Recognizing Emotional Abuse

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

The last post and some recent emails brought up the subject of abuse within families.  I’m glad that the email writer moved out.  She is able to analyze her situation quite rationally, which indicates that she got out in time.  Although the majority of these emails tend to come from women, men can also be victims of abuse.  One recent email from an American woman detailed how her Indian boyfriend was being emotionally blackmailed by his parents.  Many commenters advised her to stop dating him because he needed to gain control of his own life before entering into a relationship.  In my own extended family, my cousin, who I grew up with chose to not get married.  After delaying his parents’ attempts to get him married for a few years, he finally came out in the open and declared he doesn’t ever want to get married.  He is an only child and  has been subjected to emotional blackmail (such as daily threats of illness and suicide, hysteria, self-starvation) from his parents.  Five years since he announced his decision, they are still around, but I do see that he is worn down, tired, and stressed most of the time.  He was a happy, fun loving child, always following me around (I’m eight years older to him) asking me to play hide and seek with him.  It bothers me when I see him become a hollow version of himself.

Emotional abuse is a potent method of damaging someone’s psyche, especially a person’s sense of self worth and dignity.  It is potent because it often goes unrecognized.  Its incognito status allows people to inflict substantial damage on victims – as much as that through visible forms of abuse such as aggression and violence.

Socially sanctioned forms of abuse are the hardest to recognize.  In many cultures, parents have unlimited authority over their children.  Any situation where authority goes unchecked is a fertile environment for abuse.  Another culturally sanctioned form of abuse occurs with other authority figures such as teachers, boarding school staff, clerics and law enforcement officers.  This is not to say that all parents, teachers, clerics and police are abusive; but if their authority is not subject to checks and balances, there is potential for abuse, and support when it does occur.

It is important to note that in the case of parents, spouses, and intimate partners, they may not always be aware that they are turning abusive.  Although it is difficult to empathize with the abuser, he/she could also be caught up in a destructive cycle that cannot be voluntarily broken, without professional help, and distancing from the victim.

In the Indian context, parental abuse often goes unrecognized because there is an entire network of constructs, rules and operations that have been built around it.  Recognizing parental abuse threatens so many existing power structures that cultural walls have been built around it to safeguard the unquestioned authority of parents.  Accusing one’s parents of the smallest wrongs is tantamount to treason.  There is so much fear and guilt surrounding this discussion that many sons and daughters don’t dare to broach their parent’s fallibility.  Any attempt at doing so is often accompanied with tremendous guilt and self-reproach on the victim’s part.

However, problems, especially when they are deep-rooted, cannot be pretended away.  It is important for us to recognize abuse.  People are often shocked at the word ‘abuse’ when it is used in the context of their loved ones.  Ironically, it is loved ones who are the most likely to inflict abuse – their increased proximity to the victim and their sense of entitlement, and in some cases, co-dependence make intimate relationships more prone to abuse than relationships that are one step removed.

Who can inflict emotional abuse?

– Spouses/partners

– Parents on their minor children

– Parents on their adult children

– Adult children on their aging parents

– Relatives on children in the family

– Siblings

– Bullies at schools, colleges, and in cyber space

– Police on people in their custody

– Teachers and school authorities on children

– Managers on their reports

What forms does emotional abuse take?

– humiliating, excessive judging/criticizing, shaming, slandering, ridiculing, being dismissive, labeling, condescending

– controlling, taking away choices (requiring permission for going out, controlling spending, controlling routine choices like dressing, showering, eating), infantalization

– accusing (being overly suspicious, reading into every move), blaming (holding victim responsible for abuser’s problems and happiness)

– unreasonable or impossible demands

– emotional distancing, silent treatment, alienating, emotional abandonment or neglect (withholding affection, love, support, withholding communication and expecting mind reading)

– excessive codependence (treating the other person as an extension of themselves, not respecting boundaries, knowing what is best for you, being constantly needy)

– threats and intimidation (loud voice and aggressive body language meant to induce fear, direct or indirect threats to the other person, her reputation, her children, her parents, her safety)

– emotional blackmail (threats of suicide, ill-health or becoming an alcoholic), hysteria (disproportionately intense reaction to mistakes), and self-injurious behavior or threats on self-harm (cutting oneself, burning oneself)

– baiting (deliberately provoking anger through false accusations, preying upon weaknesses)

– creating no-win scenarios (asking someone to choose between two bad options – “you either starve or you apologize for something you didn’t do”, “you either cut off with your brother or cut off with me”)

Some less common forms of expression

– Symbolic suffering (setting fire to a toy or favorite object) – inflicting suffering on an inanimate object or a small animal meant as a threat or intimidation

– Engulfment – showering excessive and suffocating amounts of attention, constantly checking whereabouts, inducing guilt (when victim enjoys something) and fear, exhibiting pathological jealousy

– Stalking – either physical or via phone/email

– Gas lighting/brainwashing – omitting or twisting information to favor the abuser and make the victim doubt their own memory or understanding of events

– Recruiting – making the other person an accomplice in questionable activities

What It Feels Like

The victim often feels confused, hurt, and frightened.  (I will begin to use the female pronoun but this applies to both men and women.)  She loses confidence and begins to doubt herself.  She may doubt her own opinions and beliefs.  She may even begin to doubt facts and her own memories.  There is a sense of one’s reality slipping away.  This makes the victim feel powerless.  Most of the victim’s energy is focused on “being careful” around the abuser’s moods, trying to “read” his signals, and working hard to earn his approval.  The victim is filled with a feeling of dread; there is always the feeling that something may explode (even when things are going well).  The victim begins to blame herself when things get ugly (“if only I had been more careful, if only I got home earlier, if only I cooked his favorite meal”).  The abuser and victim go through cycles of “good” and bad phases.  During the “good” phase, the abuser regrets his actions, tries to flatter or please the victim, and makes peace.  The peace is invariably temporary and is shattered for the smallest and most unpredictable “reasons”.   Initially, the “good” phases serve the purpose of locking the victim in the destructive relationship; however in later stages, the victim begins to understand the hollowness in the kind gestures, begins to recognize the pattern to the point of being able to predict what is coming next, but is unable to break out of it.

How To Cope

There is only one way to cope with abuse.  And that is by putting physical distance between oneself (victim) and the abuser.  At first, this might mean leaving the room and refusing to engage in abusive interactions.  Eventually, moving out of the abuser’s life is necessary for survival.  Leaving requires 2 things – planning and support.  A practical plan is necessary – where will I live temporarily, how will I earn my living, etc.  The victim also needs the support of another human being – a close friend or relative who will help the victim not give in to her fears and go back to the abuser.

