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Emanuele del Rosso

Violence: the dark family secret

‘I grew up in a family where my father beat my mother and us kids all the time. Now I suspect that my older brother is hitting his wife. Is there any way we can break this cycle?’

Hi, I am very sad to hear about your tough childhood and the effect it’s having on you and your siblings today. Some people emerge stronger from childhood problems; determined to overcome issues such as poverty or an alcoholic parent.

What makes a real man?

However, most physically and emotionally abused children don’t just snap out of it, which has everything to do with a lack of self-worth and self-esteem. Often people express themselves through violence, and I suspect this is also the case for your brother.

Kids learn from what they see; especially boys. So even though your brother knows it’s wrong to hit his wife, he still does it because he has seen his father show strength through violence and domination. He assumes that this is how real men act. If that’s indeed the case, he needs to learn how to earn respect and express himself without violence.

Related: The Different Types of Gender-Based Violence

Seeking help

Counselling will go a long way; especially therapy that is conducted by men for men. A good example is the Man Enough program. During this eight-week course, men come together to learn how to take initiative, live responsibly, love faithfully and leave a rich legacy.

If your father has reformed, he would be the best person to start the process.

As you get help for your brother, please don’t forget that his wife also needs support, love and understanding. It would be commendable if you also involved other family members, which will promote healing as well as reconciliation. If your father has reformed, he would be the best person to start the process.

Being there

During this period, you must be there for your brother, especially when everyone else is being judgmental. You can remind him of the pain you both went through at the hands of your father; the indignity your mother suffered and how he is now projecting this on his wife.

And please don’t forget: you could also benefit from counselling. By reaching out and asking for help, you have already made a giant first step. Thank you for being mindful and brave enough to talk about your family’s dark secrets.

How about your family? Did you have to cope with any secrets? Share your experience on the discussion boardFacebook, or leave us a note below. 

For more advice from Getrude Mungai click here.

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