Halima Odiegwu is President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a behavioral health company, Purple Lifeline Connections with subsidiaries, among which is the popular Lifelines With Mima, a television and radio program fast-growing and reaching out to those in need of counseling not only in Nigeria but other countries, including Gambia and the United Kingdom (UK), REGINA OTOKPA reports
The President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Purple Lifeline Connections, Halima Odiegwu, has been committed to providing the needed mental and psychological help to couples, men and women in need of proper counseling to put their lives in perspective, by better managing their everyday problems. Together with her team, she has reached so many lives and helped healed troubled families within the last 12 years of being both a marriage counsellor/ relationship coach, as well as a mental therapist. to her: “Purple Lifeline Connections was born from the passion and mission to reach out to people by creating exceptional and well-tailored products that employ a holistic approach in dealing with marital problems, mental health and domestic violence. “Our vision is to create a pioneer behavioral management company in the country by providing outstanding personalized quality service. We are also in the business of advocacy, and we do run one of Nigeria’s foremost counseling companies. In the face of the alarming statistics about domestic violence, of course, recently we lost one of our dear gospel musicians to this incident of domestic violence.
“I thought it was wise and important that we draw the attention of Nigerians to how critical and alarming this trend is becoming. In the past, it used to be just women, and children today, we have a rise also in domestic violence against men. “This trend is becoming terrible and alarming and we are not really doing much about it. We are hiding these things. Men are shy to say their wives beat them; women are shy to tell people what they’re going through. They are financially handicaped and so they are dependent on their abusers and for that reason, they stay.
“Even the authorities have not made things better; when you go to the police they will tell you, Oh, it’s a domestic matter. You should go home and settle. We’ve recorded quite a number of deaths and in my practice every day as a therapist, the case comes up all the time.” Halima noted that children who grew up in abusive environments more often than not grow up traumatised and dysfunctional.
“Now the ripple effect of these things is that now we are raising children that are drug addicts, that are prostitutes that have to run and leave home early, because they’re being abused, and therefore that causes us a high crime rate and as a society, we are paying dearly for it.”
Wondering if Purple Lifeline Connections was a staged show, she clarified that: “We try to put out the stories of our clients who give us permission to share their stories with the world about what they’re treating with what they’re dealing with and how We as a company, myself and my team come together to give them counsel to help them to sort it out so as to help them manage these everyday problems and therefore, by extension, the rest of the world who see how we’re dealing with these issues and have a place to run to and also an idea of what to do on the long term.”
Reason for abuse
Stating possible reasons for abuse, she said lack of knowledge, illiteracy and a poor justice system were helping to heighten the menace, which was taking the lives of women by the day. “We are illiterate in a lot of ways. If you raise a child to believe that aggression and violence is the way to sort problems, that’s what he’s going to take into the world. He batters his wife and by extension his children and raises further monsters that will grow into bigger problems. So first of all, we have to change our upbringing and the way we think; our mindset has to change. “Being uneducated just puts you at a disadvantage because you don’t even know what is bad and what is good and whether you can get help for it from the government. There’s definitely a lot the government can do. Advocacy is very crit-ical. Government should support NGOs and people like us that are trying to do something about it.
Strengthening justice system
“The police and the justice system should also clamp down seriously on people that are domestically violent or abusive in any way. For you and I everyday people, if you see your neighbor being abused, don’t keep quiet about it. If it’s your friend going through it, don’t keep quiet. People stay in bad marriages and bad relationships because they are financially handicapped. They don’t have money to survive and their abuse is the person that they are dependent on. That is also a factor so the government can come in from the area of making it economically better for all of us, especially for women who are always in a disadvantaged position.” The therapist said that her organization has assisted about 700 people in Nigeria and other countries. They have been offering counseling to politicians, people in prison and everyday people.” Also working in collaboration with her husband who owns a hospital, she and her team made up of mental health experts, psychiatrists, and doctors, special attention is given to cases of attempted suicide and mental health disorder, especially those that have degenerated into bad cases.
Halima who frowned at the culture of silence by survivors of abuse, noted there was nothing shameful with getting help no matter the individual and gender involved, or the manner of case in question. “We’re dealing with the effect of the mistakes that our own parents before now have made. Let’s teach boys that they can be emotional, it’s okay for a boy to cry. Let’s teach them that it’s okay for them to complain. Let’s teach them that it’s okay to have a moment of weakness. “You don’t have to always be macho. We teach our boys not to raise their hands to hit women but we don’t teach them what to do if women hit them and so you see a man suffering in silence. They’re beating him but because he’s been trained not to touch a woman, he will not touch her but he continues in the abuse until something terrible happens. So it still boils down to advocacy and sensitising the public.”