Even after getting away from the abuser, many victims continue to suffer the effects of abuse – they will continue to suffer from a lack of self worth, make harmful or self-destructive choices, become close to people who are another version of their previous abuser, and continue to be unhappy.  Victims need to work with a counselor and take the support of strong, reliable friends/family and work on the process of self-healing.

The abuser can recover only through psychological counseling and doing the hard work of recognizing, understanding, and modifying his own destructive behavior patterns.

Victims of abuse cannot be told or expected to “snap out of it”.  Recognizing and dealing with abuse, and supporting the victim practically and emotionally are the only ways to authentic healing.

81 thoughts on “Recognizing Emotional Abuse

  1. Oh My God… This is exactly how i felt when i was staying in that house. All my thoughts were revolving around my MIL & SIL. I use to try & read any clue on their face that they are in the bad mood. I was doubting myself that why am i not able to cope up. I was always scared & lost the will to do the things i enjoyed earlier. I stopped talking to my husband as it irked them. My MIL & SIL had threaten me to do suicide if i dont go back & live there. When MIL felt she had streched something too far & i might rebel she use to take 360 degree turn & be so loving-caring for 2 days.
    This vicious cycle continued, I have suffered all forms of abuse mentioned in this article.
    Even though i took the decision to move out of the house i had doubts as people around me felt that i am just going through the normal marital problems & just making it sound bad… Thank u so much, i feel much more confident about my decision now !

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  2. You have no idea how timely this article is. My own sister is in an unhappy marriage and has to live with emotionally abusive in laws and a mommy’s boy husband (who is working in a different country). She has all the support she needs in the form of my mom and obviously from me and my hubby. However, the main hurdle at this stage is that she is not recognizing that she is being abused. She tends to believe whatever they tell her (which is negative things about herself) and she fails to believe when we boost her up and tell her how amazing she is. She recently changed cities and moved out of the house of in laws for a new job and is now staying with my mom, but what about emotional abuse done over the phone? She does not have the guts (yet) to tell them that she does not want to talk to them. We have booked some therapy sessions and I hope she goes for them.
    Also, how should her support cycle deal with the fact that someone close to them is being abused, without getting depressed themselves? Frankly speaking I find it really hard to digest the fact that when she has such strong and feminist mom, sister and brother in law, she is succumbing to all this bs from her in laws. There are days when me and mom feel so helpless and for days I will be depressed just because she is not taking a stronger stand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mypunchingbag, I’m sorry to hear this about your sister, but it is more common than we realize or care to admit.
      It is great that she’s getting therapy, make sure she keeps this up. Also, the physical distance greatly helps. See if you can discourage the phone calls. She may refuse and that’s what makes it hard – but remember if she can listen to you and instantly stop the phone calls and put an end to all the abuse, then she doesn’t need help. And help and patience is what she needs right now.
      There are many things you can do to help her –
      – most importantly, continue to be there for her
      – keep the door always open – let her know you are there to support and help
      – don’t be disappointed in her – people are human- the best of us may act selfishly, the strongest among us can buckle
      – don’t judge her in your words
      – listen actively, validate her feelings
      – take her fears seriously, ensure her safety
      – build on her strengths (is there anything she is very good at or enjoys like a passion or hobby – partake in it with her)
      – find ways to bring back her confidence (ask for her help with a project, assign her responsibility and let her handle it, point out her original approach to solving problems, point out her persistence, any other positives, make sure what you are giving her genuine praise and not empty flattery)
      – get her to read (if you can) about abuse, especially personal stories of survival and hope
      – yes, it is hard on the family (or close friends) to watch their loved one suffer – stay strong because she needs you – take breaks from supporting her if necessary, do something enjoyable, don’t get constantly sucked into problem solving because you need to be there for her in the long haul which means you also need to take care of yourself – it is a tricky thing – keeping your emotional distance from the problem while helping/supporting her – but that’s what helps
      Love and hugs.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thanks for you reply, Priya. Yes, we are doing most of the things you mentioned. I still need to work on “not being disappointed in her” because there are times when it baffles me how she got into this situation. After such a liberal and strong upbringing, equal opportunities, no pressure of marriage (or staying married).. It is funny how life pans out. And how our thought process is shaped.

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        • You sound like an awesome sister and she’s lucky to have you! I’ve had similar thoughts (unvoiced) about my own sister, who is 10 years older to me. She was such a go getter, so brash when she was young and in college. I was the quiet, gentle one. She married someone of her own choice (her college friend’s brother). Although she is not in an abusive situation, she is in a typical joint family setting, with all it’s usual trappings. Guests dropping unannounced, staying for days on end, assuming they own her house (because they grew up there), expecting her to serve tea and meals to 20 people. Why does she put up with it? I don’t know. I’ve never asked her. One she being so much older, I grew up looking up to her. Two, she is very sweet and affectionate. It is something she needs to figure out, I suppose. In her 50s now, she seems to be asserting herself again, after all these years.

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        • I understand how you feel about your sister. I have a younger sister too (12 years difference) and I just adore her to pieces. If anyone ever harms her, I don’t know how I would keep a distance and be objective. But she is strong in her own right, so I hope she will have a happy life ahead. I will be relieved when she starts working and stands on her own feet.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Your sister is lucky she has you ! At least,you talk to her and she can talk to you !
      I was left alone and had no one to talk to ! One day,I got up and dragged myself for therapy,.,. Its the most difficult thing I have done – to recognise that I need help! Now, after few coping sessions and skills, I am managing !

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      • Costtez, glad you were able to take control. We are here for you on this blog. It is not the same as having a family member stand by you. But whatever little support the readers here can give, they will give wholeheartedly. Stay strong. Hugs.

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        • Thanks Priya !
          The only reason that I praise internet because it gives a voice to me and to read good stuff ! IHM blog has helped my confidence ,opened my eyes to things which I didn’t even know happened to people !
          I don’t know a single feminist in my real life and here the clarity with which you,fem and IHM writes astonishes me !
          Earlier,everything seemed radical and many things still feel unreal,unachievable but yes its a thought which I am willing to examine and see if I can implement in my real life !

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      • I agree with you on IHMs blog really opening up my worldview–most of the time it offers real solutions to situations we’ve all heard about and its the reason why I call myself a feminist🙂

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    • My ILs are very emotionally abusive to my husband, though we live in another country – guilting, shaming comparing him unfavorably to his siblings. He has always been a stellar son, supported them financially and emotionally, he was the golden one, until they started being nasty to me and he stood up to them.

