An email from a daughter whose mother endured everything because she did not want to ruin her daughters’ lives.

Dear IHM,

I have a story to tell. And I am reaching out because I am conflicted with thoughts so raw and passionate that I feel guilty, powerless and plain weak. Please don’t ever think I am belittling your pain, but I will gladly take all your pain if I had a chance to live in a home like yours and experience all the love that you have to give even if that means its only for a few years. I yearn and crave for love, having lived the life that I have lived, I don’t seem to know how to give or receive love gracefully.

My parents married in 1986. They are closely related and my father is 11 years and a generation older than my mother. He was an engineer educated and trained abroad. My mother herself was a post graduate and it seemed a good match.

My grandma tells me to this day how she saw the red flags and warned against the union but my grandpa and society just went ahead with it anyway. My grandma being related to my dad’s mom, has tended to frequent bursts of insanity for no reason. Fed her and washed her after she would lock herself up in a room and not open the door to anyone. Little did anyone know that the streak of madness could be passed on genetically and in a boy child could manifest in a way much more destructive. So for years after my mother married and moved abroad with my father, they slowly started seeing the signs of madness. And after I was born and then some years later my sister came along, and when we moved back to India it only turned worse.

My sister and I have not had a normal childhood to say the least. But somehow we managed to make it through to the other end, not unscathed however, and it’s the miracle of my mother’s care and sacrifice. My sister, I am glad didn’t have to bear the brunt of my dad’s madness, because to this day she is the little one. Not that he cares for her or really connect with her because she is the little one, but at least he leaves her alone. But for my mother and me, it was living in hell. The verbal abuse, the physical abuse, the humiliation, the animalistic rage – it completely changed me. But I have to say that my spirit remained unbroken. And that again was thanks to the strength I saw in my mother. She would endure everything and so did my grandparents and my maternal uncle, because they didn’t want to ruin the lives of the two girls. To this day she endures it for that reason – her endpoint being when my sister marries (I am now married) and our lives are ‘settled’. My only fear is that she may not make it through to the end.

For years he would live outside of India with our mom raising us in India and that was the saving grace and the opportunity for us to see normal and be normal. But even when not in India, he would still torture her through phone calls. He made her give up her job and thus made her more dependant. We were in a strange predicament. We were in a social circle of relatives and friends who were educated and rising in class. So there is this certain expectation. We were meeting those expectations financially because my father, not being able to survive life in India due to his madness, would happily retreat into the low key life on some far away country where he could work a few hours and be a hermit inside his house and earn good money. He could not be friends with people in his own age and “social status” or background. He was an engineer and didn’t have a single colleague as a friend. His friends were the single, poorly educated drivers and clerks. Now many of you may think I am judgmental, but there is fundamentally something wrong with this situation. It showed an inferiority complex. Someone who never held himself in good esteem, someone who had to constantly hide from society and people of the same stature, even when there was no reason to. So even when in India, we never went to gatherings when invited because he was too ashamed to go. And even when we went he would start a fight with someone and use words so crass, we didn’t want to go to any gathering as a family after that. People slowly started shunning us.

Childhood was an extended period of self doubt and humiliation that I never want to go back to. The only good parts were the summer and holiday trips to my grandparents place. In the apartment complex we moved into when I was about 13, we avoided going out to play because we were constantly humiliated. Neighbors and friends started giving strange looks and would murmur among themselves because not a fortnight went by without my dad yelling at my mom in the middle of the night and her screaming to his beating and kicking her. My sister and I would cry in silence, while we cried for our mother, we were constantly worried about people hearing and the humiliation. To a child in an unstable household, living among rich and well balanced families, public perception means the world. I would have give anything to be able to stand before society with my head held high and not cringe about the place where I came from. I still cringe when I talk to my mom about the things my father still does.

My earliest memory of having to watch what I say was when I was 6. Now thinking back, it wasn’t because I was saying something wrong, in fact to any other parent it would have been endearing, but it was because any little thing would set him off. He would beat and kick and spit on my mom in front of her parents and they would just cry on, powerless. We would come back from school and within seconds of looking at the state of the house and the expression/puffiness on my mom’s face, had to calculate what to and what not to say. We would be yelled at and beaten if we left the house without saying goodbye or went to bed without saying goodnight. To this day goodbyes and goodnights have a sinister shadow of evil in my ears.  And I can talk a lot about the years of oppression and abuse, the sheer madness of an evil kind.

But the point of this essay is how it’s taken a toll on my sister and me when we entered youth and now adulthood. It’s scarred our lives and our abilities to live a normal life and have normal relationships. Much more for me than my sister, because I usually received the brunt of the madness, and I will take that ten times over if my sister had the opportunity to start over life without a trace of all that happened to us.

I never made friends in school or college. Yes I had friends, but little did I know that sharing my life with them would make them so uncomfortable that they would instantly move away. I learnt it the hard way and stopped telling people much. I didn’t completely stop until I finished my undergraduate after having learnt that my friends who I had confided to had thought I was weird. So I stopped telling anyone but 3 other souls to this day. I had zero confidence in myself. I was not a carefree young thing – I was constantly burdened by what I would have to go back home to. Financially we were doing well but there was nothing to show for it when it came to happiness of the soul. To this day I have a wall around me and I don’t let anyone close for the fear of being hurt or humiliated.

My sister has been a little different, partly because she was free from anxiety as she wasn’t attacked as much and also because she is probably built stronger like my mother. She has many more friends and a strong attitude towards life. We haven’t been much of friends until the last year or two. We grew close after some tough times.

When I was in college back in India, I was so vulnerable. Any guy could sway me and one did – he didn’t have to do much because I was so vulnerable. He said the right things, took advantage and left abruptly. The humiliation was intense. No one knew, at least that what I think. It was painful but I learnt to move on. Focused on the next thing in life and the pain was gone in a year. I am not sure if it made me stronger or weaker or if it was wrong or right. It’s all just a blur. After all the years of oppression, I guess at the time it looked like a way out. And I was vulnerable and weak.

So that is probably why I was so mad and yet forgiving when the same thing happened to my sister. She met a guy when in high school, was taken advantage of and promptly dumped. Only this time, the whole world knew and news reached my mother and me. My father was kept out of the loop because he would turn on one of his mad rages which wouldn’t really help the situation. My mother was broken because in my society a girl’s sanctity lies in being a virgin and her good behavior and its everything when it comes time to get her married. I told my mom that I felt it was inevitable and it is part of a process through which she grows spiritually and mentally. I don’t attach much value to virginity any more, although my part of the country still does and it would be sacrilegious of me to say so. The way I see it, this incident in both my sister and my life was like a lesson on learning to respect oneself and that you (if the universe is merciful) are the key to your freedom and how a guy on hormones isn’t. And we weren’t going to learn it any other way than this.

After that my sister enrolled in college and she seems to be on track for her future. Although she doesn’t work as hard as she could and may not be terribly competitive to succeed, I feel that’s alright.

Life changed for the better when I came to the US for my post graduation. I loosened up, gained confidence, made some good friends who are friends to this day. I still have only maybe 2 or 3 friends but I think given my past, that’s the best I can manage and have come to terms with that and am happy. I had an arranged marriage and the first 2 years were a nightmare, half because my baggage and inability to love and half because of my husband’s baggage. But in the last year, things have changed for the better and I think we might make it and I feel like I can have a happy life – a normal one. I dream of the day when I will have a child and will watch my husband care for and love my child. And I promise myself that I will not leave my child with my father for a second, I want no part of his evil to touch my child.

My sister, mom and I call each other to talk through tough times. My mom stays silent, not disagreeing however, when we talk about how we just might be a million times happier without men in our lives. Just the three of us, we could be so much happier. Although she wants to see us married and happily settled with our own families, I think it resonates with her that MAN hasn’t done much good to our lives, we were and are probably better off by ourselves, rich or poor. So I am married and my sister is in her last year of college, looking forward to the next step – marriage, post graduation, a job or all three. And still the trauma never really is removed from our lives. There of course isn’t any direct physical or mental abuse. My father has toned down since my wedding, he is very aware that if he were himself, that would be the end of my marriage. My sister in boarding school minimizes her visits home and has a group of friends who she cares for. A group who help her with her baggage and teach her to open up and be more forthcoming in relationships, less guarded. And I am grateful that she is getting that earlier on. My dream is for her to marry a good person and lead a happy life. After all that’s happened is that too much to ask?

We may have moved out of home and learned to breathe and really look at what we missed out in life. Some we are able to learn and imbibe now, some are just lost and we are too old to learn or inculcate. But we are still gripped in constant fear for our mother and shame hearing his latest antics. It’s hard to hear about the torture she still has to endure.

My father still beats my mother and forces her to do all the work, at home and to deal with the business outside. My mother sometimes says it’s easier for her to sort things out rather than have him yell obscenely at the workers who then just create insurmountable problems for us  (her). She takes care of administration, payouts, personnel management, bills, pretty much everything. For him it’s constant fighting with the, workers, the staff, and then my mother. Everyone around knows he is mad and have witnessed episodes – they say it’s more frequent now. I know for a fact in their hearts everyone knows the sacrifices my mother had made and probably wonder why she still sticks around. But it still doesn’t lighten the burden of humiliation and embarrassment. My sister and I are mortified by his behavior and just want to crawl under a bed. In gatherings and events where families stand proud together, we just want to be left alone, far from the humiliation.

Lately, in the last few months, the lunacy has gone up a notch – more perverse, more disgusting, more inhuman. He is 61 and my mother is 50. He has grown daughters and now stemming from all his inferiorty complex and inability to be successful or happy, he has turned on my mom in a sick way – why are you talking to that young man? What did he say that you find so funny? Why are you wearing your blouse so low? Ask the milkman to just leave the milk and go, he shouldn’t be talking to you. Who are you wearing these jewels to impress? The never ending perversity of the sick twisted mind. You would never believe this is a guy who excelled in his field and was well educated, trained and had exposure to the world. It makes my blood boil. And my mother now tells me he has gotten into the habit of texting this girl of 20. He is 61 and the girl is 20 – the messages are innocent just matter of fact, but still inappropriate. My father has never a day in his life taken an ounce of effort to connect with his daughters, get to know them, be a father. And here he is in his 60th year, enjoying texting and messaging a 20 year old girl. I half die every day fearing the dangerous implications of his wild insane behavior. In the type of society where we come from that would have a huge impact on my sister’s marriage options, if not destroy it.

I want to be rid of this person in my life. I dream and fantasize that he would die in an accident or he will hang himself some day. He really should because if a person tortured everyone around them and In the end is unhappy in his own life, there is no point in living and would really be doing everyone a favor. I have been struggling with thought about the meaning and purpose of my life. I see people who have had stable families, enough money to never worry and have been free-willed and spirited – and will probably have things working out for them for eternity. And I fight against the unfairness of life. Childhood was a nightmare and we barely made it through to the other end, semi-normal, and life is still being uncooperative. I look up to the sky and want to scream “What more do you want of me?” I am happy to lead a semi successful and happy life with my mom, my sister and my husband’s family if only my father would leave us alone.

We don’t ever tell anyone our story. It’s a struggle to keep up straight faces in society and not feel inferior, because we truly are like any other person. But we have learnt to maintain low profiles our whole life, just to avoid a scene or embarrassment. Sadly, its become my approach to life to this day with work and friends and family – and my sister approaches it the same way. All that extra caution, the despondent feeling when you see families together achieving great things. It’s the desperation to show the world we are normal and failing miserably. Years, of kind words, gentle suggestions, firm admonitions, indirect advice – nothing worked on the mad man that he is.

In the end I know that if we came out and said our story, people would say, Leave! Why do you still stay and endure and suffer.  I don’t have an answer. I can, my sister can, but my mother for some reason wont. I think she secretly waits for my sister to be married and leave and then she might, but not yet. I don’t know if divorce courts are good about getting a woman her alimony. I don’t know if restraining orders exist in India that could keep you alive with a scorned raging man a woman has just divorced stalking you.

I fear the murmurs of society talking about my family, how well they were doing and how badly they have fallen, while they never knew that all along it was hell. And sometimes I feel he deserves to die and leave us all the money because it essentially is the wealth (however small) that my mother worked so hard to build and hold together. Why should she be the one going to court and fighting for it? If there was any sense of fairness in this universe, he would just die and vanish from our lives. But the universe works in mysterious ways that I don’t understand. Why some people have it easy without having to choose, while others suffer no matter how hard they try to make it better is beyond me.

Thanks for listening,

Cluless.

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172 thoughts on “An email from a daughter whose mother endured everything because she did not want to ruin her daughters’ lives.

  1. I can’t stop crying, Clueless, because you’ve brought back some memories. I hope I would ever have the courage to unlock my childhood in my head and talk about it. I just cannot for fear of going completely crazy. Hugs for you. And thank you IHM for giving people a platform to come out.

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  2. Honestly, one is at a loss for words after hearing something like this. I do know someone who tortured his wife in this manner – and luckily, he died while the kids were fairly young, though they had seen their share of trauma. No money or societal approval can compensate for this sort of childhood. I do wish relatives had supported the mother in this case to leave – perhaps she needed active support from other adults to consider that decision. My heart goes out to you, cluless. I wish you could give your mother the courage to leave and at least spend her old age in some peace. I doubt restraining orders exist in India, but yes, you should be able to at least file an FIR, if that will scare your father.

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    • I don’t know if an FIR will ever work. The police will come one day and then be gone. It will make the man go crazy, not that he isn’t already. Unless and until one wishes to pursue the case and be willing to go to the crime against women’s cell an FIR is only going to make matters worse.
      Yes one should in an ideal world lodge an FIR and also walk away. But the truth is that this isn’t an ideal world. Even though the man is crazy and abusive they will be the ones who will be traumatized by the society. And from the letter i shows that the mother and the children do care about what the society says.
      There are some who are unperturbed, disturbed yes but largely unperturbed, by what the society says. Clearly, this family isn’t so.

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  3. I would have a little respect for this “mother” of hers if she had at least tried to break the marriage and raised her kids on her own. She is educated, isn’t she? I have no pity for these women. Nobody is going to come to “save” them. If you are weak, the world will stamp on you and move on. All us human beings just play the game of “survival of the fittest”.

