Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team


The Lagos State Government has concluded plans to start a compulsory premarital counseling exercises for intending couples in its latest bid to prevent and eradicate domestic violence in marriage,

The plan was announced by the government during a one-day engagement program for the state’s marriage registrars, organized by the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence agency (DSVA) in conjunction with the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.

Read Also: My Domestic Violence Experience

Kikelomo Sanyaolu, the permanent secretary for the ministry announced this as a measure to prevent domestic violence across the state. Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, the executive secretary of the DSVA expressed her concerns about the gap in professional pre-marital counseling in the country and how it could have prevented most of the domestic violence cases because over 60% of victims saw the signs before getting married and still went ahead no thanks to inadequate counsel.

The event which had notable facilitators like Tinuke Odukoya, the Executive Director, Center for women’s health and information, Mr. Oladele Emmanuel, Founder, Institute of marriage administrators and counselors of Nigeria also had in attendance Mr. Praise Fowowe of the Institute of Family Engineering and development who had worked closely with the state in designing the 8 module pre-marital counseling program.

Read Also: Facebook Introduces Paid Leave For Victims Of Domestic Violence And Sexual Assault

Mr. Praise Fowowe shared a data driven approach to curbing domestic violence through effective pre-marital counseling sessions. He commended the Lagos State Government for this initiative and entertained questions from the registrars on the challenges they have been facing and how to resolve complex marital issues.

Mrs. Titilola Vivour- Adeniyi announced a 3 – day training for the registrars to introduce them to the curriculum and train them on how to facilitate effective pre-marital counseling.

Read Also: How to report a case of domestic violence

The registers took time to express their gratitude to the State Government for this laudable initiative which will promote a healthy family life within the state and a peaceful society

In recent times, the rate of reported domestic abuse and death by intimate partner cases have skyrocketed. The raging pandemic has even become a fuelling agent as 80% of the report incidents took place during the Covid-19 lockdown. The internet, especially Twitter, also recorded the largest reports of domestic abuse and deaths in recent times as victims had tried to seek help and justice against their abusers. Agencies that provide sensitive services and help to victims of domestic and sexual violence also testified to the alarming increase rate of calls received since the pandemic.

The head of Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, DSVRT, Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi testifies to the fact that since the beginning of the lockdown on 30th March 2020 in Lagos, the agency now receives an average of 13 calls per day for just one of their hotlines compared with the 8 -9 they have been receiving before (extracted and translated from an article on BBC Pidgin). The absence of excuses to leave the vicinity of their abuser further heightened the situation. Before the lockdown, the victims had a little ‘protection’ or ‘break’ by going to the office, school, running errands, or other excuses that took them from the house.

Though many victims are just realising that there is no shame in sharing your ordeal with organizations that can help, many still, for the fear of being judged, embarrassed and ridiculed, keep their ordeal to themselves, hoping to still make things work. Unfortunately, very few of such people make it alive of such relationships if they eventually decide to leave.

In May 2020, the hashtag ‘#whyIdidnotreport’ trended and thousands of women shared their various reasons for staying in a toxic relationship. A large number had said their partner had pleaded over and over after each abuse; some might go as far as threatening to commit suicide if they left. Others had said they had devoted their lives to making the relationship work and did not know where to start over again. For many other women, especially the ones with children, they had chosen to stay for the sake of their children and because they didn’t have the financial capacity to care for themselves and their children. While some others chose to stay because they have been told over and over again that “it rains everywhere”, they only had to endure and manage their own storm. These women in their own rights had valid reasons for choosing to stay.

This article is to help us help our friends escape a toxic relationship, and help them get justice. Feminista Jones, in her article published on Zora “What to do if your friend is being abused” said

“Being a good friend means being mindful of how you speak about domestic and intimate partner violence around others because you never know if someone you love is being abused. Saying, “I don’t get why they just don’t leave. How stupid can you be?” can alienate your best friend who goes home to an abuser every day and you have no idea. Instead of expressing frustration, focus on empathy, and supportive language. “It’s so hard to leave abusive relationships. I hope you know that if you’re ever in this situation, you can come to me. No judgments.”