      Now, his sister is going through tough times (maritally and health-wise), encourages their constant presence in her life and she, who was actively discriminated against all her childhood and teenage life, is the golden one. ‘Cos she sets no boundaries with them.

      I don’t deal with my ILs at all because of how they treat my husband, but a couple of times, I got on the phone and let my ILs have it. They once berated him for half an hour for not calling them on HIS birthday. They haven’t lifted the phone to call him for 20 years since he left home, he called them dutifully each week, even when he was a starving student who could barely afford long-distance international calls. After years of this, I got on the phone and told MIL that the phone works both ways, his birthday would be spent the way HE chose and why would he want to call them and listen to their BS anyway?

      Guess what? My husband was shocked that someone had spoken up to his parents and the sky did not fall down. He started calling them out on their abuse and now they are even more abusive to him. I stay away, but It really hurts to see how he cannot bring himself to stop interacting with them. The calls have now dwindled to about two a month. But it’s not my circus, not my monkeys.

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      • ‘Phone works both ways’
        Its funny how people cant see that.
        They think that you should be the one to call them all the time and never the other way round. My sis whos settled in US says that even when she calls up people all she hears – complaints like ‘you never call, you have forgotten us, american culture bls bla bla’. And international calls are not expensive these days. My relatives too complain that I dont call them at all. Just bcz I live in another city I should be the one to call everyone. That too when I know that these people have nothing nice to say to me. I dont give a damn. Then mum lectures me about importance of family ties, this that.

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  3. In culture like ours,people don’t even broach the thought that parents can be manipulative,crocodile tears etc ! I don’t know why do people get children ?
    Most women are on automated mode, get married, produce children,preferably at least 1 boy and then go about complaining about husband,in laws and then adult children !
    Pathetic people,pathetic lives !
    I am so tired of the gyan of life coming from such women and men in my day to day life !
    They live in denial when it comes to abuse on children and others and want other people to live in denial too !
    Aww,all this doesn’t happen in India,in our culture,…… If only if you were more obedient,more self sacrificing,and die doing so !

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    • I wish I could like your comment 200 times. Growing up, I thought whining about in laws and husband is just the way marriage works. Once I fell in love myself, I realized that if something was pissing me off that much, I’ll put on my big girl panties and deal with it! There is just no space for most youngsters to be like that though.

      In this equation, nobody seems to be happy. All the negative energy and stress ought to take a toll on people and their health. Is that why we find so many heart issues in members of our generation? Are they caught between knowing what the right thing to do is and the grip of their parents/in-laws/elders?

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    • I hear you! The emotional abuse inflicted by the ones closest to us affects us the most. Then the society just keeps hammering us down. I applaud you for gathering the courage to stand up for yourself and get a good life. I am in a similar boat and find it very hard to do so. I cannot tell you how many times I have booked a therapy session and not gone thinking I am being silly and that everything will be okay.

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  4. Thank you for writing this. It will help many readers in identifying the abuse that they go through daily yet refuse to call it “abuse”.
    Abuse is something that is passed on-from one to the other, from one generation to the next. The parents abuse the son, the son puts up with IT for the time being in the name of “respect towards parents ” but when he gets married, he unleashes IT on the docile wife. Meanwhile, the docile wife puts up with it for the time being , again in the name of “respect towards her husband and husband’s family ” and then when her son gets married, she unleashes IT on the docile ( future ) DIL. This cycle of abuse goes on like this.
    The biggest part of this abuse is that everybody “puts up” with abuse thinking that “abuse” is natural and should be tolerated somehow-maybe that is why the same people (victims) do not feel bad to unleash IT on others. Rather than focusing on who is abusing whom and what type of abuse should be tolerated and what not, the main focus should be on ABUSE itself- any type of abuse ( significant or insignificant, heinous or harmless ) by any person in any relation is WRONG.
    The love for one’s life should be more important than relationships-if we can understand this deeply enough we would want to break out of the cycle of abuse. But most people do not want to break out because relations are more important to them. Most believe that when the abusers would grow old, they would stop abusing. But one’s entire life, entire youth gets ruined in this process of hoping.
    Hope, today’s generation realizes this and gets out of this cycle as soon as he/she notices the pattern.

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  5. What a brilliant post!
    IHM, I have become a huge fan of the guest posts by Priya. She writes with clarity and empathy.
    A victim of MIL abuse, I stumbled on this blog almost 4 years back. Your blog has been a great eye-opener and an amazing support system. I decided that ‘émotional detachment’ was the solution for me and worked hard to develop this in myself. It has helped me heaps. In a much happier place today.

    Thanks to your blog and the posts.

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  6. Priya, you have written about the single most important factor in Indian families. I was just arguing about it with someone on Goodreads who did not accept that the arranged marriage system leads to parental and spousal abuse.

    I have faced everything you wrote from my parents. More my mother than my father, but is an enabler by urging me to give in so there would be peace. As long as I get married, nothing else would go wrong!

    – humiliating, excessive judging/criticizing, shaming, slandering, ridiculing, being dismissive, labeling, condescending

    She would make some weird remarks about my degrees (not in the field she wanted), about my work (not what she thinks is good), and so on. So much so, I don’t share anything much about my life with the family.

    – controlling, taking away choices (requiring permission for going out, controlling spending, controlling routine choices like dressing, showering, eating), infantalization

    She is usually liberal but would suddenly come up with “our family rules” made up on the spur of the moment, trying to control me into doing what she wants me to do. An example is that I wanted to spend the NY eve at a friend’s place one year, since I am not too interested in going out to parties and I think it’s rather dangerous anyway with all the boozing and drunk driving. Without care for my safety, she insisted that I should return home after the party because “staying over at someone else’s place is against our family rules”. Huh, I’d never heard of that before!

    – accusing (being overly suspicious, reading into every move), blaming (holding victim responsible for abuser’s problems and happiness)

    Tried to blame me for her ill health and diabetes. Earlier, she would go on long rants about how I am trying to kill her because I never gave in to her demands. Even today, she squarely places the responsibility of her health on my shoulders.

    – unreasonable or impossible demands

    Wants me to be married. That says it all!

    – emotional distancing, silent treatment, alienating, emotional abandonment or neglect (withholding affection, love, support, withholding communication and expecting mind reading)

    Yes, yes, and yes. Told me that she threw away my baby sweater (which she had kept for years, as mothers do) because I had disappointed her. Ermmm, okay! She also rarely talks to me over the phone. She acts like we should all know what she is going on about and that she is the victim here.

    – excessive codependence (treating the other person as an extension of themselves, not respecting boundaries, knowing what is best for you, being constantly needy)

    She always claims she knows what is best for me, even though it’s in direct contrast to everything I like or feel comfortable with.

