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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 93-99

I Would Just Want to Leave this World”: Women's experiences of domestic violence in Northern Namibia


1 Department of Social Work, Matthews – College of Education, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia
2 Zayed University, Dubai, UAE

Date of Submission02-May-2020
Date of Decision25-Jul-2020
Date of Acceptance25-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication23-Feb-2021

Correspondence Address:
John D Matthews
Zayed University, Post Box: 19282, Dubai
UAE
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jmhhb.jmhhb_31_20

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  Abstract 


Background: Domestic violence (DV) is a traumatic experience that is influenced by a complex interplay of intrinsic and extrinsic factors and which exists worldwide. Namibia, located in Southwest Africa, is no exception to this as local media continuously report incidences of physical and sexual violence committed against women throughout the country. Materials and Methods: Using a qualitative design, twelve (N=12) female participants who experienced first-hand the effects of DV provided extensive insights into this phenomenon and its causal factors and offered suggestions as to what can be done to address this issue. Results: The results from this inquiry detail the physical and mental health implications of abuse and the challenges and barriers that participants experienced during the help seeking process. Conclusions: These findings contribute to knowledge enhancement and awareness raising which are essential for policy development and establishing inclusive practices related to DV. Furthermore, the study endeavours to assist helping professionals, such as social workers, psychologists, counsellors, and psychiatrists in their assessment and support of individuals who experience traumatic violence in their intimate relationships.

Keywords: Africa, domestic violence, gender-based violence, Namibia, social work


How to cite this article:
Selebano BL, Matthews JD. “I Would Just Want to Leave this World”: Women's experiences of domestic violence in Northern Namibia. J Mental Health Hum Behav 2020;25:93-9

How to cite this URL:
Selebano BL, Matthews JD. “I Would Just Want to Leave this World”: Women's experiences of domestic violence in Northern Namibia. J Mental Health Hum Behav [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jul 28];25:93-9. Available from: https://www.jmhhb.org/text.asp?2020/25/2/93/309969




  Introduction Top


According to Namibia's National Gender Policy 2010–2020, domestic violence (DV) and rape are the most common forms of gender-based violence (GBV) in Namibia, with women affected at significantly higher levels than men.[1] GBV and DV have been acknowledged by government and civil society partners as well as by previous studies as a severe situation in Namibia, which has been described as both widespread and epidemic. According to the Namibian Police, over 50,000 crimes related to GBV were reported to police stations around the country between 2012 and 2015 which results in approximately 45 GBV reported cases per day.[2] Further, 10,142 GBV and 2151 cases of sexual violence were reported from January to November 2016.[3] However, many incidences of DV go unreported, with mainly physical assaults and rape being reported to law enforcement. Therefore, it is likely that published reports underestimate the actual number of DV incidents.[2] Victims often choose not to report due to fear of reprisal from the perpetrator, family pressure, self-blame, as well as stigma and discrimination.[2]

The majority of victims of DV are women (86%), and most crimes are perpetrated by men (93%).[4] According to the Namibia Demographic and Health Survey,[5] Namibia has a population of approximately 2.4 million. According to the same data source, approximately 33% of married women between 15 and 49 years have been victims of GBV. These women reported experiences of physical, sexual and/or emotional violence from their spouse at some time, and 28% had experienced such violence in the past 12 months. The NDHS[5] further found that the experiences of rural and urban women were similar, but levels of spousal violence overall were highest in the northeast (Kavango Region) and lowest in North Central Namibia (Oshana Region). Based on these data, it is also clear that unemployed women were particularly vulnerable to spousal violence.

The Namibian Combating of DV Act, No. 4 of 2003 made legal provision for any person who suffers from DV in a domestic relationship to apply for a protection order against the person who is abusing them. Disobeying a protection order can result in the perpetrator being arrested, charged, and prosecuted. Applying for a protection order is one way of dealing with DV. Victims may also file a complaint with the police or ask the police to give the abuser a formal warning.[6] According to Coomer, more people, especially women in Namibia, apply for protection orders each year as awareness of this remedy grows. More than half of complainants reported that they had experienced physical abuse in the most recent incident of DV, either alone or in combination with other forms of abuse. At least 97% of the complainants had a history of abuse by the same accused, typically stretching back at least 2 years, with almost 17% reporting a history of abuse dating back >10 years.[7]

