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This study was carried out to evaluate the determinants of domestic violence in marriages of

Ogun State using Abeokuta South Local Government as a case study. The study was carried out in active areas within the local government and made use of 150 respondents who were selected at random from various locations ranging from religious places to market areas and institutions of learning. A well structured questionnaire with reliability co-efficient of 0.84 was used by the researcher to elicit information from the respondents. Descriptive statistic techniques, which are frequency tables, percentages and pie-charts, were used for the result illustration. Findings revealed that majority of marriages instituted within the area don’t have any civil form of backup thereby giving the women no legal cover. Also financial independence doesn’t seem like a good idea for the women since their husbands would rather have them as full time housewives. The study further revealed that most of the homes suffer greatly from sexual and verbal violence. In conclusion, the desire for marriage in this area seems to be based on faulty foundations, thereby enhancing domestic violence. I strongly recommend that civil form of marriage should be enforced and avenues for empowerment to enable financial independence should also be encouraged.



Domestic violence can be defined as a general term for violence that occurs between intimate partners, relatives, individuals or co-habitants (Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, 2006). The violence that occurs between the victims and offenders includes physical assault, sexual assault, verbal threats, stalking, robbery, and homicide (GAO, 2006). 

Domestic violence has become more of a norm than an abnormal thing in our society. It is the intentional and persistent abuse of anyone in the home in a way that causes pain, distress or injury. It refers to any abusive treatment of one family member by another, thus violating the law of basic human rights. Domestic violence occurs globally (Dahlberg and Krug, 2002, UNICEF, 2005). Families from all social, racial , economic, educational and religious backgrounds experience domestic violence in different ways.

Djaden and Thoennes (2002), .It does not only apply to the illiterates but also the educated, the rich, influential and even celebrities in the society. In parts of the third world generally and in West Africa in particular, domestic violence is prevalent and reportedly justified and condoned in some cultures. Domestic violence is as old as the history of mankind and it often occurs in the privacy of the home. This is because a man’s home is often referred to and regarded as his “Castle”, and whatever a man does within the privacy of the home has often escaped the scrutiny of the public. As domestic violence occurs in all forms so does it also occur among all social classes. It is thus a worldwide phenomenon and a social problem. It is apposite to define family violence, especially, as it is directed towards women. As observed by Population Reports above, Article 2 of the United Nations Declaration clarifies that the definition of violence against women should include but not be limited to acts of physical, sexual and psychological abuse in the community. These should also include spouse battering, sexual abuse of female children, dowry-related violence, rape, including martial rape and also other traditional practices which are equally harmful to women, such as female genital mutilation, sexual harassment and intimidation at work and school, women trafficking, rape at war, widowhood rites which are often degrading, and other forms of violence.

Violence against women, especially those acts perpetrated by intimate partners remains the most pervasive and yet the least recognized human abuse in the world. Around the world, at least, one woman in three has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her life time so says Population Reports. Knapp (2001) disclosed that when some women informants were asked whether they had ever been hit, slapped. Kicked or otherwise physically hurt by intimate partners, 38.5% admitted that they had been and nearly one third of the women admitted to have experienced at least, one physically violent episode by a current partner in the three months preceding the research. The study by Knapp also revealed that partner violence disclosure remained a difficult decision for many women for fear of partners’ reaction in form of more physical abuse or abandonment.

Abuse of women by their male partners may manifest in physical, psychological or emotional forms. Physical types may manifest in forms of raping, pushing, punching, choking, spitting on, kicking, stabling, slapping, slamming the victims against the door, throwing her on the floor, shoving her down the stairs of a building, throwing acid or hot water on the woman, whipping or even hacking the victim to death (Martin, 2000, Okemgbo, 2002). Physical abuse is the most visible of all kinds of wife battery.

Psychological abuse which, in many cases is less visible than physical abuse may occur in forms of harassment, excessive possessiveness, deprivation of economic resources (especially in cases where the woman is a full-time housewife) denial of access to family income (Okemgbo, 2002). The victim may also be subjected to constant belittling, intimidation, humiliation and so on (Population Reports, 1999). In psychological abuse, the victims may continue to suffer the corrosive effects of abuse without being noticed by others. Another subtle form of abuse is controlling behaviour, this may manifest in forms of isolation from friends and relatives, monitoring the victim’s movements and so on. The woman may also be subjected to blackmail and peddling or rumours by her male partner.

Men have often also been observed to give many reasons why they abuse their partners. They may include the followings; women not “obeying” their husbands, talking back to them not having food ready on time, failure to adequately core for the children, the home, or their husbands, questioning husbands about money on girl friends or expressing suspicions of infidelity (Population Reports, 2000). It may also include, failure or a woman to give her husband the coveted male children or the required number of children desired by the husband (Amos, 2001). Unfortunately, despite the devastating effects of domestic violence, it has not seriously attracted the attention of many social scientists in Africa as a major social problem.

Most homes have now been turned into battlegrounds with couples engaging themselves in violent confrontation. Cruelty has replace care and understanding from the marriage lexicon of some couples and in most cases, women are at the receiving end of this cruel act, some of which have been turned into punching bags. 

