An email. Please do not immediately write it off and say “separation”, “legal action”… is there anything she can do BEFORE she can resort to that?

Sharing an email, ‘Please do not immediately write it off and say “separation”, “legal action”… is there anything she can do BEFORE she can resort to that?’

 And I hope Amir Khan discusses this social issue too.


I would like to claim I am a feminist and generally read all the posts with a lot of interest and passion. This post is about  a very dear friend of mine and I would like to ask the readers for their advice as to what I should do to help her.

She has been married for the last 4 years and has a baby who is 1.5 yrs old. Hers was an arranged marriage, but she wholeheartedly consented to it. It was more like, her parents introduced the guy to her, they met, spoke and liked each other and then said yes. (Absolutely no forcing or anything). Her parents are very broad-minded people and love her (and her younger sister) to the core. They have ensured that they get a proper education and is able to stand on her own feet. She is a grad from **** and is super talented, independent and strong woman. She used to work but since her in laws didn’t want her to work (and definitely didn’t think highly of a **** grad -according to them, her choice of subject = not intelligent). Now, the decision to not work and abiding by her in laws was entirely her own but she told them categorically that she wanted to work once she had kids, for which they agreed.

She used to live with her in laws in another city, but they were extremely nasty to her. No – they were not the horror MILs which I read about so commonly on yours and GGTS blog, but they abused her emotionally. Always made her feel that she is not good enough, does not cook properly and used to mouth nasty stuff about her parents. Two years into the marriage, her husband got a job in the city her parents live and they both moved out of her in laws’ house and came to this city. She has had trouble looking after her son (he is more than a handful and has constant health problems) and had financial problems setting up her own house, so as an interim measure, they both decided to stay at her parents’ place.

I have met her husband, Mr WNV, a lot of times, we have gone out and have always felt that the guy I marry should be like him. Mr WNV was the super loving, romantic, funny and understanding guy I have met and I was so happy for my dear friend. She too loves her husband like crazy. Today she called me and what she said broke my heart. He has beat her. This was not an one off incident, this has happened 3-4 times in the past. All the other times, he has been this wonderful husband, but yes, he has beat her. I am horrified. Her mother is aware of this and told her “to adjust”. Her dad is not aware of it yet – coz I know for a fact that he will never say, “adjust”. He will not tolerate any kind of nonsense on his daughters and loves them to bits.

I do not know what I should do in this scenario. It is very easy for me to just say walk out, but I know it is far more complex than that. She does love her husband and has a little baby. Again, I do not want her parents to think that I am interfering into their family affair. Should I tell her dad? Should I ask her to talk to Mr Wonderful when not Violent (WNV) and tell him firmly this wont do and threaten him with legal action? She is no more the strong girl I knew- she has become a subdued woman with a BIG lacking of self – confidence. I realize that her in laws and her lack of financial independence has made her this way.

I am requesting you to tell me what i should do to help her. Please do not immediately write it off and say “separation”, “legal action”. Yes, if that is the last and only resort available. But, is there anything she can do BEFORE she can resort to that? I feel so helpless and realize all my fine talks of feminism are useless in this society where men like to think they own their wives and get away with domestic violence.

A concerned friend.

Related posts:

Open letter to all Phuddu married men – Amit
Closing that chapter – just as if nothing happened – Careless Chronicles
If she doesn’t seem to see your logic, would you support her the way she can be supported?


117 thoughts on “An email. Please do not immediately write it off and say “separation”, “legal action”… is there anything she can do BEFORE she can resort to that?

  1. This email reminds me of this post ( on another blog some time ago. That post opened up the nuances of violence in a marriage – that it is possible to still love someone who hits you, that maybe it is possible to work things out.

    I think the husband’s attitude is important. Does he regret it? Does he want to change? Is he willing to seek help? That might be some grounds on which things can be taken forward.


    • I read the whole post and comments and felt really depressed. It is so apparent that the woman has started blaming herself for the domestic violence. She is going out of her way to appease her husband and in-laws. I don’t know if that is going to be the solution to her problems. I hope she has found peace and happiness in her life.


  2. Ok, midway through the mail, I already have a problem. The husband is super loving, caring and understanding but forces her to live with his nasty parents? I can not see any love their, just convenience on his part.


  3. Briefly:
    Talk to the husband directly and confront him on this issue.
    Get a group of family well wishers together and jointly explain, counsel and convince him.
    Give him advice on how a mature adult should handle explosive domestic situations and let him know of alternatives to simply beating up his wife.
    Don’t tell the Father of your friend now.
    See if the husband is remoreseful and willing to change.
    Once he knows that others know about his behaviour he may come around particularly if this violent streak in him is just one stray flaw in his otherwise good personality.
    Of course if he has a serious personality disorder, he may become worse.
    In that case marital surgery is the only way out.
    I hope and pray you solve your friend’s problem.


  4. So my fears proved right. I hadn’t even gotten to the beating part before writing the above comment. I think the girl should immediately kick this guy out of her home and if she wants to give it a chance, she should make him seriously apologize and get some written guarantees about what happens if he repeats it..


  5. I think, first of all, you need to sit down and talk to your friend and understand what she really wants. maybe she does want to leave the marriage but just doesn’t have the courage to do it alone. else an option might be counselling. But for that to happen the husband and wife have to be willing and open to it.

    from what I have heard and read about domestic violence, those who engage in it usually don’t stop doing it. maybe counselling might help. I don’t know.

    If she still wants to work at saving the marriage, maybe she can think about the things that matter to her. Try getting a job and having a life of her own etc. She may feel that having control of her life might make her feel stronger. Alternatively, once she regains control of her life, she may find that she does not want to continue living with a man like that.

    What I don’t understand is how he can be a wonderful, kind man when he beats her. He’s obviously just putting up a show for everyone else. He can’t possibility respect and love her if he thinks it’s okay to hit her. so think about why she should be with him in the first place. Are the kids safe with him? Is there anything he can actually give her to make her life any better? Would she be better off without him?

    Maybe one way of looking at it is: what would you like your friends to tell you if you were in this situation? As a friend,it is your duty to guide her towards what is right for her, not towards what is easy and acceptable. Also, part of being a feminist is being fearless enough to fight the society that we live in. Try to think without fear and think only about the wellness of your friend and then the answer that comes to you might be the right decision.


  6. I know of someone in my very close family where the husband who was otherwise very good, hit his wife a couple of times. Apparently the wife had some bad experience of such a thing from her own father/mother and was dead against this. So when this happened to her – probably the third time, she held his hand firmly and said strongly, you know I can hit you back to. Very firmly! PLEASE DON’T DO THIS! That was the end of this. Everything is great now, except that unfortunate part and they stay together with a daughter at 21 and son at 15.

    My simple suggestion is to say it firmly that this is not acceptable. Also at the same time remind him that she likes him and he has been good in – blah! blah ! ways.. and she appreciates it, but sorry no domestic violence.

    If there is a future and if the guy is REALLY GOOD – as it is being made out, he will definitely understand..and yes – she should also firmly consider getting in some job !


  7. 1. Get professional counselling to boost your friend’s self confidence.
    2. Get Mr.WNV to get counselling as well to help him deal with anger and control issues
    3. I know the email asks for solution before legal separation or walking out – but- if both the above do not yield results in the next six months, please prepare your friend to consider the possibility of walking out.