Further, a study conducted by the Legal Assistance Centre[8] explored how Namibian women cope with DV and discovered that many women never seek help and suffer in silence. Many victims wait until the violence has escalated to very severe levels before seeking assistance. One of the reasons for this delay in help seeking behavior is the dominant cultural perception in Namibia that problems that occur within the household should remain private. Others remain silent because of fears of retribution or because of financial dependence on the abuser.[9] In addition, others do not speak out because they do not view DV as being anything abnormal. For example, according to data published by the World Bank, 28.6% of Namibian women believe that husbands are justified in beating their wives for any of the following reasons: she argues with the husband; she burns the food; she neglects the children; and she leaves the house without telling him.[5]

Finally, multiple studies indicate that victims of DV seek help only when they perceive the situation as having become extremely dangerous. For example, the 2001 study by the World Health Organization of abused women in Windhoek found that many women failed to seek help because they did not perceive the situation as being dangerous. The most common profile of a victim seeking help was women who had experienced long-term abuse, and who sought help only after the violence escalated to the point of causing a severe injury or resulting in a death threat.[10]

Causes of domestic violence

Extrinsic factors

In Namibia, cultural traditions remain that promote structural and direct violence against women, such as early and forced marriages. This practice continues to negatively impact the girl-child.[11] Further, there are certain traditional practices that subject women to forms of direct violence and humiliation such as the payment of lobola (“bride wealth”) which is patriarchal in nature and puts male in control over women's sexuality. Iipinge and Le Beau and McFadden and Khaxas argue that lobola represents an exchange relationship that enslaves and entraps women, because in some cultures when women want a divorce they have to double the amount of lobola that was paid for them by the groom's family to get a divorce.[12],[13] What this suggests is that lobola represents a further impediment to women's autonomy and strengthens patriarchal control.[14],[15]

Intrinsic factors

Azam and Irma explained some effects as intrinsic factors such as witnessing marital violence as a child, mental health disorders, and being abused as a child may be correlated to experiencing DV.[9] Furthermore, poverty can also exacerbate a woman's vulnerability to violent situations and also hinder their ability to extract themselves abusive situations. While poverty can play a role in creating, maintaining and enhancing violence against women, it does not mean that only poor women face violence as research indicates that all women are vulnerable to abuse.[16]


  Materials and Methods Top


Research objectives

The central aim of this inquiry was to explore the factors that contribute to physical violence against women in Namibia. The authors envisage that the results will be beneficial in building the emerging literature on this subject in the Southern African context and will add to the growing body of knowledge on DV in Namibia. The results from this inquiry contribute to knowledge enhancement and awareness raising, which are essential for policy development and inclusive practices concerning the issue of GBV and DV in Southern Africa. Furthermore, the study endeavors to assist social workers, psychologists, and other helping professionals in their assessment and support of individuals who experience DV.

Procedures and participants

After obtaining approval from the University of Namibia's Institutional Review Board (IRB Research Ethics Committee), as well as from the Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services Ethics Committee, qualitative data were collected through individual in-depth interviews (IDI), which were conducted in-person (face to face). The sample for this study was comprised of 12 adults (18 years and older) females who experienced DV in their intimate relationships, and who cohabitated or were married residing in Namibia during the abusive relationship. The sample consisted exclusively of females who reported DV to the social workers' office at the District Hospital as well as a local non-governmental organization providing services to women who experience DV. All participants were given an informed consent document, as well as a supplementary approval to audio record the qualitative interviews.

All data were collected through a semi-structured individual IDI that lasted approximately 45 min. Face-to-face interviews were conducted in a private space at a time and place that was chosen by the participant. Consistent with the general ethical guidelines related to social science research, no inducements or incentives were offered to respondents.

Measures

Twelve females who experienced physical violence in Northern Namibia were interviewed individually using a semi-structured interview protocol. After consulting the scholarly literature and identifying the main themes, patterns, and components of the issue uncovered in previous research, the researchers developed a standardized interview schedule to guide data collection. The face-to-face semi-structured interviews, which were audio recorded, were conducted to explore participants' perspectives about DV and the possible contributing factors thereof. De Vos et al.[17] postulates that open-ended responses allow the researcher to understand the world as seen by the participants and recommended the use of open-ended or free answer questions as they allow participants to state their answers in a way they see appropriate and their own words. In this study, an interview guide which consisted of 20 open-ended questions as focus questions was utilized. Interview questions, which were rooted in the findings of previous research, focused on the following domains: Relationship history; inception and progression of abusive behavior; informal and formal support; help seeking; impacts of abuse; and knowledge of laws and relevant legislation. For example, one of the questions was: “Can you tell me about the first time the abuse happened?” followed by a probe: “What triggered your partner?” Probes and clarifying techniques were used to gather sufficiently detailed information to understand the phenomenon under investigation. In addition, follow-up questions were used “to pursue the implications of answers to the main questions”[18] (349).