    – threats and intimidation (loud voice and aggressive body language meant to induce fear, direct or indirect threats to the other person, her reputation, her children, her parents, her safety)

    This is rather rare. Thank heavens for small mercies … though she has brought out the knife on two occasions. I was only present at one.

    – emotional blackmail (threats of suicide, ill-health or becoming an alcoholic), hysteria (disproportionately intense reaction to mistakes), and self-injurious behavior or threats on self-harm (cutting oneself, burning oneself)

    Oh yes! She would wake up in the middle of the night and start screaming for no particular reason. Earlier, it was at my dad for not having a house, nowadays its about me not getting married. She has tried swallowing pills and has taken out knives and brandished it at my dad.

    – baiting (deliberately provoking anger through false accusations, preying upon weaknesses)

    She tries to do this too. I have always been pretty close to my father and she would belittle him in my presence, which enraged me. Once she told me that she did it deliberately so I would do what she wants. How nasty!

    – creating no-win scenarios (asking someone to choose between two bad options – “you either starve or you apologize for something you didn’t do”, “you either cut off with your brother or cut off with me”)

    She tried to drive a wedge between me and my sister by cautioning her not to follow in my footsteps. Who does that?! She also has almost succeeded in alienating me and my father because he is staunchly taking her side on the marriage thing. He also is unwilling to accept that she needs help. Seems if I get married, all will be all right with the world.

    There! I now feel guilty for washing dirty linen in public, but I am beginning to get a little worried about their old age now. I won’t live in the same house with them because I can’t really handle this nonsense. But I don’t want to abandon them either.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, that is definitely abuse, and yes, it happens in families, I’ve seen it, and don’t feel guilty, because it is what it is. Your mother needs help. I wish she would go into therapy but I know she could also stubbornly refuse. In their old age, make sure they have supports and your job would be to manage the supports. That is what my cousin is doing, as he is an only child. He used to constantly check in on them, but every time he visited there would be lots of conflict and hysteria and the abuse made it harder for him to support them directly.
      Fem, you’ve done the single most important thing that most people find difficult to do – you’ve put distance – both physical and emotional. This is necessary not only to stop feeding the abuse. Distance gives you clarity. It helps you look at what you went through objectively. Objectivity is the biggest thing that abuse takes away. Reclaiming it is a precious thing. It helps you give up the guilt and self-blame.

      Many readers have been helped by your comments. From everything you write on this blog, you come across as an incredibly strong woman and I’m so proud of you.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you for the kind words, Priya. I love your posts. They are relevant, clear and interesting.

        I have tried to discuss therapy with other family members but they all just come around to ‘get married’. It’s flabbergasting how no one wants to see beyond marriage as a solution. Maybe it’s just a way of saying ‘I don’t want to deal with your problems.’, but I would have appreciated and understood if they had said that straight out rather than trying to victimise me further.

        I had never realised how common this behaviour is in Indian families, until it got so bad that I started talking to my friends about it. Then they responded back with similar stories, which they too had hid all these years. It’s horrendous and very worrying. Are our families routinely dysfunctional because of some common factor? Or do I just know all the wrong people, lol?

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        • Yes, the obsession with marriage is baffling. Especially from people who’ve lead all their lives in unhappy marriages.

          I think although people tend to be (roughly, and with some caveats) the same everywhere, the refusal to talk about things makes it worse in our culture. Cultures (not just Indian, many Asian and Middle Eastern cultures are similar to ours) that revolve around denial, repression, and resistance to change become breeding grounds for unfair practices and unhealthy relationships. When we are in denial, it becomes taboo to discuss any problem. When we refuse to give it a name, it doesn’t have to exist.

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        • Oh Fem! It takes a really strong person to go through what you went/are growing through. Like Priya said, your comments are insightful, pragmatic and honest. I am sure they have helped a lot of readers. Best wishes to you!

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        • Perhaps it is also the fact that we normalise these abusive relationships everywhere from politics to Bollywood. It’s what everyone else does, so if we do it, it’s not bad. Many people don’t even recognise this as abuse because they see the same thing everywhere around them, and they don’t understand why it makes them alone unhappy. I knew that was how it was for me. I could not understand why I simply could not confirm like other people and be happy. I did not realise at the time that they were anything but happy. We need to talk more about this, as difficult as it is.

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        • I agree. People will accept something if it’s been done long enough by enough people. Time and numbers seem to lend validity to a lot of otherwise fundamentally wrong notions. The few who are unable to conform I feel are the lucky ones. They struggle but there is meaning in their struggle. Because you are right, the ones who do conform are not really happy, they’re just doing what they can in the best way that they know.

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        • Fem,
          There are no perfect parents,friends,siblings ! Everyone has a story to tell ! For some people,they don’t get stuck in confusion, can do something about unfair expectations, recognise unfairness and infallibility ! Thank god,you are one of them !
          From the little I know of people,many don’t recognise even hardcore abuse and manipulation ! Then there are some people who can’t do much about it, and there are those whose definition of abuse is completely different !
          I guess,that’s why its difficult to talk to people in real life !
          And most of the time life and daily bread and butter gets in the way !
          And small abuses/offenses take backseat !
          As krith said, so many young people have anxiety issues,heart ailments because of denial and not able to do much at the right time !
          In therapy,the first thing they teach is to let go,forgive ,forget and cope ! Leave the past behind ! Its so darn tough !

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        • There is a gold mine of little unpalatable but nevertheless precious truths in your comment cosettez. No perfect relationships, check. Everyone has a story hidden away that’s hard to talk about. Check. Life and daily bread get in the way. The things that really matter (identity, happiness) take a back seat. Forgiving is the hardest thing. Check, check, check.

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        • Fem, I have always admired your comments. I am myself a bit worried about a showdown with my wife about our daughters at some stage. They are quite young but my wife talks about her plans to get them married at 20 in a very well to do family via arrange route. She thinks I am crazy to say that I will be thrilled to know that my daughters have got (non-rich, not for marriage) boy friends. Its not that she really believes in this way of thinking to be absolutely the right one but rather she considers it to be the pragmatic way of leading a grief free, devoid of struggle life in this society. I sure need to come up with a plan on how to deal with these issues in a few years time. Any suggestions?

          Liked by 1 person

        • @FEM : Your mother needs medical help. You or your father will have to take her to see a doctor. She is sick, if her illness is not treated right now, she’ll be a big problem in her old age and then it’ll be difficult to cope with her. She wont agree to see a doc, but talk to someone she loves or listens to and that person should be able to convince her.
          She needs medical help.