    Not to mention, she has also imbibed all the weakness, insecurity and vulnerability in her daughters. This is just pathetic. And there are millions of women like this. Either they should rebel, or grin and bear with it. What exactly is the point of writing such a letter? Obviously, this will get responses advising them move out, file a case etc etc. This should have happened in 1986 itself. Or whenever this woman figured out that this man is dangerous.

    The change and the consciousness should come from within. If it doesn’t, there is no use. All the poetic rebellious talk will fall into their dear ears.

    I say this now, I’m disgusted by these women.

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    • Good points. The father had a mental disorder which no one seems to have helped him with through his entire life. He should have been forcibly taken to a treatment clinic.

      As for the mother, she had a choice and yet decided to expose her children to this horrible life. In my book, she’s the guilty one here.

      She was a victim, but she never tried to get out of the situation. Her daughter’s idea that her mom suffered through everything for their sake is itself something that was ingrained into her mind from childhood. Reality is that this woman by virtue of her weak-mindedness brought up two girls in the most inappropriate circumstances possible.

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      • Exactly. The title says she put up with abuse so that her daughters’ life doesn’t get ruined. It’s ironic, because she has clearly ruined their lives!

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    • @ Bharathee – Its not that easy. Think of the Indian society 30 years ago – it did not give divorced women any respect and the right to leave peacefully. I am not saying it is right, its sad that the mother had to bear all this. But that didn’t happen because she was weak. It happened because she was strong enough to sacrifice herself for the future of her daughters. Yes, nobody can be sure about how their future will shape up. But if you think from the mother’s point of view, she gave up all she had. Because 30 years ago, a woman had to think before doing anything of the kind. Because she always thought – oh who will marry my daughters if I get divorced? Its a different thing that those daughters end up not caring about marriage, because they have already seen so much.

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    • This is a terrible, terrible comment.

      Before you stand sanctimoniously in judgement of the mother of these girls, did you put yourself in her shoes? Did you think that perhaps she was not brought up in a culture as liberal as yours (education has little to do with it!) – that she is merely living up to the ideals that have been forcefully programmed into her all her life?

      Did you stop and think that the mother was right? If this woman had left her husband twenty-thirty years ago in their ultra-conservative part of the country, she WOULD have been a social paraiah, she WOULD have had a huge struggle living a life of exile on the fringes of a society where community is hugely important, and that WOULD have ruined her daughters’ lives in a different way (poverty, less education, drastically lower chances of becoming successful and independent women who can now at least attempt to overcome their traumatic childhood)?

      You are speaking from a position of great privilege which you seem to be blind to. You are lucky enough to have been exposed to liberal values in your life, so you can make them your own. You are probably from a large urban area, where community acceptance matters much less to a single mother’s life than it does in smaller towns and villages. Most important, you have probably never had to face the horrible choice that this mother did: “Which is the lesser evil to expose my children to? The shadow of a violent madman or the complete darkness of being outcastes forever?”

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      • Also because by offering any justifications, I would make this entire issue about me. This is not about me. This is about them.

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      • And how can I put myself in their shoes? No one can actually put themselves in their shoes, there is no point in doing that. You cannot really empathize unless you have *actually* been in the exact same situation. I didn’t know I could express opinions on this only if I have undergone such a situation.

        And as for being social pariahs, I know what it feels like to be an outcast. It can be horrible, but definitely much better than the current situation. Do you really, honestly think it would be worse than this? And I hope you have read the letter. The mother is *educated* with a PG in the 80s. She can get a job. Why do you think they’ll be in poverty and all?

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        • I love the way you assume that if she walked out on the father, the courts would automatically award her custody. More likely the husband would have shamed her in court, cast aspersions on her character, and won custody of the two daughters, and then physically abused them for years accusing them of siding with their mother against him.

          Easy to say – “why didn’t she walk out?” isn’t it? Ha!

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      • Are you sure about what you are saying? If I were in her situation, even 30 years ago, I would walk out and find a job. Being outcasts “forever” would be far better than fearing for your life every minute. My aunt was married to a guy who was on medication for mental illness (of course nobody from our side knew). She divorced him immediately when she came to know about this. She also found a job which helped her survive. She has a 23 yr old daughter now, so she also got married approximately at the same time as the mother in the post. Her daughter is a fine young woman now. I hate to think of what she would have been if my aunt had decided to stay married!

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        • That your uncle was on medication for mental illness could have worked in her favour for the divorce..in my case my father had mental issues, and all the doctors that my mother consulted on the advice of her brother who himself was a doctor, diagnosed acute mental illness. And when my mother stated this in the family court(the divorce was sought by my dad and my mom resisted), it made my dad mad and he went on a rampage of our bedroom. And, she had some prescriptions from the psychiatrist meant for my father to be administered to him without his knowledge to make him realize he needs psychiatric counseling and agree for treatment, but given in her name because the doctor had advised that such schizophrenic patients will not agree to treatment as they will deny their mental illness and will refuse to take medication initially. Should I say that everything turned against my mom? Agree, she should have produced the proof in court but where is it? Such patients have a reputation of making everyone believe that they are the victims and turn the table around. and all this happened in 1990 when I finished school. When I was to be married, my maternal uncle spoke to my would-be in-laws about the situation, they were understanding, but wished (or insisted?) that my father comes for my wedding. Anyway my father who was until then separated from us, did agree to come and contribute to my wedding, when my uncle went and spoke to him..We are now a normal family, but my mother’ s life in her prime was wasted and ther has been/can be no recompense.

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      • I share the same story, only I had a brother.. My mom was a teacher and when she sought admission for my little brother in a school, the person incharge of admissions insisted that both parents come for an interview or something of that sort. At that point of time she stayed separately with my brother(me with my father), and stated her inability to bring my father to the view and the true reason for it. The reaction of that male staff was as expected….he chided my mom for being separated from my abusive father(who, once attempted to burn us alive by manipulating the gas cylinder at home). Now I am married,so is my brother, our father is still in the family, but not abusive anymore since my marriage(my brother stays with my parents with his wife). Still, the childhood wounds are yet to heal…and we have paid a heavy price for it..

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  4. I’m not angry at patriarchy but at these women who have made this system so strong.
    Me – Bharathee this is called Victim Blaming.
    Think about why and how have ‘these women’ made this system so strong? Did they benefit from making it stronger? What were their various options (instead of making it stronger)? What stopped them from walking out?
    And finally the culprit is the abuser not the abused, (same as rapist not the rape victim)

    And I do know women like this. I know this girl, who was just a graduate and got married to an NRI guy. He took her to the US and she was all alone with him in this alien country. He verbally abused her and hurt her feelings. I think he also cheated on her. Now, I sympathised with her because she was truly helpless. Initially when a marriage turns into a nightmare, any woman would be horrified. But it depends on her whether this nightmare continues.
    Me – All victims hope that the nightmare would end if they don’t annoy him, if he gets a better job etc

    This girl has now divorced her husband and she has also obtained a degree. She has remarried and now hopefully living a happy life. Now, this is what I call as progress. And this girl also comes from a really conservative family. She was/or still is demure and shy and the typical sunder susheel sanskari hinustani ladki. But all she needed was a little courage and she came out of it. So, it’s not impossible.
    There are women into much more horrible and terrifying situations and those are the women who probably deserve help.

    Me – So do you feel this mother did not ‘deserve help’?

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    • She does. But when nobody helps, a person has to help herself. You are always your own best friend. If I am about to be molested, I can’t wait for someone to turn up and help me. I have to fight myself. Whether I succeed or not, is another thing. I will truly be a victim, only when I refuse to myself. When I give up on myself.

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    • It’s all just excuses, IHM. Now, I am saying that she should have at least tried to get out of this which she clearly did not. She just kept on harbouring false and stupid hopes.

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    • I am blaming her because she could have helped herself, but did not. She could have helped herself during the time her husband was abroad. Why didn’t she?

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      • How easy it is to judge others 🙂
        Will look for one of the many many classic escalating abuse spiral stories on the internet when I have the time – maybe it will change your mind.

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      • You tell me that I’m “victim-blaming”. I tell you that you are being a “victim feminist”. Victim feminism is this special genre where all the feminists sympathise with an abused woman, pitying her, and thereby weakening her and oppressing her even more. These women don’t need pity, they need an eye-opener. Oh wait, even that won’t help because they simply don’t want to open their eyes!

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      • At the end of the day, whether we blame or we sympathise, each of us has one life to live and in this life we can influence those around us – in good ways and bad. We each hold our own truths – if a woman believes that she has to stay with her husband no matter what the price, then that is her truth. She has a right to hold that truth. However, she does not have the right to inflict that truth on others. Young children don’t have a choice to reject their mothers’ or fathers’ truths. But when the children grow up, they do have a choice to find their own truth and with it, their freedom. And I am not saying that it is easy. All change can be painful.
        And all of us who feel enlightened enough to sympathise or blame may wish to consider, how do we smooth the paths of people who seek change? How do we enable them to move forward?
        I don’t know.
        I like the analogy of how we support our children when they learn to walk: when a toddler learns to walk, we give encouragement – cheering their steps forward and soothing them when they fall but urging them to get up and try again. We generally don’t blame them (“you stupid baby – it’s your fault you fell, now stay there!”) or over-sympathise with them (“oh you poor thing – it’s the ground’s fault that you fell…don’t ever try to walk again!”).
        Why do we not treat ourselves and each other this way? Cheering success and supporting through struggle?
        Again, I don’t know. But I think I’ve gone off on a tangent and must stop now!! 🙂

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    • “But it depends on her whether this nightmare continues.”

      Technically yes perhaps. But do you really think there is someone out there waiting to rehabilitate or assimilate those who manage to extricate themselves out of such situations?? Perhaps that fear daunts them. There are n number of reasons victims may be forced to retain status quo though they desperately want to get out. The victim may not have self esteem, maybe cowed down by the intimidating circumstances, may be confused and helpless. Yes, there may be a few who have the spirit to break out. But please remember just like you cannot expect everyone to run as fast as PT Usha and win a race, there are people/women whose spirit is so broken that they are unable to even contemplate what those with spirit are able to accomplish.

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    • I’m inclined to side with Bharathee on this. The mother should leave the father. She is educated, she’s had a difficult life, her children too have suffered unnecessarily.

      Me – It is good to see that everybody agrees on this one thing – that the mother should leave or should have left the father years ago.

      Of course, the man is mental. But at least he has that excuse.
      Me – He has not been medically evaluated.

      What excuse does the mother have to suffer through all this, and still continue to do so? What is this fear of a society that talks badly anyway? Why should it affect her at all what society thinks? Society does not think anything good as it is. They think the man is crazy and used to shun the entire family while the kids were growing up. How is that ” sacrificing for the children”. How are the children gaining anything from this?

      Me – True – the children always suffer when mothers stay back in abusive relationship…

      True, alimony, restraining orders etc are more difficult in India (probably, no idea). But why is THAT fight not worth it?

      The mother has a choice. Looks like she chose to stay. And continues to choose that option.

      Me – I don’t think she even saw any choices!

      And Clueless saying that the father is more restrained in his behaviour now as he knows her marriage will be over if he behaves badly leads me to believe that the father is not as mental as one thinks. That whatever he has can be cured.

      And I feel bad for her that she does not feel she can share all this with her husband for fear of him living. Why marry him then?
      Why is Clueless still hoping for a similar arranged marriage for her sister if she feels men are unnecessary?

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    • Also in answer to your question to Bharathee. Yes, I too think the mother requires help. But even now, when the daugthers are in agreement to leave the father, the mother is not.
      She is not willing to help herself.

      I’m sure there are thousands of women’s help groups in India that can help her out even now, if only she chooses that path.
      No, the mother’s comfortable (YES, i use that word) in her position. Because the other option is too scary, and she’d have to actively work towards a solution that passively waiting for things and just dealing with them as it happens.

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  5. vary sad and heartbreaking in fact….but i see a light at the end of the tunnel…your mother is a very strong person dear girl. She had to endure because the society around her and her parents were plain stupid , but she is a hero….and so are you.

    Liked when you say…
    The way I see it, this incident in both my sister and my life was like a lesson on learning to respect oneself and that you (if the universe is merciful) are the key to your freedom and how a guy on hormones isn’t. And we weren’t going to learn it any other way than this.

    Me – Beautifully said Sangeeta, Hugs.

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  6. I have my sympathies with all those uneducated rural women who put up with abusive husbands because they have no where else to go. And actually, even those women try to come out of oppression.

    Life depends on the choices a person makes. No one else will come make that choice for you. Unless, a person takes charge of her/his life, life will depend on other people’s actions and choices.

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    • However much we wish all women to be strong and being able to extricate themselves from such situations, I think its easier said than done. Simply because all people are not brought up in the same way. All people do not believe in the same empowering thoughts. Each person is pre-conditioned by his or her parents, childhood, friends, teachers, society and by the conclusions they draw from their personal experiences.
      Education is only a part in all this. So, while its sad that this woman was not strong enough to be able to come out of this situation, I would not simply blame her.There might have been various reasons for this. However I do wish that now that the daughters are grown up, they take it up upon themselves to help their mom out of this. And again I understand that the daughters are also pre-conditioned by their difficult childhood and by their mom’s opinions. But now that the daughter has come out seeking advice, I really hope we can help her think in a more empowered manner.

      me – Loved the last line.

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    • You can say that these women are making choices, there are many factors as to why women don’t leave abusive marriages. These women don’t want to be in these situations, also I pointed out before, the most dangerous point in an abusive marriage is when the woman tries to leave. That means, her life is in Yes we can talk about empowering them to leave, sure we teach them that they don’t have to put with abuse. But that’s just the easy part, the hard part is making sure these women can leave these abusive marriage safely. You can’t just say “she should have just left.” It’s not that simple.

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    • Bharathee, while I understand what you are trying to say, I wonder how you can be sure that she never tried.

      Also I think it would help if you read something about the abuse cycle. Its a vicious cycle that keeps the victims trapped for years, often doubting their own judgement. And in a lot of cases, the abuse escalates when the abuser feels the victim is finding a way out. Thirty years ago, India was very different and however much you talk about the liberal, educated society, lets not forget that patriarchy exists in a high level even there. I think Desi Girl has some wonderful posts on the cycle of abuse.

      Me – And here is a list of articles that might answer a lot of questions – awareness is what one needs, to be able to if not help, then understand.