It is therefore inevitable that with the escalation of violence in the country, be it in form of rape, battering, harassment, mutilation, assault, then domestic violence will also escalate.

 And in a society where violence is a social norm and an acceptable means of resolving conflict, it is expected that domestic violence will escalate. (Community Life Project ,2002)

 Abusers feel the need to dominate and control their partner’s behavior due to difficulties in regulating anger and other strong emotions or when they feel inferior to the other partner in education and socio economic background. 

Most women do experience domestic violence in their homes but the degrees in which it occurs, varies from one family to another. Women tend to shy away and also see violence as  a  private matter not to be disclosed.

Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his or her behavior. In fact, abusive behavior and violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to control you. 

The Cycle of Violence in Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence:

•      Abuse – Your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior. The abuse is a power play designed to show you "who is boss."

•      Guilt – After abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not over what he's done. He’s more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for his abusive behavior.

•      "Normal" behavior – Your abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep you in the relationship. He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give you hope that your abusive partner has really changed this time.

•      "Normal" behavior — The abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.

•      Fantasy and planning – Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again. He spends a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how he'll make you pay. Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into


•      Set-up – Your abuser sets you up and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where he can justify abusing you.

Your abuser’s apologies and loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. He may make you believe that you are the only person who can help him, that things will be different this time, and that he truly loves you. However, the dangers of staying are very real. 

The Full Cycle of Domestic Violence: An Example          

A man abuses his partner. After he hits her, he experiences self-directed guilt. He says, "I'm sorry for hurting you." What he does not say is, "Because I might get caught." He then rationalizes his behavior by saying that his partner is having an affair with someone. He tells her "If you weren't such a worthless whore I wouldn't have to hit you." He then acts contrite, reassuring her that he will not hurt her again. He then fantasizes and reflects on past abuse and how he will hurt her again. He plans on telling her to go to the store to get some groceries. What he withholds from her is that she has a certain amount of time to do the shopping. When she is held up in traffic and is a few minutes late, he feels completely justified in assaulting her because "you're having an affair with the store clerk." He has just set her up. 

Key facts:

•          Violence against women is a major public health problem and a violation of human rights.

•          Lack of access to education and opportunity, and low social status in communities are linked  to violence against women.

•          Violence by an intimate partner is one of the most common forms of violence against women.

•          A wide range of physical, mental, sexual and reproductive, and maternal health problems can result from violence against women.

•          Many women do not seek help or report violence when it occurs.


Violence in intimate relationships poses a serious problem to the lives, the health, and the    well being of individuals and families. Although both men and women emotional engage in physical violence against their intimate partners, women are significantly more likely to be seriously harmed than men.

For some women, home is not a haven of emotional security and physical safety but a place where they are physically abused by the men who supposedly love them.

In Nigeria, there have been frequent reported cases by media houses on violent attacks in the home with the women and children at the receiving ends.

Family violence has not only been acknowledged as a critical criminal justice issue, but as a major public health concern. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala stated, "Domestic violence is a serious public health problem. . . We need doctors to do a lot more than treat injuries. We need our medical personnel to find out how the patient was injured. We need them to help prevent it from happening over and over. And we need medical workers to learn guidelines for treating abuse and learn where they can send victims for help. . ." (White House news conference, July 13, 2002). Similar to justice professionals, medical professionals play a significant role in the identification, intervention, and prevention of family violence. 

However, for many years in Nigeria, violence against women has receive little or no attention at all, with the silence engulfing it been used as a weapon of further perpetration of the act.

Attempts have been made by some organizations to bring to the fore the problem of violence against women. These attempts have however been greatly hampered by lack of adequate statistical information and specific programs to deal with the structural nature of violence against women.

This present dearth in statistics and lack of systematically documented information on violence  against women, require urgent attention.

Against this background, a scientific study of domestic violence has been conceived to examine the determinant of domestic violence in the family.   

Every year, about 5,000 women are murdered by family members in the name of honour each year worldwide. 

Trafficking of women and girls for forced labour and sex is widespread and often affects the most vulnerable. 

  Forced marriages and child marriages violate the human rights of women and girls, yet they are widely practiced in many countries in Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. 

  Worldwide, up to one in five women and one in 10 men report experiencing sexual abuse as children. Children subjected to sexual abuse are much more likely to encounter other forms of abuse later in life.


This study will be a source of information to the general public on the inadequacies in statistical records kept on domestic violence in our society. Also it will shed more light on factors and patterns associated with domestic violence, especially against women with a view to resolving them. Furthermore, the result can be used in collaboration with other studies to achieve information on the trends of domestic violence sand towards empowerment of women and girls.  


 To examine the determinants of domestic violence in marriages of women in Abeokuta South local Government Area.


•     To examine the factors associated with the desire for marriage in women.

•     To identify the factors that trigger domestic violence towards women.

•     To appraise the various patterns of domestic violence towards women.

•     To investigate women’s survival strategies in domestically violent situations.


•      What are the factors associated with the desire for marriage in the women?

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