If you had to to say something to inspire a victim of domestic violence to walk out, what would you say?

Satyamev Jayate, Episode 3 dealt with dowry and it was overwhelming to watch Amir Khan say what so many of us are trying to say on our blogs. The fact that he’s also saying it on the saas-bahu channels makes it even more effective. I think these three episodes should become a part of Indian students’ Social Studies syllabus.

Below is a rough translation of the Rupaiya song from Satyamev Jayate, Episode 3 (Thanks for link Anil Singhal)

I wish there was a song for Indian women in abusive relationships too, a song that could motivate them to take an honest look at the chances of the abuse ending (very poor), and then to walk out and to never look back (or look back perhaps but with a clearer perspective). Not a song that makes false promises, but a song that could help victims see that they could deal with the challenges of making a better life for themselves – and how it really would not be more difficult than living with the indignity and fear of violence and verbal abuse, telling them they were only choosing a known devil over unexplored options, and how it was unfair that they had to struggle harder, but their lives and happiness were worth fighting for.  And they would never know what they could achieve unless they tried – a song maybe with some information about the cycle of abuse.

If you had to to say something to inspire a victim of domestic violence (verbal or physical) to see a life beyond getting married and staying married – what would you say? How would you say it?

There is an anonymous victim of domestic violence and marital rape reading this post. Hugs and strength to her.

And here’s the Rupaiya song for young Indian women to refuse to marry men who accept dowry. Corrections and better translation welcome.

Dear father, dear husband and friend,
And my mother, you hear me too.
I am not a burden on someone’s head,
Don’t see me as a boat stuck mid-river.
I will be my own oars, I will fight with the waves
Oh I refused to be evaluated in rupees.
How would money sell me

Yesterday I walked holding my dad’s finger
Tomorrow I will be my dad’s walking sick
Ma I am a birdling in your nest,
I will fly back home with the grain (i.e. when I have achieved my goal)

The one who has no self respect,
the one who chose wealth over me,
such a partner I don’t need
There’s no better time to say no than now.
I will walk alone, I will find my destiny.
Don’t try to evaluate my worth in rupees.
Ho ho ho

When the hearts don’t meet
Why throw wealth away for meaningless rituals?
We knit relationships in the hope of love,
Why should we tolerate greed in this bond
Is there no life apart from being married?
That too a marriage which is basically an accounts register?
I don’t need a husband like this.
This is the auspicious time to say ‘No’ to such a marriage.

I will bloom like the morning, and I will fill like the night.
I refuse to have my worth evaluated in rupees.

Listen to the original song (in Hindi) here.

85 thoughts on “If you had to to say something to inspire a victim of domestic violence to walk out, what would you say?

  1. As someone who has talked for years with a DV victim, living with her, talking to her about walking out, until she finally did, I think the only thing which I did not talk about was the cycle of abuse. Because at that time (this was 8-9 years back) I did not know about it. I did not know about the honeymoon period in the abuse, and believe me, this is one of the major things which makes the victim stay a victim.
    So, the first thing I would do is, make the DV victim aware. Of what DV violence is. How it starts, how it continues and how it ends. How the cycle of abuse carries on, if one does not break it. How one gets fooled by the honeymoon period. and how it is WRONG!!
    Once the facts are known to the DV victim, the next stage would be to build up her/his confidence. I would talk to her things about how this life is a gift, precious one and short one. And how we must live it the way we want, and not waste it by living someone else’s life. Violence is never a solution in a civilized world. I would also tell her that the fault is not hers’. She is not provoking her abuser. The provokation is coming from the abuser’s own mind, and only he can stop it.
    Then comes the practicalities. Things like what action she should take next. Lodge a complaint, find herself a job before moving out, build up a support circle, seek separation, arrange accomodation etc.
    And yes, one thing I will definitely NOT mention is: “please adjust some more!”

    PS: When I saw the recent SMJ episode, the thing I loved most about that episode was the song. I literally get goosebumps every time I listen to it. I have been listening to it on a loop for few days now🙂

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    • The comments here advocate a zero-tolerance approach to DV (which I agree with).

      I have also been reading comments about another assault story at MadMomma’s blog: http://themadmomma.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/vaw-month-a-victim-breaks-her-silence/#comment-36907

      The woman in question suffered a broken neck after her husband’s slap threw her against a wall. She decided to stay and “work things out”.

      The major stressors in the marriage were interference from the MIL, constant DIL-MIL fights and a stressful job for the husband.

      The lady has decided to make peace with her MIL “wanting a lion’s share of the attention” and goes an extra mile to mollify the MIL.

      She also says that she ensures that she is not “domineering or trying to get one over his mother”. Also that the outbursts were caused by “pent-up” frustration.

      I feel vaguely unsettled after reading this account. Is it possible to slap someone so hard that you cause a fractured neck and then claim you were “under pressure”?

      While I am not judging the lady, I am left wondering about how (when) one decides that one is past the point of no return.

      To me, it appears that she is in denial. Also is it correct to share the blame for a violent incident and alter your own behavior to avoid future escalations.

      I’ve always believed and followed the “first slap is the last slap” appraoch to DV in my own relationships. However, I realise that I could leave because there were no children. This account left me wondering if my position is correct or even realistic.

      I’m wondering if there is anything one can ever do to ensure that DV never blights our relationships? It appears not.😦

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      • biwo, thanks for sharing the link. I read it with a lot of thought. I think the thing that troubled me the most is the last paragraph of how her friend is putting a lot of effort in making the marriage a happy one. Things like making sure the MIL does not feel left out, making sure that before you take a vacation you also extend a similar gesture towards the MIL. This is what bothers me. Marriage does not have to be this sort of balancing act, placating the fears and insecurities of the MIL or any other relative. You dont have to please anyone here, not even your husband. When the “pleasing each other” aspect comes in a relationship, I think that is all that remains to it-if one is not pleased, they will react violently or will be displeased. I wonder, why cant we just “be ourselves” and yet be happy to be with each other.
        As for the question: what can anyone do to ensure DV never blights our relationship- One thing would be, to be totally comfortable in your own skin. That does not mean being complacent and not improving on “self”, but it means having confidence in one’s positive qualities and working on the ones we feel need work. Also, having a fear that “if I dont do this, the marriage will break”. It doesnt have to be this way. It is perfectly fine if you are not the “perfect DIL” you MIL always wanted. You are not in this world to please everyone!
        I think the most important thing is to take a strong action when the first ever abuse happens. Be it a slap,or insults (from MIL, husband, anyone else), or beatings.