      Not everyone has the courage or the means to move out, but by judging them as weak, we are putting ourselves on a pedestal. God forbid, but if any of us is ever caught in such a things, we would know what we do then. Sorry, Bharathee, but I cant empathise with you, because clearly you haven’t had any abusive experience, even if people get out, it sometimes takes them months to even realise they are being abused, that is the level of brainwashing that occurs. Also to be blamed for the plight of victims are bystanders like you and me, because we obviously aren’t going to interfere in others’ family matters are we?

      We would expect the victim to do all the work while we applaud if she manages to get out or we victimise her further by giving her queer looks because she didnt do what we think is the right thing for her to do.

      As for victim feminism, I know of men who have endured similar abuse at the hands of their wives or mothers, men who have stuck on to such relationships, so lets not make this just a gender issue. Abuse is abuse, its an unfortunate fact that male abusers are more than female ones.
      Lets not judge others from our standpoint, because truly its only the person going through the specific life condition that knows what is happening to him or her.

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      • My comments are according to the letter. I’m not denying that I have had a rosy life until now. But I know women who haven’t and they have overcome the situation. So, I say that this isn’t impossible. She had opportunities. She didn’t see them at all.

        And I don’t know why people are suddenly asking me things like “Have you been in this situation?” etc etc. Is this issue about me, at all? I never said I would do this and that had I been in this situation. Except for that hypothetical molestation part.

        I am criticizing Clueless, her mother and her sister because they all are educated women against one disillusioned man. According to the story, there are no evil in-laws involved.

        If you want me to draw comparison, I will. Are they as helpless as Elisabeth Fritzl? Or that woman whose name I don’t remember, who was locked up in a room by her husband all the time and turned even the kids against her?

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  7. A heart wrenching story indeed but I hope you will have the courage to hold your mom’s hand and help her out of any further misery and humiliation at the hands of such a monster . It’s time you sister’s take matters into your hands. take care

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  8. Its a very heart-rending read.
    I know of a family who was tortured similarly but the woman opted for a divorce.

    I wish your grandparents instead of crying had pulled you and your mother out of situation, but its too late for that.
    The problem is sitting here, writing on the web is so much easier for me to give advice of what could be done. But not all of us are strong enough to take up those advices and sometimes circumstances and our own personality stop us.
    But Clueless, you are an adult, a grown up woman prepared to give birth to a new life. You have the power of creation, of bringing up another life and mentally you are ready for it. You are a wife, a daughter, a sister and that should give you the strength to decide. You should pull your mother out of the situation, stand up with her and say No. You really think in this day and age your sister wont get a good enough partner because your mother is separated and father unstable!
    And what happens if this happens after your sisters marriage? A man who can reject her before marriage given your family situation can do it after it also. Why hide this from someone you will share your life with!
    You father needs medical help and your mother needs to be pulled out of the situation immediately. And you can do it, stand up for her and the three of you.
    Marriage is not the only aim of life, there is so much more to life, one of it being peace of mind. And you can give your mother some peace for all that she has endured, partly her decision and partly lack of social support.
    You have such strong and protective feelings towards your unborn child, why not your mother and you n your sister. Why dont you tell yourself that you will not let the evil spirit even touch your mother, you and your sister for one day, one hour, one minute or one second.
    Believe me, you and only you can do it. Do it for yourself, so that you never regret not doing it. And never have to say If Only!

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    • “You should pull your mother out of the situation, stand up with her and say No. You really think in this day and age your sister wont get a good enough partner because your mother is separated and father unstable!
      And what happens if this happens after your sisters marriage? A man who can reject her before marriage given your family situation can do it after it also. Why hide this from someone you will share your life with!…
      Marriage is not the only aim of life, there is so much more to life, one of it being peace of mind. And you can give your mother some peace for all that she has endured, partly her decision and partly lack of social support.
      You have such strong and protective feelings towards your unborn child, why not your mother and you n your sister. Why dont you tell yourself that you will not let the evil spirit even touch your mother, you and your sister for one day, one hour, one minute or one second.
      Believe me, you and only you can do it. Do it for yourself, so that you never regret not doing it. And never have to say If Only!”

      Powerful, inspiring words A!!

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    • Very well said A.Applause!!
      I was left fuming when a previous commenter declared that one must either walk out or grin and bear it,what good is writing such letters. To her I say, THIS is what is good about coming out in the open with all your grief and suffering–you might find sympathetic people who might be able to show you the way/inspire you to take proper action/guide you without being judgemental. I have seen this happen many times on IHM’s blog. Kudos to IHM too for providing a platform to them.

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      • If she really takes action now, after reading all your supportive, encouraging, sympathetic comments, well and good. I’ll applaud her. Kudos to all you people and IHM for doing this. The question is, will she really?

        And tell me something. Do you all think she doesn’t know that she can find a solution? Or that she doesn’t know how? Of course she does. She has clearly mentioned in the letter that both her sister and her can do something. Hell, even her mother can do something. But whether all of them want to, is the question.

        She says she dreams of her father dying. She has left her life for fate to decide even after she knows that she can do something.

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        • Bharathee somebody may or may not take action after reading supportive or rude comments. Providing support to someone does not mean we can rightfully expect them to follow our advise.

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      • S was talking about the purpose of writing such a letter to be published in an open forum, so I responded. I obviously don’t expect her to follow any advice or get inspired by any of the comments. If I had such expectations, I would have given an analytical advice based on her letter, which I see a number of people have done, and they’ve written very well.

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  9. OMG!! I cant even begin to imagine the horror that this lady and her family msut have been through….and especially her poor mother.

    First of all, her dad needs rehab. It is not just inferiority complex….he is insane and requires medical treatment….
    I am truly appalled that none of her family or relatives came forward with solutions or to help them….and just expected them, particularly her mother….to live through this brutal suffering and continue as if nothing is wrong.

    And secondly, may I ask this lady… What have you really gained by keeping a straight face in front of society just for society’s sake?? I agree you are normal human beings and want to keep a straight face, and want to be respected in society…

    Do you really think you gained the respect by refusing to talk about your problems?? What would have really happened if you, your sister encouraged your mother to just plain walk out???

    I’ll tell you what would have happenened…

    Society may have frowned, maybe spoken about it for a day or two?? And then they would have minded their own business….and found other things to talk about….and eventually they would have found something else to discuss….and maybe later on even turned around to applaud you all for having the courage to stand up and fight for yourself….

    Trust me, I’ve been in the middle of a similar situation. No I have been fortunate enough not to undergo any physical abuse, but I’ve been in a situation where we had to keep up a face for society’s sake…..my mother held on for my future….I was plagued by guilt when I grew old enough to understand the situation ….I did not know from where to give back the 13 years my mother sacrificed…just so that I would have a home.
    And I put my foot down and got my parents divorce done. My mother is now happily married to her current husband and I visit her often. This was even before my marriage ever got fixed. The scars of my parents’ bad marriage remain but now I m lucky to have a wonderful man in my life who loves me in spite of my past…..and he knows it was not really anyone’s fault…I have nothing to do with it either.

    Atleast in my case I can say that my mother had a reason for holding on. If my parents had gone their separate ways I would have lost out on the base and security of a single home, hence held on. What is your reason/excuse? What stopped your mother from moving out, getting a job and living a separate life peacefully with you and your sister?? My heart bleeds for the childhood and teenage you and your sister lost…..note that you’d never get it back.

    And I promise myself that I will not leave my child with my father for a second, I want no part of his evil to touch my child.
    Why did you stay this statement? I could be wrong, but….methinks it has more to do with your bad experience than really any of your husband’s actual behaviour or his own baggage…

    What did you really gain

    I feel like kicking the shit out of all your mother’s relatives who told her to stay on in this marriage. What rot!! 😡
    For goodness sake, if you love her, pull her away from this madness…..do something concrete instead of just wishing your dad to die. Life just doesn’t work that way where you wish for something it pops out of the sky. You have to work towards it.
    And in time your sister will also be settled….believe me, it has very little to do watching your mother hanging on for dear life in a miserable marriage with such a man.

    I truly feel for the life you lost…..for no fault of yours. But now is the time to act. Do not go on undergoing this suffering….. not you, not your sister, and definitely not your mom…are gaining anything by it………
    Rather you are saving yourself of a lifetime of agony…but choosing to walk out RIGHT NOW.

    May peace be with you….and hope your married life blesses you with a lot of life, love and happiness that you never found in your childhood and teenage….

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    • And may I add….
      society does not really clean your home, pay your bills or love you and take care of you. You take care of your first, your job takes care of the second, and possibly your husband and close friends take care of the last.

      Where does society come into the picture? Why do you care for it so much when it really does nothing for you but judge from a distance without understanding you??

      I second A in this. If your mother is hanging onto this thinking it will get your sister a better proposal then I am sorry to shatter your dreams, but that most likely wont happen. A man who does not love your sister for what she is (past and all) is not likely to love her knowing all that after marriage – just because the marriage has already taken place.

      For goodness sake, put your foot down and take a stand. NOW!

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  10. I am amazed at how someone I don’t know lived a life so similar to someone very close to me except for the fact that the girl I know was the only child of her parents. The father never was diagnosed by a psychiatrist because no one NO ONE had the guts to bring one home or take him to one….he either had a split personality or was schizophrenic. The girl and her mother was subjected to an extreme nature of abuse and atrocities day and night. Each night that she spent, the sexual abuse, humiliation, slavery she endured is beyond the comprehension of a normal healthy mind…and she spent her life living in that hell for 18 yrs in hope that once no longer a minor she would run away from home and find life, love and everything good that she had nurtured in her dreams all along. And so she did. Her mother moved away from her father eventually finding the courage to do so after the girl found herself a suitable groom soon after leaving home and got married…
    The father had fallen, stooped down to such levels that the girl would have preferred to be buried alive…she tried to take her life on innumerable occasions but her attempts failed each time. She didn’t keep all quiet about the abuse and ran away a number of times from home but was brought back by the father taking advantage of the fact that she was stilll a minor. He was a great manipulator in that he kept his image of being a saintly person in the eyes of the society, people never doubted his good intentions as he swore his love for his daughter. No one knew what went on within the four walls of her home…even when she tried running away, her relatives…even the police brought her back when they were told she was a mental case…that she had a habit of running away from home and was undergoing treatment. No one cared to find out the reality and even when close friends and family did find out that he was the one that needed mental treatment…no one found the guts to tell him or get him seen and treated.
    The girl would spend entire nights hiding in the creases of their roof after fleeing from home, even in extreme weather conditions and steal into the house at dawn to get ready to go to school. School, and her books were her best friends that gave her the strength to patiently hang on for that long, she knew her education was her true companion that would never fail to free her.

    Clueless is right about the life long effects one endures after having endured such an abnormal life…the mother here was as weak, sacrificing, caring as Clueless’s mother…but since she had only one daughter she could decide to move out sooner…

    Once married, girls who have been abused so long…have to first completely alienate themselves from their past lives in order to enjoy the present, and to think about the future…it’s hard. In Clueless’s case, its gonna be harder since her mother is still in that hell.

    I send my best wishes, courage and the strength to Clueless to persuade her mother to leave…and if for any reason she can’t, please go ahead and create your destiny just the way you have dreamed of…know that your mother is responsible for her own, she created hers!
    Don’t be sad for her…do not pity her. Show her a happy, healthy being… YOU!!

    If its any consolation…this girl today is a happy, independent, proud and a single mother of three children, battles of life haven’t ended for her…and she hasn’t given up!

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    • I didn’t mean to say Clueless’s mother was weak…she is NOT. The weakness of a mother lies in her love for her children…and her strength comes from her will to protect and provide the best for them.

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    • How pre-conditioned we are to think that marriage is what saves a girl from doom or in this case, further doom…daughter’s marriage is what the mother waits for to find the ever elusive peace she hasn’t had since the day she had a daughter…!! If Clueless’s mother could help herself out of this belief even now, she still can lead a peaceful life for the rest of her years…she should walk out now without waiting for her younger daughter’s marriage. I agree its much harder much more difficult to take a step now after all these years, but that’s no reason why she should still stay there.

      Having endured prolonged abuse at the hands of a father, a girl craves for the love, protection and a sense of security from a man she can love and trust…this is what makes her very vulnerable, an easy target for further abuse.

      Hugs to you Clueless… while you cannot decide for your sister’s or mother’s or anyone else’s life for that matter….you can always work towards making yourself happy, set your wellbeing as an example, a lead for others to follow!
      Much love to you, your sis and mom…

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  11. I agree with Bharathee. I am sorry for the girls, but I agree with Bharathee. Its a classic case of sado masochism, and the girls have had to suffer since birth. The woman could have walked out. She could have made a career, brought up her daughters well. Why did she stay in the relationship? She crippled herself and the girls.

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    • Yes, it is obvious that she should have moved out. But it appears that she did not have the guts / belief / support to do so. How does saying ” You are responsible for your situation, I blame you” help? Especially for a person who obviously already lacks the self belief (and abuse does grind away at self belief until there is none left) to take action?
      It’s not always easy to just leave . Good for those who can, but those who haven’t yet, also deserve support.

      Not really disagreeing with you in terms of what she should have done, but from my experience in a different situation, it really really hurts when people blame you for your misfortunes in a place where you already probably blame yourself. That kind of thing leads me to the “I probably deserve all this” place. Which people would probably say is further symptom of weakness 😦

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  12. A close friend of mine got raped by her boyfriend. I said to her, I’ll stand by you. Whatever decision you take, I’ll stand by you. Her mom is this gutsy woman who, despite being not very educated, has a successful business and is practically living separated from her husband. And even her mom advised her to leave this guy. I was personally prepared to cause this rapist physical harm. I was so angry. But can I tie up my friend and see to it that she doesn’t go out meet him again? Am I her mom? I’m only her friend. Even if I am her mom, I cannot just tie up my own daughter. And my friend again went out with him, put up with all his abuse, got raped again, was with him even after she knew he was cheating on her. And all this while, I tried, I *begged* her break up with him. She didn’t listen. And later she cried. Even if she is my friend, I don’t feel sorry for her because she was getting help but she didn’t want to be helped. I was ready to file a police compliant. That guy was filthy rich and the entire deal of bringing justice would be far-fetched but I was prepared to be with her. And okay, she didn’t file a compliant because such a big thing would need parental and familial support since we’re kids then. Her family is conservative and she didn’t even tell anyone except her mom. But she could have left him, right? She didn’t. Such women continue to make bad choices in life. And my friend just did that. The next 3 guys who followed also abused her in some way or the other. No, none raped her. But all this while, I tried to help her. But she didn’t want to be helped at all. You can only take the horse to the water, you cannot make it drink the water.