That’s the first step to getting them to open up. Assuring them of our love, understanding, and support without judgments.

Taking a peek at the unfortunate news of the gruesome murder of beautiful and bright Olamide Alli Omajuwa, the founder of The Pearl Academy, by the hands of her long-time lover and the father of her children, who then cowardly took his own life, evading the consequences of his actions. The horrific details of her murder sent shivers down the spines of many Nigerians. Days after her death, a WhatsApp chat, and VN had been released by a close friend. The chat indicated her doubts about the relationship and oncoming wedding, though she hadn’t gone into details of the causes of her doubts. Had the friend known things would turn out the way they did, she would have attempted to do more; have sort help on her behalf from the right places.

Educating yourself about laws and procedures as well as agencies that help people in abusive relationships cannot be overstated. Sometimes, calling the police may not always work as such cases may be treated as a family affair which can be settled amicably until the issue escalates enough to demand their attention. Agencies such as Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative(WRAPA), Society to Heighten Awareness of Women and Children Abuse (SOTHAWACA), Project Alert on Violence Against Women, just to mention a few, have helplines that are available all around the clock. Some platforms like Amnesty International Nigeria (@ainigeria), Women at Risk International Foundation (@warif.ng), also have seasoned professionals willing to help, while Women of Rubies (@womenofrubies), a platform that tells the tales of an everyday woman, can help refer to counsellors and therapists.

Another way to help is by encouraging your friend to discreetly take pictorial, audio, or video evidence of times the abuse occurs. For instance, your friend could take an audio recording of her partner threatening or hurling verbal abuses. Pictures of injuries sustained after a physical abuse or even a video of your partner in rage will be very useful in making a solid case. This of course has to been done discreetly, because if discovered, this could lead to more abuse. A journal with dates, time, and issues leading to the abuse should also be kept. This will serve as documented evidence, should she eventually decide to take the legal route.

It is not sufficient that your friend keeps these pieces of evidence as anything can happen. The abusive partner can find them and destroy them, having your documentation as a backup will make a strong case, Times you felt your friend sounded off and she dismissed it as “coming down with something”, other times you notice a bruise or swelling and she just says she tripped fell or mistakenly ran into the wall. Recordings of times she trusted you with what was going on. Each insult, each punch, each blow, note them down and keep it in a safe place. Better still, send to the Cloud, that way, even if you lose your phone, you still have your evidence. This may seem invasive, but as long as you’re doing this with the right intentions, you are on the right track. It is also encouraged that these evidences are backed up to an online storage service like Google drive or Microsoft one drive.

Many women in abusive relationships, especially those with kids, find it difficult to leave due to the inability to provide for their kids and themselves. This is a great advantage to their abusers as they will dwell on this fact. Also bear in mind that most abusers would isolate their victims, stop them from associating with family and friends so that they have no one to share their ordeal with or even seek financial assistance to escape the abuse. Financial preparedness is a huge factor in leaving an abusive relationship. As a good friend, having a piggy bank designated for supporting your friend’s escape will be a step closer to helping her gain her freedom. Independently saving a thousand a month till your friend takes the bold decision of leaving the relationship. Just like every other escape, a bag containing a new phone, sim card, some clothing items, important documents, some cash, and some other things will be a valuable gift when the time comes.

Remember, just like opening up about an abusive partner is not an easy task, so is the decision of leaving an abusive partner. This is because they had earlier shared some good times and a lot of emotional manipulation may have been put to play. It takes a lot of strength to leave a toxic partner because, at some point, you begin to doubt yourself. They may wonder if things would change if you exercise a little patience, or perhaps give them some more time to change. The victim’s trust in you to open up is enough, unless it seems really dangerous, don’t push them too hard. The essence of   evidence is not to make the decision for them yourself, but to support them legally when they are ready, to help them get justice.

Lastly, don’t forget to fervently pray for them. That they are strengthened enough to walk away. That they see their value through God’s eyes and act on it. Then pray for their healing. May their healing be swift.