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        • Thanks MPB. I guess that’s what was bothering me — her constant attempts to placate her MIL and husband in the hopes of “fixing” her marriage.

          About being comfortable in your own skin — I suppose so. Abusers probably pick soft targets or emotionally weaken their wives until they become soft targets.

          I think as women, we tend to give husbands a very long rope. We take the responsibility of “saving the relationship” and this is a slippery slope.

          I think women should choose partners very, very carefully. Watch out for signs of disrespect, acts or words that demean or belittle us, or actions or words that are uunkind or insulting.

          We need to take responsibility for our own well-being and not assume that a man will respect us because he married us or loves us.

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  2. I’ll read the post later but going by the title of post DG’s suggestion would be come out alive coz’ if you are alive you can do thousand and ten things and if you are dead or insane thousand and ten things or more will not matter.

    It takes a woman 8-9 efforts before she can actually leave her abuser now it is up to you on what attempt you want to be done.
    Peace,
    Desi Girl

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  3. OMG! The song has so much meaning. I missed seeing the episode but will definitely watch it online soon. This one issue has been known and discussed over ages, but it is still prevalent. What does it say about us and our beliefs and convictions? I am ashamed.

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  4. “If you had to to say something to inspire a victim of domestic violence (verbal or physical) to see a life beyond getting married and staying married – what would you say? How would you say it?”

    My response would be on the following lines – You are a wonderful human being who deserves to be treated with respect, you did NOTHING to deserver this violence and I am here to support you in whatever way you want me to.

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  5. Dear IHM, please do connect with Aamir Khan with your suggestions. I’m sure something big will come out of it. Domestic violence is not always and only about dowry. There could be domestic violence with or without money involved. DV is all about control over the other person’s life. I’m so glad we are making a good beginning. Till now we brushed DV under the carpet or locked it safely inside a closet. Only when we identify DV will we be able to address and fight it.

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  6. I have been listening to this song the whole day. Absolutely loved it! What’s the actual line that I have been singing, ‘Jiski kismat mein rath-sawari nahi’. I know it can’t be that.

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  7. I would show the victim living examples of other victims who chose to identify abuse and speak up against it, left the abuser and are doing great now. I would also show examples of women who went down the spiral of abuse.

    Aishwarya Rai was also abused by Salman Khan, if what she said to the press around 2001 is to be believed. She chose to leave and get a life, that she did.

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  8. The person first and foremost needs to understand her situation, realization of being in danger is very important for the victim to understand that they actually need help and prompt action.

    The whole concept of domestic violence or abuse in general is zeroed to visible beating. We often tend to overlook the emotional,sexual forms in the form of intimidation, threats, belittling, denial, isolation and the like. These are not just a part of the cycle of abuse but are also important signs indicating that it is a bigger and graver issue than an action taken out of rage or provocation on a particular incident.

    It is important to explain the difference between ANGER & ABUSE for many victims attribute initial incidents of violence as anger.Anger is an emotion. Abuse or violence is behaviour to control a situation or a person. People can get angry without getting abusive. In a healthy relationship, you can disagree, argue and raise your voices, but a level of respect and equality between partners remains.Differences must be resolved without violence or abuse and without either partner feeling unsafe or fearful.

    Once an understanding of the victim’s situation is instilled the next important step is to boost their self confidence and the need to make every possible effort to preserve their life and well-being for such victims are very often on the verge of emotional breakdown for whom thought of self-harm loom over their mind more often than thoughts of escape.

    I have personally known friends who have been victims of domestic violence over the years and how after many failed attempts at escape they managed to move out with little kids.

    Being a strong support, patient listener and a positive inspiration that the victim can look forward to is very important.Life in an abusive relationship isn’t easy and neither will be outside it, but if you will try to move out atleast life will continue to exist and so will countless opportunities.

    I think the desire to find a solution to their problems and an end of their misery is the foundation on which other steps to build a safer life can be built.

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      • Thanks EM.
        Of course, if I can’t get another chance on TV, I will watch it on Youtube.
        But sitting on a sofa and watching it on my large sized TV screen is a different experience altogether.
        Some channel will probably telecast it again. I am free the whole day and can make it convenient to tune in. I was out and returned very late when it was first telecast.
        Will comment later after watching.
        Regards
        GV

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  9. With all respect, I think a song, a poem, a short story or any other form of artistic expression is not going to equip domestic violence victims with the strength they need.

    Abuse victims are heavily traumatized, with low self-esteem, no (financial) independence and limited resources to escape. I think what holds the majority of suffering women to stick with their husbands is lack of knowledge about ways and places to search for help.

    An escape from an opressor is not a romantic flee. The woman needs to know whom to call, where to go, what to ask for. Especially if her parents do not want to have anything to do with her leaving.

    Looking at the above mentioned TV episode, the reason these women found help was that they either came across a help organization for women or a person who advised them to take a particular legal route.

    Hence, in my opinion the most encouraging and promising help is in a form of information campaign. TV shows about the problem of domestic violence is a good start. Now it should be continued regionally, through various media. The women should know the whereabouts of shelters, social workers, charity groups and be aware of the existence of hotlines, free legal advice points, free doctor stations etc.

    You can’t really leave, where you have nowhere to go to. I think that’s the main issue.