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        • Bharathee: You are getting thumbs downs because you show a remarkable lack of empathy and understanding of practicalities of an abusive situation. The “get over it; get your life back” trope sounds great as a slogan, especially among conservatives but are remarkably useless when dealing with real life. (BTW, the male equivalent is – Come on, man up. Take it on the chin and move on.”. Equally platitudinous. Equally dense.)

          In your educated, modern world, it’s simple to just walk out of a marriage. In real life it is not. A woman has to think of a thousand things – her parents and famillial reactions, emotional impact, legal consequences, alimony, custody, money, job, children, their future education, safety – the list is unending. “Oh come on don’t be a wuss and just walk out already” just doesn’t cut it.

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    • I concur with each of your comments. I have also offered to stand behind friends who were facing crap in their homes and marriages. Help them stand on their feet, and so on. But not one has ever taken up on my offer. The fear of society is so inbuilt in some women that they simply will not take any steps to make themselves happier. The constant refrain is one of “This is how I am. How can I help it if I want to make others happy even if they treat me badly?” As you said, one can only take the horse to the water, you cannot make it drink.

      And for what it’s worth, I gave all your posts a thumbs up 😉 Sometimes sugar coating a bitter pill makes one forget that the pill is there to improve your health, and is not a take it or leave it option.

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      • Thanks. 🙂 I appreciate it. Was just wondering why would anyone give my friend’s story a thumbs down.

        I personally believe that social conditioning affects a person’s thinking only to an extent. There are SO many people from who have strong, open-minded opinions on things despite the fact that they have been brought up conservatively. Myself included. People just blame things on social conditioning and patriarchal conditioning. I don’t see any point in blaming because it doesn’t lead to any solutions. I just believe in being objective and point-blank.

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  13. Hope that the writer finds some peace soon and the ability to move out of that toxic orbit.

    However, while I may not be clearly reading the situation from this one essay, it appears that this man is just an extremely abusive assohole and not really mad. Madness implies some amount of helplessness on the part of the individual. Whether it is because of some problems from his own childhood (which does not excuse the abuse) or otherwise, he just seems to be angry at the world and taking it out on those who cannot fight back. This might even explain his preference for those in a lower position than him (not that there is anything wrong with that), so that he can feel superior to them. The escalation, the extreme control freakyness, the tiptoeing around not to say the wrong thing are all classic abuse.

    To come back to the writer, I do not know your current situation, but it might be helpful to seek therapy. None of what happened is your responsibility, and you should feel no obligation to have any of it continue. If possible, with the help of relatives / friends / women’s organizations, your mother and sister also should be moved out of that situation. What society says is hardly important, when it is a matter of your life. What I am saying here is that it is your “father” (being a sperm donor does not make a man a father) who should be ashamed, not you. Cut him out of your life as soon as possible (again, I am not sure of your financial situation). This step however usually needs extreme caution, since this kind of thing usually escalates the abuse. 😦

    You did mention that your friends thought all this weird, but those people were no true friends. While most people find it uncomfortable to think about such a horrible situation, that is no reason to not empathise.

    On the other hand, easy for me to say when I am not in that situation. Please take care and I hope you are able to have a better life now that you are an adult.

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  14. Again a set of parents who stood by and watched their daughter and grandchildren suffer. I wonder what the reason was. Was it about what people might think or was it financial reasons that motivated such a action.
    In the 60s, when my aunt went through similar period in her life, her father, my grandfather stepped in and refused to let the man harass her. He took both daughter and her four children under his wing. “I did not bring up my daughter for you to bash her up at will.”

    I guess, what damage has been done is done. But walking out right now and leaving the nightmare behind where it belongs would be best for mother and daughters.

    me – Your grand father was an amazing father!

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  15. Reading this totally shattered me…..

    Hugs my dear Clueless, but I think you and your sister should stand up for the sake of ur mother and help her to see that this endurance is not going to make both of u happy, not any more. Help her to see how the abuses have affected u both and support her to come out of that torture life….

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  16. Wow… I really don’t know what to say. I can’t pretend to even begin to understand the emotions involved here.

    Your mother, clueless, was and is, the very embodiment of mental strength. To take that kind of abuse for such an extended period of time…it’s not something that most people can do.

    You see, we are ultimately products of our environment. You are the product of an abnormal environment, a perverse environment, perhaps, but you are also the product of an environment where superhuman strength was exhibited every minute of every day, and where maternal love overcame the worst kind of emotional abuse. It doesn’t get much worse than that, you know. You hit rock bottom and survived. The only way from there is up, up and away.

    Now that you’re standing up straight, support your mother! Get her the hell out of that situation. You owe her that! Don’t worry about your sister’s marriage! She will find her way…she is educated, and she is strong. Do you really even want her to have a husband who would rather see her mother married and abused than separated and happy?

    It’s your mother that needs help! Get her out of that toxic, toxic place. For it’s only this vile man is out of your lives forever, that all of you would be truly free.

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  17. Wow… I really don’t know what to say. I can’t pretend to even begin to understand the emotions involved here.

    Your mother, clueless, was and is, the very embodiment of mental strength. To take that kind of abuse for such an extended period of time…it’s not something that most people can do.

    You see, we are ultimately products of our environment. You are the product of an abnormal environment, a perverse environment, but you are also the product of an environment where superhuman strength was exhibited every minute of every day, and where maternal love overcame the worst kind of emotional abuse. It doesn’t get much worse than that. You hit rock bottom and survived. The only way from there is up, up and away.

    Now that you’re standing up straight, support your mother! Get her the hell out of that situation. You owe her that! Don’t worry about your sister’s marriage. She will find her way…she is educated, and she is strong. It’s your mother that needs help. Get this toxic, vile man out of your lives. It is only then that all of you will truly be free.

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  18. From Buzz:
    Girl Desi – There are provisions of protection order against the abuser in IPC. Don’t recall if it is section 58 or something other. Abused has to contact a non profit working with DV victims and they help file it through special officer under the PWDVA 2005. Even before that I recall we filed for protection orders for women.

    Yes, there is provision of alimony in Indian law. The lady (mother) should consolidate all her assets and document her earnings, file for taxes in her name and make a will declaring her assets and beneficiaries and people she appoints to make medical decisions for her if she is ever not in position to. Documentation of abuse and having it on record with a non-profit helps build the case.

    The man in question should be medically evaluated and should be on medication. His refusal to seek medical help should be good enough reason to file for divorce as it is endangerment to the person in matrimony.

    Clueless should not feel that she is or family is the only one that is weired. Every other family has its skeletons in the closet and each tries to normalize it by making it seem everybody else is fine other than us.

    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/is-my-family-dysfunctional/

    If possible let your sister seek professional counseling because friends/peers have their own limitations and stereotypes to feed in.
    DG10:04 am

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  19. I Agree with Bharathee too – The mother doesnt seem to have made any effort in moving out of an abusive relationship – wouldnt that have helped the daughters more than being IN the marriage? And she was well educated – she could’ve got a job herself and supported the children. Instead she chose to quit the job?!
    But for whatever reasons that did not happen, isnt it time that the daughter who is well settled and knowing her mother is being abused can take matters in her hand – support the mother to get away from all that abuse and speak up for her? Make sure that the father gets his due? And Im sure the sister would support the decision too…

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  20. RS,
    I can tell you from personal experience that in conservative setups, “reputation” matters a lot. Like it or not, it does tend to be a huge factor in decision-making. I know, because my own family was that way. I still remember the firing my sister got when my parents found out that she had a boyfriend from school – my mother was all set to beat her up, but my father calmed her down. The rationale behind that anger? “Log kya sochenge!”. Being a male, I had it a bit easier but I’ve learnt to never underestimate the hold that public opinion has over people in Indian (and in fact, Asian) society.

    So glad I managed to get out of that loop. :/

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    • Yeah, I agree that a number of people take invisible non-existent things like “honour” and “reputation” into consideration before doing anything. That’s their call. Then they should she even write such letters. Just grin and bear with it if reputation and honour is so important than her own life.

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    • If that is so, then it becomes a question of what you value more. Whether it is the so-called honour or the fact you want to get out of being abused. Also, I really do not see why this woman (mother) is being called strong by so many people. She clearly did not lift a finger to stop the abuse to herself. She is weak, whether she could help it or not is a completely different matter.

      Moreover, she was highly educated and could probably find a job to support her children. Also, why did she not move out BEFORE she had children anyway? I mean, it looks like she had already come to know he was a nutcase/asshole as soon as the wedding took place. The ladies’ actions were weak, unsmart and too full of consideration for “log”.

      In spite of this, if all she is looking for is support, we ought to give that to her. Thought I doubt having come this far, she will be doing anything about it. Her silly concern still seems to be getting her daughters married off!

      Like

      • It’s not as black-and-white as that. While discussing someone’s actions, I think it’s necessary to take into account their personal prejudices and mindsets.
        If we really want to understand the causes behind the actions have to look at things from HER conservative perspective, not our own liberal ones. The environment where you grew up matters a lot. I grew up in an ultraconservative, stubbornly patriarchal family in central Delhi. And my teen years were dominated by a constant mental rebellion against that vile urban cliché. I still harbour a huge amount of revulsion towards anything that reminds me of the toxic religion-morality-culture triangle which smothered me as an adolescent and I won’t hesitate to say that I *could* end up making irrational decisions because of that. On the other hand, many of my close relatives ended up imbibing the same attitude and the same misogynistic mindset and they make irrational decisions based on THAT.

        She would’ve had a better life had she left the marriage. No doubt about it. Obviously, she must’ve thought about it. And obviously, she rejected the thought. Why? Because of her own mindset, which was strongly influenced by what she grew up around.

        Taking abuse for over two decades and retaining one’s sanity demonstrates more mental strength than I could personally ever hope to aspire to. She made a very poor choice, yes, but she had the mental capacity to be very strong indeed. She had all the tools to leave, including the mental capability, and the fact that she did not do that makes me feel that there was more to it than just weakness. And if that is so, then in all probability, yes, she genuinely believed that “honour” was more important, which in this country, is not a hard belief to develop (especially if your parents are conservative). More’s the pity.

        Like

      • @PT

        Look, I understand how difficult it is to leave that kind of mindset. All I am saying is that other people had had courage in the past to leave against all odds and there is no reason why this woman should stay put and take in abuse. I am well aware of the issues abused women face, since I have been in such a position myself. I simply want to point out that if the mother does not realize this, there is no way out for her. Also, if Clueless continues to think about marriage being her sister’s primary goal in life, the entire family is not going to come out of this circle at all. Being empathic is all very well, but what matters is the reality of the day. All of them need counselling to get over their trauma and they need to understand that being married to some fellow is not the be all and end all of life. I have the feeling that Clueless is hanging on to her husband to fill the void in her life, and it may in its turn lead to another abusive relationship. I am very afraid of this. I do not want that to happen at all. A change in outlook, however difficult, is the need of the day here. In my humble opinion, of course.

        Like

    • Reputation comes from what people think of the mother.
      1. Where are all these people when she is being harrassed and abused?
      2. Is the woman being given any respect right now – all the relatives have already shunned the family – so what reputation is there for her to uphold?
      3. And If both the daughters stand up to everyone and tell them that its high time she walked out of such a horrible relationship – isnt THAT establishing a better reputation – of respecting yourself first of all?

      Like

  21. I feel so bl**dy awful after reading this. What a sick minded pervert that father is. He’s screwed up THREE lives. Strangely though, such people continue to live a nice long life. If the girl is expecting and waiting for her father to die, please tell her, that is NOT going to happen in the near future.

    Best thing would be to stay away from him. If possible, she should get her Mum to move out, and move in with her or her sister. But certainly, not continue to live with the mad father.

    Infact he needs counselling, but knowing our Indian society and attitude, that is not going to happen either!!

    I think the MOTHER needs to muster some courage and break away from him. The younger daughter will find a good groom, and if the guy fully knows about the family, that is even better. Atleast it will not come as a shock to him or his family at a later date.

    This concept of ‘marriage as a means to be settled’ is damaging our society beyond belief!!!

    Like

  22. my heart was hurting as I read this post.

    I want to tell this darling to just LEARN to concentrate on the Present.
    I know its tough and seems impossible,Till about 4 months back i was a nervous wreck with grief…but now im peaceful coz i live only for the present moment.

    darling the past is gone..never to come back so learn from it and let it go….holding on to it is a waste of your beautiful present moments.
    the future is not here as yet…Ofcourse plan for it BUT dont waste your time worrying about it…..Worrying is worthless.

    be brave…stop ruminating about your past…..stop worrying about what might never happen….
    THEN U WILL BE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT.
    THEN U WILL B ABLE TO EXPERIENCE JOY IN YOUR LIFE>

    And we all ,your friends are waiting for your mails full of mirth.

    Godspeed.

    Like

  23. Dear Clueless,

    Your letter was very heart rendering and touching, it’s seriously painful and disgusting to know that Human beings like this exist which can make their families and spouses suffer so much.

    I also understand your mother’s Predicament of staying in the torturous relationship for sake of her daughters, there are things which our socio-cultural mindset makes us do. However you have moved ahead in life and have taken a giant step to open your heart out here on this blog, I believe you would need to take another one and step up for your mother to move out of this relationship. I don’t think it would have any major impact on marriage of your sister. The society today is maturing to understand divorces to an extent and I don’t think you would find a partner suitable for your sister if he is unable to comprehend the necessity of moving out of a such kind of relationship.

    I have one point of concern, which you too have raised “the effectiveness of the restraining orders in India” I feel that you should independently discuss the same with a lawyer and get a practical view point on it. The course of action if the stalking etc becomes a problem after separation and carefully weigh your options before proceeding ahead.