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        • Thanks Kavs, cosettez & B.

          B, I think you can perhaps avert a showdown by beginning to seriously talk with your wife about your goals for your daughters. Take your daughters into your confidence as well and perhaps you can find out if they have any ideas about what they want to do when they grow up. You can then push that agenda forward. Of course, they might change their minds with time, but whatever they do, I doubt they are going to say ‘Oh dad, my dream for when I grow up is to get married to an unknown man and pop out babies. Can you please help me with that?’.

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        • @B : Its so wonderful to hear such words from a father of a girl. Usually in asian societies, its the other way around. Fathers strictly adhere to their culture of arrange marriages but its really good to see your kind of father. Reminds me of my father, he would say to all my aunts and uncles whenever they would hint at arrange marriages of me and my sister ” meri betiyan khud se dhoond ke laayengi, mujhe zarurat nahi padegi” ( My daughters will find husband on their own, I wont have to search for match).
          You’ll just have to make your wife understand the repercussions of marriage at young age and deadful concept of forced arrange marriages. Tell her if she cares for society so much, what if her daughters divorce their husbands in initial few years of their marriage, who would take the blame for it and then what would happen to her *respect* in society?
          Also, just make your daughters bold and instill courage in them, I am sure your daughters wont succumb to their mother’s old age thoughts-process.

          Good luck and lot of warm wishes
          Love
          FS

          Liked by 1 person

        • I honestly don’t understand why marriage is a panacea for every problem in a woman’s life.

          In fact, given our lop-sided cultural values, marriage is the root cause for most of the suffering that middle-class Indian women endure. Most women of my acquaintance led very happy lives before they got married and had to contend with nasty in-laws and spineless husbands

          It’s mindboggling that women are the greatest supporters of the “get married, stay married” philosophy.

          The vast majority of middle-class women have to compromise on freedom, dignity, personal ambition, self-respect and so many other things just because they think that marriage is the be-all and end-all of their life.

          I think marriage is a bad bargain for most women. You give up so much and get so little in return.

          If it wasn’t for all the brainwashing that Indian women are put through, most would choose not to marry at all.

          Liked by 1 person

        • About this behaviour being common in Indian Families, isn’t it such a great way to ensure the abuse remains intact by ensuring that all of us grow up with this constant refrain of “yeh ghar ki baat hai, ghar mein rehni chahiye” ? I think that helps ins sustaining a much greater degree of such manipulation and abuse- because you are socially conditioned to never speak up about it to correct it. Much in the same way as you ended up feeling guilty about washing dirty linen in public- why should you Fem? You come across as an amazingly strong woman who survived emotional abuse of a horrible kind- why should you feel bad about talking about it to others? If anything, it only helps others to see how that isn’t normal at all, much like the beautiful post by Priya. your story only gives it an even more real dimension.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you for sharing this often used phrase – “yeh ghar ki baat hai, ghar mein rehni chahiye” I was looking for the Hindi equivalent of a similar maxim in my language which translates to “There are things that must remain within the 4 walls of the house.” These sayings have worked for centuries and how effective they are in ensuring the protection of the abuser😦

          Liked by 1 person

      • Neha,
        Marriage of children and then staying married is largely about first financial security,babies at any cost, and if possible happiness and friendship !
        I don’t really blame parents if they want their children to settle down : the problem starts when parents put too much pressure and use tactics to get it done !
        For women ,choices dwindle as they age, and there is the biological clock and therefore the increased pressure on woman ! Also, real life is tougher for woman especially if she doesn’t earn 6-7 figure salary, is not bold and mentally strong ! All super educated women are not bold,chalak,or mentally strong !
        But there is a limit: the parents have to leave their adult children to face the consequences of their decisions !

        Like

    • What a courageous post, fem! Thank you for sharing this. I think we all understand the feeling of washing dirty linen, but at some point, it’s honesty like yours that inspires others to come out and acknowledge their feelings as well – even if not publicly then at least to themselves. So thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Fem, I don’t want to intrude on something that is intensely private. Yet, it does appear that your mother could be a narcissist or have some other sort of personality disorder. I am not a professional, but some of her behaviour does seem to fall under the NPD symptoms.

      Would she be willing to talk to a psychiatrist? I don’t mean to hurt or offend, so my apologies if I am way out of line.

      Like

      • Hi Neha, thanks for responding. I am not offended at all. I had researched these symptoms myself and came up with the same response. She may have NPD, but there is no sure way of knowing.

        I have not broached the subject with her, but I have done so with other members of the family. I thought with some support, I could talk to her and get her the help she obviously needs. Nothing. I just need to get married and all will be all right apparently. I am talking about her mother, her husband and her brother (through her mother). I was myself in a bad mental state then, so didn’t take the fight forward. I just wanted to get away from the constant marriage pressure, so I let her be.

        I have also read that people with NPD often don’t get help because that’s the very nature of their illness. And to get better, you need to make an effort and work at it. So I really don’t know what to do. I would appreciate any suggestions on how to deal with this issue.

        Like

    • ¨I am beginning to get a little worried about their old age now. I won’t live in the same house with them because I can’t really handle this nonsense. But I don’t want to abandon them either¨

      IHM/Priya- This needs a separate post. How does one care for elders whom we can’t live with on a continuous basis, but want to ensure their health, happiness and safety?

      Liked by 3 people

  7. That was a great article.

    It took me until i was about 19/20 to recognize that my parents were abusive and toxic. Its so difficult when the abuser is someone you love. All the abusive things my parents did to me they say they did because they love me which made it even harder to recognize it was abuse.

    It wasnt until I was diagnosed with depression and an anxiety disorder that i was able to recognize the effects of their abuse.

    Growing up I thought I had the typical overprotective controlling Indian immigrant parents who simply did not understand me but it was so much more than that.

    They were overprotective to the point where I lost complete confidence in myself and feared the outside world. Growing up whenever I wanted to do the most normal things like walk to the bus stop alone, hang out at the mall with friends unchaparoned My parents would tell me gory horrific stories from the news about girls who were kidnapped, raped and murdered. This usually worked. I would be frightened and changed my mind and wouldnt want to go anymore. This started young. I was terrified as a child of any strange man. In my mind all men were potential kidnappers and rapists thanks to my parents. I still remember how parnoid i was at 9 or 10. Everynight before bed I would check to see my window was closed, check under my bed, in the closet, and lock my door before going to sleep. It was my night time ritual. This continued until i was much older as well. I was about 15\16 when I was being told that i would be kidnapped and trafficked and be a sex slave whenever I wanted to go to the mall or the movies. It wasnt untill I was 18 that I started going to places without my parents and even then I would feel scared. It was their tactic for controlling me. By making me afraid of the world they were able to keep me locked up at home. I wasnt allowed to sleep over at friends homes because their father or brother might rape me. In their mind that was the worst thing that could happen to a girl because who would marry me then. This tactic worked for them because i really feared the outside world so much and was so paranoid of leaving the house alone for so long.

