domestic violence and its implication on human persons is also a sure way of ending domestic violence in Nigeria.

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