Written By: Olabisi Animashuan


Works cited:

Jones, Feminista. “How to Support a Friend in an Abusive Relationship” Medium. Zora. 28th May, 2020. https://zora.medium.com/how-to-support-a-friend-in-an-abusive-relationship-5d58b5bcb392

BBC: “Coronavirus domestic violence: Surviving lockdown wen you dey trapped with your abusive partner”.  BBC. 10th July, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/pidgin/tori-52675405





Titilola Vivour Adeniyi is a Legal Practitioner with over nine years of experience in Public Service. Having served in various capacities in the Lagos State government, in 2014, she was appointed the Pioneer Coordinator of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT). Since her appointment, she has facilitated the ratification of two landmark executive orders by the Governor of Lagos State- the Sex Offenders Register and Mandated Reporting, and the Lagos State Safeguarding and Child Protection Programme.

Additionally, she was actively involved in drafting of Policy Documents and Manuals on Investigating and Prosecuting domestic violence, mandated reporters manual, safeguarding the rights of a child, and other awareness process documents on handling of child abuse, domestic violence and rape which have been useful in creating awareness and sensitizing members of the public.

Driven by being able to make a positive impact on lives, she speaks on the Domestic Awareness Month (DAM), the body’s upcoming domestic violence awareness symposium this month and how to seek help.

Why was the month of September declared Domestic Awareness Month (DAM)?
Asides from the need to designate a special month in which we drive special awareness on this topic, DSVRT was actually established in September, on the 9th of September, 2014 to be precise. We are grateful to the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode for approving the designation of the month of September as the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Month.

Would you say there has been any impact on domestic violence so far from the yearly symbolic walk held by the state governor?
Oh most definitely. There is greater awareness, people are more aware of support services available; they are better informed of steps to take to report cases. Some people say, ‘you people are always walking when would you stop?’ We would not stop walking, because we know there are millions of residents who still don’t know about the different services available and do not know that we are ready to stand by them. Similarly, we have continued to see an increase in reporting made by good Samaritans, mandated reporters, whistleblowers, who would before now, turned a blind eye, but are now rising up to their roles as effective bystanders and speaking on behalf of the most vulnerable in our society. We must never underestimate the impact of political will, when an entire state’s leadership embarks on a mission and passes a strong message, this message subconsciously begins to reside in the minds of the populace that we mean business on this issue of fighting Domestic Violence.

According to statistics released by your office and the Commissioner of Justice, DV is on the increase, with numbers already doubling that of last year. Why this surge?
The truth is that we are now witnessing a rapid increase in rate of reporting, and not necessarily that acts of domestic violence and sexual assault have increased that significantly. We need to appreciate that the concerted effort on advocacy, not just by DSVRT by the way, but also by NGOs, some celebrities who have consciously used their platform to speak up, setting up of a special court for quick dispensation of Justice, and then all of these backed up by the strong political will power displayed by the state Governor. All of these efforts have contributed to a situation where people are now more encouraged to come out of their shell and speak up. From our end, several initiatives we embarked on are now bearing fruits by virtue of increased reporting. We have introduced different channels for reporting. By leveraging on technology, we launched the *6820# USSD application, with support from MTN and Airtel. We have also improved our social media presence. A good demographic of our population is the youth; it therefore became imperative that our message is easily accessible for our different target audience. This has also informed our increased presence on social media and so asides from our hotline, and people that come into the office, we have increased access to justice channels hence the increase in reported cases.

Does these figures discourage you in any way?
I am far from discouraged; in fact I am optimistic that we are slowly breaking the silence that has for so long allowed these vices to perpetuate. Sexual and Gender Based Violence remains one of the most underreported crimes all around the world. In the past three years, we have seen a steady increase in reporting of cases. This year, we have started to see an average of 150 new cases monthly. We know that we are just scratching the surface. But with visible political will, cooperation of the society, and improved professionalism in the handling of these cases, we know we are well on our way to ridding this menace out of our society.

What new approach are you employing in actively fighting DSGBV?
We are tackling the issues from a holistic and more sustainable perspective. Partnering with marriage registries, health centres where we are able to reduce the chances of cases occurring by sensitising new couples, as opposed to counselling and responding to cases when the deed has been done. As regards children, we are infusing child-friendly awareness content into the school curriculum so that they are aware of their rights and those rights are properly safeguarded.