    I speak all of the above from personal experience – Mr. WNV sounds exactly like my ex-husband and your friend’s story about their meeting and decision to get married seems exactly like my story as well. In the beginning my parents asked to me to adjust (& would have asked my ex also to adjust, except they thought it should be the responsibility of the ex-s parents); when that didnt work out, asked me to do 1 & 2 above. Pt 1 was easy enough (as in his mind, my ex-husband thought I was the one “provoking” him and so I needed help). Pt. 2 would yield results but would last ony a short time. My counsellor advised me early on – all abusive relationships follow the phase of honeymoon-walking on eggshells-burst of violance, repeatedly. If this cycle does not break, your friend’s relationship is not helping either of the partners. While it didnt take me long to realise that I was stuck in an abusive marriage, it took me more than 5 years to even consider the possibility of moving out. My only regret today is that I should have considered the possibility of 1 & 2 not working out earlier so that both of us could have moved out and on earlier.


  8. Could it be the case that domestic violence originates from the beatings we give out to our kids. Clearly, the message they must be getting is, if you do not get the other person to behave in the way you want and the other person is under some kind of your control, resort to beating and they will comply. A civilized person, who has got the basic education of living in a society would know that you do not resort to violence no matter how frustrated you are.


  9. Yes, since violence is involved, kick him out is the first thing comes to my mind. But you want to do something before that, Your friend still loves him and a separation right now would break her, right? Several things I can suggest.

    Confront him, and talk to him about violence never being an option in an argument. The friend has lost confidence, yes thats what violence does to a normal person. Ask your friend to get a job and start working again, this would be a confidence booster for her and might bring changes in their relationship dynamics, and make her think whether it is really worth putting up with this violent person. The third thing would be to move out of the parent’s place and find their own house, rent it if not able to buy it! It doesn’t matter which set of parents it is, it is not advisable for a young family to live with them.


  10. I don’t think there’s a lot she alone can do. She can either accept being beaten, or she can refuse to accept it, it’s hard to see any middle ground here. And refusal is the only choice that makes sense.

    For there to be any hope, *he* would have to want it, to consider it as serious as she, and to be ready to radically change his way of interacting with her. I doubt “wonderful when not violent” is the entire truth though, in most cases violence is a symptom of deeper problems, I’ve never met anyone in a well-functioning-but-violent partnership. If a marriage is truly well-functioning, it’d never become violent.

    If he claims to want change, she can, if she feels the risk is worth it, decide to forgive -past- infractions. Even then however she should make it crystal clear that she does NOT accept violence, and that if he ever lays hand on her again, she’s out of there permanently the same day. She has to mean it too.

    It’s a dangerous path, because it’s so easy to end up agreeing to give him “one more chance” again and again, which changes nothing, except further reduce his respect for her. (since she’s now demonstrated that she doesn’t actually follow-trough)


  11. I think the first thing to find out is that whether this guy will be able to handle external interference in his family issues. You might confront him and he might turn more violent and blame his wife to share their details with her friends.
    Ask your friend if he is repenting? Does he feel bad about beating her up. She will know. If you get something positive out of it, then you might interfere.
    In the extreme first case, where there is no remorse, there is no point continuing the relationship as he will not stop here.
    Some things which are not clear by the mail are – Why is he beating her up? He seems like a Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type of a presonality which is highly improbable. Do they still live with the girl’s parents? If yes, it’s weird that the girl’s father do not see the changes in his daughter.
    I think the guy is the key to the solution. Is he completely lost or is there a way to bring him back?
    Personally, if I would have been a woman and my husband would have slapped me, he would have got a nice kick between his legs, but it seems women in India are very tolerant.


    • I have seen a few people in abusive relationship since high school, college, work place .. And when they cry and crib about it I used to tell them- “Well if its that bad, why dont you break up”. Then they justify ‘him’ saying that “Actually hes sweet most of the time. Only yesterday he gave me a box of foreign chocolates to make up. How can I break up then?” Now tell me what do you do with people like this?

      We had a high school gettogether recently. And some were reminiscing when a boy threw a heavy record book at his girl bcs she sat with another boy for lunch. Everyone was giggling. they wr giggling then too after a shocked exclamation. I failed to see what was funny at both occasions… Seeing my face, they nudged me, ‘oh lighten up N’


  12. I strongly believe that a person will only abuse an easy target, or in other words he will only abuse if he thinks that he can get away with it. So as long as your friend is accepting her emotional abuse(I will not talk about physical abuse, because I can’t even imagine what the victim goes through after experiencing it), her husband and her in-laws will continue to think that they can get away with anything.
    See, her mother is asking her to adjust! that right there is the problem, if you ask me. That conditioning is the culprit! Somewhere somehow she might be thinking that her not-adjusting is the problem, but I think its her keeping mum that could be creating all this..
    From my personal experience I can only tell your friend not to wait for anybody to come help her out. Not her father, not her mother, not her husband(if it is related to her in-laws). Sooner or later it is from within that all this standing-up-for-oneself should be coming from.. Hitting is not okay! that is it, period!!.. there are no ifs and buts here..


  13. Separation might not really be a good option here as the rest of the situation is fine. But she needs counseling, and she ABSOLUTELY needs to get back to work. As for abuse, something has to be done about it. She needs to be assertive and tell her hubby when he is in normal mood, that she will not tolerate physical abuse, no matter how much he claims to love her.
    And she has to put her foot down. If she keeps taking it each time it happens, the abuse will only keep recurring again and again.


  14. Honestly, all this talk of ‘He hits her, but he still loves her!’ is such utter BS that I cannot find enough adjectives to express myself. This isn’t like a parent disciplining their child, it’s a completely different relationship. This is abuse, plain and simple. And if this is LOVE, then I sure as hell would like to know what HATE is!!

    Physical / emotional abuse in an intimate relationship -doesn’t matter about the frequency- can be so soul destroying for the partner at the receiving end, that to stick to such a relationship seems like utter madness. The women know it themselves, when they say ‘Our relationship is not the same’. You’re damn right it’s not the same. How can it ever be when someone betrays your trust so blatantly? And while it may not show up now, in years down the line, these women who don’t walk away will be destroyed from the inside, and people who meet them will see only the shell that remains, and wonder where it all went so wrong.

    To quote a great Phil Collins song: ‘I don’t know why / Why do we keep holding on? / And I don’t know why / Pretending to be oh so strong…. ‘


    • THIS.

      And how can there be talk of her loving him and let’s try tohold this marriage together when there is ABUSE involved? What universe is this that actual beatings not a dealbreaker for the relationship?!

      The friend needs counseling to get her out before she gets even more trapped int he vicious cycle of abuse.


    • This isn’t like a parent disciplining their child, it’s a completely different relationship.

      Even if it was, it’s still abuse. A parent hitting his or her child is just as abusive and is also the sort of thing that embeds the idea in people’s minds that it’s okay to hit other people.


      • @Nish: Yes that’s true. I didn’t mean to say it’s OK to hit a child. What I meant is that sometimes people try to justify abusing their women by saying that she ‘needs to learn’.

        I for one got plenty of spankings when I was a child. And I only remember 2 of those times feeling like abuse (I can’t remember more). The rest of the times I just became more stubborn and it had the opposite effect!


  15. Is this not the case with most Indian wives going through violence? I believe, this is the way it is. A scenario where she does love him, and has a reason to stay along but at the same time, to the same level feels she needs to be treated better. As many other comments have told, she needs to get him to talk and then see where it can go. But before that, a few points to think on for your friend. All addressed, directly to her

    1. The Action – How often does he beat? Is his family involved in it?

    2. The Motive – Why does he raise a hand? Is it usually for money, or for emotional issues or both? How much of ego is involved?

    3. The Remorse – Does he repent the action during a better mood? Has he ever spoken about it? The classic tendency is to safely avoid this topic when the couple is in a friendly mood. He may safely change the topic and make himself unavailable for questions. To know if he feels bad is important to take a decision.

    4. The Child – Is your child around when he beats? If yes, then MOVE AWAY from him (physically, or legally, as required) We have enough issues in the world to poison a child, and viewing domestic violence is the last thing to provide.