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    • EM, unlike in the US, there is no nation-wide domestic violence helpline in India.

      There are also no privately-funded shelters or counselling services for DV victims (that I know of).

      There are certainly no resources or services for middle-class domestic violence victims.

      It is so ironic that in the US, the Indian/South Asian community alone has almost two dozen anti-DV organisations to reach out to; yet India has almost none, despite its size and numbers.

      Despite DV being so common and widespread, victims have virtually nowhere to go, except perhaps file a police complaint.

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      • Can’t say for sure why we have so many in the US, and none in India (really ?), but societal culture might have something to do it. Women helping women are not considered uppity here – generally. Women here are/appear empowered – they drive, live alone, work and party – there is less tolerance for treating a woman/another human being shabbily (although there are always exceptions).

        US culture also has a greater leaning towards volunteerism and charity – so donating your time and effort in a cause is considered a good thing. Also, in case of DV/abuse, a call to 911 WILL result in a police officer coming to your home to question the woman, the husband etc., and everyone knows that – and they will not ask the woman to “adjust”, but will probably take a dim view of physical violence/injuries. Such violence goes on police records and can be checked by future employers etc.

        There are a number of large non-asian DV centers run by the govt/govt’s help in each city – these are open to all women, but are almost always full. Also, such orgs are easier to fund than in India – I was involved with a such a South-Asian org, and we received initial funding from Indian-American organizations. Also, grants from the US govt./private orgs can be availed for running such orgs.

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        • I will also add an anecdote : an Indian friend of mine hit her head against her car door, and it looked nasty – like a black eye. She had to go about with that “black eye” until it went back to normal. At public places she was approached by complete strangers who seeing her eye, asked her about her injury, and whether she needed help.

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        • I agree Amodini.

          I think cultural factors are responsible for the (generally) zero-tolerance approach to DV in the US.

          It was heart-warming to read about your friend’s experience.

          In India, complete strangers will advise a woman to “adjust” in an abusive marriage; even when her life is at risk.

          Ah, our ‘great’ Indian culture.

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        • I disagree about a zero-tolerance approach in the US. While it is way better than India (of course!), it fails dismally, especially in the Bible belt, where women are taught to be emotionally dependent, ‘obedient’ to their husbands and abuse is common.and accepted. I myself know of a couple of cases where abuse has been tolerated, because it’s ‘no big deal’. There is also a pressure to stick to your husband, no matter what. We just feel it is not so, because the problem is not as rampant nor as deep as in India. But the ‘she asked for it’ attitude is quite prevalent in USA as well.

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      • I didn’t know the situation is that tragic. In that case, there is really nothing else to do, apart from offering the victim your own house as a temporary shelter.

        But who would actually do that?

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  10. 1) Being single and leading a life of dignity is far, far more important than remaining married in an abusive relationship
    2) Let the first slap be the last one – LEAVE. It will NEVER STOP. yes, there could be a ‘gap’, an ‘interval’ but it WILL surface.
    3) If you feel constantly on the edge, if you feel the need to constantly ‘watch out’ what you say, how you behave, if you feel depressed, worthless, suicidal – LEAVE. This is no marriage, it is a master-slave equation.
    4) You are NEVER responsible for a anyone’s criminal behaviour. Each and every individual is responsible for his/her own behaviour. So it is NOT your responsiblity to adjust, no matter what your parents say.
    5) There is NO SHAME, NO DISHONOUR in preserving your self respect and dignity and walking out of an abusive marriage – EVEN if you have to go to a woman’s shelter. The DISHONOUR AND SHAME your parents feel about your broken marriage; about you having walked out, is nothing BUT A FALSE PRESTIGE. They are actually feeling SORRY FOR THEMSELVES, they are MORE WORRIED ABOUT THEIR REPUTATION than YOUR safety. It is OKAY to cool down your relationship with such parents.
    6) The ONLY person who can help you is YOU. YOU have to decide to end it – and all other support will be forthcoming. DON’T sit around waiting for help from friends, parents, relatives – an abusive marriage is messy, no one likes to interefere – not if they know you will go back.
    7)You’ll be AMAZED at the world outside, at the support you will receive, at the opportunities – once you are outside the clutches of a restrictive, abusive marriage. The future can NEVER be bleak after what you have gone through – it can ONLY BE BETTER AND BRIGHTER.

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    • It was so heartening to read your reply.

      I was reading comments on another DV account on MadMomma’s blog: http://themadmomma.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/vaw-month-a-victim-breaks-her-silence/#comment-36907

      A commenter says, “As much as I believe that physical violence is extremely wrong in dealing with any kind of situation in a married couple’s life but I do know of husbands whose wives lash out at them verbally like crazy. If the husband himself doesn’t have the same verbal ability, while I do not say he is right in doing it, but somehow I can’t hold him absolutely and only responsible for the physical abuse… its desirable even for her to reflect on how such situations can be avoided totally rather than having the attitude “Oh but he is the one who hit me!”

      How easy it is to blame DV victims for the abuse they encounter.

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      • o_O I never understand this logic of blaming a victim – be it a man or a woman. no one should face indignity verbal or physical in the name of marriage.

        And all the points i listed out, incidentally, are applicable to men too. Men may not face physical violence; but if the man is constantly verbally abused; it is akin to mental harassment and if it is unbearable, he must walk out.

        He may not face the stigma a woman faces, but a man choosing to opt out of abusive marriages has other problems. Firstly there is the shame of admitting that he has been abused by a woman – he is deemed ‘less of man’. Secondly, even if he goes through divorce, the stereotyping works against him – he being the husband will end up financially supporting an abusive woman, and now, he will also give up half his property, he will lose custody of his children – all this despite being a victim.

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        • My significant other was physically abused by his ex-wife and bore it silently for five years.

          It took him many years to confide in his parents and seek legal help precisely because male DV victims are ridiculed rather than believed.