Data analysis

Data analysis was conducted according to Tesch's model of data analysis, which contains eight steps.[19] This process involved both taxonomic and thematic analysis of the qualitative data with a goal of creating a coherent thematic structure that were rooted in the raw data, and which captured the essence of the participant's lived experience. Prior to analysis, all qualitative data were transcribed verbatim, and merged with data from the field notes taken during the interviews. The researchers began the process of analysis by independently listening to, and reading through the recordings, and familiarizing themselves with the contents of the interviews. Once this process was complete, the researchers independently coded the interviews whereby words and phrases that were used to give meaning to certain feelings and behavior and/or concepts were categorized. Next, subthemes were identified and clustered to form categorized themes. The process of individual analysis and then review and consolidation by both researchers ensured that the main themes were congruent as well as enhanced the trustworthiness of the results by providing a validation check of the findings.

The primary purpose of qualitative data analysis was to sift and sort the masses of words, ideas and information collected from the research participants to derive categories related to the research questions so as to identify the similarities and differences presented by individuals and the possible links between them.[20] It was essential for the analysis not to look at just the response but also at the emotional atmosphere surrounding the response and the question that was responded to. The analysis was “a back-and-forth sort of process in order to produce rich and meaningful findings. It involved many re-readings and re-workings as new insight appeared”[20] (274).


  Results Top


Sample

The participants (N = 12) were between the age of 18 and 53 years. The mean age of the study population was 38 years. The majority of study participants reported being married, with considerable variation in the length of marriage. For example, one participant had been married only 5 years whereas another participant was married for 21 years. Two participants were in relationships with boyfriends. Three participants were divorced, separated, and cohabiting, respectively. Ten of the 12 participants reported being parents of between one to four minor children. Of these 10 participants, three participants reported that their children witness the abuse, and believed that this experience had a negative impact on the children. With respect to education, six of the women completed their secondary education, and one was a university graduate holding a 4-year degree. At the opposite end of the spectrum, one participant reported only finishing primary school. In terms of employment, nine of the women interviewed were in full-time employment and one reported being self-employed. One participant reported being unemployed, and one self-identified as a student.

Themes and subthemes identified during the study

Theme 1: Forms of abuse

All of the women interviewed reported that they were abused physically and psychologically by their partners. Some of them were also sexually assaulted by their partners. In some cases, weapons such as a knife and broomstick were used during the abusive episodes.

Physical abuse

Every participant reported experiencing physical assault from their partners. Some women used the term that they were physically abused, as they did not want to explain into detail how it was done to them. Some of the participants reported that they were assaulted with fists and were kicked, to the extent of losing teeth, breaking an arm, and beatings that resulted in scars on their faces and bodies. One of the participants reported that her partner nearly stabbed her with a knife and another informed the interviewer that her partner used a broomstick to beat her. One participant Rebecca shared her experience: “Yes, I was physically abused, beating me with the broomstick, throwing things at me and kicking me” (Rebecca [In order to protect participant confidentiality all names presented in this manuscript are pseudonyms which were chosen by the participants themselves. As such, no identifying information is included or revealed in this manuscript.], I1).

Emotional abuse

During the interviews, women were asked: “How was the abuse committed against you?” Only a few mentioned that they were emotionally abused. As the interviews progressed, they often mentioned that they experienced being called names, receiving threats and insulting comments or criticism, even if they did not recognize this as abusive behavior. Esther reported: “I can say the most bad part for me was the emotional abuse, the breakdown of you as a person that you feel worthless and with that came the physical abuse also when you are really low it can escalate to physical abuse hitting in the face.”

Sexual abuse

Two of the participants reported being sexually assaulted by their partners, but they refused to elaborate on the incidents, and it was obvious that they were embarrassed to talk about this topic. Sexual abuse in marriage is not seen as abuse in the Namibian context. The culture restrains women and men to talk about their sexual life outside the marriage. Hence, sexual abuse is still treated as a personal and private matter within society. Correspondingly, interviewing abused women regarding their sexual issues was a challenge. Abigail reported that: “Yes, my husband would beat me; there were also times that he forced himself on me to have sex with him, while I am even on my periods. If I refuse he says I have other men that I satisfy, He will have sex with me and beat me up” (Abigail, I1).

