Domestic violence incidents have been on an upward trend since the advent of COVID-19. This is evident from the increasing media reports. While the numbers are alarming, the occurrences do not come as a surprise.
Why Are The Numbers Not a Surprise?
- Fathers who only came home at night, or not at all, are in many cases now present. 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. They have long been detached from their homes and feel alienated.
- The situation is stressful for them and they extend their anger and frustration on their spouses. Sometimes they extend this to their children.
- Women have also found themselves in a new scenario. The physically absentee spouse is now home 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
- In line with the government policy on social distancing, the children may not go out to play. In the case of teenagers, they are now unable to go out and socialize.
- Owing to the pandemic. Households are either experiencing loss of income or a decline in the same.
- There are job and business losses hence loss of income.
The above scenarios are recipes for increased stress levels and a platform for arising conflict. This in turn leads to the emergence of Domestic Violence.
Sarah Ater is a Conflict Management Trainer. During a WLW series, she enlightened us on the dynamics of conflict at home. Further, she shared with us how best to resolve the same.
What Is The Source Of Conflict?
DIFFERENCE IN VALUES
A difference in values is one of the catalysts of conflict
At the home front, the COVID-19 pandemic has created idle time for children. They may now want to stay up all night on their phones, T.V. and games. They would then sleep in the whole day. These scenarios bring forth conflict with the parents. They expect to have the children up by 8.00 a.m. to perform chores. Conflict between the parents and the children is bound to arise. Each party feels that their way is the right way. There are unmet expectations.
DIFFERENCE OF OPINION
There are people of the mind-set that their way is the only way. This presents a recipe for conflict. Everyone has an opinion and the need to be heard. When they are not given that chance, they are bound to feel hurt. This would then may lead to conflict.
VARIATION IN RESOURCES
A spouse may feel that their spouse is not being as helpful as expected. They may feel overwhelmed with house chores and expect to get more help. When this is not forthcoming, conflict will arise.
This same scenario may be replicated with the children. Where they no not perform the chores allocated to them, conflict will arise.
Tangible Conflict Versus Feelings
Conflict can present itself in two forms. There are tangible conflict issues and there is conflict in form of feelings.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to depleted resources. In her presentation, Sarah Ater shared a video clip where a mother was lamenting. Her issue was the misuse of toilet paper in her house hold. She had issued clear instructions which were not being adhered to. Two pieces of tissues for short calls and three for long calls. In this scenario, the conflict matter is the toilet paper hence it is tangible.
Conflict may arise in form of feelings. In a living Room situation, one party may want to sit silently to read a book. The other party may disrupt their peace with loud volume on the T.V. The party sitting silently will have a feeling of irritation.
Another example would be where tea is served and the consumer finds that it has sugar. Perhaps, it is common knowledge, or not, that they do not take sugar. Either way, the consumer may feel irritated arising to conflict because of their expectations.
Flee, Fight or Face It – Responses To Conflict
Different people respond to conflict differently.
There are three choices as to how one responds. They are the three F’s of conflict. Flee, Fight and Face It.
The response to arising conflict is largely determined by ones personality. When faced with conflict the choice to flee may seem the only way to go for some people. They avoid any form of confrontation and elect to leave the scene altogether. There are those whose personality is all set for a fight. They will stay and confront the other party.
Then there are those personalities whole face on the problem and are open to discussing the same to consensus.
Depending on one’s personality, the response choice may be determined on whether or not you have the upper hand. In this case one may choose to fight it or face it if they feel they have the upper hand. They may otherwise flee if that is not the case.
How To Resolve Conflict
There are three ways in which conflict may be solved. These are the three S’s of conflict.
Conflict may be resolved by speaking up. There is the need for clear communication on expectations when a breech occurs.
In the case of children staying up late with the lights, tell them the consequence of their action. Enlighten them on the escalating bills owing to their actions. Let them be aware that there was a decrease in income due to say the COVID-19 pandemic. Advise them that how it may affect them directly as costs may need to be cut back. This could be the Wifi.
It is important to also listen actively to the other party. Pay attention to not just what they are saying but how they are saying. Also note what they are not saying. In silence there is conversation.
Be empathetic and realistic.
Space is an important aspect in conflict resolution. When people encroach into others spaces, then resolving may be a challenge.
It is important to create a space suitable to your current needs. At the home has now become the office. Communicate clearly to the children that while you are physically in the room, you do not want any disruption. Explain to them that you have an important work related meeting and that you needed them to keep busy.
In the event things go wrong and cups and glasses are broken while you were away, don’t sweat the small stuff.
Sorry is a word many find difficult to express. They may often opt to take action to demonstrate their remorse. While this is acceptable, voicing the word is more impactful. Ultimately, in the words of Lyn Johnstone, ‘An apology is the super glue of life, it can repair just about anything.’
Sex like conflict is always with us. However, in the African scenario, the topic of sex is not openly spoken about. When the subject arises, there tends to be a deviation from the same. No one addresses it full throttle.
Conflict falls into the same category. We live with it but we are not willing to discuss it openly.
Interestingly, while the subject of sex is often given a wide berth, it is generally an act that is enjoyed by consenting adults. Incidentally, conflict is not necessarily a bad thing. Conflict like sex is to be embraced and enjoyed. It is a process when followed through and is resolved brings about joy, cohesion and camaraderie among humanity.