What are signs to look out for in reporting DSGBV cases?
Working out whether one is in an abusive relationship or whether abuse has occurred is not always easy. For Domestic Violence, some signs to be wary of include Possessiveness, checking on you all the time to see where you are, what you are doing, who you are with, tries to control where you go, and who you can see and gets angry if you don’t do what they say. Jealousy- when a potentially abusive partner accuses you of being unfaithful or flirting without any basis or evidence. Segregation- Isolates you from family and friends, often by rude behaviour. Issues threats, Put downs, either publicly or privately by attacking one’s intelligence, looks, mental health or capabilities. Constantly comparing you unfavourably with others. Blames you for all the problems in the relationship, and for the times they are out of control or violent. Whilst for Child Abuse some red flags to look out for in cases of physical abuse, questionable, recurring bruises or fractures, bite marks. For Neglect, persistent hunger, stealing or hoarding of food, abrupt, dramatic weight change, persistent poor hygiene, excessive school absences. For Sexual Abuse, age-inappropriate knowledge of sexual behaviour, unexplained fear of a person or place, unexplained itching, pain, bruising or bleeding in the genital area, venereal disease, frequent urinary or yeast infections.

Did you always know you would end up a crusader for women and children’s rights?
I have always believed public service, and public administration is one of the greatest vehicles for addressing inequality, justice and sustainable development. This is why I never take for granted the opportunity given to me to serve and make an impact.

What would you say have been your greatest achievements so far heading the DSVRT?
DSVRT was set up four years ago as the first of its kind in Nigeria. The fact that the Federal Capital Territory has replicated the DSVRT model and eight more states are toeing the same path, is proof that we are on the right track to providing a sustainable solution to a problem that has spanned decades or I dare say centuries in our country. This for me is our greatest achievement so far, seeing the success attained being replicated across the country and one day hopefully the multiplier effect spans across every part of Nigeria.

Have there been any experience(s) that made you want to give up?
When we first started, there was a lot of resistance by the society, and sometimes even from survivors themselves who are being pressured to drop a case(s). The fact that we were up against a cultural and mindset obstacle was initially frustrating and draining, however, it helped us redefine our approach and that has even taken us to dimensions we had not conceived when we initially started.



Credit: Guardian Woman

The 2018 report of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team of the Ministry of Justice, Lagos State, has shown a 134 per cent increase in cases of rape, defilement and domestic violence handled by the agency compared to the previous year.

The report indicated that DSVRT handled 2,356 cases in 2018 – 1,312 higher than 1,044 cases treated in the preceding year. In the year under review, the agency recorded 1,750 domestic violence cases, 279 child abuse cases, 78 defilement cases, 44 cases of rape, 51 attempted rape cases and 154 other cases.

While the number of domestic violence cases increased by 817, the incidence of child abuse and defilement rose by 251 and 37 respectively. Rape cases was 24 higher compared to the 2017 report.

According to the 2018 statistics, the office on the average received 166 new cases monthly and got 840 genuine reports via the 6820 emergency short  code.

The report stated, “The team recorded a major increase in the number of cases handled in 2018. A total number of 2,356 cases, including 1,750 domestic violence cases, 279 child abuse cases, 78 defilement cases, 44 rape cases, 51 attempted rape cases and 154 other cases were handled. It was discovered that the number of cases increased by 134 per cent in the year 2018.

“DSVRT has responded to 439 reports of domestic violence, 215 reports of sexual abuse and 186 reports of child abuse – all reported via the 6820 platform. What is most exciting about the platform is that it breaks the initial barrier of people not wanting to make formal reports at an office or police station. We are now able to interact directly with survivors and concerned witnesses and take vital steps in dealing with a case.”

The report  added  that DSVRT focused on children who experienced violence  at  the hands of close relations, noting that a total number of 2,646 children were exposed to domestic violence within the home. Some of the children were said to have been taken through counselling programmes to ensure  that their experiences  did not have permanent and negative impacts on them.

The report said, “From January 2018 to December 2018, the attention of DSVRT was drawn to incidents of child abuse in 19 schools. All the erring schools are under investigation by the Office of Education Quality Assurance in the Ministry of Education. All the defilement cases have been taken to court.”