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  11. Being a Dr I have seen quite a few wife-victims of violence from husbands
    Most of them are eternally optimistic about their husbands mending ways and turning a new life.
    The final decision has to be taken by the victim herself. No one else can do that for her.

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    • Absolutely right! But what kind of support system do you think the victim needs to arrive at a decision? I know a woman with a successful career, who also balances her home life well, has had a love marriage, is going through a horrid phase in her marriage.. There is no physical abuse, but a lot of emotional and psychological abuse.. Two little kids who know and yet don’t know and who love and adore both, the mom and dad.. He scoffs at the idea of taking a medical help/counseling.. ?

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  12. I’d tell them to remember the things they loved doing or were good at before this phase. And if its a friend of mine, I will take her out- a drive, beach, streetfood, playing in the water and lots like this. They will know what they’re missing. Trust me, this has worked in helping a couple of my friends to walk out of abusive rel.

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  13. Just like that song, found a very well depicted pic on this link http://www.fubiz.net/2012/01/26/stop-the-cycle-campaign/stop-the-cycle-campaign2/#main-header with a message so true “If it happens once, it could happen again. Stop the cycle before it starts.”

    I would try to tell them exactly this. They don’t have to “wait” for their abusers to mend their ways and come back to them all apologizing and loving and then start again. Some may argue that in certain cases it actually maybe just once and could never be repeated (I have heard this from many first time victims and their families), but it’s certainly not worth the risk.

    I would try to encourage the victim to gather all their courage and take a decision. We need to shower them encouragement, try to build their confidence, make them realize they can lead their lives without the abuser, they are in no way dependent on them. Like in SMJ’s first episode one lady confessed that she never thought she could live her life on her own. When she did actually do so, she felt she should have left much earlier.

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  14. Before marriage/live in relationship, it needs to be about getting financially independent. Being able to support oneself without having to depend on others gives the person the confidence required and the others the knowledge that the abused does not have to stay and deal with it. Most people who stay in abusive relationships don’t have another place to go or the education/confidence that they can take care of themselves and their children (if any) by themselves.

    Of course only financial independence is not enough. We all need to work on ourselves to believe that we are worth good lives. Then these eerie stories of highly educated people in abusive relationships may be minimized.

    Knowing the person before marriage for a good amount of time and taking any warning signs seriously is critical. That way, it is not a surprise, even if several times things change very rapidly after marriage. If the person is able to keep it so quiet that one isn’t able to figure it out even after a good amount of time, he/she needs help that isn’t the abused’s responsibility to provide.

    When families gang up, hush up, ask the abused to adjust, et al…..leaving is the only option in the long run. There are things one can adjust to – small preferences, doing nice things for each other, taking up new hobbies together. Not abuse.

    I wouldn’t say ‘leave at the first hit!’ I would have said this as a young, hot blooded individual. I know now that nothing is so straight forward in relationships and to listen and support my friends, even if I think this. I also know that breaking a relationship is easier said than done. So if a person is willing to go beyond just apologizing before going back to the same pattern to actually work on him/her self with a professional counselor, I would say, try that out too before a more permanent decision.

    Given that our systems don’t teach us to express/deal with emotion appropriately, often the angry person needs to be taught appropriate conflict resolution. Assuming they are willing to learn.

    This has become a post, sorry for the lengthy comment. I know you asked…but seem to have run off with myself!

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  15. Sorry if i am being rude, but i think there are a lot of complications as far as walking out of a marriage is concerned. The first is financial, IHM if a uneducated woman walks out then she will surely repent it, i would be suprised if she is even able to meet her daily expenses. Secondly the societal restrictions, a woman who walks out has to face the wrath of the community and no man will volunteer to marry such a woman. Thirdly, every human needs a companion, but the above mentioned woman is badly positioned when she walks out and therefore most of the times she needs to stay alone. And lastly the children need a masculine presence in the family. I think you should advice such women to communicate and negotiate with their partners and improve the relationship rather than trying to divide families. You seem to be blindly following the western culture instead of adopting modern culture. People like you seem to mistake western culture for modern culture. Women nowadays have more opportunites and hence they have better chances of resisting atrocites and they need to realize that but it is completely rubbish to abandon a relationship or encourage others. This will simply lead to a unbalanced society and we dont want that to happen do we?

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    • Yes, you are right – financial independence is critical. So we educate our children. Indian culture has stopped people from going to school before, so I guess following that is not going to help us.

      Quite okay for someone to not marry someone else. If companionship is of interest to the woman concerned, then live in relationships are options. You might be interested to know of ‘Gandharva vivahs’ – we can actually reference this to very early texts!

      A masculine presence who abuses is a good one?

      When someone says ‘people like you’ and descend into making things personal, it is clear that solutions are not of interest. Or is that Indian culture to (verbally) abuse the woman in public fora as well?!

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    • This is my sincere request. Please personally meet a victim of domestic abuse. Pick out an uneducated one, since you quote her in your example. This will be her profile – everyday of her married life, she would have been beaten with bare hands, rods, glass bottles, belts and anything the man can lay his hands on. You will also find that she would have been bitten and burnt. She would have been raped. The child she has in her arms is probably a result of marital rape.
      So please tell this woman that by walking out, she has given up on our culture, and adopted western culture. Please tell her strongly that her child which wets its bed and screams in the night and stammers and lisps because of the violence it has been exposed to at such a young age – needs more of that masculine presence it has so come to fear.
      Please tell this woman who has escaped a certain death that she must negotiate with her animal of a husband. this is the only way our culture can be preserved. Our culture has no place for dignity.
      Of course, you need not tell the husband anything, because he has done no wrong.
      While you are at it, let me also point out that it is because of the efforts of people like you that our REAL culture has gone to the dogs.