    Like

  24. just read an interesting article……am pastin it here for all to read

    Our lives are made of stepping stones, one experience after another in perfect and divine order. The years of our life do not arrive all at once; they greet us day by day. With the descent of each setting sun, we are able to rest our heads and let the world take care of itself for a while. We may rest assured throughout the night, knowing that the dawn will bring with it a chance to meet our lives anew, donning fresh perspectives and dream-inspired hopes. The hours that follow, before we return to sleep once more, are for us to decide how we want to live and learn, laugh and grow. Our lives are sweeter and more manageable because we must experience them this way: one day at a time. Imagine the future stretching out before you and try to notice if you feel any tension or overwhelm at the prospect of the journey still to come. Perhaps you have recently made a lifestyle change, like beginning a new diet or quitting smoking, and the idea of continuing this healthy new behavior for years seems daunting. Maybe you have started a new job or are newly married and can feel an undercurrent of anxiety about your ability to succeed. If you can shift your focus from what may happen years down the line and return it to the day that is before you right now, you may find a measure of calm and renewed confidence in your capabilities. You may also discover an inner faith that the future will take care of itself. The way we show up for our lives today and tomorrow has an enormous affect on who we will be and what we will be experiencing years from now. If we can remain fully engaged in the day at hand, enjoying all it has to offer and putting our energy into making the most of it, we will find that we are perfectly ready and capable to handle any future when it arrives.

    Godspeed.

    Like

  25. Clueless, I feel so awful. But I truly feel it’s not too late to help your mom, yourself and your sister. That you grew up, broke his influence and moved on enough to have friends who you can trust and a good marriage is a testimony to your strength.

    I know we cannot undo the damage which was caused by society through friends without empathy, relatives who magically disappear when the going gets tough etc. But not all of us are without empathy and willingness to understand and support, as you can see from many of the comments. Get help for your mom. Counseling will definitely help. If one of the three of you started talking positively, I’m certain it would catch on and other two in the family would see a situation like you visualize : The three of you, living happily. Please fix that image on your mind. I wish you the best of luck in this.

    PS : If you are someone who lives in Chennai/Tamil Nadu, please do get in touch with me, should you need help from a cop. My dad is one, and my email id is smartassbride AT gmail DOT com.

    Like

  26. I have a friend who has gone through a similar childhood. She faced abuse at the hands of her father. She sold candies outside her school when she was a teenager and bought a cycle with the money so that she could attend classes/school etc. She looked for help, went to a psychiatrist herself, went on to get many degrees (when her father was almost forcing to drop out of school) She found herself a husband, has a lovely family.
    When she grew up and was on her feet, she told her father to stop the nonsense or she would take a drastic step like going to the police. She did not stop there. She helped her father with his illness and mother to come out of the depression, she is running two households today, hers and her parents.
    It all depends on what choices you make in life. And btw, clueless says she is from a wealthy background. My friend came from a background where she wasn’t sure if there was enough money for the school fees. I could go on and on about my friend cos she is an everyday hero to me. She rose above all that life had to offer.

    I too agree with Bharatee. I am not sure about the terms victim blaming and victim feminist, but I agree that there could have been a way out in Cluless’ case but right choices were not made.

    It is never too late. A’s comment says it all. The info provided by Desi Girl can still be used to get her mom out of it.

    Like

  27. I agree with Bharathee too. Why was the mother not leaving? Especially when this relationship was screwing up her children. What else can motivate a women to take a stand? And this is an educated, financially independent woman we’re talking about. What will it take to get women walking out of abusive relationships? Really, even I find it hard to sympathise with people who do not help themselves!

    Like

    • Maybe it was much more difficult for her to do so than as it appears to us reading this on a computer screen. Maybe we don’t know quite a few things that were going on 🙂

      Like

      • I agree with Haresh. It is obvious from the title to this post that the mother endured everything only because of social pressures. She did not have the strength to walk out of an abusive marriage, probably because she thought she would be jeopardizing the lives of her daughters. There is so much brain-washing and conditioning of women’s minds in India. They are simple expected to adjust and bear.

        What has education got to do with a woman’s strength to bear or walk away from abuse? There are many Indian women who work in top jobs, earn well and still bear domestic abuse. Education is just a degree. It does not equip anyone to face the real world. Even financial independence does not give a woman the strength to walk away from abuse.

        As for people who ask the daughter to forget what has happened, it is so easy to say forget it. Most humans can remember the hard days much better that they can remember the joyous ones. For those who bear a life time of abuse, how can we say just forget it?

        Like

      • I’m with you. I don’t like this “why don’t they just leave” mentality. Statistically speaking, women who make attempts to leave abusive marriages/relationships are in fact in much more danger. This isn’t to say that they shouldn’t make attempts to escape, but it’s a complicated situation.

        Like

      • I am surprised that you say that education and financial independence do not give woman a strength. Education empowers a girl child. She is more aware of her rights and ways and means to get away from such a situation. Financial independence means that she is not dependent on the abuser to provide for her so she would not be left on streets if she leaves him.
        You are saying that education does not give the strength, financial independence does not gives the strength. Plight of her children does not give the strength. Then what does? Doesn’t the woman has to stand up and change the situation for herself and her kids?

        And pray, what gives her the strength to bear the abuse all along?

        Like

        • MoRS I don’t think it’s about being weak or strong, it’s about not knowing what the best thing to do was. A lot of abuse victims are are heard saying they did not walk out because they seem to genuinely believe that this staying in an abusive relationship was somehow better for their children then walking out and making a fresh beginning. We know that’s not true, but conditioning of generations and complete lack of support makes it very difficult for an abuse victim to take any action. Even with support and guidance it seems victims attempt to leave many times before they actually make that final break.

          Like

      • @Haresh,

        Thanks for senstivity and not judging the abused. You are right many dots are missing.
        The fact is an abused makes 8-9 attempts before she can successfully to leave her abuser and an abusive situation.
        Peace,
        Desi Girl

        Like

      • @MoRS,

        Education, Employment and Empowerment all three are part of an equation. It was assumed education would lead to employment (financial independence) thus empowering women. But research has shown this equation did not fruitify as desired. Highly educated women are more prone to violence and so are employed women because they present a challenge to traditional concept of masculinity- in control and provider.

        http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article40166.ece

        Domestic abuse hits India’s elite
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2946760.stm

        http://sch.sagepub.com/content/37/4/131.abstract

        It was assumed increase in economic stability of families will empower women but Punjab and Haryana proved it all wrong as high GDP did not curb female feticide but only aggravated it and other crimes against women.

        Education and employment do not act in vaccuum. The kind of education we give our women and men does not prepare them for interpersonal conflict resolution. DG is the best example with a Ph.D. and years of experience in working with DV survivors she could not protect herself from spousal assaults. 🙂

        It is not just one thing that gives strength it is multiple things at the same time. It is all that required at the same time one at a time doesn’t help.
        Peace,
        Desi Girl

        Like

      • @ GGTS

        You are right there. It could not be done at one go, speaking from experience. The sugary sweet phases take good care of that.

        Like

    • You have to be a woman, and one born and brought up in middle class India, to understand why she could not leave him. If single women are soft targets, then imagine the fate of an ‘estranged’ woman. She would be branded as loose, immoral, bad, and what not!!! And the lives of her daughters would have been screwed even more.

      Like

  28. I feel great empathy for you, ‘Clueless’. I lived a life similar to yours for many years and wished many similar things. But I have a question: How much of this can you trully change?
    Your mother may never leave – no matter what, because it may be that she feels that she HAS to stay – whatever her reasons. I know how simplistic this sounds.
    For years, I told my mother that we should leave, that we don’t need much to survive, that we could be free of my father – her husband.
    But she would never leave. Afterall, what would people say? I listened and sympathised and agreed with her for years about how cruel my father was. I became her confidante – a de facto friend because she was not allowed to have friends. Not a healthy situation. I finished school and went to university and said to her: lets leave now – I can get a job and study part time and you can work too – she would not leave. When I asked why, she said that if she left, I would have contempt for her for leaving my father. I was saddened that she thought so little of me. But I kept being the confidante and de facto friend.
    As I got more involved at Uni and working part time, I reduced my time in my parents’ house to a bare minimum – I still can’t bear to call it a home. I would just come home in late evenings, eat and escape to my bedroom. I wished death upon my father daily and thought of ways to help him on his way. And I swore that when I left his house, I would do exactly as I pleased. I also knew that I could not ‘run away’ because then he would punish my mother for the rest of her days.
    I left home after my marriage and I wreaked hell on my poor husband – I could not trust or love freely because I was suspicious of anything that men said or did. I spread my father’s venom.
    Again – I said to mother that she could leave my father now because I was respectfully married, and she had her own money – she did not need him for anything. She said that there was no point in leaving now – what would people say – and there was only death to look forward to and she would pass the rest of her days in a quiet corner of the house.
    Something in me finally snapped and I cruelly told her that I never wanted to hear her complain about her husband again because it was her choice to stay with him – and to stop telling me that she wished for death – and that I was tired of her choices being a burden on me for the rest of my life. Very cruel, I know. We stopped talking about him and somehow I managed to find peace with my own husband and within myself. I moved on with my own life. My mother and I still talk but in ‘shallow ways’ (her words). This means that we never discuss her husband and she never tells me that she wishes for death. We discuss current affairs and the weather. Cold and soul-less.
    But I do believe that we have choices. They can be painful and seem ruthless, but sometimes, one thing cannot begin until another ends. So the question is, ‘Clueless’ – what choices do you have – and which ones could you live with? You cannot make choices for your mother. But waiting for her sadness to end should not delay the beginning of your own peace.

    Like

    • I salute you sioneve. I can only imagine what you must have gone through trying to get away from this situation and it must be harder because your mother kept pulling you back. I admire all tough women like you.

      Like

    • Sioneve & Clueless, your life stories could well be mine.. Except that my mother’s miseries ended only after the death of my Dad! I believe that had he been alive, she would still be living with him!
      Now when I ask her why she didn’t opt out of the relationship but made us ( my sister and I, herself ) go through hell! Although she was the main earner and she had supportive siblings who would have gladly helped her to get on with her life from there! Her answer always has been that she had to do the “right thing” – interpret-able as the values she was brought up with!! Maybe, deep in her heart believed / hoped that he may change!! Yeah, tough to believe!
      With her daughters educated, employed and settled, she confides that she may have made the wrong choice by staying in the abusive marriage. I realise its the “power” the abuser has on the abused person psyche, their entire thinking – is what makes our moms stay on and endure.
      My spouse has had to battle a few of my childhood nightmares with me, though he admits he cannot begin to imagine my suffering – some ghosts still haunt me, after almost 2 decades of my Dad’s death! I thank God that I have an understanding husband who is a Great Dad to our kids!
      In this era of information and choices, education and knowledge, many women still are going through the same. If you ask me whether I would have left an abusive husband – YES!!! And not just for my kids’ sake!

      Like

  29. First of all, a BIG THANK YOU to IHM for maintaining such wonderful and active platform for people to pour their hearts out!

    Clueless,

    My sympathies with you for all the terrible things you had to suffer. Your mother and relatives made some wrong decisions, first arranging the marriage, then not supporting your mother to get out, but there is no point in blaming anyone now, or talking about all the ‘couldaa, wouldaa, shouldaa’! Everyone makes bad choices in life, some are life changing and some remain unnoticed. For me, success, failure, happiness, grief, are not solely about making the right decision but how you recover from a bad decision.

    I doubt whether threats or police complaint will work, especially since your mother lives in the same house. If your father doesn’t take professional help, then shutting him out of your life is the only option. It will work only if you, mother, sister take a conscious decision. I can imagine why lack of support from peers and fear of social stigma led your mother to endure this abusive relationship. You tried to live according to social norms, cost you a lot, and what did you get in return? Isn’t that proof enough that you needn’t give a damn about the society?? Now is the time to act, the problems will not fade away just like that, nor is your father going to pop off suddenly. Domestic abuse is such a devilish thing, the more you endure silently the more vigorous it is going to be! If the abuser doesn’t make a conscious decision to mend ways, there is no other option than ending the relationship. Frankly I think 25 years of suffering should be enough for at least 4 or 5 generations!! Enough is enough!

    Your mother needs support and advice from both her daughters. Stand strong by her, make her understand that this charade of stable family is not needed to get a suitable partner for your sister. Frankly, do you in your heart of hearts believe that a guy who rejects your sister because your mother is separated from an abusive husband would have been a good husband? Take serious legal advice. If one of the things worrying your mother is money, advice her with the help of a lawyer. The decision to leave must be made by your mother herself. Since she seems to be conservative, this might need a lot of convincing arguments.

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  30. is the madness that you have explained medically termed as “schizophrenia ” ? if so marriages can be annulled in the court of law.

    and as for moving forward in life – therapy helps. seek professional help.

    “viriginity” is only a state of mind !

    Like

  31. I agree with SS…in fact, the first thing I thought, is this man is not mad or insane, it’s male privilege at its horrific worst. He can do anything and nobody will stop him. As for counseling as someone suggested, that may have been helpful in the early stages, but now he needs to be jailed and put away for life before he hurts his wife anymore.

    Clueless, I applaud your guts in speaking out. I hope you are able to resolve and heal this trauma. Hugs.

    Like

  32. Clueless, I’m really sorry for what you’ve had to endure & what you continue to endure.

    I think, blaming your fathers behaviour on ‘madness’ is letting him off easily. He is not mad – he’s just a misogynistic jerk.
    I also hope that you & your sister go to your mother & take her away from this hell hole. She has suffered enough. Who gives a shit what people say? Why let your mother stay in a place where her safety & wellbeing are always at threat?
    I realise that I don’t know all the circumstances around letting her stay with your father, but I hope you can overcome them.

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  33. Its a very sad and heart wrenching story to read, of course it is not just a story but suffering endured by 3 living beings … but its no use reeling under the past, everyone has some skeletons to hide but some just have to be buried and you have to move on. i dont know the reasons why your mother kept quiet – may b she was too weak and burdened by pressures of raising 2 daughters, i dont know why your grandparents never supported her esp since they knew families well. Knowing for sure that your father had a mental imbalance I dont think anyone in society would have questioned her motive to leave a wife beating husband. You have your head in the right place, you figured out for yourself that you have to make a life for your self, u chose to study abroad, got married and have settled down knowing all this past is beyond you and now it is your prerogative to get your mother out of this. There are many organisations and bodies you can approach how best you can get mother out of this mess and she deserves to be. This is a step her parents should have taken long ago ….. dont delay action any more …. repeating horrifying memories of past make it only more difficult to forget, its time to put your past away take all positivity gathered from all good you have achieved in your life and move ahead.

    Like

    • @trupz,

      Mental illness is a tricky situation. This man managed a successful job abroad. He definitely picked up fights but never got fired. He is selectively abusive. He chooses to abuse his family because he knows they have no where to go and no one to socially support him. That makes it hard for society or well-wishers to believe how could someone be insane if they make so much money.