    5. Gather yourself – You cannot fight if your self confidence and self worth is down the drain. Remember that you deserve better ( a better marriage, or betterment without one) So, gather up all your strength to do what it takes. Talk to friends ( like the wonderful one who has posted this ) who know your worth. Make them tell you on things that you excelled at.

    6. Get a job – I know, this is so easy to say. You may have your own set of issues, but it is a good idea to be financially secure, just in case nothing works out.

    7. Reach out – It is a good idea to discuss with your father. He will stand by you, help you raise and make you see a better life.

    I believe WNV may have deeper issues than just occasional violence. You should find out more, if you wish to solve them.

    More than anything, you will need oodles of strength. Hugs 🙂


    • I think your reasoning is wrong. I disagree with points 1, 2, 3 and 4. These are not questions the lady needs to ask. How does it matter why he is raising his hand or how often he does it, or whether he does it in the presence of the child or not?

      Point 3 is the most disillusioned of all, no offence meant. Many abusers do feel remorse after the abuse, and then they are nice to their victims for a while (honeymoon period). Then there is another abuse, and the cycle repeats. As time goes on, if the victim has not walked out, the honeymoon periods get shorter and shorter and the victim has lost their spirit.

      5 & 6 are excellent points though and the lady must take account of them.


      • Fem, I accept your line of thought. If I were there, where she is today – I would walk out. There would never be a line that says, say something she can do from my side. Everyone knows beating is wrong, abuse is intolerable but what do you do when the other party is at a state where she DOES NOT want to move out yet?

        Oh yes, remorse is not to forgive him or be nice to him (apologies, if my point meant that way) I personally know a father who shows remorse often, but gets back to emotional abuse every time. The honeymoon period in my family lasts for less than 12 hours. But to know, the person also wants the relationship is important, especially if she wants to do things other than legal action, isnt it?

        And the bit on child matters because it causes terrible agony to the kid, am sure you know what I am talking on.


        • Staying means putting ones life in the hands of the abuser. It’s a huge risk, and a huge amount of trust to put in someone who’s already proved (more than once) that he doesn’t deserve that trust.

          I wonder how such men would respond if they where asked to put a similar amount of trust in their wives. Let’s say transfer all the assets of the couple, including car and house etc to be the wifes sole ownership.

          I think many of them would hesitate. It’s only the wife who is supposed to trust and adjust and give new chances – he on the other hand, doesn’t need to put any kind of trust in her.


        • Ok, I see now where you are coming from. But whether or not the child sees this directly, the insidious effects will be felt by the kid. I know the frustration of seeing someone insisting that they want to stay and try to make things better, but we cannot teach them anything new, except to tell them that we will be around when they do decide to leave. Asking them to determine the level of abuse and then take action is detrimental because it actually legitmises the abuse till it reaches a certain level.


    • I think you have given a practical advice.With strength and self confidence you can better a situation if you want. Its not easy to walk out of the relationship when you know that love is involved. Relationships are not that straightforward always that we can find straightforward solution to it. It also holds true in cases where the beater is a woman and the victim is a man which also exists these days. It all depends how emotionally weak the beater is and how to work on that part


  16. the person has some deep emotional issues which have resulted in the outburst in the form of violence and if she really wants to make her relationship work, she should immediately take the husband to a marriage counsellor and a psychiatrist though no man would consent to this pretty easily. He is insecure and frankly moving to her parents house has probably traumatized his male ego!!! its better to face financial problems than to make the husband feel as if he is good for nothing.


    • “…make the husband feel as if he is good for nothing…”

      As an adult, isn’t the husband responsible for fixing his own self-esteem issues?

      Why is the wife responsible for his low self-esteem?

      That lack responsibility forms the vortex of all abusive relationships — abusers don’t take responisibility for their own behavior and blame the victims for it.


    • “make the husband feel” – so he is this big lump of helpless flesh – and it is upto the wife to make him feel ‘good, bad’ is it? He is an adult male with a job. What is preventing him from finding a place where he can keep his family independently?
      ‘If she really wants to make the relationship work’ – why is it only her burden, after all the beating and humiliation, to make things work? Do you think the guy is NOT AWARE of the violence he is inflicting. He is very much aware, and he loves it.
      He is a wimp and he needs to be thrown out on his ass. Let us stop mollycoddling him.


  17. I think she needs to have an open-hearted talk with her husband. They both need to sit and talk out their concerns. She needs to know from him as to what is it that she does that provokes him to get so violent and he needs to know that she is NOT bound to take any kind of violent treatment from him. I understand walking out may not be easy nor staying in an abusive marriage can be. Marriage is a very tricky set-up that way. But if both of them are willing to walk a few steps towards each other and work out their differences then in my opinion their relationship can get to some sort of a middle-ground.

    And also she needs to get back to work, be self-reliant and confident again. Absolutely needs to.


    • “She needs to know from him as to what is it that she does that provokes him to get so violent…”

      Do you not think that violence is NEVER justified no matter WHAT the provocation?

      The moment you start justifiying violent behavior by considering what provoked it, you shift the blame from the abuser to the abused.

      The husband has to be told that physical violence is NOT acceptable no matter how aggravating the circumstances.

      I’m sure this husband doesn’t go about punching his co-workers when “provoked”.

      If he can resolve conflicts non-violently at work, he can do so at home. It’s the attitude that matters.


      • I agree. Asking a victim to watch what she did to provoke violence makes her lose confidence and gives her false hope that she can control the abuser’s behavior by ‘not provoking’. Do take a look at the cycle of violence here, the abuser needs to change here – if the abuser does not change or doesn’t want to change, the situation will not change, no matter what the victim does. The victim should not feel fear and guilt that she is the cause of the abuse in some way.


        • I’m curious, where does the law stand on this? For instance, if the female partner slaps the male partner who retaliates by punching her in the face and cutting her lip, does the law take extent of injury into account, or only reasonable provocation?

          Not a lawyer here, but at least in the US, the guy would be in really deep trouble. If they hurt each other to the same extent, it’s possible that they will both be charged, but I don’t think it matters much if it’s the woman who started the fight – most judges will not factor that in.

          It may be different in India though.


        • Generally, you’re allowed to defend yourself. The defence must be proportional to the threat you are facing, or believe to be facing. (thus if someone aims at you with a unloaded gun, and you shoot them because you -believe- you are in mortal danger, you won’t be punished)

          If the response is fairly proportionate, only the one who initiate is punished. Who does the most damage isn’t directly relevant, the *perceived* level of threat is. Since males are mostly larger and stronger than females, a woman will more often feel physically threathened than men. A large and strong man who beats a small woman up because she slaps him, is unlikely to get off free, unless there’s some reason he can convince the judge that she was a serious threat to him. (this could be the case if she was armed, for example, I guess)


      • Do you not think that violence is NEVER justified no matter WHAT the provocation?

        I completely agree. But I guess what Deeps is suggesting subtly is that perhaps she beats him first and then when he beats her back, she’s not comfortable with it. We don’t know if that’s true, but that’s not an unusual scenario in the west. It’s still wrong for him to beat her back though and most courts in the US would put him in jail.

        If that were so, it’s not surprising that her friend in not aware of it. It’s unlikely that she would reveal that. Either way, it seems to be a messed up marriage.


        • I see your point Nish. Although female-on-male violence is rarely as injurious as male-on-female violence, it is still wrong and not uncommon unfortunately.

          I’m curious, where does the law stand on this? For instance, if the female partner slaps the male partner who retaliates by punching her in the face and cutting her lip, does the law take extent of injury into account, or only reasonable provocation?