    They were so controlling in regards to my body as well. When i turned 11 my mom told me that I couldnt wear shorts and tank tops anymore because I was getting older now. I had so many rules about clothing. This one made me the most furious as a teenager. i just wantes to be able to wear trendy clothes like any other girl. it was my body but they had full control of it. I rememeber when the Gardasil vacine came out I was 17 and needed parental permission to get it since I was still a minor. My parents refused, they said it was unnecessary because I wasnt going to have sex until after marriage.

    They were always so critical of me. Everything I said or did was wrong. I was a horrible daughter. I was critcized for not being nice enough, smart enough modest enough . There was nothing I could do right in their eyes.

    I remember when I was in 11th grade I decided I was going to be the perfect indian good girl. I was so eager for their love. All i did was go to school
    And stay home. I stop socializing with friends after school. I never used the phone. Eventually I lost touch with friends and drifted apart. This contined in university untill my mental breakdown. I was so isolated and so lonely. The lonliness was the worst, it would literally make my heart ache. Oh but my parents were so happy, so pleased. They would brag to family friends that I never ever go out and i always stay at home and all I do is study etc. They could are less that i was miserable.

    And till this day they pretend they
    did nothing wrong. They will even deny saying or doing something when I try and confront them. They use my mentall illness against me. They try an make me feel like Im crazy and making it up. if I get upset they’ll ask me did you take your pill today? (I’ve been on medication for the past 6 years). They act like thats why Im upset. Sometimes I actually start to doubt myself and question if maybe Im remembering wrong. But I have an amazing brother who loves me and always as my back. He tells me that evwrything I said is true he witnessed it all through the years so they cant pretend it didnt happen. The gaslighting makes me furious. They will never accept that what they did to me was wrong and how much they hurt me. I know they will never apologize let alone admit that Im telling the truth.

    The things they did to hurt me could fill several books but I’ll keep it brief.

    There is an amazing book out there that really helped me cope for anyone who is in the same situation out there. Its called “Toxic Parents; Overcoming their hurtful legacy and reclaiming your life”.

    Anyways my story has a happy ending. Im 25 and am free from my parents control. I do what I want, wear what I want, go where I want. Im living life on my own terms and making my own choices. I wont lie and say it doesnt still hurt, that pain will always be there. But I know I have to accept that my parents will never change or apoligize and I have to stay away from their toxicity for my own health and happiness. I have amazing friends and a loving brother who always has my back.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Anonymous, what an amazing story. As I was reading through it, my heart went out to you. But I’m so glad you have your brother! Sometimes that’s all it takes – another human being who affirms you, validates your feelings, and believes in you. I’m happy that you’ve been able to separate all this from your own happiness, you’ve been able to remove yourself enough from the toxic environment to be able to examine and understand what exactly happened. Wishing you much continued happiness.

      Like

      • ¨Sometimes that’s all it takes – another human being who affirms you, validates your feelings, and believes in you¨ This is so true!
        I feel blessed to have not one, but 3 such people in my life. I know that even if I falter, my father will be there for me, no matter what. This gives me huge confidence to face life.
        I was docile, naive and could not deal with MIL’s abuse.She used to make me believe that I was stupid, unintelligent and lazy. Even though I was a topper throughout academics, worked for a renowned firm, earned a decent pay-check, had some talents, I believed her. I began to doubt my accomplishments, my skills. It took my mother to go and have a clear chat with her. That day my mom who is a quiet, intelligent thinking person who barely raises her voice became Durga Maa and literally slayed the demon for me. Mom effectively ended the abuse, told me to stay separately, away from in-laws. She also told me clearly that from that day onwards, I have to become strong and deal with such situations on my own.
        My husband believes in my talents and encourages me to pursue my dreams. Societal approval be damned.
        It is not that I am weak, or unable to take my own decisions, and i need constant support and validation. Only that there was a phase when I was very young (24), did not know that even elders whom we are supposed to respect can be abusive. Because of the strong support I got at 24, I am much stronger, and have transformed into an assertive person who doesn’t take crap from anybody.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Hard to believe that our own parents could be our worst enemy. The more I read this blog, more I become confident how to raise my children.
      Thanks Anynomous for pouring your heart out and letting us know.
      God bless you🙂

      Like

  8. hah, My parents ( v aged parents have had an enlightenment of sorts recently). Most know my story, left home to marry the person of my choice, no contact for close to 18 yrs and finally min contact , reluctant form my end.

    Anyway we met a few months ago . in a resort and while having dinner they said i choose to walk away ( with a smile) and my husband – the usually peacemaker and forgiver of great misdeeds🙂 looked up straight at them and said ‘ NO !!!”
    he told them ‘ You choose between your daughters choice /happiness/ and spcietial views’ – he told them they placed more emphasis on others opinions( my relatives) than your daughters happiness, so in short ‘ you choose she didnt’.

    I literally saw my parents eyes widen ( no exageration) . and they kept quite but since then they have not apologized but a few months later when i saw them briefly in a wedding they were diff to me, a bit ashamed?? i dontknow its suble maybe im imagining it, but somehow its like its not my fault anymore. not that i care . they can blame me till the cows come home and i would have exactly the same given a 2,nd , 3rd, millionth chance to do it again..🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  9. I think what’s hardest to accept is that being a victim of abuse has nothing to do with being “strong” or “weak”. Everyone has their own vulnerabilities and abusers are good at detecting and exploiting them. This quote from George Orwell’s 1984 says it all:

    “By itself,” he said, “pain is not always enough. There are occasions when a human
    being will stand out against pain, even to the point of death. But for everyone there is something unendurable — something that cannot be contemplated. Courage and cowardice are not involved. If you are falling from a height it is not cowardly to clutch at a rope. If you have come up from deep water it is not cowardly to fill your lungs with air. It is merely an instinct which cannot be destroyed… You will do what is required of you.”