      About the mother, years of abuse chips away person’s self esteem and self worth. They wish out of situation but do not know how and even when they know how it is the fear of unknown, what awaits that keeps them stuck. Then there is “martyr comples” I finished what I signed up for even if it meant living hell. I am not a quitter and so on. Years of abuse does so much harm that no amount of reasoning from welwishers can help the person get out smoothly. The senior lady needs professional counseling in addressing her beliefs about marriage and her fears about life.

      DG personally knows a woman in her support group, who at 30 wanted to leave her emotionally abusive and manipulative husband. But her parents would not support her. Her brother wanted her to move in with his family and there after live at his mercy in a village. By 40 she had her own business and was successful and she once again was contemplating divorce meanwhile her husband moved away for work, other male business owners started stalking her. She had to move with her husband. She once again mustered courage to talk divorce with her children her daughter was supportive but her teen son started crying that his peers will call him “bechara” that he doesn’t have a father. At 50 when both her children were married she once again talked about divorce her son again started the same drama, what will my in-laws say. Now at 60 she is still married but indifferent to her husband.

      Wish it was so easy to just hold someone’s hand and walk them out of abusive situations. Unless people deal with their fears and need for a particular relationshipor or relationship label it is very difficult for them to walk out.

      Just 3 weeks ago another 61 year old desi woman filed for divorce against the wishes of her adult children. DG is very proud of her.

      Peace,
      Desi Girl

      Like

      • Thanks DG, i am glad support is available now, that women especially can take some bold decisions and stop this abuse that happens. Single parenting, separation and divorce were taboo words some years back….. there has to be education about it. I have often seen ppl esp some of my guy friends joke and take pot shots at calling it “Womens Lib” and “Naree mukti morcha”, the reason I feel is that they lack empathy and dont realise what emotional turmoil abuse can mean for women …..

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      • “This man managed a successful job abroad. He definitely picked up fights but never got fired. He is selectively abusive. He chooses to abuse his family because he knows they have no where to go and no one to socially support him.”

        Exactly right DG. Some men (and women) are ‘selectively abusive’ which makes me ask whether they are just plain bullies rather than insane. The measure of a man (or woman) can be taken from how they treat people who have no power to fight back – spouses, children, staff and subordinates – and animals. I like the idea that you should treat everyone around you the same way as you treat your boss! Me being simplistic again! If you wouldn’t do it / say it to your boss, then don’t do it / say it, to your wife / husband / child etc.

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  34. And another thing i forgot to add, you should only have concern for a society that comes to you aid, that helps you find justice in its quarters, any society that mocks you behind your back and pressures you to suffer is a society not worth giving a damn about ….. I am equally disgusted with your relatives and other acquaintances that no one stepped forth with any advice or help

    we come together here on this blogging platform because we feel safe to discuss issues and share our opinion and do things without fear of being judged, this is what we expect our living society to be as well …..

    Like

  35. Clueless – do u really feel that your sister wont find someone to marry coz your mom walked out on a person who beat her up. Well, if someone rejects your sister for that – it’s better she isn;t with such a narrow minded person

    Girl – Give your mom the courage to walk out. it’s been a lifetime of beatings and hopelessness for her. It’s upto to both of you to show the way!

    Like

  36. It is a real sad story. I wish that the grandparents or other relatives had helped her mom to come out of the situation before. But all thats past. What I do not understand however is what is preventing her and her sister from helping their mom come out of it, now that they are all grown up and financially able to support their mom. I think that, just like her mom, she also believes that if her mom comes out of her marriage now, her sister’s marriage chances will get ruined. Its one thing that the mom thinks like this, but she has made her daughters also believe this. This may not be true at all. Maybe a few proposals may go away as the mom is divorced or separated, but in the end, I am sure one who likes her sister for who she is will want to get married to her. According to me, not helping their mom to come out of the marriage now, just based on this excuse of her sister’s marriage is not acceptable to me. She has to disconnect her mom’s situation from her sister’s marriage. She has just given power to this thought that one is going to be ruined because of the other, which may not be true at all. In fact a better proposal might come for her sister, simply because of the better circumstances they are going to be in, once her mom is away from her father. This is what I believe. Of course, in the end, each of us are conditioned by our past and our thoughts and decisions get affected by it. Maybe she and her sister, as they are still young, should try to think of a way to help their mom out of this situation.

    Lakshmi

    Like

  37. I am inclined to agree with Bharathee Subramanian. The mother was educated, belonging to an educated family. Not that she belonged to some backward class or a rural woman. Just the fact that she had done a PG gave her that independence to break apart from the marriage and eke out her own living. Agreed it would have been very tough, but then her parents could help her out. The daughter says that her father would hit her mother in front of her mother’s parents and they did nothing. I find it unbelievable that such educated parents could actually go through all of this and NOT stop any of it. If they were so scared of embarrassment and the lives of the daughters, wouldn’t it have been better to separate from the husband? If they didn’t go out in public and the people were aware of the husband’s behaviour then those same people would have understood her reasons for leaving. Since her social circle was of the educated class, it would have been perhaps easier than other social circles. YES, people would have talked. You can’t stop people from talking, but atleast a majority among them would have sympathized with her and respect her for taking this step. And as for the life and marriage of daughters, won’t somebody prefer being DISSOCIATED with such a family whose father is so aggressive. They would be more inclined to associate when they know that he isn’t in their lives.
    Having said that, I also feel that the father should have been treated. I am sure his parents knew about it but DELIBERATELY chose not to share it with the mother’s family before marriage and scarring the lives of 3 humans in the process. Now the daughter is in a position to change things and support her mother. I agree that in our society the word “IZZAT” has great implications but when we the so called elite have the choice and power to say “NO” and say words like I don’t care what the society thinks then perhaps one day we must and should exercise it rightfully.

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  38. Additionally, I am not sure I got the time period when they lived in abroad and when in India, but in abroad the mechanisms for domestic violence and punishment are more effective. They are more helpful and the mother could have separated with less fuss than in India.
    I happen to know a friend living in New Zealand who did the same. Her mother would be verbally and mentally abused by her father. But her mother knew that in India it would be difficult. They shifted to New Zealand and when her mother gave birth to a boy, my friend knew that things were about to get worse. She complained and then her mother also took the initiative. Now they have separated and my mothers friend is now married again and very happy.

    Like

  39. I would like to add something here. My parents got married in 1978 and we are in a similar situation. We are three sisters, and I am the youngest one. My elder sisters are well educated, married and settled. I am studying in the US to get a PhD, and will eventually get married if I find the right guy. Besides the physical and verbal abuse, my dad could never stick to his job. He would always victimize himself and sit at home, saying he doesn’t want to work. My mom’s parents and brother s always supported us financially. And my grand parents were ready to support my mom and us, and asked her to leave my dad (early 80s). But she did not.
    She was from a joint family in Sonipat. She thought no one will marry her cousins (sisters), her brothers, etc. if she gets divorced. And then after having my sisters, she was more determined to stick it out for her daughters. I don’t know if its right or not. At times, we tell her you should have just left. But I don’t think I have the right to sit here and judge a woman who sacrificed her life for her kids. We (sisters) did not get affected as badly, maybe because our mom was stronger. I don’t know. I faced less of this because I am the youngest one. My second sister faced the most, because she answered him back. He would lose all control, and the memories shake me up from inside till date. 10 days before my eldest sister was getting married, he hit and abused my second sister in front of the people working in the house, and threw her out just because she answered him back and did not let him hit her. I can’t tell you how much it hurts. And honestly, she is the one who’s most loving and has given my mum the courage to stand up against my father in the last few years. She’s the only one who is in India and is taking care of my mom.
    When I was growing up, I believed my mom would leave my dad once all of us are settled. But now I realize that is not the case. She is going to stick it out till the end. I don’t know why. I don’t know what to do about it. I try to convince her. I’ve asked her to just start living with me if she doesn’t want to get a divorce etc. But she doesn’t listen. I hope some days he dies before her, so that she gets some years of peace. You tell me, should I say my mom is crazy for doing what she is…
    And yes I can’t share this with anyone. Simply because people don’t understand. I have been in relationships over the years, but none of them worked out. I grew up dreaming of marrying a loving man who respects me. But today, I feel I don’t wanna get married. Because its not worth it. I have been with a guy for the last 4 years, and we are on the verge of breaking up. Because I feel he doesn’t respect me for who I am. And then, he feels I talk too much to my family, but he doesn’t know that its this bonding that helped us survive all these years. Anyway, this is not important.
    Whats important is that what’s the end to this – is there any way I can convince my mom to leave my dad? And if not, what do I do with my guilt?

    Like

    • Dear S,
      I understand. From my experience, you cannot convince your mom to do anything that she does not choose to do. If your mom is like mine, the pain of living with such a man is out-weighed by her perception of the pain of being judged – “what will others say? think? if I leave?” It is not a rational or objective choice – it is the sum of her lifetime of conditioning and experience.
      But does not heal your guilt. For me, its a matter of recognising that my mom is an adult woman who has chosen certain paths in her life – for whatever reasons – I don’t need to judge those reasons or agree with them – and that it is not helping her, or me, to keep asking her to leave. She needs to fulfill her perceptions of what is right or wrong.
      At the same time, when I release her in this way, I release myself from the guilt of her suffering. And I set my boundaries – cold or ruthless as they are – that if my mom chooses certain ways to live that are destructive by objective standards, then I can choose to extricate myself from having to listen to her tales of misery for the rest of my life. Its not easy to do. It takes time and strength. It’s a choice and hurts. But sometimes you have to choose to let go of something in order to find your own freedom and peace.
      And then pay it forward by not repeating your mother’s past.

      Like

  40. *not the Clueless who wrote the letter*

    Don’t you think the title of the post is so ironical? It talks of mother’s endurance so that her daughters’ lives don’t get ruined. And yet, here we have someone with so many scars, unable to make friends easily, having her marriage affected because of her past. A daughter who lives in the shadows. Excuse me, but what part of the daughter’s life did not get ruined?

    Me – Thank You Clueless!. That was the point I was hoping to make. That staying in an abusive relationship ‘for children’ does not help the children.

    The marriage proposals part – sad but true that most of our society indulges in this. I have a friend whose parents are divorced and who was actively looking to get married. I was asked to help introduce. And when I did, immediately the matter of “divorced” came up. I asked those people why it was so bad and they were apprehensive that the divorce would have messed up my friend. So yeah, it is ok to stay in abusive families with the father figure intact, but god forbid if the mother actually tried to teach some self esteem by taking control of her life. When I told this to one of the elders this is the response I got word to word – “When there are so many girls available, why take the risk”. So yes, in their eyes it is a lesser risk to marry a totally messed up girl who may not think of divorce as an option rather than someone who actually cares about herself and the quality of her life. Sad.

    On a more positive note, the younger generation is a lot different. Atleast the educated urban ones. I hope.

    Like

  41. Hi Clueless,

    To begin with, (((((((((((((((((((tight hugs)))))))))))))))))))

    It’s over, well almost. It certainly can’t be getting worse. I’m relieved to know you see in your husband, a father you wished you had, and now are assured you child will have.

    I don’t wish to talk about your father. He needs help. Medical too. I know people who don’t need any medical help. They just are this way by nature.

    Logic says, the solution is simple – your mom should have walked out with you two girls… with or without family support. Right?

    It also makes no sense why you would pretend about your situations at home, to keep friends.

    No, i beg to differ. Clueless, I understand it can’t work like that always. We’re human. We’re kids who grew up in an emotional turmoil. It can be really difficult to see what’s right or wrong. Really difficult. Those who make it sooner are lucky and brave, some of us need time… and love, and confidence… most times, we need to bring that ourselves.

    Your mother couldn’t muster the courage to take you and your sister and walk out. She was wary. But also, she didn’t forsee what you would be growing up with will remain in you forever. We often see things superficially… how will i support all of us? What about education? Society? Marriage?
    I’m not supporting these fears, but I am supporting the concern… and i’d like to believe, if your mother had completely and really understood what an emotional scar this will leave on her daughters… maybe, just maybe, decisions would have been different?

    Yes, you have grown up in situations that still scar you. I can only hope the love you receive in your family now will heal you. But if possible, would you also try to turn this around to your advantage? These scars? Will you try to see if this has made you stronger than many around you, who don’t even know what it’s like to have lived and survived something this? I’m sure it has.

    And to reinforce this strength, you need to make a decision and action it, something your mother couldn’t. Get her to move out. She has no one but you. Just like you have no one but her… Talk to her, assure her, of your well being, of your sister’s well being, and for her own self. She deserves it, and you, her daughter, will help her get it.

    Sister’s marriage… do you not wish for her to get a spouse who accepts her for who she is, and where she comes from? It’s best to come clean… you don’t know what gem of a person might be waiting around the corner for her.

    I am no one to question your decisions, or your mom’s decisions so far. Like me, you and her are humans. And god knows I have made stupid decisions too. Yes, this involved lives… but i feel it’s pointless to brood over what’s lost. You know what? I don’t think anything’s lost. Call me a blind optimist – If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.

    As I see it now Clueless, all you need is conviction about what’s your next step towards your mother and sister, and some killer guts to go ahead with it.

    Don’t look behind. Don’t question, don’t seek answers to why some things didn’t happen like they should have. Just get to what’s next.

    Hugs. Your mom needs to be safe. And is there anyone in this world other than you who can ensure that, or cares about that as passionately as you?

    Wish you all the best! And all my love.

    Like

  42. TO ALL COMMENTORS

    Cut her some slack, please!!!! It takes guts to write down what she has, and then share it in a public forum. I dunno how many times she must have battled tears as she relived her life while she wrote this.

    We cannot predict what action she will / will not take. But i do know, if she wants to hear “Yes, you can do it!”… which we know she can… then why say it in twisted ways? Accompanied by reprimanding past decisions by her and by her mother and her relatives and the society.

    I believe all wish to say that she is capable of getting her mom out of that hell, and helping her sister and mom lead a better life than so far? Let’s say it then in as many words…

    Clueless, power to you!!!!

    Like

  43. Heartbreaking. I wish her mom would leave regardless of whether her daughters are married or not. For her own sake. Daughters are educated and can take care of themselves. A friend of mine went through something like this with a schizophrenic husband who ended up committing suicide. The good news is that she came out swinging and that she is now in another happy relationship totally by her choice. She works and is independent, her kids are doing well against all odds. There are happily ever afters, however modified they may be in such difficult circumstances.