        • @Biwo,

          I replied to you but my response came up above (as if I replied to IHM’s response). A wordpress glitch I presume 🙂


        • Thanks Nish, read your reply to my question above. Couldn’t reply to it there, so doing so here. 🙂


        • “I guess what Deeps is suggesting subtly is that perhaps she beats him first and then when he beats her back, she’s not comfortable with it.” Nish, frankly that WAS the line of thought when I left that comment up there. I mean, we’ve just heard one side of the story and I am not sure if it will be right to make assumptions and judgments based on that. That said, I’m in no way endorsing or justifying the husband’s action. No way! Biwo, I fully agree with you that violence can NEVER be justified. And that holds true for both the man and the woman.

          This matter clearly needs to be sorted out between the husband and wife, if they want to keep this marriage going. And if going by how the husband has been described as loving, caring, etc. he might be willing to acknowldge his actions. And the couple might together be able to achieve harmony while understanding the futility of living in a violent relationship.


    • I gave you a thumbs-down for this one statement – She needs to know from him as to what is it that she does that provokes him to get so violent.
      This is something I have never been able to understand – how is it that some can provoke a person to be voilent ? People do get angry in various degrees – sometimes at parents, friends, neighbors, co.workers, bosses – the list is endless but have you ever wondered why is it that it is only the wives and sometimes the children who succees in provoking the man to be voilent. The answer is very simple – because he knows he can get away with it. He is mean to his neighbor and there the neighbor would stop talking to him. He is rude to his co-worker and there the co-worker would complain to higher authority and refuse to work with him. The list goes on.
      Lets say he really gets provoked by something – is this the way you would expect an adult to behave – by being voilent ? If he gets provoked and cannot control himself he should seek professional help for his behaviorable issue. It is not the burden of the wife to ensure that he does not get provoked. Today he is provoked to hit her if she says this – tomorrow it might be because she looked that – or day after tomorrow because she wore read – do you realise how ridiculous this is ?
      Yes marriage is a 2 way step – here we are not talking about differences – it is about violence. Maybe this might sound dramatic – but someone because he is “provoked” and he hits her and injures her permanently or a hard shove leads to her death – who is responsible for it ? The woman for asking for it by provoking the man ? Even if she is a virago who goes to no end to provoke the man – his violence is not exusable. He has no right to hit her.


      • He has no right to hit her.

        100% true. But as I replied above to the other person, Deeps may be hinting at how maybe she started the fight (by hitting him first). It’s still wrong that he hits her back as it should be his first priority to get out of the fight rather than to respond to it in kind. Most courts won’t accept the “she hit me first” argument because men are naturally stronger than women (in most cases), so what he did is still wrong.


  18. Someone needs to have a strict word with the husband. Maybe the girls father shud say that ..

    I know you say not to write it off, but today he is just hitting her once or twice but it will increase and someday it may turn nasty.
    Then doing something about it will be too late, the time is now to act upon it…

    He will get bolder and bolder.. its fine he is the best man.. but is he.. maybe just maybe someone can have a strict word but I know for a fact that once someone starts to hit, it becomes difficult to stop it. The next time is always easier to hit.

    A decision has to be made soon rather then late..


    • I agree Bikram, “He will get bolder and bolder.. its fine he is the best man.. but is he.. maybe just maybe someone can have a strict word but I know for a fact that once someone starts to hit, it becomes difficult to stop it. The next time is always easier to hit.

      A decision has to be made soon rather then late..”


  19. There is no space for beating in a relationship. Period. If there is, then it is not a relationship.

    I am afraid doing something before is not an option here. There is only one thing to be done, and that is tell the wife tell her husband that she will not take abuse of any kind, mental or physical. No asking husband whether she can work, no taking permission for doing this or that. Kowtowing to all these restrictions is the reason that the man was so emboldened to beat her up.

    If he is not able to deal with the changed balance in the relationship, and it is highly likely that he will not, she can move out. There is no need to adjust even a little bit in these cases. I do not understand this desperate need to do ‘something before’. End of a relationship is not the end of life. Do you want the child growing up in a family where the mother is beaten up?


  20. Dear email Writer,

    I don’t know what you expect (as a feminist, who you claim to be) other than “legal action”.

    A man who beats his wife once, will continue to do it, and no arguments will convince him to change his mind. Describing him as a loving husband is a big joke here – the guy either is canny enough to cheat everyone around about his personality, or he has a disorder which makes him behave like “an angel” to the public and show his true colors at home.

    Your friend remains in real danger as long as she stays with that man. And as the kid grows up, it will experience this trauma too – seeing the mother beaten up, or being beaten up as well.

    Think what is more important here: a comfort of having everything look pretty and swiping the dirt under the carpet, or providing valuable help?

    If the parents of your friend are indeed reasonable people the safety of their daughter and her child will be their priority over societal face.

    Basic rule: You never discuss or bargain anything with an abuser. Period.

    Think about it.


  21. Relationships and love are not black and white, and walking out on someone you love, is an incredibly hard thing to do. Even if you know it to be right thing to do. There is a word in Congo, ilunta (, which literally means “A person who is willing to forgive abuse the first time; tolerate it the second time, but never a third time.” (Apparently its a lot more subtle than that).

    I have a very close friend X, who was in a committed relationship with this guy Y.

    Y, once in a rage over what he thought was X’s “misbehavior” , slapped her so hard that her cheek and eyes were swollen and black and blue. When she called me sobbing, I told her to break up right away because no matter what he thinks she did right or wrong, he has absolutely no right to hit her.

    But she did not break up. She stayed away from him for a while, and then after a month or two had a very firm discussion with Y that she would not tolerate this again, no matter what.
    So they made up and continued on. For years afterward she was afraid when their arugements got heated, tried hard sometimes to provoke him , and sometimes to avoid it all together.
    Today, they are married with a son, and she is perfectly happy, and has * almost* forgotten the incident.


    • Agreed, the world is not black and white. Your friend however did the one thing that is crucial: she made it abundantly clear that she will not tolerate it. By staying away from him for a month or two, she demonstrated that.

      Even so, it’s hard, and risky, to trust that someone who’s demonstrated that he sometimes uses violence in anger, will never do so again. People tend to repeat behaviours more often than not. Would the husband forgive her if she had an affair ? That should be far less threatening really since nobody ever died from being cheated on.


    • “For years afterward she was afraid when their arugements got heated, tried hard sometimes to provoke him , and sometimes to avoid it all together.” – This is happy? Being afraid to voice your opinion because you are afraid it might lead to violence?


      • Exactly, living in perpetual fear of violence is as bad as actually being subjected to it.

        Not saying that the lady in question did not do the right thing — perhaps the breach of trust was something they both worked very hard to rebuild…


      • Yes, clearly, I don’t agree with her approach. It would not have worked for me. But then everyone is different …
        That’s the route she chose. She chose being worried about fights , and giving him the time to build up that trust again. You and I may have found this unacceptable, but it was acceptable to my friend.


    • To be clear, the only reason I shared my friends story was to say that this was an approach she tried , and has worked for her. But even so , in this rare case, when it worked, it has come at a cost. The years that it took to build back that trust. Till she could get back to a point where she could be sure he would never hurt her again.


  22. In the last few days I have been really busy with work and have not been able to comment on any of the previous posts here. But your issue is something which I felt I must share my thoughts on it – coz this is what I have also been through – put down constantly by in-laws and an abusive husband.
    You see the Mr.Wonderful part of him because this is the picture he wants to present to the whole world. So that when your friend actually decides to come out with the truth there would be many people not willing to believe her or give her doubts that such a wonderful man cannot be the monstor she considers him to be. This is all a part of the drama.

    You say, he has hit her not once but a few times. Why ? I will tell you why – because he knows he can get away with it. Honestly it is as simple as that. How many men have you come across who have hit their boss because they could not stand the person. It is all about living with the consequences. When my ex used to hit me the initial times, what used to follow was a long round of apology and make-up – sometimes as drastic as touching my feet with his head. Later when beatings became routine it was like – hey woman i said sorry and now it should be ok.