Credit: LIB

Kemi Oyesola is the  Founder/CEO of How2Think Global Consulting Empire , a platform she founded in 2006 in sad circumstances after she separated from her husband of sixteen and half years. A situation that made her depressed and suicidal, but the mother to 2 adult children and  grandmother found hope in her hopeless situation and she uses her story to teach people how to think outside the box and control  their thoughts when faced with life threatening situation such as hers.  Coach Kemi  as she is fondly called is a certified Gold coach and also an NLP Practitioner. In her words: “I had to think my way into the  kind of life I desired. I had to accept first that I was responsible for where I found myself. Kemi shares her story exclusively with Esther Ijewere in this interview.


I think every one’s childhood prepares them for what they do later in life even if at that time they do not know it. We all at one time or another look back at our childhood and realise that we were like that so that we can do what we do now. My childhood was very happy. What I remember very clearly is that I was a talkative and got reported to my parents by my teachers throughout my primary school years. I also remember that I always wanted to take care of people, whether it was in my home or outside my home. I did not really understand why but I enjoyed caring for people. I was always helping or serving. I did wonder why I loved doing so much work – because, yes it was work. With hindsight which is 20/20, I realise now that I was born to take care of others which is what I am doing now. I talk for a living, whether as a speaker or when I coach or consult.


Inspiration behind How2Think

The inspiration was the breakup of my marriage. I wondered, especially as I worked at it how come my marriage broke up. I knew that I have only this time to live on earth as is; there is no Part B of this life lived just this way. I had to do the best of it as I have it now. I had to be separated from my now ex-husband to live the life I felt I was called to; to do the things that kept burning in my heart to do. I could not run away from it and although it hurt to break up my marriage, I am glad I did. I would not change it for anything. And so, it was at the point of break up I asked God why when the answer I heard was, “It’s because of the way you think. ’And that was how I started the search for what exactly it is to ‘THINK.’ I realised with my findings that I would have to teach others the ‘how’ of thinking because it was this that determined how we live and the results that we get. It is a deep thing, thinking and so many of us do not pay it attention. We need to think about what we think about. And that is how I was inspired to start How2Think Global Consulting Empire.

 Being Suicidal

I was suicidal after my marriage broke up and almost lost it… It was unexpected. It was unwanted. There was much pain and there was a long journey to the demise of my marriage and the consequences of such. I realised after the break up that it was my thinking that had got me where I was. Being a Christian and married to my Pastor, I knew that we had been serving faithfully and so asked God why my marriage broke. He answered, “Because of the way you think.” So, I picked up the Bible to find the word, ‘think.’ After all, I had never heard that word in church. But you know, that isn’t true. What I had not done was notice the word. After studying the Bible for a couple of days, I found the sentence, ‘… for as he thinks in his heart, so is he’ – and have been studying this ever since; and teaching it too. Many are not aware of how they think. It is the crux of everything, absolutely everything in life. Before you do anything, you think. The resultant effect of your thoughts is your character. Like any seed, thought is a seed and will grow. Therefore, you determine the harvest. But the learning was not in the study as it was in the living. After my ex-husband left, I went into depression and was exceedingly stressed but what was different was that I didn’t know.

I lost my hair and for over 10 years it did not grow until my son was almost 20 years old. I became exceedingly poor, so poor there were times I did not have heating in my house; I could not give my children pocket money to go to school; I was so poor I had to be evicted from my house. I was suicidal and wanted to jump from a very high place in order to kill myself. I brandished a knife on my ex husband – I wanted to kill him. I knew then that I was going kuku in the head and it wasn’t good. There are other things that happened to me that brought me to a low place.. That is another story. The highlight of this is that I had to come out of the depression and quit being stressed but I didn’t know how. I sought help from others, but they only told me what I already knew. I was sinking and sought to stay my head above water but I couldn’t find where or how.

