“I’m not accepting things I cannot change. I am changing things I cannot accept”- Angela Davis
Matthew Gansallo walked to my office and told me that he was going to write a book to help men who have been going through emotional abuse. I sense there was more to his intent. Matthew Olaseni Gansello, you see, is qualified in the history of art, fine art and architecture and is building an international education consultancy. Although, he lives in London, he is very much a Nigerian and has a vested interest in the Nigerian community.
The draft of his book has generated interests from TV, churches and several community groups, the word is: it is a concern and there is a need for a discourse. We need to talk and for the sake of our men and family, we need to do it now.
He told me the story: there seems to be an increasing number of our men in the diaspora going through this ordeal and are reluctant to seek help. Speaking to some of his friends, many in their 40s and 50s agree that men find it difficult to discuss their problems with close friends and family and are reluctant to get help.Uunfortunately, some have taken their own lives because of the shame. Yes, men can be victims of emotional abuse and this is something that is often not talked about within our community after all, men should be able to deal with their own problems. Let me make it clear, women are more likely to be victims of physical and emotional abuse. But these pattern men are being emotionally abuse and we are seeing this alarming rate across the diaspora and it is too common place to ignore. This is a black thing, not just a Nigerian thing.
Matthews’s book: Men who suffer from emotional abuse; silent suffering, intends to shed light on the phenomena. This is happening to men in particular, who go home to get a wife and settle abroad. And the abuse starts when the wife is about to or have received their papers or residency; they begin to make spurious accusations, then routinely emotionally or physically abuse, goad him, threaten to take the children away, make him homeless and contact the authorities in order to make a claim that the man is the aggressor.
He gets a criminal record, could lose his job, his family, his home and means of living. This modus operandi seems to be too commonplace for it to be a rarity and it is tearing families apart and the emotionally abused man, in particular, comes out of this worse off as he grapples in silence with the abuse. Emotional abuse chips away at a person’s feelings of self-worth and independence. Emotional abuse can be as destructive and damaging as physical abuse and it damages the person’s mental health. It’s common for physically abusive relationships to also include aspects of emotional abuse as this is how power and control is maintained within the relationship. It is insidious and unrelenting.
The common pattern; man brings wife from home, he supports her and sometimes her family, he finances her studies, she gets her papers, she graduates, starts earning, trouble starts in the family home, physical and emotional abuse on both sides, children suffer, divorce pending, police are involved, man leaves home, restricted access to children, messy divorce, more stress and he becomes socially isolated with anger or depression sets in. Usually, it does not end well.
We, as a community have got to address this and urgently too, we have to admit that this is going on. Unless, we open up and offer support, then it will continue to happen and it will affect the next generation and any relationship that this abused man may have after this trauma. The children are victims too, and are pawns in this unfortunate situation, they become silent witnesses and they have to deal with this on a daily basis and this experience will affect them in later years. They will become emotionally scarred if this is not fully addressed.
The break up definitely will have a long term effect on the children. And the man in an abusive relationship often rides a lonely train, he often hides the emotional scars in public as if nothing is wrong and when he gets home, he deals with reality: day in and day out of emotional abuse. He becomes an expert in living two lives and keeping the secret and remaining silent, dare not confide in people.
Who would believe that this man is the victim? He lives with the shame if found out, that he cannot keep the family together and the secret has a serious impact on his emotional health.
For those who are experiencing emotional abuse; it is important to get help and get help earlier rather than later. Do not be tempted to retaliate, it may lead to arrest and a criminal record, protect the children and contact the emergency services. The police have an obligation to protect you and your children, just as they do a female victim. Always get evidence of the abuse, report to the police and get a copy of the police report. This will come in handy later on. Keep a journal of all abuse with a clear record of dates, times, and any witnesses.
Include a photographic record of your injuries and make sure your doctor or hospital also documents your injuries. Remember, medical personnel are unlikely to ask if a man has been a victim of domestic violence, so be honest and let them know the cause of the injuries.
Have a safe plan; confide in a trusted friend, identify a place to stay, keep copies of important documents outside the home. Seek legal advice and get a restraining order against the abuser. Get support from family and friends.
Most of all, there is life after an abusive relationship and it should not define the person and it will take a while to trust again. Time really does heal all wounds.
Tayo Fatunla’s Book Launch
So I was particularly proud to have been invited to the launching of his OUR ROOTS Sketch book. OUR ROOTS was a long held inspiration of Tayo’s and it began as a school project at The Kubert School in Dover, New Jersey. The 120-page info-tainment book is a compilation of illustrations of Black achievers in the diaspora and also highlights places and things of interest that relate to Black History. OUR ROOTS has poignant and insightful vignettes. Tayo’s work has taken him the world over and OUR ROOTS and OUR ROOTS spin-offs has featured in BBC and the Voice newspaper are amongst his work that has been published around the world.
Marcus Garvey said it so well that; “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”. That is exactly what OUR ROOTS SKETCH BOOK does so well, knowledge is power. OUR ROOTS Black
History Sketch book, written and illustrated by TAYO Fatunla, was launched at the Canada Water Library in Surrey Quays, South-east London. The launch was hosted by Councillor Michael Situ, and graced by the presence of many local luminaries including Mayor of Southwark, Dora Dixon-Fyle, who spoke of the need to have an educational book like OUR ROOTS in a diverse communities, that it is essential for both young and old to know something about Black History and she recommended that OUR ROOTS should be stocked in local libraries and be made accessible to all. Speaking to councillor Situ, who is a Cabinet Member for Communities and Safety for Southwark Council, he was very proud to have OUR ROOTS book launched in the borough of Southwark.
Roland Rampat who wrote foreword to the book, said of his journey with TAYO through the years in helping to support an educational project as OUR ROOTS. I spoke to Tayo’s mother, who told me that his father initially was not pleased with his chosen profession and that she had to convince him that it was Tayo’s calling. She was right. And Tayo’s was so proud of his son at the launch. Tayo has inspired a lot of young people and especially black children who through his body of work have gone on to achieve on to greater things. Tayo continues to inspire more young aspiring artists up and down the UK and with his book he inspires even more.
Written by Denrele Animashaun, A Vanguard Columnist