Support before ridicule! We must first stand by all gender based violence victims
Kenyan musician Avril, born Judith Nyambura, was forced to deactivate her social media accounts after she exposed her partner, videographer J Blessing, born Jibril Blessing Mahmud Hussein, for assaulting her.
The reactions were quick and fierce. Avril, who’s known to be unproblematic in her public life, suddenly was dealing with gender-based violence because of the man she settled down with and ruined her life. Kenyans were shocked. Many commiserated with her and advised her to leave him for the sake of her son as well as her own life.
But then she issued a statement forgiving J Blessing and asking Kenyans to forgive him as well. This did not go down with many people who told her off for rushing to social media, getting their sympathy, and then having mercy on her abuser. He then stated the same incident, ultimately breaking up with her in the same statement.
In a short period of a day, support and ridicule became Avril’s portion. The ridicule was brutal and unwarranted. She was victim-shamed, a sad reflection on Kenya as a society on how it views domestic violence and how victims of gender-based and domestic violence should be handled if the matter becomes public knowledge.
As a society, our first responsibility must be to stand with a victim of gender-based violence before demanding proof that ‘they did not bring it on themselves’. Immediate support offers a lifeline to those who have experienced trauma, fostering an environment of trust, empathy, and understanding. By standing with victims, we acknowledge the depth of their pain and provide a foundation for healing. And this goes a long way in showing and proving that abusers have no place in modern-day society.
Demanding reasons prematurely can perpetuate victim-blaming and may further traumatize those who have already endured violence. We must provide them with a safe space to share their experiences without making unnecessary comments such as ‘small beatings are normal in African marriages and shows that one loves their partner’, ‘what did you do to make your partner beat you’ or in Avril’s case, ‘when are you releasing your new song to need all this clout chasing.’ We must never put victims on defense!
We must allow victims to regain a sense of control over their lives after their trust is shattered by someone they love, not forcing them to retreat into themselves and hide as Avril is currently doing having deactivated her social media pages.
Society must learn to wisely choose their words when partaking in conversations regarding publicized cases of gender-based and domestic violence. They must speak words of empathy, words of safety assurance if the victims need haven, words of encouragement and support, words of empowerment and affirmation that they did not deserve what happened to them no matter the circumstances.
As Avril is a celebrity and her ex-partner is renowned, the ultimate support we can give her as compatriots, as fans, and as a general society who don’t closely know her is respect for her privacy, being socially responsible with our commentary on public platforms, encourage more victims of gender-based and domestic violence to speak out just as she did as well as push for working laws and support campaigns to protect victims.
As her life now takes on new dimensions, we can also support her financially by spending some time on her paid music streaming pages on various platforms to help her line her pockets and ensure her son will be well taken care of in the event her financial stability is privately affected by this incident.