A few times, I thought I needed medical help but I knew they would only tell me what everyone else had been telling me. I needed something to help me get out of the morass I was in. It wasn’t until after I knew I was the only one who could help me that it began to sink. I had the problem I was on a mission to teach. I had to overcome this problem otherwise I would be a hypocrite. I had to think my way into the kind of life I desired. I had to accept first that I was responsible for where I found myself. I had to accept that God had done all He was going to do and the buck rested with me. Nothing has been harder than that acceptance. And nothing has been freer than that acceptance. It took me a few years but I did it – and continue to do it. It is a life’s work. I know that I am on a mission, it is not just a vision – to help individuals learn how to think. I believe that your mind is set with your thoughts thus, I focus on Thought Set and not mind set. In fact, I do not teach mindset. I had no choice but to bounce back. At the age these things happened to me, I was in my early 40’s, I had read about so many tragic situations where the individuals ended up dead or their lives meant nothing because they had lost their mind. I just could not end up like that. It was tempting but it was also scary. It also felt like I would be a total failure if I did not overcome the heartache and the sense of failure that my marriage didn’t work. I knew there was a better way and it lay in how I was THINKING. I knew that no one person and no divine entity could make this happen for me. I did call on God for help, but the buck stopped with me. I remember at the point that I wanted to jump, hearing the voice of God telling me how strong the person was – who was the reason I wanted to jump to kill myself. That annoyed me. And it was enough for me to hear it, think about it and change my mind. But after that moment, I knew it had to be a daily decision to live and not give up. You see, giving up is the first step to becoming suicidal. Once one gives up, there is no reason to carry on in life; for what do you want to carry on doing? I decided to win in life; I could not be among those who lost. What reason would I give? It just didn’t make sense.

Instilling Values in my Kids

One value I have instilled in my kids and how I balance work and home life That one value I have instilled in my children is that they must win; they can do anything and they are not allowed to be stupid or poor. Winning is non-negotiable.

Balancing Home and Work

I balance home and work life by working from home and working for myself thus I have better control. Also, my children are adults now so it makes things so much easier although when they were younger, I was a housewife and worked from home when I started my business. If I had to go out as part of my business, I took my children with me. Even now, if my grandchildren must be with me and I need to speak at an event, I take them with me. It is important to me that they see what I do and learn too.


What and who inspires me

What inspires me is the work ahead that I still need to do. The fact that I can, except I decide not to. The fact that the work ahead is given to me because I can do it not because I cannot do it and so must work hard at it. Who inspires me are many – individuals who have faced hardship and overcome. Individuals like Les Brown, Nick Vujicic, Eric Thomas and others like them. They have made it through tough times and did not give up. They could give reasons today for their failures or inadequacies but they forged ahead. Now, for me, that is inspiring.


Greatest reward

The greatest reward is when I see the change in those I have helped. That change, the transformation is what I aim for. I must see it otherwise I have not done my job and there is no reward.




Not being able to reach those I would like to work with because they do not see the necessity for knowing how to think. But more than that, when I can speak to clients, I have the awesome job of helping them understand the priority of knowing how to think. This is a huge challenge, but we get there in the end.


My perception of women in my industry

Women are amazing within the coaching industry and need to know this. The ability of a woman to want to help others and to start a business despite all the moving parts, is simply wonderful.


On giving up

Oh yes, of course I have had times when I want to give up. And I did give up on my business a few times but would come back. I have stopped that now because I find that success does not come to those who give up. Success comes to those who persevere and keep doing what they must do.


I am a Woman of Rubies

First, I love the ruby. I love red, it suits me and makes me glow. Red is a personification of who I am and what I stand for and one of my brand colours. A Woman of Rubies is a strong woman, I am strong; an able woman, I am able; a woman who believes she is unstoppable, am unstoppable; an indomitable woman, I am indomitable and a Woman of Rubies is a winner, I am a winner, period.


Final word for women who are thinking of going into the coaching and motivational speaking industry

Yes, one word of caution. Mind your own business with all you have got. No comparisons. Your business is yours and it is your responsibility to make it the very best that you can make it. Excellence is a non-negotiable. But before you get into business, be it coaching or any other kind of business, count the cost and hire yourself a mentor or coach. You will need their guidance on your journey. Do not go the journey on your own. It is harder and longer that way.