Sadly, I have the blessing, but also the misfortune of being the father to two little girls. They bring me and my family such joy, and ofcourse those dreaded sleepless nights. But what also makes me sleep less comfortably is the worry of their safety and security. There’s so much nonsense going on in our society that it makes me (and I’m sure many other parents) paranoid. This paranoia isn’t just me being fearful for the sake of being fearful, but truly, and honestly, knowing that I, as a man, as their father need to do whatever I need to, to ensure their safety. But over and above that it’s not just my role to protect them but to serve them too.
The service I am speaking of is to show them how they should be treated. To respect them, but also to show love, honour, appreciation, kindness, gentleness and service toward my wife – their mother. For me, I need to instill within them the realisation that they are valued, that they have worth, that they are loved and for them to believe in themselves. I need to ensure that I am not only their financial contributor as their father, but also that I invest in them emotionally, psychologically and spiritually as well.
Call me over protective, but that is what we need to be in the society we find ourselves in today. We could say that things had spiralled out of control, but the abuse, the violence, the hurt which had been inflicted in the past had more often than not be hidden from public knowledge. Very often families had known of abuse taking place within families, neighbours knew, friends knew, but they kept quiet. And that silence was not just shut up to the world, but victims often were told to not speak out either. They were told that they were to blame for what had happened to them, that the family would be shunned from society if they the truth became public. This silence had somewhat been cast aside thanks to social media helping put a mouth piece on those who had once been silenced. But sadly, there are still many cases where, as a society we choose to keep to ourselves, to ignore the hurt, the physical injury and broken heart, spirit and emotion of someone desperately needing to get the help they need. We become just as guilty as the perpetrators of violence, abuse and suffering if we choose to keep quiet.
Often in gang infested communities many community members know those involved in illegal activity, but they choose to keep quiet. Either because they fear for their own safety or because they don’t want to get involved. That is the same situation we are faced as we begin unpacking how we can tackle gender based violence.
I recently read a heart wrenching story a victim of domestic abuse which she posted onto a Facebook group. She detailed how she had been in an abusive relationship, how she was verbally, psychologically, emotionally and physically abused and beaten by her boyfriend. She also detailed in the post how many people witnessed the abuse, but when police asked them about it, they said they hadn’t witnessed it, which made the woman seem as though she was lying about it all. Sadly, as a society we sweep things under the carpet, we hide the truth, we falsify information so that we continue to silence the victim, we don’t want shame on our families, we tell the victim that they were to blame for what had happened to them. And that is just the tip of this huge iceberg. Because as a father, as a husband, as a son and as a friend, I worry, I stress, I have sleepless nights as I have anxiety about the safety of my mother, my sister, my wife, my daughter’s, my aunt’s and all those women closest to me.
But, through all of this, we need to speak out, we need to tell the stories of hurt, of pain, of brokeness but also of healing, transformation and how we had begun to stand again, and speak again, how we regained the voice which had once be a mere whisper. Because through these stories we begin a process of healing not just within ourselves but also helping to transform the life of someone who may be going through a similar situation.
As I gaze up at a photo of my wife and daughters, I say a little prayer for their safety, but I also ask for strength. Strength that my heart can handle this anxiety, that I may love as I ought, to serve and protect and to never have them suffer emotionally, psychologically or physically.
Author: Keenan M Williams
Keenan Williams is a journalist, broadcaster and producer. He is a husband, father of two little girls and passionate about seeing a changed more inclusive society. His mission is to help others be restored into being their authentic selves through the various mediums of his vocation.