    All the more in this situation we should be concerned about the baby. Children understand far more than we realise. What kind of upbrining is it for a child to see his mom ill-treated in any way by his father. Do you think he would be able to respect his father and mother simultanoeusly.

    I would definitely suggest legal separation – but there is a time for it – each need to decide on their own. I took 5 years to move out – looking back thats my only regret that I took so long.
    Anyways in your friend’s case – the first step is to realise that there is a problem. Even you with all your good concerns, want to wish that there is no issue here and with some magic Mr.Wonderful would stay that way. However it does not happen. They both need to work on their marriage – opt for counselling and take professional help. If the guy has anger issues then it would not go away as such. He needs help and most importantly he should be willing to take it. Does he love his family that much ? And your friend must work on building her self-confidence. You can help her in this but if it is too deep rooted, counselling would definitely help.
    Or they may consider trial separation. They could work in different countries/cities and use this time to analyze their feelings.

    I hope your friend gets the courage to do what is right.
    Please do not ignore the situation – it needs to be handled.


  23. It is evident from the mail that the beating is not a one time thing (though I personally wouldn’t take even a one-time beating). Unless the man goes for counselling, I don’t think there is any way out. This man will beat and beat again.


    • I find this sentence incongruous:
      “Her parents are very broad-minded people and love her (and her younger sister) to the core”
      Really? Broad-minded parents ask you to adjust when domestic violence happens? A parent that loves the child does not use the word “adjust” in such situations. Period.


      • I had often realised that in Indian context to be broad-minded means to accept the girl child – allow her an education, allow her to have a career and some amount of freedom to choose a man(if she chooses from the list they have short listed).
        I would agree no parent who loves their children would ever ask them to “adjust”.


      • Broad-minded, modern, progressive, liberal – are only buzz words in the context of today’s image of a typical Indian family. And by typical I don’t mean a family where abuse is present – because hitting a wife can by no means be considered a “norm”.

        Sadly, these are words overused, or used with an attempt to disguise the real deal.


      • Agree Shail. And how does one really “adjust” when domestic violence is involved?! It all boils down to the pressure of marrying and staying married. The day I got married my mom told me that irrespective of what everyone else says, the house you grew up in will ALWAYS be your own house. No matter whether you get married, or divorced or go anywhere in the world. This will be one house which will always be open to you. And though I always knew this, it was just so comforting for me to know that my mom also thinks the same way.
        If parents are strong enough and care about their children first, rather than the society , then most of our problems would go away.


  24. I very strongly believe that she should talk to her father and sit down both her parents and discuss what is to be done. The most important thing is that she has support from her family, especially if she is so close to them. Counseling and talking to WNV might or might not work, but having your parents by your side through all of it, now thats something she would need for sure.


    • She definitely needs her parents’ support but should her final action depend upon how supportive (or unsupportive) her parents are?


  25. Any final ‘solution’ would be the woman’s prerogative but I would like to state that contrary to what thepinkbing’s and Anil Singhal’s cases would have you believe, it is HIGHLY unlikely that this husband can be ‘made to understand’ or ‘helped to realize’ against hitting his wife again. Going by articles that I’ve read by experts on such issues, a husband resorts to violence as a sign of dominance i.e. he sees himself and his views as being more important than his wife’s. And non-compliance of his wife’s actual behavior with his expectations results in his aggravated response i.e. abuse.

    Also going by what the poster has said: “She is no more the strong girl I knew- she has become a subdued woman with a BIG lacking of self – confidence. I realize that her in laws and her lack of financial independence has made her this way.”, it is pretty clear that there is much more at play than just physical abuse, probably a complete depletion of self esteem by pervasive psychological and physical abuse over a significant period of time.

    What she does (or doesn’t) do is entirely her call, this is just my understating of things.


    • I don’t think a slap just comes out of nowhere, before that first slap, comes the belief that a slap would be acceptable/tolerated. If there is respect, violence would not happen. If it does and if there are still any claims of genuine affection and respect, then the violent partner should be willing to make genuine efforts to seek help for his problem – claims of provocation should be seen as a warning to escape.


    • Swarup, you make an important point. And since I’m a direct relative of the husband and very close friend of the wife (now, that is why she shared this with me) I can say it works only if the wife is strong enough to be firm! And if she hold his hand next time he hits & talks firmly, I’m sure all that sheepishness would be a thing of past and they can make it work. Again, on both of them For commentators like us having a thin slice of their lives, it is easy to say one way or the other.. but real life situations are with lots of gray shades.

      So, while I agree with your point of view, but I also want to strongly emphasize on what IHM says in response to this – that if there is genuine effort from the hubby, it might work and I think it is worth a try. But, it should be with a strong – just “one life” to you – you use it- its over types!


  26. I’m really disillusioned by some of the comments who suggest that relationships are nuanced and these nuances are subtle and fluid enough to accommodate hitting your wife (spouse?).

    Also – IHM, I was wondering if you’d consider doing a post on the description/definition of words like “broad minded”, “liberated”, “open minded”, “feminist” etc because the last so many letter writers have used such adjectives and have gone on to describe something completely different.


    • Also “strong, independent woman”. The woman who is abused here is described as strong and independent but chose to not work because her in-laws said so. What kind of a strong and independent woman chooses to give up her career because her in-laws are not happy?


  27. Here is a link about a man who gouged out the eyes of his girlfriend, and mother of his children. I was discussing this case on FB, and it is rather horrifying how many people came out with DV stories. This will show the email writer what waiting to do things ‘before’ does to the victim.

    An excerpt: “In an interview with the BBC, Nash said she thought she could change Jenkin. She warned other victims of domestic violence to get out before it was too late, adding: “It’s not going to get better, it’s going to get worse.”” – Read and Learn.


  28. First hit should’ve done it. Evoked a series of talks and on the way to either break or mend. The first time my SIL got hit, I didn’t get to know. The second time she called me and cried. I told very firmly to my husband to go and get her, right then. That should be the kind of action that is needed. Talks can come later. The abuser should know that there will be consequences to his action, no matter what the reason was. And talk they did, her ILs and parents. And I made it very clear to my husband that if she is ever abused again, even once, I am myself going there and getting her to my house forever. Yes, I was PISSED!
    Pray tell me, where is love when you are able to hit the adult person you love, are married to, have kids with? I agree with one of the above commentator, that she should firmly and very loudly say STOP! She can even shout or use gestures to make him see that she’s not kidding around. She has to make him known the consequences. And that is where the writer of the mail should help her. To get that kind of confidence. First, the abuse needs to stop. Second, he needs to apologize and give it in written that it will never ever happen. Three, the parents should be made to know this, if they can handle it. They have a right to know if their daughter is being wronged. Four, be ready to move out any time, if you see a slightest hint that you have no respect despite all your efforts. Yes, get that job girl. If not then, you need it now and you need it badly.


  29. I wondered about the prevalence, and decided to look it up. From what I could find, it appears that your friends is one of many. The National Family Health Survey from 2006, available online here: have a chapter on domestic violence.

    It says that aproximately one third of all females aged 15 – 49 has experienced physical violence or sexual assault, and married women are more likely to have been abused by husbands than by anyone else. 37% of married women have experienced physical abuse or sexual assault by their husbands, the most common thing is to be slapped, which 34% experienced, followed by having their hair pulled or their arm twisted at 15% and being raped at 10%.

    These numbers are shocking to me, I wonder if they might not be worth an entire post. A full tenth of all married women have experienced being raped by the husband, and almost 4 out of 10 has been slapped.