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      • As I read this, seriously it brought tears to my eyes! And I’m just reading a tell tale. Imagine what it is like for the victim in the real life story. The previous commentator Sushobh, is exactly talking about what is being socially conditioned in the minds of young girls! Is it really about western culture? Isn’t the Indian culture been carried way to far in all respect. And have your noticed why most of the values of this Indian culture thing is only made for the women? What about the man folks? If you are looking for Sita, someone has to be Ram (ofcourse, I make this in the spirit of the statement & not in actually but mythologically even that guy dumped his wife on being idealistic & din’t stand up for his wife) ..

        While life is definitely not going to be easy for the girl (specially being uneducated) if she walks out of the abuse. But I think (plain common sense) tells me that it will be any day better than being abused !

        Sushobh, Why don’t you tell the husband who is abusing – and teach him about Indian culture? Is that our culture? For that matter any country’s culture?

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    • “I think you should advice such women to communicate and negotiate with their partners and improve the relationship rather than trying to divide families”

      Hasn’t the abuser already divided a family when he slapped/kicked/punched his wife? How does one “negotiate” with an abuser if he is not prepared to give up violence?

      “Lastly the children need a masculine presence in the family…”
      Also, why do children need a masculine presence in the family? What if that “masculine” presence teaches them that violence is the way to solve problems? How do they benefit from such an environment?

      “This will simply lead to a unbalanced society and we dont want that to happen do we?”

      If having an unbalanced society is the only way women can lead lives that are abuse-free, self-determined and self-chosen, then I’d prefer an “unbalanced” society to the mess that we live in now.

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    • Secondly the societal restrictions, a woman who walks out has to face the wrath of the community and no man will volunteer to marry such a woman.
      – Why would a woman want to marry a man “who would not volunteer to marry her” ? We should stop worrying about the community – do what is right.

      Thirdly, every human needs a companion, but the above mentioned woman is badly positioned when she walks out and therefore most of the times she needs to stay alone.
      – No companion is better than a companion who abuses you. If this is what marriage is, women should remain single.

      And lastly the children need a masculine presence in the family.
      – Why exactly ? Children are better off without a male if that male is an abuser.

      I think you should advice such women to communicate and negotiate with their partners and improve the relationship rather than trying to divide families.
      – Please understand here that the family is already divided, abuse is a sure way to break trust/family.

      You seem to be blindly following the western culture instead of adopting modern culture. People like you seem to mistake western culture for modern culture.
      – Is this what “modern” culture is – asking women to “negotiate” for their right to not be beaten/abused ? Really ? And you are asking us to adopt it ? Western culture has it’s own problems, but regarding this, I have found it to be more humane than our so called “glorious” Indian culture.

      Women nowadays have more opportunites and hence they have better chances of resisting atrocites and they need to realize that but it is completely rubbish to abandon a relationship or encourage others.
      – It is not for me or you or anyone else to decide what anyone else does – whether they abandon the relationship or not. However it is a good thing to make everyone aware of what it wrong – that is exactly what IHM is doing. Kudos, IHM !

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      • Ok let us imagine a situation where as you say a woman promptly walks out of the marriage because she has been abused by her man. Now where does she go? To join a MNC? To become a overworked maid? To indulge in immoral activities? To bollywood?. You know perfectly that its not possible. Now let me ask you a question, will you help the crores of women who suffer like this? Are you willing to invest your money? That too is impossible unless you are a billionaire. Let me ask you another question, why do you hate men so much so that you are even trying to portray them as being unable to stop torturing women? Do you think perhaps they can never change?. It just proves that you do not want to understand a uneducated and poor woman’s terrible situation. Not everyone is good enough to lead a solitary life either it be because of money, security etc. Now let me advise all you so called smart, modern women, just try and educate men first, try and correct their mistakes, if you walk out, nothings really gonna change, you need to cure the cause and not the symptom. You can get help from elders, community heads for this noble cause, and even students like me will oblige. And finally, why are you hell bent on humiliating our culture? Why dont you just convert to other religions? Dont you think you have the moral responsiblity of atleast respecting our culture let alone following it?

        Like

        • “Dont you think you have the moral responsiblity of atleast respecting our culture let alone following it?”
          -No we dont have the moral responsibility of respecting our culture “just because it is our culture”. Just like we should not respect ‘elders’ just because they are elders. We respect someone or a particular culture, or a part of culture, because IT RESPECTS US BACK (in caps and bold). Plus, a culture is made up of many practices, actions, traditions and events. You might not really agree to ALL of them, but to parts of them. For example, I love some parts of my culture, I absolutely adore my country just because of those few things that are present in our ‘culture’. BUT, I absolutely hate some other things about that same culture.
          Plus, it absolutely puts me off that every discussion is always eventually made to be a east vs west discussion. When all we are talking about rights of an individual. All we are talking about is treating each other with humanity. Where the f$%@ does culture come in between all this!

          Like

        • Please read my earlier comment carefully : “It is not for me or you or anyone else to decide what anyone else does – whether they abandon the relationship or not.” I cannot tell anyone what to do – they must decide for themselves, because they have to deal with life in their shoes. Each person must consider his/her choices before making such a decision – however that does not mean that we turn a blind eye to abuse.
          I do not hate men – please stop imagining things. Abusers might be able to stop, but it has been seen that mere talk/requesting does not get them to change. I agree that education and changing mindset are important, and we must do so if possible. However when a woman decides to leave her abuser – and this is her call, no one else’s – things do change for her. We hope for the better. You talk of the symptom and the cause. Pray enlighten me : what is the cause that abusers abuse ? When is it OK to beat/abuse a man/woman ?
          About humiliating our culture – here’s the need for education : know that while my culture is great, it does have several problems which I’m not blind to. Also note that other cultures are great too – this is not a game of one-upmanship – praising other cultures does not lessen the value of my own – my culture is not that weak. My moral responsibility is to respect my culture – yes, but it is also to point out where and why it is wrong. These days people seem to use culture as an excuse to do anything they wish to do – take dowry, keep women unemployed and docile, curtail education etc. This is not my culture, and it IS my moral responsibility to speak up if such so-called “patriots” subvert my culture into a fake, weak “modern” culture.