Theme 2: Onset of abusive behavior

The purpose of these questions was to test the assumption that many women either experience violence right at the start of the relationships or after some time. The analysis shows that only four of the 12 women experienced abuse at later stages of their relationship or marriage, whereas the majority indicated that they experienced abuse at the start of such relationships. Many women acknowledge that they were physically and emotionally abused but were ignorant or accepted it to be a normal practice in a relationship. Naomi testified that “my last born is now 5 years and he was still a baby that time when it all started” (Naomi, I1).

Escalation of abuse

Of the 12 participants, 11 reported that the abuse increased over time. Escalation is described by the researchers as the process by which controlling behavior becomes more frequent, less disguised, more damaging, and more violent over time. Most of the participants reported that the period between the physical abuse became less and the assaults more violent as time passed. Esther confirms this when she stated: “It definitely increased with time and he promised not to do it again, and again, but it always escalated. The periods between the abuses became less and less so that was alarming and I realized that me and my child will get seriously hurt if I don't get out of this circle of violence” (Esther, I1).

Theme 3: Factors contributing to physical abuse

The purpose of the study was to explore the possible factors that contribute to physical violence against women in Northern Namibia. Through this inquiry, it was identified that the contributing factors to physical violence varied, including extramarital affairs, alcohol abuse, inferiority complex, misunderstandings, and anger.

Extramarital affairs

Most of the women noticed that many DV incidents started when their partners were involved in intimate affairs with other women. Five of the women's partners were engaged in extramarital relationships. Extramarital affairs were found to be the major contributing factor to physical abuse in some relationships. These affairs are believed to be a common reason for either separation or divorce among the couples in Northern Namibia. The women's excerpts from the interviews were as follows: “You know it's, the moment he is called out on it, like he was involved with other woman and when its, you know, you just mention something that that let him feel guilty or maybe cornered…that is when he act out” (Esther, I1).

Alcohol abuse

Two of the participants reported alcohol influenced their partners' acts of violence. These women found themselves trapped in the cycle of violence and even justified their partners' violent behaviors due to alcohol use. Men often use alcohol as an excuse not to be held accountable for their abusive behavior. For example, Delilah claimed that: “As I said, it started like after 5 years and what triggered it is alcohol, because the time we got married he was not drinking, he was just drinking a little bit like social, certain occasions and then there was a time that he was no more working, that is when he started drinking too much and that is also where everything worsens” (Delilah, I1).

Inferiority complex

Two participants reported that they believed an inferiority complex within their partners contributed to their abuse. One woman indicated that she had a high position at work, while her partner held a job with lower status and salary; she mentioned that he constantly reminded her that her salary was higher than his. Another participant reported that the partner had no work and started abusing alcohol; she claimed it is when the abuse started. She stated: “I think that he was having a low self-esteem, because my colleagues used to visit me at home and they were forever proud of me that I am the deputy director and he is just a normal shift worker at the mine so I think that is the main cause, because his forever telling me that ya 'Your salary is bigger than mine' and that's it, but I don't treat him like that he still remains my husband my kids' father so I don't show that to him” (Naomi, I1).

Misunderstandings

Two participants indicated having arguments over family which led to misunderstandings, which then escalated into physical violence. One of the participants reported that the abuse started when her baby was born, and noted the abuse continued even when she put the baby in her grandmother's care as it was a safer alternative than having her in the home. Another participant shared her experiences: “I don't remember the first time, I just know we had an argument because of my grandmother. My grandmother came over and then he was all complaining and what and then when she left he was like “ya this is what you do, you all bring your family what, what and all those things.” So ya that's how it just started just because of an argument, a simple thing” (Rachel, I1).

Anger

One participant reported that her partner got angry over what she perceived to be very small issues. For example, she reported that her partner would sometimes come from somewhere and start to quarrel and then would start with physical violence. She noted: “No, he just used to come like home and when you talk to him then the abuse start or maybe if the family is there and you talk to the family that something is wrong then he will be angry and later on the fight will start” (Mary, I1).

Theme 4: Effects of domestic violence

The effects of DV ranged from physical health impacts to psychological and health problems.

