LAURRIETTE ROTA: How to curb Gender Based Violence

Feature Health & Wellness

Kindly introduce yourself to us.

I am Laurriette Rota. I am a psychologist, musician and an entrepreneur. I am passionate about humanitarian issues that led me to start an initiative dubbed Art against Abuse.

What really is Gender Based Violence?

Gender-based violence involves physical force intended to hurt, damage or kill someone. It can also involve using strength of emotion to attack someone, based on their gender. Both women and men experience gender-based violence but the majority of victims are women and girls.

So does this mean that this violence can not only be physical, but emotional too?

Yes. Gender based violence and includes emotional/verbal and even mental abuse.

What are the types of Gender-Based Violence?

There are various types of gender based violence which include;

Physical violence which is quiet common. Physical violence can be assault, homicide and manslaughter. This form of violence coexists with other forms of violence.

There is also sexual violence which is a sexual act perfomed on an individual without their consent. This includes people you might be already intimate with or even married to. Sexual violence is basically rape or sexual assault.

Mental or Psychological violence is violence that causes psychological harm to an individual. For example, constantly being told that you are ‘not okay in the head’ or you are not normal. Someone intentionally tries to make you think you are insane.

Emotional violence is where one is constantly verbally abused and told how worthless they are, affecting their entire well being. The effects of verbal/emotional abuse are harder to spot, and harder to prove. Emotional scars can often take longer to heal.

Financial/Economic violence; because abuse is about power and control, an abuser will use any means necessary to maintain that control, and often that includes finances. Whether it is controlling all of the budgeting in the household and not letting the victim have access to their own bank accounts or spending money, or simply not letting the victim have a job and earn their own money. This type of violence is often a big reason why someone is unable to leave an abusive relationship.

mwangaza | Mwangaza

What are the psychological factors that might contribute to GBV?

They include;

  • Acceptance of violence as a way to resolve conflict.

  • In some communities, masculinity is linked to dominance, honor and aggression, which can lead to GBV.

  • Witnessing marital violence as a child.

  • Absent or rejection from parents.

  • Being abused as a child which leads to trauma and this can make one really aggressive.

  • Alcohol and substance abuse.

  • Mental illnesses like psychosis schizophrenia and bipolar can also make one violent. Some people do not know how to deal with frustration and stress which in eventuality can lead to depression. This can make perpetrators look for someone to let out their frustration on.

There has been increased reports of GBV in our media today. What can this be attributed to?

Currently, it is because of COVID-19 pandemic. Victims are locked in with their abusers and there is nowhere else to go. Most people do not also understand the laws when it comes to GBV. There’s little knowledge on what to do when you are abused.

There is a theory that empaths are natural preys of narcissistic partners. Is creating awareness on how empaths can cope be of essence in averting GBV?

This can be one of the strategies we need to capacity build on how to determine our personalities. There are various tests on knowing your personality. Narcissists are attracted to people they will get the greatest use from. Often, this means their targets are the empaths.

Empaths are the opposite of narcissists so they often fall prey to people with narcissistic personality who thrive on the need for admiration. This is basically control or overpowering someone else hence it is a form of GBV. Empaths are highly sensitive and in tune with other people’s emotions. It is more inclined to emotional abuse.

Do you think religion plays a role in promoting the vulnerability of empaths?

In fact this can fall under cultural/religious gbv which happens when abusers use aspects of a victim’s particular cultural identity or beliefs to inflict suffering, or as a means of control. Some religious beliefs make empaths believe that they are the saviors of the narcissists or healers.

mwangaza | Mwangaza

What should someone do, in case they are victims of GBV?

First, you have to know that you are being abused. There are various institutions one can go to when they are abused. For example in Mombasa, there is Coast General Hospital where victims of GBV go for sessions.

You can also talk to someone you trust won’t be judgmental. This can be a close friend or relative, before going forward with the GBV case.

Does our relevant institutions have enough capacity to investigate and prosecute cyber based gender violence, given the remote location of the perpetrators?

Cyber based violence has increased over the years. All social media sites have a method of reporting a person to administrators, with many having provisions in place to specifically report cyber bullying. In situations where interactions are more serious, it’s recommended to screenshot the interactions and file a report with the police. I know in Kenya, it is a criminal offense . As posts and messages on social media can sometimes be deleted, it is important to provide evidence to the relevant authorities when reporting such crimes.

How does art promote the fight against GBV, with regards to Art Against Abuse Initiative?

The main aim is to change people’s lives one person at a time. Before, during and after the events, a number of victims are able to reach out to us and want to know more about what the initiative is all about and how it can change their lives. The panelists at the event are able to answer the questions of those in attendance, creating awareness on how to curb Gender Based Violence.

What are the solutions towards ending or preventing GBV?

We need to educate more people on the types of GBV because there are some people who still don’t know when they are being abused. The front line of prevention should be education.

In this current age of social media, you can use your voice on social media to bring awareness on GBV. Using social media can help you connect with others outside your normal social circles. You can even get online therapists to help you if you are a victim of abuse. In terms of the jurisdictions concerning GBV, there should be tighter regulations which fill in the gaps that already exist in our law on matters GBV.

Once you know you are being abused it is always wise to seek help and leave the toxic environment. Currently there are various toll free numbers that any victim can call incase they need therapy or counselors and most of them are free.

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