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        • Where do you get ‘hating men’ from all this? You might want to read, re-read and understand where that thought of yours comes from. And if you’re so inclined, please do enlighten me. Am trying to understand the other view point quite genuinely because there is no solution without all of us pulling together (as society, not talking of ‘making’ women adjust to violence!).

          Also, if women really hated men (and were able to act upon this mythical value), there would be fewer relationships/marriages, ergo fewer cases of inter-gender domestic violence cases.

          Please stop attacking when you have no answers…it doesn’t do anything for anyone.

          Like

        • p.s.: culture and religion are two different things. While religions (in plural) influence culture, culture is much bigger than just one religion.

          You’re a student? Who taught you to hate so quickly? Thought students have the most open minds of all!

          Like

        • ~~ Ok let us imagine a situation where as you say a woman promptly walks out of the marriage because she has been abused by her man. Now where does she go? To join a MNC? To become a overworked maid? To indulge in immoral activities? To bollywood?. You know perfectly that its not possible. ~~

          But that is the problem here. If we educated and empowered our women, she can walk out easily, and there are always plenty of jobs to do. It depends on each person.

          ~~ Now let me ask you a question, will you help the crores of women who suffer like this? Are you willing to invest your money? That too is impossible unless you are a billionaire. ~~

          I think IHM is already helping scores of women by posting such posts and making them aware that they have a choice. And you are trying to mitigate that effect by your ramblings on Indian culture.

          ~~ Let me ask you another question, why do you hate men so much so that you are even trying to portray them as being unable to stop torturing women? Do you think perhaps they can never change?. ~~

          No one here hates men. I adore some men in my life, and many women here are married. But changing a man is not his wife’s responsibility. At all. It is his own responsibility to ensure that he treats his wife well, so that she continues to live with him.

          ~~ It just proves that you do not want to understand a uneducated and poor woman’s terrible situation. Not everyone is good enough to lead a solitary life either it be because of money, security etc. ~~

          I agree, but no one is good enough to lead a life filled with abuse. There is always a way out, and slowly and surely, we will reach a point when each woman can have a say in their lives.

          ~~ Now let me advise all you so called smart, modern women, just try and educate men first, try and correct their mistakes, if you walk out, nothings really gonna change, you need to cure the cause and not the symptom. You can get help from elders, community heads for this noble cause, and even students like me will oblige. ~~

          Not our job. If I walk out, things will change for me, and I will have a better life of no abuse. The man’s problems can be sorted our by the man himself. Elders are notorious for asking women to adjust, so I doubt I would ever be turning to help to them.

          ~~ And finally, why are you hell bent on humiliating our culture? Why dont you just convert to other religions? Dont you think you have the moral responsiblity of atleast respecting our culture let alone following it? ~~

          First, what has religion got to do with culture? Are you even aware that there are many different people from different religions commenting on this blog? And I am an atheist and do not feel the need to uphold any religion, and I don’t feel the need for a religion, so I will refuse your kind offer to convert to one. And no, I cannot respect a culture that abuses and represses its women.

          Like

        • I am assuming, going by your obsession with “our glorious culture” that you are a right-leaning “Hindu” who agrees and supports the RSS/VHP/BJP brand of “Hinduism”.

          The Hindu beliefs that I was taught as a child strssed tolerance, self-knowledge, spiritual growth and a deep respect for all living beings (yes, that includes women).

          This brand of “Hinduism” is so very different from yours. Your beliefs justify and condone violence, injustice, intolerance and bigotry; all under the guise of “our glorious culture”.

          I pity you for it. How is a culture “glorious” if it is built on the pain, misery and suffering of millions of women?

          What sort of karma is our society accumulating when we allow women to be abused, exploited and tortured? Do “Hindu” beliefs teach us to inflict suffering on those that cannot defend themselves?

          Like

        • I am not replying to anyone in specific. Let me tell you that i do not support physical or mental abuse of any kind on any human being. I think you people seem to believe that all elders are against the phenomenon of female empowerment, that i think is a stereotype. You also seem to believe that a woman will lead a better life without her husband, that is a stereotype because you know quite nicely that there are woman who have been tortured mentally by the society which is worse than the slaps that a husband showers on her. You also seem to believe that all women are independent like you people who blog on the internet, that is a stereotype. You also seem to ignore the powerful presence of a society that can stop abuse for good , that is sheer stupidity. You people belive in avoiding a problem rather than solving it, that is cowardice. And when you suffer from all the problems mentioned above, its no suprise that you have taken a stance that is utter rubbish.

          Like

        • Replying to your comment below:

          “Let me tell you that i do not support physical or mental abuse of any kind on any human being.”

          If you do not condone physical or mental abuse of any kind, then why are you suggesting that abused women should “negotiate” with their abusers?

          Your statements are contradictory and seem to indicate that you advocate a tolerance of abuse because a divorced woman will suffer immeasureably more in society.

          THAT is a stereotype. I am divorced myself and my life life is infinitely BETTER than what it was when I was married.

          VERY few divorced women regret their divorces. Most abused women regret that they did not leave sooner.

          You claim that we are out of touch with ground reality because we are educated and belong to privileged backgrounds.

          That’s a sweeping generalisation. Uneducated women leave their abusive husbands more often than do educated, middle-class women.

          Look around you, talk to a few women and then stand up on your soapbox to lecture women about “foolish stances”.

          An Indian woman overcomes challenges and adversities that men like you cannot even begin to imagine. You have NO right to be telling any woman what she should or should not be doing.

          So go back to your ivory tower and let women be the best judge of what they should or should not do.

          Like

    • Here comes another proponent of Indian ‘culture’.

      Yes, financial independence is required. That is why she ought to have walked out at the moment when she was told to quit her job.