Physical effects

Nine out of the 12 participants stated that they have lasting physical effects of the abuse, such as scars, black eyes, or injuries to their bodies. One participant reportedly suffers from back pain, and another reported having developed a stomach ulcer due to the stress of the situation. One woman reported that she lost her front teeth, which caused her to be mocked by people for the way she speaks. One woman explained that she was physically abused while she was pregnant which she believer caused the baby to be born in a breech position. Some of the women's excerpts from the transcriptions were as follows, “Yes it did, it affects me physically it also affects me emotionally due to the fact that I was like my appearance kom ek se maar my voorkoms [English translation: Let me say that my appearance] was like damaged and I have lost four teeth, because of this abuse I have lost my teeth which was really something that affects me emotionally it also caused me not to speak properly and so on, and it also really it has got a negative effect on my appearance, my personal appearance and then I have to rely on vals tande (English translation: Artificial teeth)” (Ruth, I1).

Mental effects

It was found that every participant in the study reported experiencing psychological and emotional effects due to partner violence. Three women claimed that their lives were full of fear and constant despair. The data revealed that all participants reported that their self-esteem had been dramatically affected. Consequently, their self-confidence was destroyed and several reported isolated themselves to avoid stigmatization from friends, families, and the community. One participant reported having feelings of anger; two participants reported that they felt embarrassed in the community as they felt that everybody knew that they were abused. Several participants also reported that they felt worthless. Most concerning, the impact of DV reached the extent of making one participant have suicidal thoughts. Rachel shared how she was affected mentally by the violence toward her: “Yes it did affect me it affected me mentally because there are times that I even want to commit suicide, I'll be thinking of bad things and all that and now I would just want to leave this world and I feel like there is nothing left for me here to do” (Rachel, I1).

Theme 5: Disclosing the violence and seeking assistance

At the time of the interviews, it was found that it took the participants between 1 and 16 years respectively to act on the abuse toward them. The reasons for not disclosing the violence included: The belief that GBV was a private family problem; the social stigma attached to the abused women in the community; and fear of retaliation from the partner. Some women reported they believe that their partners loved them, but that they could not handle their anger. Others could not disclose the abuse because of shame and also blaming themselves for the abuse. Two out of the 12 participants reported that they did not act as they regarded the abuse as a usual practice. Some of the participants stayed in the abusive relationships because they believe children need to be raised by a father.

Help-seeking

All women have made an effort to seek help after several years of abuse. The participants had different experiences about where they sought help. Three participants sought help from their female family members, such as their mothers and grandmothers. Further, three women reported the abuse to the police. Shockingly, one participant reported that the police talked to them and sent them back to the abusive environment, or simply referred them to social workers. Another participant claimed that the police talked to the husband and wife after a severe assault and they determined that the best way to solve the problem was for the husband to compensate the wife financially. Two participants mentioned that they sought medical attention after abusive incidents. One confided in the doctor, who referred her to social workers. The other participant felt that it was a private matter to discuss with health workers. Three participants reported that they did not tell anyone about the abuse. One participant stated that she mistakenly thought she could solve the problem herself as she was a social worker. Three participants reported seeking help from social workers, mainly after they had tried the family and was rejected based on cultural beliefs and opinions that one has to deal with their own family issues internally.

The emotional impact witnessing violence on children

All participants who reported having children stated that their children witnessed abusive incidents, both emotional and physical. Participants commonly indicated that they were worried about their children and indicated that they felt guilty about putting their children in such situations. One participant whose children reportedly witnessed the abuse mentioned that she did not want to lose her husband, even though she felt terrible for her children. Another participant's excerpt from the interview was as follows: “You know that fact that my son witnessed it make me feel very guilty and I realized that I cannot go on, because of the reaction of my child and that was also the motivation to leave this abusive marriage” (Esther, I1).

Knowledge of abuse and awareness of service provision for domestic violence

The majority of participants knew what abuse was, with only one having no precise knowledge of abuse. All participants were also aware that they were being abused. Knowing the different services available and how to access them can make a difference for abused women. Seven out of the 12 participants did not know about the Namibian Constitution Article 8 that guarantees the rights of respect for human dignity and the upholding of universal human rights. Five participants knew or heard about the Article, however, said that it is not applied in real life. Participants reported that television and radio programming had exposed them to many issues concerning DV. Two women said they did not know anything about Namibia's Domestic Violence Act until the researcher enlightened them.

Domestic violence and police response

All the women in the study confirmed during the interview that DV is a big problem in Namibia. They further reported that the abuse done toward young and older women are claiming many innocent lives of women in the country. Most of the participants reported that a week hardly passes without incidents of women being killed by their partners stated on the radio, television and in newspapers. Most of these cases are coming a long way, and had been reported many times to the police, but nothing was done. The majority of the participants reported that the police are not doing enough, if not nothing at all, with regard to DV cases. They further reported that police first want to see that a person is severely injured, then they respond, or otherwise, they tell the one reporting to settle the matter between them.