    What I’m saying is, we cannot fight every single form of abuse and every single incident. Given how fighting to bring about change is glorified and leaving is seen as a sign of weakness, it’s close to impossible to leave an abusive situation even though *leaving is the only rational choice*. I think this feeling of failure makes it so hard for a victim to leave despite fully knowing that they are being abused. This is where we need a strong network of support because without reassurance, it’s next to impossible for a person whose self esteem has been battered to lift themselves out of an abusive situation. Unfortunately, the ones who should be helping are usually aiding the abuser.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agree. Especially, “But for everyone there is something unendurable”
      Also, once you are in a relationship (even a non-abusive one), it becomes more difficult to see objectively. Things might be obvious to a friend/sister/outsider but to the person involved, emotional involvement blurs reality to some extent. And in an abusive relationship, this loss of objectivity gets only worse due to fear, guilt, confusion, shame, and a host of other negative emotions.

      Like

    • I absolutely agree. This is especially true in the context of abusive or unhappy marriages.

      I have left not once, but twice, and I am in a much, much better place for doing so.

      I tried to salvage my first marriage and slipped into clinical depression — there was nobody whom I could share my pain with.

      I was unemployed, and on a dependent’s visa in the US and my husband had begun to resent my financial dependence on him.

      My parents did not understand what I was going through; like a good Indian girl, I chose to suffer in silence than cause anxiety to my parents.

      The second time around, I was a much stronger person. I knew my rights, I could clearly see that my husband and in-laws’ behaviour was abusive. It still took me two years of counselling and support to finally leave; 18 more months to file for divorce.

      Sometimes I feel like I’ve been to hell and back. I feel battle-weary, like I have fought and lost in a long, bloody war. When I think of the months before my second divorce, I’m amazed that I survived it, somehow, in one piece.

      But I know other women who’ve developed diabetes and blood pressure because of harrassment by their in-laws and husbands. I know co-workers whose marriages are an utter sham, but divorce is still not an option.

      My extended family thinks that I have a fatal defect, because I have two failed marriages. They think that leaving was the easy way out.

      Only I know how close I came to killing myself, the days and nights of unbounded despair, the feeling of drowning, of being in freefall.

      Leaving quite literally, saved my life. It’s the sanest decision I’ve ever taken. Yes, I am scarred, spent, tarred and featherd by social disapprobation, but I have dignity, self-respect. I am not forced to be around people who are abusive and disrespectful.

      Staying in an abusive marriage, or any abusive relationship makes you die a hundred little deaths every day.

      If you haven’t experienced or encountered abuse, you can never understand how it warps your perception of reality, your sense of self, your understanding of right and wrong.

      If somebody is in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship, and they have the means to leave, they certainly should. Life is too short to be spent being somebody’s punching bag.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I agree. But I also think that one of the toughest part of leaving is that you actually love those who are abusing you. It’s human instinct to be there for those whom you love, and in a sense, you see that the abuser is not happy either and you want to help. There are good times, shared memories, so much that you are going to put behind you. This is one reason why many people don’t leave. Most abuse is not constant either; it comes in cycles.

      Like

    • This is so, so very true. I was talking to my sister (mentioned above in my previous comment) and she said she wanted to try to make the emotionally abusive relationship work. And she did not want to quit. And the point I was trying to convey to her was exactly this… It is OK to quit sometimes (or often). In fact it is NECESSARY to quit when required. I was reading a very nice book – “Raising happiness” on how to raise happy kids, and that book exactly says this in one of the chapters..How we should teach kids that it is absolutely ok to quit. One should try hard, but it is not necessary to succeed at everything one tries.
      The “never be a quitter” term and its equivalents should be abolished! They give us the false sense that if we quit something, that is a sign of weakness.

      Like

      • mypunchingbag, I should probably read that book. And if we stopped associating divorce with the term “failed marriage”, it would be better because I can think of a lot of marriages that are failures and a lot of divorces which were a very wise move. So why should a divorce be classified as a failure?

        Like

  10. Like – ItalianHurricane.. I too just wished I had read this some years ago. It would saved me from a lot of panic attacks I had for this abuse from my own parents.
    I am so bitter and mad about it. Even though the abuse was not as pronounced as Fem’s and anonymous’, even though it was less, still I am bitter about it ..
    It has stopped now because they know I could not care less..I usually did not give in, specially the big decisions like marriage and all.
    However I sometimes gave in to the everyday things like when to take head bath and all and I am truly bitter about this.
    And the worst thing is they do not know it is abuse and they have also experienced it from the grand parents. I have been witness to that .
    They have also been enabler when it happened to uncle and aunt(father’s brother and his wife)..
    My uncle and aunt have taken revenge by enabling verbal abuse to the mother by my grandmother..It was very devastating for me and my sister and also for my father…
    It is such a vicious cycle.
    I always wonder why such dysfunctional families we have ?
    I have seen this abuse happening to my friends irrespective of men or women.
    Few have recognized this and put their foot down and few still think that being their parents they have the right.
    Gawd..why are we so dysfunctional….??

    Like

    • Hi
      I was the anonymous person who wrote about my parents.

      I too was very angry and bitter for a long time. But you need to let go of the anger not for your parents sake but your own. Anger and bitterness can consume a person and eat them up. To move on and be happy you need to let it go. You don’t need to forget or forgive but accept it.

      I know how hard it can be to let go of the anger. That was definitely the biggest hurdle for me when it came to healing. Therapy definitely helped alot.

      If that’s not an affordable or accessible option I will again recommend the book “Toxic Parents; Overcoming their hurtful legacy and reclaiming your life”. The internet can also be a great resource. There are many great support groups online.

      Like

    • @Anonymous, ugh, the head baths! Especially after menstruation. I don’t even want to remember that. But Anonymous is right. You should let go of the hate and concentrate on healing.

      @Anonymous, thanks for the book recommendation. But I find these books usually geared more towards a Western society. Granted that the human frailty is similar everywhere, but these books don’t give much help with dealing with the issue within the Indian cultural context.

      Hang on, why are you both Anonymous? Find a nice name, ladies!😉

      Like

  11. A very well written post Priya. Its a topic I feel strongly about. The ‘how’ of abuse is explained so well…I wish I had read something like this years back.

    The ‘why’ of abuse is explained very well on a blog (http://womboflight.com/) I came across recently. This blog has become my bible and I end up reading/ re-reading the topics everyday. Do take a look at it some time.

    Like

  12. Priya, you’ve got a book in you… please write it and share it with the world. Translations would especially be helpful so that this sort of material reaches every kind of person that needs it. Kudos.

    Like

    • Pallavi, thank you for your kind words. I’ve learnt so much from everyone’s comments here. Their experience sharing and analysis adds so much to the topic. This is an amazing group of thinking people.