    Hugs, clueless! No one should have to go through something like this.

    Like

  44. any man who says that you are talking too much for your family is a big sign to say good bye. the controlling behavior will only increase as you yield into the 2nd situation.

    But do not let your dreams die..there are wonderful guys out there . .

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  45. Just adding my opinion to the mix here-

    I partially agree with Bharathee.

    Of course, hindsight always has 20/20 vision and all that, but there’s little doubt in my mind that the kids would have been better off if she had divorced the man. It would’ve been difficult, of course. No one is denying the social problems that divorce still ensues in conservative communities in our country.
    But the way I see it, it would still have been better than spending a lifetime being physically and mentally abused.

    I will point out that under no circumstances can this lady be called “weak”. To be sure, it was a nearly superhuman feat of endurance. It’s ludicrous to say that a person who has the capability to bear such abuse would not have the mental capability to handle social disapproval. I don’t believe that for a moment.

    The question that must be asked is not WHETHER she could have left it. The question is, WHY didn’t she leave?

    We may never know the answer to that question but I strongly suspect that it involves elements of childhood indoctrination into certain beliefs (such as marriage being the be all and end all to life).

    As humans, we are not creatures of logic. We are creatures of pride and ambition, fear and love, creatures of emotion. We all have our irrational fears and beliefs, and they are forged by our upbringing. In my opinion, it would be fair to say that the mother’s decision to stay in the marriage was made not on the basis of a logical analysis of it’s probable consequences but on the basis of emotional reasoning. The decision must be seen through the necessarily irrational prism of human nature, and once we do that, I find it hard to fault her. Living out the marriage was possibly the only option in her mind and gave it her all.

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  46. To S,

    My advice to you would be the same as to clueless. Get your mother out of there! Try your best to do it. Explain to her that the negative fallout from a divorce would be relatively minimal.

    But in the end, remember that however harsh it sounds, her life is her responsibility. You can’t force her to do what you or I or anyone else thinks is best for her – she will choose her own path and as long as you’ve given it your best shot trying to convince her, you should not feel guilty.

    The old cliché still holds true – you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

    Best of luck and a big hug to you. You sure have earned it! 🙂

    Like

  47. Dear Clueless:
    I read stuff like this and i thank the man/ woman up there for blessing me with the life he/ she did. if not anyhting, it gives me the much needed perspective and makes me say to myself-shut up, stop whining and be happy with what you got.
    having said that, i agree with some of the commenters who suggest that you should help your mom- its not too late, even now, to take the necessary steps to remove your mom from this awful situation. you are a grown woman now, an adult who is sensible enough to make the right decisions, and along with your sister, take action, do something to protect your mom from future abuse.
    your mom didnt leave when she needed to and this is what some other commenters pointed out- but whats done is done-you cannot change the past. shes probably being blamed for that enough but you can definitely influence the future. you have the power to take a stance here . there is always strength in numbers, recruit people you trust, respect, know your history, for example, your husband, your maternal grandparents, your uncles, get them on board, their help and advice on this matter. you are definately getting a lot of pointers today on IHM’s blog (bless her!)- but none of us know you and your circumstances well enough to give you the kind of guidance you really need.

    Like

  48. Clueless, pull your mother out of this mess. Do not stand back and be a spectator.As somebody once said ‘ The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing ‘

    Make your choices. Prepare for consequences. And then let the life unfold.

    Like

  49. Dear Clueless,

    If you are reading this, indulge me and please stand up. Go on, do it 🙂 Now find the nearest person around that you like – maybe your husband or sister or mom or a friend- and give them a big hug. Done? Yeah, that’s the kind of hug that I would give you if you were near me. 🙂

    No wonder you are afraid of people being judgemental- because that’s what all of us are being here. We are judging your life, your mother’s life, your happiness. We are cross-questioning every vulnerable niche you have ever been afraid of exposing to the world. If we, a bunch of strangers, have so much to say, no wonder you are unwilling to share your story with people close to you.

    Believe me, when I read your mail I thought that you were anything far from clueless. In fact, you came across as a mature, thoughtful individual. You recognize evil – you are unwilling to have it associate with what’s precious for you. “I promise myself that I will not leave my child with my father for a second, I want no part of his evil to touch my child.” Or your attitude towards something as sordid as rape for that matter – anyone who can take a lesson out of such a horrific incident – “The way I see it, this incident in both my sister and my life was like a lesson on learning to respect oneself and that you (if the universe is merciful) are the key to your freedom and how a guy on hormones isn’t. And we weren’t going to learn it any other way than this.” – is a strong woman in my book. You are in pain, you are hurting, but you are not weak. You’re not clueless at all. You know what you want, and that is half the battle.

    In fact, left to yourself, without your mother involved, you seem pretty clear about the situation. You would not give your dad the time of the day. That is very clear. So the issue is not about your dad at all. He does not exist in your framework. The issue is about getting your mother out.

    Your mother might have her reasons to stay on in what is clearly an abusive relationship. She might think that it benefits you and your sister in some way though clearly it is not. It is a sad, hard-to-digest fact but most victims of abuse carve a space for themselves in the nest of abuse. They grow comfortable in that familiar space.

    How do I know? Because my grandmother went through it. She lived in denial. The one year she outlived my grandfather she lived a free woman. Happy as a lark. She never had the option or the means to walk away. Her kids suffered – my dad and his brothers grew up scarred. They still cannot maintain normal relationships with their wives or kids. One uncle was downright physically abusive and his wife divorced him. His is lonely and repentant now, but it is sad in a way – he had never had another male role model but his father, or a female role model but his meek mother. He expected his wife to be meek, and when she was not, he hit her. She left. Abuse, whatever be the context is always wrong, but abusers are made by abuse they have endured. Most of the self beating your letter shows is a form of self abuse. You are too good to hurt anyone else, so you are trying to hurt yourself. DON’T.

    Your mother might fear society, or she may be afraid of her own loneliness as she gets old. She may even feel sorry for your father. The thing is, you have let this viciousness ruin your life so far. NOT ANY MORE. Throw it away. Stop feeling guilty for your mother – in the end, you cannot make a horse drink if it does not want to. Stop feeling her pain. Just deal with yours – you have enough on your plate. You don’t deserve the guilt or the hurt. You know you don’t. You deserve health, happiness, a wholesome life. Your life is not about your dad. You have wished him dead. Let him be dead to you. Remember, none of this is your fault. Some people are lucky to travel baggage free. Some of us are not. In the end no one can make decisions for you. Just remember that you are a strong woman, far from clueless. You will live through this.

    Hugs,
    Nitya.

    PS: Dear Clueless’s Mom – Hugs. Please leave the dad. trust me, no one is indispensable. N

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  50. clueless
    i do feel that your mother could have done something to save you through this hell. But i dont think its too late.
    You need to start working on following immediately

    – Therapy for your mother and in this case i would suggest you as well- today we have multiple avenues where people are ready to give this on call as well. We are completely missing out that This Lady did not come out of it because probably she has accepted that this is her life and we need more than just random comments for her.
    – You are educated and your sister is also educated- it would take an extra effort but its time for you to take HER responsibility.
    – STOP thinking about the society- i dont think they have done any good for you so its high time you stop bothering about it and anyway as you said no relatives/ friends are there.
    – i understand it was difficult for you to pen down your thoughts but waiting for a devine intervention has not helped anybody!!!

    You have accepted this as WAY OF LIFE but trust be IF THIS IS LIFE then its not worth it!!

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  51. IHM, I may sound very pedantic, but I fear that dissecting someone else’s choices is not a good idea. If we can help, empathise, offer a solution it is fine, if we cannot we should hold our tongues. Also our job is to offer the solution, what they do with it shouldnt be our concern, that reminds me of controlling parents, you know the kind who ‘advice’ their children when the children come to them with problems, but if the child finds a better solution or feels something else is better, then sulk that the child didnt consider their solution. Now the child might make an error of judgement in the choice he/she makes, but do you really think the parent should then rouse the ‘I told you so’ monster? Unfortunately, I think some of us are behaving like these parents.

    Me – I agree cheesychic30

    Education does give a woman independence, agreed, but sometimes its not as easy as just earning your own livelihood, I think that is the point some people wanted to make. I agree with someone else who pointed out how we are being so judgemental online, imagine how it would have been with people around them. And to all those who think that its just ‘hard’, let me say that judgemental people start coming out of the woodwork the moment such a decision is taken. I know of women who separated for the right reasons but that doesnt make it any easier. Its all well to say that she should not care about what others speculate about her character, but trust me an abused person already has low self esteem, so they are not going to view these comments as objectively as we do.

    Also lets not forget that all the observations, judgements, advice we give are based on our experiences and our standpoint. Sometimes when we try to help people, we should let them decide if they want our help. We may know that we are right and they are making a fatal error by not listening to us, but frankly if we expect the other person to do things exactly the way we see it, we aren’t really helping for the sake of help, we are helping so that we feel great about ‘rescuing’ someone. Let us not feel superior because someone asked a question and we are in a position to point them the right direction, let us remember that they have to walk on their own and if they are not ready to do that, it doesnt make them bad and it should not make us sour. Frankly they didnt ask us to live their lives, they just asked for our opinion, they didnt ask us to decide for them.

    I am sorry if I wrote a whole lot, but the chain of comments really disturbed me. While there is no need to enable victims, there is no need to crush them either.

    Like

    • I completely agree with you, cheesychic30.

      Some of the comments were disturbing, to say the least. I just have two questions here:

      1) Many of us spoke about the choice not exercised by Clueless’ mother. All of us agree that it was a very toxic situation and the kids and the mom would have been better off had they left. But are we aware that we have a choice too? That when someone asks for help(or even if she is merely sounding it out), we have a choice to say “hey, you CAN do it, it’s not late!”(tell me how this becomes sugar coating?) OR “hey, you didn’t do it and you will never do it”?

      2) All of us, at some point or another, have had friends who were in abusive relationships/toxic situations. Some get out of the situation with little help, some don’t, some NEVER. It can be exasperating for the person who is trying to help. But is it fair to draw a parallel(given that each of our story is unique despite the patterns an outsider can spot) between their lives and say, “she was successful/unsuccessful in dealing with it”, like a statistic?

      I’m aware that Clueless might choose between the two choices. But tomorrow, if someone else were to write to IHM about her situation, I choose to believe that I CAN help by offering help/comfort/kind words I can. That is the option I CHOOSE to exercise.

      May be we should take a moment to reflect back to our own dark moments and see what we drew comfort and strength from : Kind words/suggestions(from people who truly believed that it was possible to rectify the situation) or phrases like “If you do, I’ll applaud. Question is, will you?”

      Like

  52. IMH – just wondering. Do Indian regional languages have any equivalent words in their vocabularies for domestic abuse? Or even for the word ‘abuse’ for that matter?

    Like

    • ‘Yon Shoshan’ in Hindi means sexual abuse – but I am not aware of any other words that accurately describe abuse or child sexual abuse. For domestic violence – gharelu hinsa. I think there should be clearer terms.

      Like

      • It seems to me that most of these words might have been coined after the concept of abuse was prevalently spoken about. They seem to be translations of the English phrases. Our language holds clues to how we think. What I mean to question is, if our vocabulary does not traditionally have an equivalent term for “abuse” – the systematic degrading of a person, whether physically, mentally or emotionally – do we even recognize it as a problem?

        Me – I agree, for example, ‘patni’ (wife) means ‘a chattel’ and ‘pati’ means ‘Lord’. We actually have terms for ‘a fortunate, married woman whose husband is still alive”, ‘a woman who cannot have children’, or in Punjabi, ‘a sister of brothers’ …no corresponding terms for men here.

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      • @ Nitya

        Even under English law, abuse was not recognized earlier. A man had the legal right to beat his wife and children. Also, there was a very weird law passed in England that a man should not beat his wife in the late evenings so as not to disturb the neighbours! The various terms in English to deal with this issue have just come into being in the last 100 years or less. Same with Hindi, I suppose.

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  53. Hey Clueless !

    Though I feel I’m too young & inexperienced to comment here.. But,I really pity on you, but at the same time, am very very angry ! DO YOU REALLY LOVE YOUR MOTHER ?? How could you just see such nonsense happening to your mother ??
    You write so well & seem to be educated as well ! SPEAK UP DEAR ! Its High time ! Forget abt the society, sister’s marriage etc etc.. Stand up !! In some way or the other you have supported your Father by not standing for your Mother ! Wake up Sis say NO to all this !!

    Like

  54. Pingback: If she doesn’t seem to see your logic, will you support her the way she can be supported? « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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  56. Thanks for writing this. The words resonated with me.

    I was the youngest in one such household. My father wasn’t physically abusive but he was psychologically abusive. I think he might be paranoid or schizophrenic. Either way, he mistrusted anyone any of us befriended. Somehow everyone is trying to plot against us. All the friends we had as kids were trying to distract us from our studies and trying build pressure on him. So we weren’t allowed to have friends or waste time on things like playing.

    The added complexity in my case was: my mom is the second wife of my father. My brother’s mom, or my father’s first wife died during child birth. So my father (and his family) was always extra paranoid when it came to money matters and my mom. She never had any say in any of those matter. And I was the reason. Apparently, my mom wanted to get all his money for me. I spent my childhood cursing my own existence. May be they would have trusted her, if I was never born. Suicide crossed my mind quite a few times as a kid. May be I was too much a coward to attempt such a thing or may be I always hoped that once I was independent and away from home, I would be happier. I dreamed of boarding schools and jobs far far away from house.

    I had two lives as a kid: one at school , one at home. I never shared anything from one world to the other. Needless to say, I loved school. I think that was the reason I excelled in studies. That and the threats from my father that he is going to leave all of us (he was the sole earning member). The only paranoia I inherited from him or because of him, is of being financially dependent on anyone ever again in my life.

    I didn’t have a single friend as a child. All my friends are from post-school era. I gained confidence, I became more social as I grew but I still don’t mention my family to my friends. None of them know about my childhood except that I was extremely shy and quiet kid. I am not sure that I can ever share my childhood memories with any of my friends. I don’t think any of them gets how it feels to come back from school and find “the home” in that kind eerie silence.

    And for people judging my mom or any other woman in such “places”: Don’t, unless you were actually in their shoes, in that era, in that social mind set.