  Discussion Top


A number of significant findings were identified during the data analysis phase of the study. For example, the main contributing factors to GBV in this sample were extramarital affairs, alcohol abuse, misunderstandings, inferiority complex, and anger. Further, the impacts of GBV among the participants included physical injuries, mental health problems, social exclusion, erosion of self-identity, and self-esteem as well as having adverse effects on the children who witnessed violence. The second significant finding was that many barriers inhibited abused women from disclosing abuse. The study found that generally violence disclosure was discouraged by the cultural norm of concealing marriage and family matters. Further, significant issues were also established in this inquiry related to the effectiveness of the law enforcement service when it comes to responding to cases of GBV.

Implications for policy and practice

Recommendations for policy makers

Serious attention needs to be given to law enforcement regarding DV. In order to reduce and prevent the problem, the laws must be strengthened. Second, the findings of this study highlighted that the police do not take legal action against the offenders of DV, such as interrogate or arrest them, in many circumstances. The police officers dealing with DV should go through specific training on how to handle DV cases.

Policymakers should outline updated, standardized guidelines or written protocols and policies about DV with the purpose of disseminating specific DV procedures to all related organizations that have direct or indirect involvement with cases of DV. Further, the application for protection orders and the implementation thereof should be handled as soon as possible.

Recommendations for professional helpers

Professionals who work with DV victims, such as psychologists, social workers, nurses, and teachers should be equipped with more extensive knowledge relating to DV through targeted capacity building and professional development trainings. These professionals should also be educated on relevant GBV and DV issues, including policy reviews and legislative changes.

Awareness raising campaigns which aim to increase community awareness of this social problem, as well as dissemination of knowledge about violence against women to the general public, particularly to women, will help to eliminate the cultural stigma experienced by victims of violence. Finally, rehabilitation and treatment programs for the perpetrators should be developed.

Study limitations

It is important to note the challenges of conducting research such as thing in this region. GBV is largely viewed as a private family matter that is often not openly discussed in Namibian (and other African) cultures. As explored earlier in this manuscript, the high levels of GBV has to some degree normalized this behavior, and as such, some women who experience violence perceive this type of behavior as normal or expected in intimate relationships. Further, the sample of this study was comprised of women who sought assistance from either a government or civil society social service agency. Many women rely first on family and friends for support and advice, and then consult religious leaders for advice and consultation for such matters. This combined with the well-established low rates of help seeking for GBV may mean the results do not capture the lived experience of women who experience GBV who have not formally sought assistance from secular or government service providers. Finally, this study was conducted in one geographic region in Namibia. Given the geographic catchment area and the use of non-probability sampling techniques, it is not appropriate to generalize the findings to the entire country of Namibia.

Directions for future research

This inquiry explored issues of DV in one geographic region of Namibia. Data from the current study revealed similarities with previous Southern African research on the same topic, as well as unique factors, such as geographic isolation, the impact of education, and harmful cultural beliefs and practices. Researchers looking to extend this line of inquiry in the future may consider further studies that explore in greater details specific aspects of the phenomenon, such as the impacts of DV on children who witness violence or could potentially focus on better understanding men who batter their partners. Finally, a cohort or longitudinal study documenting the help seeking experiences and eventual outcomes of those experiencing DV could potentially shed light on the strengths in the current system of care as well as document areas for improvement with regard to policy and professional helping practice with this population.


  Conclusions Top


This study investigated the possible factors that contribute to physical violence against women in Northern Namibia. Among those contributing factors to this phenomenon are extramarital affairs, alcohol abuse, misunderstandings, inferiority complex, and anger. Further, the impacts of DV include physical injuries, mental health problems, social exclusion, erosion of self-identity, and self-esteem as well as having adverse effects on the children witnessing violence. The second significant finding was that many barriers inhibit abused women from disclosing abuse. The study found that generally violence disclosure was discouraged by the cultural norm of concealing marriage and family matters at all cost, often in a misguided attempt to safeguard the children, as well as feelings of self-blame and guilt. Significant issues were also established in this inquiry related to the effectiveness of the law enforcement service when it comes to DV, including the often-unpleasant experiences victims encounter when they attempt to access services, and the battle of overcoming the procedural challenges during the help-seeking process. Moving forward, it is of paramount importance to integrate intervention strategies, increase public awareness and strengthening of the national policy structures with the aim of preventing and combating DV in Namibian society.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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