    The report also shows how important culture is, it’s not something men automatically do, but rather something that is much more common if a culture is accepting of spousal violence, there are huge differences based on education-levels and geography. While nearly half of all uneducated women have experienced violence, only 12% of those with atleast a dozen years of school has. In Himachal Pradesh the prevalence is 6% while in Madhya Pradesh has a whopping 46%. I think this, if anything, shows how important it is that we not sit silently by and accept such behaviour.

    Women and men share responsibility for this culture; 54% of women say that it is justified for a man to beat his wife “under some circumstances” such as if she disrespects her in-laws or neglects house or children. This is another number that is shocking to me. It’s more than half !

    Your friend, in telling you and seeking help, is actually among the bravest few; about two thirds of the abused never tell anyone about what happens, and only one in four actively seek help of any kind.


    • “While nearly half of all uneducated women have experienced violence, only 12% of those with atleast a dozen years of school has.”

      That 12% of educated women would not include the numerous middle-class women who would rather die than confess to being abused by their husbands. This comfort in denial is sanctioned by middle-class morality.


      • These where anonymous surveys. A full two thirds of those who said they’d experienced abuse, never told anyone about it.

        Offcourse it’s possible that some people say no, even to an anonymous survey, and thus that the real numbers are even worse.


  30. There are no easy solutions here. He has hit her many times and she does not want to leave him. The letter writer says that the mom has told her to “adjust”m but the father has not been told. Why? Probably because the father would not put up with the son-in-laws behavior. The problem to some extent is with the friend. Her in laws (as well as husband) have destroyed her self confidence and financial independence.She also bears responsibility for the lack of financial independence as she willing agreed to stop working after marriage. The only way to change her situation is to change herself and her thinking a little bit. She should try and get a job and get back her financial independence. She should give her husband an ultimatum ie . if he hits her again she will leave him, and she should follow up on it. By the way when I say the problem is with the friend, I do not mean to imply that it is her fault that the husband hits her. But the change has to come from within her that she should not put up with this behavior from her husband. As far as the husband is concerned, how is he going to change? Has he shown any remorse for his actions? The friend’s mother obviously thinks it is not a big deal since she told her daughter to adjust. The father has not been told. I doubt if her in-laws will care. Will he go to a therapist? Only if he thinks he has a problem, and even then I doubt it. A person like the husband needs to be told that his behavior is unacceptable, by her, her parents, and his parents, only then will there be a chance for change. A person like “Mr wonderful, loving and romantic” has to be confronted and told that he is not all that “wonderful” and knock it of or else face the consequences.


  31. I feel it is very important for you to first empower your friend. She has lost the sense of herself. Perhaps, you can first encourage her to start working. A taste of independence will bring about a lot of change in her husband’s and her attitude. It will give her the confidence she lacks at this point. Things may fall into place thereafter.

    But if the violence still continues, it may be better for you to make her realize that it is NOT OKAY to be abused in a relationship by the person you LOVE. An abusive husband affects the upbringing of children in that household. Ask her if she is willing to compromise on that front.

    You confronting her husband may not be the best idea since he can beat her further for sharing all this with you.

    Talking to her Dad should certainly be an option…perhaps a last resort.

    You are a good friend. Please don’t give up on her situation.


  32. Many responses here have said it all about how DV is not a one time affair, and how she must not accept it and raise a hue and cry or whatever she can do, the abuser should not have the belief that she is going to cry and adjust anyways. And yes she SHOULD NOT.

    I think you should tell her to talk to her Dad about this immediately.


  33. It’s very sad to see the mom tell her daughter to “adjust” when she knows what she is going thru with her husband. Hell, it’s as criminal, if not more, for your own parent to not support you during this time and I’m seriously sick of the Indian mentality and the fake standing they wish to attain in the eyes of the society. Ugh!

    It doesn’t matter how sweet or nice the guy might seem to be, but once you start hitting your wife, to a point where it becomes habitual, he pretty much has lost any respect for her. It can and probably will only get worse from this point on. The wife absolutely needs to stand up for herself first and foremost and tell him that she will not tolerate any sort of physical violence from the husband. By silently suffering, she is only making her husband more powerful and letting him take her for granted.

    As a friend, you NEED to tell her father about this ASAP, especially if you think he will stand up for her and protect her. You do not want to walk out on her; the last thing she needs right now is to lose your support too and feel totally alone and by herself.


  34. Maybe your friend could tell her husband that domestic abuse is punishable by law and that the next time he is abusive, she’ll call the cops?
    I agree with the commenter above that India’s view on corporal punishment for kids may make domestic abuse seem like “punishment”, and taken lightly. She has to make it clear that it won’t be tolerated, and that not only will she leave him if it happens again, but that he’ll get jail time for assault.
    Sorry I don’t have “make-up” advice,, but I don’t think wonderful and violent are modifiers that go together. Your friend needs to take off her rose-colored glasses and see him for what he is.


  35. I think the father should know and she should move to her parents house atleast till she is very sure this would not happen again . This is what society does to well educated women . Its a shame


  36. Dear Letter Writer,
    There are so many things about your letter that breaks my heart, so please allow me to lay my thoughts out in points –
    • Firstly the abuse is not just physical; I will come to the physical abuse later. Let me start off with the emotional and mental abuse. A partner who stands by and watches as his family belittles and subjugates his wife – by questioning her intelligence, skills, education and family is not worthy of being called her partner. He has equal if not more share in the abuse experienced by your friend. Why do I say more? Because he married her, not his mother, not his father – he. Thus his willingness to stand by and watch is even worse than anything a third party in their marriage (FIL/MIL) have said or done.
    • Secondly his silence makes him party to what his parents are saying about her. He has not defended your friend that he chose to marry. That is a choice he has made to keep quiet and it must be placed squarely on his shoulders. If he is so clueless that he did not know what his parents were saying or doing it just points to his absolutely apathy towards his relationship with your friend. I say this from experience – my ex-husband’s parents said pretty much the same things to me and I justified his behaviour when he did not interfere. I was wrong, if someone cares about you they will not stand by and watch you being shamed and belittled. I ask you would you keep quite if it was a friend, so why then do we hold up her husband to lower standards? As her partner should he not be held up to higher standards?
    • Thirdly what exactly are “horror IL’s”? If your friend has gone from a home where she is treated as an equal part of a family, with respect and honour to one where every aspect of her worth is questioned is that not “horror”. The scars we carry on our bodies will heal with time, but the ones we carry on our psyche are like broken bones. They will heal and mend, but when the weather is bad the ghost of pain will always linger.
    • Fourthly the fact that Mr WNV comes off as charming and personable to the world is no surprise. As we grow up and learn to function with the wider world, most of us learn to control our impulses – the ones who don’t fall within a wide spectrum of mental health conditions. If your friend’s husband had fallen within that spectrum I can assure you Domestic Violence would not have been the only sign of deeper problems.
    • This brings me to my fifth point, the domestic violence that your friend is currently enduring. I ask you does he punch his friends out if they do not agree to watch the movie he wants to watch, does he lay a hard one on his colleagues if a project is running late – No. The only one with whom he seems to have no control around seems to be his wife – your friend. Why? Because he can get away with it. At the heart of every abuser is a coward, one who will only pick on the weak, the one they have physical power over. And it is abuse, Mr WNV is an abuser. He who can rationally talk it out with his friends/colleagues suddenly loses control only in this relationship?!? Rationally that makes no sense – if he had a problem that would have manifested elsewhere as well. Further he stood by and watched (played an active part in) as your friend lost her confidence and became all the more dependent on him financially/emotionally. This is a power play with multiple forms of abuse, and one Mr WNV knows he has control in. Our truest self is seen in how we conduct ourselves in the most intimate of our relationships, when there is no world watching to judge/applaud us and Mr WNV has proven himself to be an abuser and a coward.
    • Sixthly your friend has chosen you to confide in. She has already spoken to her mother who has told her to “adjust”, if that was what she wanted to do we would not be having this conversation. There is still a tiny spark of your old friend not beaten down in there and she has reached out to you. Love my dear does not exist in isolation it is a function of respect, trust, honour, consideration, concern, passion and million other tiny beautiful things. None of these exist where abuse and fear are present. Please step up to the plate to help your friend in her time of greatest need, and that might just mean shattering her illusion of love and breaking her heart and helping her set herself free.
    • I say tell her father, get her the support she needs to break free. Make sure that Mr WNV has no access to her or the child. Where abuse is concerned there is no scope for counselling (and I believe in counselling). Here we are dealing with not just physical abuse but mental and emotional abuse as well. The great tri-fecta so to speak.
    • Finally I want to say I have seen some comments along the lines of she should stand up for herself, why hasn’t she, she should never have given up her job, etc. – these are all just variations on the theme of victim blaming. Further as a survivor of abuse, the shock of abuse is one that robs you of thought, speech and any sense of agency – so please tread softly. We do many things in our life that we look back at and wonder what we were thinking, so we can only look forward and hope our experience makes us better at the craft of our life.
    I will not go into the impact of abuse on children etc., as though it is an important issue I believe the value of your friends’ sanity, health and life is more than important in the path you choose to support and help her. I shall end here and hope that though you may not want separation to be the solution, it is the only one and you still have time for that to be an option to help your friend before it’s too late for her.
    Much love,