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  57. Reading this blog made me remember such incidents of my past which i felt i hv been able to bury.. in my case it was my mom against her in-laws and husband..unlike this lady my mom fought back which made scenes more nasty..it was very embarrasing and since and somewhere deep down a fear was taking a deep root in me and today I am 30 and a professional and earn well but i am afraid of everything… every day is a fight… getting up in the morning wishing dat wen d hell will I be free from my parents?when will they depart from this world..i have no sympathies for my mother or my father.. in their own ways they have made me into watever I am today…
    This blog was forwarded to me by a friend of mine who wanted to make me realise that there are people still worse.. but i dont feel so.. for me what I have gone through is just 2 much 4 me 2 handle..
    Yes I agree there are people who have faced much more than this etc etc but none of all that will make me feel any better… yes thats true.. momentarily though I think and thank God that at least I am over the financial crisis and al that but d kind of life I lead.. d eternal fear which I am unable to get over in spite of doing many things incl medicines, counselling.. makes me think better to die than to live like this..
    It is all very good and easy to say life is hard 2 get.. u shud respect but I have always thought y did my mother give birth 2 me…
    I know what I have written will not make sense to most but still I felt like writing.. at least here no1 can make fun of me or belittle me…

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  58. IHM, I too know of such a family where, the mother is still living in the abusive relationship and making her kids, friends and family members feel that, she has sacrificed her life for her kids. The kids hero worship their mother and hate their father. Earlier, i too used to sympathize with this lady and wonder how she managed to live with so much humiliation. Must admit that, this aunt’s parents were very very supportive. They literally begged her to leave this guy and stay with them but for some strange reason she refused. I have actually witnessed all this and it used to puzzle me, why was she not latching on to their offer and taking her kids to a better environment. With time, i realized that the man definitely needed psychiatrist help but somewhere, this lady kind of enjoyed living a abused life and getting the sympathizes of all around. Strange but till date she is staying with the guy, talking badly about him behind his back, making her kids feel she is the only one for them in this world but even now she is not ready to move out (she has two kids both adults now and one is already earning) . Not being judgmental but always found it weird that, she always had the option to be away from the oppression then why did she put herself and her kids through this. Also she claims to love her kids dearly and that’s the only reason she is living with this monster. Again not a strong claim, because these kids only abuse their father do not believe in the institution of marriage, then how has this lady managed to suffer for the good of her children why, have they till now only suffered and believe that life is only “Hell”. Somewhere, the kids are leading their lives in accordance to their mothers comfort. They feel that for so many years their mother has sacrificed her life for them and now its their duty to sacrifice their life for her..A genuinely caring Mother, educated or uneducated would somehow try to escape from such bad relationships until and unless she is in foreign land or kept under house arrest. Some one who is allowed to meet, socialize, carry on with day today activities without someone hanging around their neck 24/7 , always has an opportunity. Plus the money was also never any issue?? so y do some women stay in abused relationships??? even i am clueless.

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  59. I won’t even go to judge who is to blame in this one.. but it does make me wonder… who is really insane- the man who did not care for society and did what he felt like or the three woebegone ladies who preferred to “stay and endure” just because they cared abt the same society?
    And Clueless, I can understand your confusion. You are partly thinking of the past (abt your mother n ur whole life prior to now) and partly abt the future (your baby). But why aren’t you thinking about the present? All is not lost still. Why can’t you do something now to help your mom out of that hell? If you truly believe she endured so much so as to not ruin your lives, why can’t you do something now to help her live atleast the last few years of her life happily? Why do you have to wish and wait for your father to die for your mother to be happy? Your sister can take care of herself m sure. Seriously, come on, no point crying still. Yes the memory can’t be erased, the lost time is not going to come back, and the whole gamut of emotions are not going to go away. You ladies have lived your lives like this is no reason why you should continue to live it like that.

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  60. I have a relative who was exactly in the same situation. She has 2 daughters, and endured the abuse of her husband for years and years. The daughters were married, but the mother was left behind with the abusive father. The final straw in the hat happened when the daughters came to know that their father started an affair with someone who worked under him. The elder one risked the ridicule of her in-laws family, society and everything….and took the brave step of getting her mother out of that house. It was not easy, everyone were shocked because unlike your father, their father was a complete different personality on the outside, extremely polite and nice with everyone. He is also a doctor, so highly respected too. Everyone passed comments, and sided with the father who went around on a self-pitying spree. But the daughters suddenly became very determined, and took on the world. Luckily one of the Son-in-law’s defended that action. Now the mother is very happy and lives with her daughters spending time with grandchildren. The first year was extremely tough, but the situation now is different, they have never been this happy before.
    I pray for you and your mother too, I hope you act upon it now in some way possible as adults. Time to step up and do something.

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  61. I couldn’t read all the comments, but I must say this to your poster. My husband comes from an extremely similar family.

    Finally, after years and years of abuse, we have been able to get his mother to live separately (with us). The entire family has separated from this abusive father. There is minimal contact–he only has phone numbers and not the children’s addresses. Once in a while, someone visits him for a day. It’s a perfunctory visit.

    What it took was for all the kids to be independent and financially secure–the mother has forgone any money/maintenance–and for the mother to be finally convinced that she need not endure this any longer. The extended family has known about him for years, but never helped in any way. However, once we collectively took the step of disconnecting from him, they were supportive. There are still a few who sympathise with the father (they think we have abandoned him) and we have cut off relations with them.

    I know it’s extremely hard for you, but it is possible if you and your sister are firm and your mother has a safe place to stay in a different city (or with you).

    I will say this to the commenters.

    It’s not easy for a woman of the previous generation to separate like this. All the sympathy in this country is for the “poor old man” who no longer has a wife to cook and slave for him. My mother-in-law fights the pressure everyday and has taken to saying to strangers that he doesn’t like to travel and wants to live in that particular city. Also, in a strange way, like the Stockholm syndrome, she had got used to the abuse and still wonders aloud if she did the right thing.

    Our lawyers told us divorce laws are not useful in this country for people who have been married for as many years as these couples. Instead, we were told to initiate an informal separation. If he still tried to approach her, we were told we could send a restraining order citing cruelty and violence.

    Clueless, you can definitely fix this. It takes an iron resolve and will not be easy, but it will be better than the previous years. If you want, you can get in touch with me (maybe IHM can help) and we can email.

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  62. I can so well understand with what this girl is facing, coz I have a very similar father. At times, even I feel the same. “Let him meet with an accident”. He hits my mom so much, one night she had to just run away from him, and catch a mid night bus to be my house.My heart pours out for her and what she experiences at the age of 53!! He still goes to my sister’s place (who is married) and tries to destabilise her family. How can dads be this way?

    Me – 53 is like middle age today, I hope your mother thinks about moving away from him, even if she does not divorce him….

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  63. “I fear the murmurs of society talking about my family” ????

    Just think, what society are we talking about ? Society is what we form.I can understand that mother chickening out but not the daughters.Instead of drawing strength from their mother they lived in fear.

    And for that Father , who is unfit to be called a MAn, he is such a disgrace to mankind that rearing an animal like a dog wud do more good than to have that Moron support the family.

    I have often heard that when such people near their end they often get worse with their behaviour.But being silent abt such a torture will not render anyone the “savitri award”

    Personalities of Our women are shaped like a ‘savitri award contender’ partly i blame the parents and the ancestors.They ‘expect’ a wife/daughter/girl to endure CRAP little do they realise how torturous this can get in the long run to them as well.

    The grandmother could see the red flag but she could oppose the wedding bcoz she was expected to shut up.And that shutting up continued to the daughter.

    Oh yes as they say every family has an untold story , my immediate relative went thru similar torture.Just that the third child being the daughter would retaliate and give it back to the father.

    The middle one being the son grew up and warned his dad of dire consequences if he was sighted by anyone.

    The elder one being the eldest daughter looks after her dad occasionally but never leaves that sick man with her children alone.

    The mother is happy with the children and sumwhere secretly wishes her husband is safe , hale n hearty despite all the physical abuse and mental torture.

    The bright , intelligent , smart father who never used his brains now is left to fend for himself.

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  64. dear IHM – thanks for posting this. Dear Clueless – you are a very brave woman to have come this far. I hope you and your mom can take the next step and move out of this horrendous situation. All the best. Lots of Hugs.

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  69. i seriously wonder, if the mom did more damage by not walking out rather than sticking to the marriage. she was an educated woman who could have taken things in her hands, but then a little support from her own family would have gone a long way. it still surprises me how parents and brothers can see their daughter and sister live through hell and not try to pull her out of it.

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    • It seems violence against strangers is viewed as a crime but against immediate family or against those who are dependent on the abuser is seen as somehow justified. Her family’s support would have helped immensely.

      I agree, staying in this abusive marriage did more harm…

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  70. You know how a person/incident that has caused you much grief at a particular moment doesn’t have the same intensity some time later and especially when the person involved isn’t around you all the time. From what I understand of Clueless’s mail, her dad lived away for years and I’m guessing that each time her dad went back after a vacation, her mother felt that it wasn’t that bad after all, until he arrived on the next vacation. And so the cycle continued and she probably felt that it was easier to deal with these occasional bouts at the hand of one person rather than having to face the consequences of walking out, and having to face people’s questions and comments, which may have seemed a bigger deal to her than it is to some others.

    I am not saying that what she did was right but am just trying to rationalise why she may have made the choices she did. Though I recognise, that this is purely conjecture on my part.

    Having said that, this letter isn’t only about the past. It comes from a person with the will to move on and is probably looking for reasons to convince her mum to make the choice sooner rather than later. How does one work on the psyche of someone who has reconciled themselves to living a life with pain? Does anyone have any suggestions to help her on?

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  72. very heartwrenching. understand that the mother was married to the man at a time when the society was still very closed and conventional. must have been difficult for her to think of walking out on him. can understand what the two daughters must have gone through. i know several people who have gone through bad childhood, youth and the scars left behind in their lives. I also know many of these people who risen above it and led a good life..never letting the scars pass on to the next generation or let their sufferings become the backbone of their personality. besides knowing people i also project many such cases in my show CRIME PATROL. am not suggesting or advising..just a clear cut belief…somethings are perfect..somethings are not…what is not cannot ever be the reason to not try and make things good. some way or the other..every one goes through a turmoil…be it childhood..be it youth..be it old age. support of friends..support of society…support of even the near and dear ones may not always be forthcoming. yet…to believe that the trauma will live on forever…according to me is not true. if life can turn things upside down in certain circumstances…in a different circumstance..why can we not turn the past and its bearings upside down. lives can be made better…compulsions at times can be reasons to bear a certain situation…as is in the case of the mother..the welfare of her children. but then…after a stage…when situations change..when a person grows…when one looks back and hates what one has gone through..simply change the situation.Might sound like a simplistic solution to a monumental trauma. But then is living with it..any solution?

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  76. Oh dear. I only wish the mother had moved out. Lives would have been saved, things would have been SO different. Societal condemnation over a broken marriage unfortunately does happen in this country, but that would have been short lived, infinitely better, and they would have been so much happier without this man’s presence in their lives. Its still not too late to cut ties. What is the point of such a life? The mother’s sacrifice has done more damage, I wish she had left instead. So much could have been avoided.

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  78. I sincerely feel for you…

    But there’s an angle of the story (and this happens for many stories) that is being neglected…

    Why wasn’t the man (your father) ever referred to medical treatment…he had a physiological (cerebral) problem that was affecting his psychology…HE NEEDED IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION…and he was never given one…at least never in your narrative have you mentioned that…

    That becomes all the more imperative when so many times you’ve spoken of him as mentally deranged – “streak of madness could be passed on genetically”, “lunatic”…

    I do not dispute anytime that you’ve waded through a harrowing situation, but there are other people in your story too who too need to accept responsibility – your grandpa, grandma, you, your mother, your neighbours and your local law enforcement.

    First of all, the lunacy should have been reported for medical attention…and anyone could have done that…your grandparents, you, your mother or your neighbours. Especially since you say your mother was a post-graduate she should have immediately spotted it and taken action.

    However all you pine about in your story is – “……we talk about how we just might be a million times happier without men in our lives. Just the three of us, we could be so much happier. Although she wants to see us married and happily settled with our own families, I think it resonates with her that MAN hasn’t done much good to our lives, we were and are probably better off by ourselves, rich or poor……”

    What does GENDER have to do with it ? He is HUMAN BEING who’s ill, and needs psychiatric help. HAD THIS BEEN YOUR MOTHER, WOULD YOU NOT HAVE EXPECTED YOUR FATHER TO TAKE CARE OF HER AND GET HER TREATED ?

    WOULD YOU NOT HAVE TRIED TO HELP ? WOULDN’T YOUR SISTER ? WOULDN’T YOUR GRANDPA ? GRANDMA ? NEIGHBOURS ?

    IF YOU DIDN’T, THAT WOULD’VE BEEN SO UNCARING OF YOU. IF THEY DIDN’T, SO UNCARING OF THEM.

    So, when the shoe’s on your Father’s feet, could we just turn around and see NONE OF THE PEOPLE AROUND HIM HELPED HIM ? ISN’T THAT UNFAIR ?

    AND ON TOP OF THAT, YOU’RE SCREAMING, CURSING HIM, WISHING HE WOULD DIE ?

    ISN’T THAT UNFAIR ?

    AND……………………………………ISN’T THAT ABUSE ? CRUELTY ? TORTURE ? ON A PERSON WHO’S NOT WELL.

    DOESN’T THE LAW WHERE YOU STAY CONSIDER IT A CRIME ? DOESN’T THE SOCIETY WHERE YOU LIVE THINK IT’S WRONG ?

    AND SOCIETY – IS BOTH MEN AND WOMEN. AND A VICTIM IS A VICTIM – WHETHER MAN OR WOMAN.

    I’m in no way saying if you’ve really been through what you’ve described, you’ve seen a hell any less…WHAT I’M ONLY TRYING TO BRING HOME IS MAYBE…JUST MAYBE…YOUR FATHER TOO COULD DO WITH A BIT OF YOUR SYMPATHY…AND EMPATHY…

    And when that doesn’t show anywhere, it seems we’re walking the beaten path to Feminisville….I’d so much more like to hear something a bit more HUMAN…at least from a writer of you calibre…than an ode with an all too familiar slant….

    Maybe with a little reassurance…………..that LITTLE GIRLS LOVE THEIR DADDIES TOO…

    I’m told to the world I’m someone….but maybe to someone I’d like to be the world…

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