      Society can go boil its head. I live alone, and I do not desire a man in my life if it means having to put up with being slapped once in a while, and ‘trying to make it work’.

      I am very happy as I am, single. If I find someone, well and good; if not, I am happy anyway. I am sure other women can be happy on their own too. There is absolutely no need for me to go about worrying who will marry me if I speak up against being beaten.

      Children do not need a masculine presence in the family. Haven’t you watched all those films where the father is a war hero and the mother brings up the children to serve the nation bravely? Aren’t there single mothers who do the job well? Aren’t there those whose husbands have died, and they have contented and happy children? How utterly narrow-minded!

      No one here is espousing western culture (or modern culture). We are trying to explain that women have rights, and if those rights are trampled upon, we have the right to leave and put ourself out of harm’s way. (Yes, a slap is harmful). There is no question of negotiation with violence.

      So, here is a suggestion for you so that less relationships are ‘abandoned’. Why not teach the men that they cannot tell their wives what to wear, what to eat, whether to work or not, and teach them that their bodies are their own and the men have no right to use them in any way, either by hitting or by raping. Less of this stuff, fewer women will opt out. Simple, innit?

      Like

      • “Simple, innit?”

        That line can only be used by the wonderful people who created Goodness Gracious Me. Kidding of course.🙂

        Like

  16. IHM – Did you read this column by Amir khan on marriages in India? Such well written article ….
    But as usual you can find ridiculuous comments. The Hindu is a far better newspaper than TOI in matter of content and you can/should expect readers to be knowing better – turns out – not exactly true. So many “NRI” comments comparing the breaking western marriages and “strong” Indian marriages

    Like

  17. I have a lot to say here – as a victim and a survivor of dosmestic abuse. I just need to collect my thoughts that it comes across as I wish.

    Like

  18. Like some people have already commented dowry has nothing to do with domestic violence. I am saying this from my own experience. DV is about CONTROL especially when the man has low self esteem and when you combine this with the man’s work pressure and whatever other incompetent issues he has about himself. This man will try and use the wife as his scapegoat to make himself feel good. The way indian soceity conditions the woman to think that she has to put up with any kind of crap the man doles out and that she has to be dependent on a man for everything, makes it easier for the man to take advantage of the woman. It is about time that people in india start raising their daughters the same way they raise their sons.
    Start empowering them (education, career, establish bank accounts in their name)
    Stop treating women as weaklings. Women don’t need men to survive.
    Stop pushing girls to get married soon after they graduate from college. Instead talk about pursuing a career. Marriage should not be the primay goal in life for a girl. The ridiculous amount of money that is spent on the dumb weddings, dowry, jewellery and other nonsense could be put away in the girl’s name in a bank. Train girls to be dependent. If girls are encouraged from their childhood to set some positive goals for themselves and help them to reach their goals they should be able to excel men in most everything. Women are strong! Unfortunately they are raised to believe that they are weaklings.

    In fact the indian film industry is one of the places where they can start to reform. I say stop portraying woman as a weakling. Stop with all the stupid dramas and useless romance. Start showing women as poweful and intelligent beings capable of being much more than baby making machines and most definitely not a man’s doormat. They can be CEO’s of corporations, breadwinners whatever it is that puts them in a positive role.

    Like

  19. Just thought I would give expand on the subject of domestic violence a little more. Usually we talk of married couples, but domestic violence can exist within the core family too. A brother may beat his sister on a regular basis. This also comes under the tag of domestic violence in my opinion, and I believe it is much, much harder to escape. Because the parents will most likely not consider taking the brother out of the house. Especially desi parents would probably get a heart attack at the very idea.

    So what does the sister do? Does she try to become financially independent and go and live alone when she is able to? Will the parents even allow such emancipation? And will she be tempted to take up unsuitable marriage proposals just to escape the hellhole called ‘home’? Thus landing herself into an equally bad or worse situation? As an abused sister I can tell you first hand that I have doubted myself many, many times, about whether I was the provoker of violence. I know that I was not at fault, and whenever my parents say (in their misguided attempts at parenting) with things like ‘You should not act like this, you are arrogant, your brother loves you, blah, blah, blah’ I just reject it outright. I can understand their confusion at having to decide between their children but there can be no justification for abuse.

    Finally, I decided to get out of the house myself with studies as my vehicle of escape. Now I know, even though I am tempted many times to go back, I cannot live in fear. I cannot walk on eggshells wondering if there is a raised hand around the corner and wondering how traumatic the experience will be. If I ever go back, it will be on the condition that he does not live there anymore. There can be no forgiveness, only a veneer of normalcy (some might call it ‘love’) which fools everyone watching, except me. And there is no ‘unknown devil’ there are only possibilities and opportunities waiting for you. You just have to go looking for them. You will like yourself better for having the courage to leave.

    Like

      • He will be married in the future, and time will tell how that relationship plays out. My expectations of it succeeding aren’t exactly sky high. Nor is it something I really care about.

        Like

    • I think now that you are out and safe, you ought to communicate with your parents and your brother. Especially since your brother is going to get married, you might just make the difference to his poor soul of a wife.

      Also, I would advise you against returning home even if you didn’t have fear of abuse. Independence and having your own place is one of the blessings of life, and I don’t see why you want to give it up. If you miss the family, try taking a flat close to them.

      Good luck!

      Like

      • @Fem: Yes they know that I am against returning permanently as long as he lives there. Somewhere in the land of denial, they do realize that my demands are justified.

        I agree about independence. Once it is tasted, it’s impossible to forget!! And harder to give up.

        Like

  20. Pingback: Sharing an email and a song… | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  21. Hi IHM,
    I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now. First of all kudos to you for the wonderful job your doing.
    In 1984 there was a Tamil movie made by Mr.Bharathiraja called “Pudhumai Penn” which means “The NewAge Woman”. It was about a young couple and how the boy’s family turn her against him and domestic violence. Finally she walks out of the house when her husband suspects her fidelity and their unborn child. The movie was a huge hit and this song was such a comfort and helped many women to take that step to stop such abuse from family.
    Revathi won the National Award for this Film and so many women got the courage to walk away from such families with their heads held high.