  37. I would say that first step needs to be joint counseling. This is not about what I would do in that situation or anyone’s feminist credentials. The woman in the picture needs to figure out what SHE wants to do. Professional counseling can provide a framework that helps people make better choices in their own behaviour (either hitting or dealing with it/not).

    I think the very worst thing would be for any set of parents to interfere when the woman is not interested in leaving the relationship. If I don’t want my husband’s parents to have a say in my marriage, it is fair to keep my parents out of it too. This is the couple’s situation, made by them – to be figured out also only by them.

    Family groups do not counsel, they advise. Often it just gets a person resentful and more set in his/her behaviour for which they are being ‘counseled’. Advice of all kinds mostly sucks, with unsolicited advice being the worst of all.

    If she can’t get joint counseling to happen, then at the very least, she needs to consider it for herself. Will help her figure her own steps forward.


  38. Financial probs/ small kid/ new life all reasons are same for both Wife and Husband!

    So can she hit her when the kid is bothering her/ or any other stress as it may be the justfication for his beating! If Father would support then why not tell him! afterall mother is not helping …. why do we think twice to get support for female in the family so much.

    Simple question but hopefully should give an answer!
    How would the guy respond if wife did this to him? would he remain Wonderful and not violent ??
    would he think objectively and think of it as one time thing/… do counselling… blah blah blah
    or LEAVE her!


  39. These are the things the woman must do:
    1) The next time the husband hits her, STOP HIM. Say in very strong words that this wont do. If he still hits her, give him an ultimatum. Do not be soft hearted if later he behaves properly. He has to prove himself for a considerable time that he can behave like a civilized person.
    2) Get yourself a job! She obviously wanted to work after getting married, and had to quit because her in laws did not like it. I dont know how it was her decision to quit when her in laws didnt want her to quit!
    3) Let her dad know of this situation. It is his right to know what is going on in his daughter’s life.
    4) The next time the in laws say anything emotionally degrading to you, REPLY BACK! You dont have to respect your elders just because “respect your elders” have been thought to us since we were young. To respect them, they should respect you, and not insult you. Even if you dont have to stay with them, just hearing them talk insulting things to you on the phone can be emotionally abusive. Let your husband know of what they say (if he does not know already)
    5) Make it clear to the husband that you will think about continuing the relationship only if he seeks help and therapy.

    I would advice the friend (email writer), not to tell her friend to “adjust”. Please tell her to stand up for herself. Talk to her continuously of what she is doing by not standing up for herself is not right!


  40. I guess no advice is needed…

    the lady would know if the husband regrets losing his temper or not… if he does they must talk and ensure he will not repeat it and behave like a mature adult… if its only heat of the argument thing… she will know if he regrets or not… and if he is apologetic and remorseful…

    the answer is with the lady and no one else…


  41. IHM – there is no doubt that the right answer is to walk out of this relationship – let the man never lay eyes on his child and to land him in jail. And for the said lady to move on. but here in lies the problem – how realistic is it for a divorced, single mom to move on in our society. She will be taunted and abused. Considered damaged goods and a free for all. I have seen this happen. I am currently trying to help a family member find her way out of an abusive relationship – the prospect of societal blacklisting scares her so much that she even considers continuing to stay in the abusive relationship. When a child is concerned it becomes more complex – our society treats children of single mothers as outcasts, we teach our children to do the same.


    • Hi Sharon, the situation is not so bad for everyone who decides to walk out of an abusive marriage. I did with my 3 yrs old daughter. She is 7 now and I am bringing her up on my own. Am financially independent. I agree with you that some of my relatives and aquiantances were nasty about the whole affair but on the whole things have never been better for me. I command a lot of respect at my workplace. Seeing my stance my relatives are careful abt behaving properly with me.

      Things do improve for some of us and despite the lows I would wholeheartedly suggest moving out of abusive marriages ESPECIALLY if there are kids involved.


  42. I don’t know if there is a solution beyond the “leave immediately”. The physical abuse is a regular thing- not a one off affair. And yes, it is quite possible for people to “love” their abusers. It happens a lot- and it is not only because of economic dependence or social pressure. Relationships are complicated and nuanced. One can grow emotionally dependent on abusers and need their approval to be happy. It is not a healthy relationship nor does it justify the abuse, but it happens. The sane recourse for this lady is to leave. Because the violence will only escalate. It will be very difficult for her to come to this decision- but no one else can make it for her. I would suggest finding domestic violence counselling for her which would give her the tools to cope and move out of this situation.


  43. I think the trouble is that we women are expected to set very low standards in what we expect.

    I can quote my own example. My husband and I are IIM batchmates, and two kids and many years later our friendship has got deeper and better.

    My own folks, among everyone else I know, think I am ‘very lucky’. Because the man is a nice chap, he is pally with my folks and in general does not have ‘I am the man’ hang-ups. I would like to think I am okay too, am definitely good with his folks and do not have any kind of hang-ups as far as I can see. No one has told me any such thing either so I assume I am right in my assumptions. In short we are similar in all respects except our genders.
    HOWEVER does anyone think he is ‘lucky’ too???! If they do they have never said it!

    I have no issues in folks singing paens to him and not to me. Am perfectly fine joining in, in fact it is a running joke between the two of us. Just pointing this to make my point in a super long-winded way. Which is this – low expectations from what the man should be like, and sky-high ones from the woman.

    Please ask your friend to stop taking nonsense. She has to make it clear the husband cannot do what he is doing. It is not okay and will not help anyone. If he indeed as wonderful as he is made to sound he will see sense. If not, I know there are no easy answers.


  44. She should regain her self confidence… ask her to go for counselling… if possible ask both to go for counselling…. it is important for her dad to know what is happening to her… He will surely help her…


  45. What is this concept of ‘love’ that we women have been fed on from generations? Please understand that ‘love’ is something that noursihes your soul, something from which you draw strength, something that makes you good about yourself. Love is not something that wipes out your self-respect, that humiliates you, that reduces you to a non-entity, that makes you afraid day after day. So first of all, please stop saying that there is love in this relationship. Due to the relentless abuse, humiliation and added dependent (in the form of the baby), the victim is far out there, living minute by minute.