      Like

  13. Wow, reading some of the posts on this blog makes me feel at peace. I really wish found this earlier. Some of the attitudes is prevalent in some of my family members and in our society (Kerala, and technically not my society lol). The violence, abuse, ill treatment of women, some of the harsh parenting practices. I feel like still inhibiting these traits and having the firm belief in carrying these trends is shattering families by the minute, kids getting into trouble that leads to all sorts of issues and later suicide and so on (we had three back to back cases last year that ended in tragedy). We can’t express an opinion without being hounded on/threatened/lashed out while they always say you can express opinions. Been in that situation several times-haven’t be like severely abused but did receive harsh comments and words, felt manipulated..etc. Honestly as a teen and living at home I always thought that you gotta be obedient no matter what happens or how your parents treat you..cuz they are your parents. Was very shy and reserved as a kid, but changed a bit when I went to college and got a taste of life on my own, made my own choices, made mistakes and grew from them. Also learned that sometimes you have to fight back regardless of how “disrespectful, unobedient” you are because you need to survive and avoid being ragged by others. The Indian mentality actually makes me ashamed to an Indian, on top of that the marriage issue is starting for me and they want to start looking (not even ready for that process) and because of that I really have no desire to go to India anymore. I hate not only Indians, but anyone comparing, criticizing for being a little different from the norm, not accepting and respecting people for who they are, likes, interests, choices they make, acting arrogant, cunning, manipulative..etc. Treat everyone equally for once. And what’s with this separation in India (Metros are excluded cuz people living there know better thank god), where say tamils only stay with tamils, gujuratis with gujuratis, malayalee with malayalee? Many times I have seen in malayalee parties that many non malayalees are often ignored and disregarded like they don’t belong there. For new immigrants who have not much exposure to outside life their homestate it’s ok, but this is very common among those who lived outside for decades. Learn to live and grow with people that are not only from your culture, but others as well. I wish in the West we can follow Malaysia’s example where there’s only one community where everyone is involved and no one cares if you are Chinese, a particular Indian..etc. Instead we have all these associations separately and provide support to our own community only. Shouldn’t we come as one?

    Thanks for writing this. God bless, we need more people like you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I don’t get the language/state/caste based bonding either. Shouldn’t we be choosing friends based on common interests and similar values rather than where they were born? I’ve seen so many of these ‘associations’ in the US and find them really strange.

      Like

  14. Fantastic Post!
    Totally needs to be said and so relevant in the Indian context, where all families are expected to live in each others’ pockets.
    Some discussions in this thread indicating that it is a people problem not an Indian problem
    http://captainawkward.com/2015/04/07/686-help-im-being-pressured-to-attend-funerals-by-a-manipulative-family-member/

    But I love that we are discussing this in an Indian context!

    @Fem: Internet hugs if you want them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most issues we discuss on this blog are not India-specific but we definitely discuss them in the Indian context – which I find extremely helpful because it is so rare and difficult to have an open discussion on any Indian culture specific thing without making people feel threatened, defensive, and insecure.

      Like

  15. Response to Fem’s comment (thread was getting too nested) and in general –

    Fem: “But I also think that one of the toughest part of leaving is that you actually love those who are abusing you. It’s human instinct to be there for those whom you love, and in a sense, you see that the abuser is not happy either and you want to help. There are good times, shared memories, so much that you are going to put behind you.”

    This a 1000 times. My cousin had a relatively happy childhood. He has good memories of growing up with his parents. They were attentive, kind, loving, fun. I myself spent fun times with my aunt and uncle, in the early years when I came to the US as a student. Their lives started going downhill when my cousin hit 30 (they started looking for matches when he was 28 and started increasing the pressure when he was 30). My aunt’s marriage obsession turned out to be so destructive to an otherwise happy family. Which goes to show how strong these ingrained beliefs can be, how deep conditioning can get under your skin, that you are willing to wreck the happiness of 3 people for so-called “normalcy”.

    People are not black and white. My aunt is not evil. She is a product of some terribly flawed notions. If we went back in time and flashed some happy memories in front of her of times she spent with her son, she would be surprised. She would be surprised that their happiness once existed and was real. She would be surprised at who she has become today.

    My cousin rarely visits them. He has moved all the way to the East Coast to put distance from them. He calls and checks in on them. Mostly talks to his dad. He is doing what he can to stay sane.

    It was my uncle who finally recognized and accepted that she needs help. He has convinced her to seek therapy (they live in the US). She is taking her first steps toward self-awareness. The psych she is seeing is of Indian/Pakistani origin and understands the cultural context. They are also attending a support group composed of Indians and non-Indians. From what my cousin says, this has been helping.

    Like

  16. Excellent post. Loved reading it and the comments. I just have one question. For “who can inflict emotional abuse”, you have listed a few. Almost all of them relatives, school situation, and Manager. I understand relatives and school situation. It is very difficult to cut the association with the relatives and the school teachers/bullies. In my person opinion, managers need not be included in this category. When we come to know he/she is emotionally abusing us, we can cut the relationship immediately by resigning and walking off the job.

    Like

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  18. Hello,
    It’s an amazing post. Very insightful and clear. I have one question. What do we do if it’s not possible to put permanent physical distance between abuser and us. Is there any way to manage the situation without leaving?

    Like

    • sw, the safest thing to do is leave. However, if the victim is financially dependent on the abuser and needs to plan supports, she needs to stay safe temporarily. She should keep with her at all times –
      – the abuse hotline number (911 may not apply if there’s no violence or only a threat of violence)
      – her cell phone and a friend’s number
      – some cash, credit card (if she has one) and basic supplies like change of clothes and dry foods/snacks, bottled water, medicines, packed and ready
      – have an escape plan in mind, where to go and seek help, whom to call
      – have a room to escape into, preferably with a window to the outside
      – recognize triggers (although these can be unpredictable) and avoid them as much as possible
      – do not reason with the abuser, do not get drawn into arguments
      – make some ground rules and try to have the abuser stand by them (again this can be difficult, but ground rules serve as reminders to both abuser and victim and can be helpful if the abuse is milder)
      There are several support orgs that help women who are unable to leave. It would be a good idea to stay in touch with one of the local ones, update them periodically, so they are familiar with your case, and have all your info on file, and will have it ready when they need to assess any given situation and respond quickly. Also, counseling can be done even when victims choose to stay. Counselors understand why victims struggle to leave and work with them on taking this step.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Priya for your response. My question was regarding abuse that’s mild but chronic. Leaving might not be right option because of investment made in relationship and family. Thanks again

        Like

        • If it’s mild but chronic, if the victim can persuade the abuser to go to counseling (if they can do it together or separately), that would be a positive way to deal with it.

          Like

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  24. 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

  25. 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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