    Since it is in Tamil, I am translating the song for you. (Pls change the english translation of the song to Red font if you want)

    Oh oru thendRal puyalaagi varumae
    (Oh a breeze is turning into a storm)
    Oh oru deivam padi thaandi varumae
    (oh a godess is leaving the house)
    kaala devanin tharma ellaigaL maarugindrathae
    (The laws and boundaries of time are changing)
    kaala devanin tharma ellaigaL maaRugindRathae
    (The laws and boundaries of time are changing)

    adukkaLai thudaippathum padukkaiyai virippathum, adhu peNNin thozhil illayae
    (to clean the kitchen and spread the mattress-that is not a woman’s only job)
    sarithiram padaikkavum tharithiram thudaikkavum varuvathil pizhai illayae
    (Its not wrong to create history and wipe out poverty)

    sutRam enna sonnaalum thooimai ondRu thaan sontham
    (whatever the society says, your conscience is your own)
    kaaval kaakkum ennaLum kaRpu ennum theep pantham
    (your fidelity which is a fire will save you)
    iravum pagalum viyarvai vazhiya karaigirathae ratham
    (morning till night the sweat that you shed, is equal to blood)

    Oh oru thendRal puyalaagi varumae
    Oh oru deivam padi thaaNdi varumae
    kaala devanin tharma ellaigaL maaRugindRathae
    kaala devanin tharma ellaigaL maaRugindRathae

    nilavinil irukkindRa kaLangathai ivaLathu peru viral thudaithu vidum
    (her thumb can cover the moon’s blackness)
    pudhu yugam magaL ivaL aNingindRa vaLaiyalgaL siraigaLai udaithu vidum
    (this new age woman’s bangles will break the prisons around her)

    paari jaatha poompaavai paathiyaagi ponaaLae
    (this paarijaatha flower has wilted and become half of what she was)
    thaegam engum punnaagi thaethi pOla thaeinthaaLae
    (her body is full of scars and she’s been torn like calender sheets)
    chediyai pirintha piRagum chedikku uyir tharuthae poovae
    (after seperating from the plant the flower still helps the plant when it becomes manure)

    Oh oru thendRal puyalaagi varumae
    (Oh a breeze is turning into a storm)
    Oh oru deivam padi thaandi varumae
    (oh a godess is leaving the house)
    kaala devanin tharma ellaigaL maarugindrathae
    (The laws and boundaries of time are changing)
    kaala devanin tharma ellaigaL maaRugindRathae
    (The laws and boundaries of time are changing)

    kaala devanin tharma ellaigaL maarugindrathae
    (The laws and boundaries of time are changing)
    kaala devanin tharma ellaigaL maaRugindRathae
    (The laws and boundaries of time are changing)

    Lyricist – Vairamuthu
    Music – Ilayaraja
    Singer – Malaysia Vasudevan

    This is the audio of the song. I couldn’t find the video.

    Sorry for the long mesg.
    Liju

    Like

  22. IHM, I loved the episode, but it made me sad that a wonderful and brave woman like Rani Tripathi thought it was a great result that she still got married to a complete stranger after the sting operation on her dowry demanding future in-laws & that her brother proudly announced that he would get her married on the exact same day that the original wedding was planned.
    She was fortunate that her husband turned out to be a nice guy, but the story missed the entire point of the episode which was that marriages are more important than weddings.

    Like

  23. All said, blogged about…But how many of you here are ready to pledge that you will not take / give dowry? How many future in laws can pledge that you will take care of your DIl as your daughter and follow it sincerely.
    How many of you are ready to arrange your son’s / daughter’s wedding in a simple way (say in a temple or Registrar office) ?
    Practically it is not possible. Change has to start from every individual. TV programmes / blogs like this can only create awareness. But can any one of the readers of the blog prove that you changed after viewing such programmes in TV?
    I will say none. This practice started long back and it is very difficult to change. It will take 1000s of years I say….

    Like

  24. Hi IHM,

    Though a little out of context we can draw up remote relevance to what I would try to convey. I suppose most of us remember the anchor turned wife abuser- suhaib ilyasi. (his wife anju ilyasi’s murderer). His new movie is coming up and he claims most of the domestic violence cases are fraudulent and almost all females who reach the court if at all under 498A are following misandry and ill treating the in-laws. All these men who are charged of the ipc’s and cr pc’s have framed an anti female group calling themselves men rights activists… It makes me laugh at the foolishness these people are showing..what is happening to our society? marriage would completely become a thing of past if this is how it is going to function. would like to read your thoughts on the same.Also to bring the reality of these men right activists you must truly read their advices to people who are charged with the sections on their forum. They have been very active since a couple of months specially after the lok sabha passed the marriage amendment bill and sexual harassment bill. No lady is allowed into their group who talks of equality.

    Do write your views on these men right activists who call females feminazis/male haters/family breakers and what not…Please do visit their website for an insight and advices given to “tormented men”

    Like

    • I have read some of the things they say. It seems a wife refusing to have sex once in six months is seen as being cruel. We never heard the outcome of the case the case of Suhaib Ilyasi – she was stabbed and he claimed she stabbed herself.

      Like

  25. Pingback: ‘Last month, my sister’s husband picked a fight with her as he felt she was not doing enough for his parents.’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  26. Pingback: What advice would you give to a woman whose husband beats her when she does not give him lunch on time? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  27. Pingback: “Some women harbor sexism and uphold patriarchy even when they have nothing to gain from it.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  28. 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

  29. Pingback: “He became more distant and sometime would verbally abuse me, call me names and then slapping and wrist twisting started happening.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  30. 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

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