    I have seen abusers – the men who are wife-beaters. Their profile fits the one you have written. They are suave and very social. The monster lurks beneath. You are her friend and you believe her – but let her try telling that he beats her elsewhere; no one will believe her because in a social setting, he comes across as a gentleman. Someone commented about regret and repentence. It is NEVER going to happen, please dont delude yourselves. It will progressively get nasty, and now, there is a new victim in the picture – the child. These men are psychopaths in the making and they love this control they have – to dispense ‘kindness’ in measured quantitiies, and then the beating. Just being verbally abused is enough to dent our self esteem for a long time. Imagine the damage, the utter damage done when one is beaten. The victim loses all self esteem, all self respect, all identity – she would probably hate to see herself in the mirror. When this stage is reached, she becomes more or less a mental slave. Those moments of kindness make her excessively grateful, and soon, she will be justifying the beatings.

    It will not stop with the beatings. In a few years, she will have to put up with ‘whom are you having an affair with?’ ‘why did he smile at you?’ ‘did you sleep with him?’ and so on – any reason for a thrashing.

    From what I know of such cases, it will take a decade for the woman to walk out, because the beating that finally breaks her would see her staring at death. Thats when she snaps out of it. By then, understand that the child has grown up in an atmosphere of domestic violence, and will be permanently psychologically scarred.

    Tell me one thing – is it not enough, what your friend has endured? Is it not enough she has been reduced to the gutter? Is it not enough she feels like a trapped rat with her own mother betraying her? Is it not enough that she is surrounded by people who draw pleasure in demeaning her, treating her worse than an animal? Yes, dogs receive more love and attention and care when compared to many women in India. So give me one good reason why this so called marriage has to be ‘saved’?

    More than counseling, it would help if your friend had the chance to interact with victims of abuse. She will immediately see the pattern, and she will be able to predict the way her life will end up. Cousnelling will NOT help. From what I see most counsellors think marriage is so holy, it has to be saved at any cost.

    And finally, SHAME on the mother – just SHAME, SHAME.


  46. Thank you everyone for all your suggestions. At the outset, i apologize for not replying immediately. Me getting married tomo and having mehendi on my hands, but i did read all the suggestions here with all earnest.

    Yesterday i had another conversation with my friend and tried to put forth some of the suggestions given above. What i dont really get is, after all this, she still says i love him too much. What prompts an educated,independent woman to put up with domestic violence and still state ” Love my husband”? It is social conditioning i believe. In tamil, there is a saying, Kal aanalum kanavan, pull aanalum purushan( meaning, husband is husband, even if he were a stone or a blade of grass). Why do parents say adjust?

    To reply to Sumana above, yes you are absolutely correct. It has not stopped with just violence. He does have a problem with my friend talking to our school friends(guys) and attributes it to possessiveness.He claims he is so concerned about her and doesnt let her come out with us late nights. I guess i was thick and never realized how it is all so demeaning to his wife. She feels suffocated, but still loves him for these very attributes.


    • First of all – CONGRATULATIONS! And we all wish you a marriage filled with love, laughter, respect and beautiful moments 🙂

      Your response about your friend sent a shiver down my spine. I pray that your friend and her child will remain safe. I know of a similar case, and I have very little hope that things will get better. it’s almost like stockholm syndrome when the victim displays such strong emotional attachment to her abuser 😦


    • Congratulation in advance 🙂 .. You have a great life ahead !

      As for your friend, it is typical, mostly conditioning. It becomes part of your psyche and part is is courage too. You want some excuse for feeling good about yourself – not facing the truth on some pretext is always easier than accepting responsibility and acting.. all the best to your friend too. I believe this 90 responses that you have to this – and if all of them sincerely pray for just 1 minute.. it would send her enough energy to act !


  47. I am also aware of few such cases. But in one case I know of (a close friend), the situation grew so out of control that the guy did not see any other option to end the never ending fight of the evening. Else it would have gone worse because the girl too did all violence except the beating part. Adding to that, he was also Mr Wonderful in saner situations. Though I don’t justify his actions and my heart reaches out to my friend, I think it’s very difficult to make a judgment here. Mainly because sometimes the couple’s fight gets so bad and violent, that it ends up in one of the partner beating other. And since the rest are too personal and private, only the beating part comes to picture and makes the beater a villian. This happened probably twice in their initial days of marriage. But things only got better after that. Both the parties without involving any outsider, sorted things among themselves and made sure this would never repeat again. So, the gist of all this is that if the guy is really wonderful, then it will not be too difficult to make him repent and taking an assurance that it would not repeat again. She can either chose a smoother way of discussing this issue calmly with him or the rougher way by telling him that even she can do the same and will do (as Anil Singhal comments says). Separation is definitely not a solution for this.


  48. No – they were not the horror MILs which I read about so commonly on yours and GGTS blog, but they abused her emotionally. Always made her feel that she is not good enough, does not cook properly and used to mouth nasty stuff about her parents.

    Lines are contradicting. THIS IS HORROR for this e-mailer’s kind information..

    he will never say, “adjust”. He will not tolerate any kind of nonsense

    This is what should have happened.


  49. maybe she should give her husband the warning that she would leave if he ever hits her again. maybe the husband feels bad about hitting her but does it anyways out of anger. if she tells him that she will leave, then maybe he will try harder to control his anger. i love my husband like crazy but I had told him before we got married that if he ever even slaps me i will leave him. Even if we fight or get angry at each other, he knows that hitting me would mean he will lose me forever so he always controls his anger. also talking to him and tell him that his behavior hurts her a lot might help.


  50. I read that the dad will be horrified if he knows? If this were my friend I would make absolutely sure the dad knows. Your friend may love the guy but there,s a child involved I’d say she needs counseling and a major boost to her self esteem. And for the life of me I can’t understand how someone would call a man who let his wife give up a job she liked, listened to 2 old people constantly berate her, not capable of financially supporting his wife – after letting above old people make her quit, beat her and generally behave like a boor —be called loving. H he’s the epitome of a loving husband I’m a veritable sati savithri, rani lakshmibai , noble prize winner and Ms. World rolled into one. Huh. Tell her dad, take her to counseling, get her to be Independent and then make a decision. In the meantime if he hits her ask her give him a tight slap back. Usually the shock of his wife hitting him back will keep him off for a few months while she gets her bearing.


  51. Phew! Going through all the comments was time consuming but good. The fact that the husband has beaten her a number of times indicates he is sick and needs treatment. Someone has suggested he might have a dual personality so he better be treated for that. Counseling can come only after that. Otherwise as the consensus points out: Things will get worse not better. The victim too needs therapy because she seems to have accepted somewhere that the beatings are her own fault. Will she survive walking out? Well the proof of the pudding is unfortunately always in the eating.


  52. Pingback: An email: “just for a few days of fights and torture in a month, how can I leave this life?” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  53. The day the so called ‘wonderful’ guy hit his wife, dats the day every thing is gone..concerned friend, tell your friend to move out..


  54. Pingback: ‘She believes that her husband has got into job troubles since marrying her (he tells her this) and that she has been unlucky for their entire family.’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  55. Pingback: “I saw my sister was on the first floor and she was locked and she was crying badly with her daughter.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  56. I have been through the same situation and if there is one thing I have learnt, it is that things will only go downhill. I have 15 years of marriage and I am still not divorced. Your friend can never gain her confidence back until she shifts to her parents’ home and start earning. She has to make it clear to her husband that she loves him but she cannot bear his changing colors anymore. She has to show that she is ready to go all out and her husband can come and meet her when he is not angry.
    Typical psychopaths follow the method of loving too much to keep their victim from running away. You or your friend may read up more about them to identify the pattern. Knowledge is power at the moment.
    Heartbreak is better than living in constant fear.


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