Gender Based Violence (GBV) is a deeply pervasive problem found throughout society in both private and public spaces. It affects everyone but is particularly prevalent against women and girls. There are many causes that fuel GBV in Kenya such as power relations, cultural practices and traditions, lack of access to economic resources, lack of political will to eradicate it and poorly implemented legislation.

Looking at GBV as a traumatic event that affects the body of the victim falls short of understanding its complexity. GBV affects the most intimate aspect of human life and behavior. Besides the physical damage inflicted, the damage caused to the psychological, emotional and social life of the individual can be devastating. GBV, therefore, is a highly traumatic experience.

Myth Fact
1 It is the child fault that he or she is abused Abuse is not the child’s fault
2 Normal families in a household do not experience abuse Child abuse can take place in any family
3 Someone who abused you once just made mistake and will not repeat it again Majority are repeat offenders
4 Only adults are victims of gender violence Children account for 41% of abused persons treated at gender violence recovery centre – Nairobi Women’s Hospital
5 Gender violence occurs to girls only Boys and girls undergo gender based violence.
6 Battering is not a crime. Men have the right to control their wives’ behaviour and to discipline them. Even though most countries do have introduced national legislations and action plans to prohibit and address gender-based violence with regard to women and children, many governments fail to adequately fulfill their obligations.
7 Conflicts and discord are a normal part of any relationship.
Sometimes a person just loses control. Anger management classes or couple counseling will help.
Domestic violence is not about “losing” control. It is about “gaining” control through the use of threats, intimidation, and violence.
8 Men and women are equally violent to each other. As many studies underline, men commit most of the known assaults of family violence.
9 Battered women allow abuse to happen to them. They can leave if they really want to. Battered women will and often do resist to ensure the safety of themselves and their children.
10 Only a small percentage of families are affected by domestic violence. At least one woman in three has experienced some form of physical, sexual or psychological violence in her lifetime, most often by an intimate partner.
11 Gender-based violence only includes physical abuse (hitting, punching, biting, slapping, pushing, etc.) Physical abuse is just one form of violence.
12 Batterers are lower class, minority, and uneducated. Battered women are timid, uneducated, poor, and helpless. GBV can impact anyone. It cuts across class, race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, education level, or personal history.
13 Poverty is the main cause of violence. There is no reason for violence in wealthy families. GBV can occur in every family. Abusive rich partners often control access to all of the family resources: they prevent other members of the family, especially women, to work or to access the economic resources of the family, even legal access to the family property.
14 Some women seek out abusers. Some enjoy it. Battered women are not masochistic. Neither low self-esteem, childhood victimization, mental illness, nor depression “cause” a woman to be battered.
15 Drug or alcohol abuse causes violence. Stopping substance abuse stops the violence. While substance abuse is present in many domestic violence cases, it is a contributing factor, not the cause of violence.
16 Battered women have poor parenting skills. Battered mothers are essentially no different than non-battered mothers in terms of parenting skills.
17 Some women deserve the violence they experience. Violence against women is a human rights violation, and independent of any “provoking” action of the woman, it is a crime and cannot be tolerated.
18 Violence is a private family matter therefore the community has no right to intervene in family violence. The state has the duty to protect every citizen and ensure the enjoyment of all human rights to every individual.
19 Young wives need to obey their in-laws. Women often suffer from harsh treatment by their in-laws, especially psychological violence and in particular from the mother-in-law.
20 Prostitutes can’t suffer rape. Any man who forces a woman into a sexual act against her will has abused her. Any woman regardless of her job or her appearance can suffer rape (Rape Crisis Network Europe 2011)
21 Most children and young people don’t experience severe violence

International studies reveal that approximately 20% of women and 5–10% of men report being victims of sexual violence as children. Population-based studies of relationship violence among young people (or dating violence) suggest that this affects a substantial proportion of the youth population. For instance, in South Africa a study of people aged 13-23 years found that 42% of females and 38% of males reported being a victim of physical dating violence (WHO 2011).

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