What makes some of us resent abuse victims instead of supporting them.

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

IHM, I too know of such a family where, the mother is still living in the abusive relationship and making her kids, friends and family members feel that, she has sacrificed her life for her kids.

There is a chance that she genuinely believes that she has sacrificed for her children. Women are raised to believe that ‘keeping a family intact’ is their prime responsibility.

Even if they harm the family in the process.

The kids hero worship their mother and hate their father.

The kids can’t fail to see that the father is an abuser and they also see their mother as a helpless victim, who does not,or cannot help them but also does not abuse them directly or violently.

Earlier, i too used to sympathize with this lady and wonder how she managed to live with so much humiliation. Must admit that, this aunt’s parents were very very supportive. They literally begged her to leave this guy and stay with them but for some strange reason she refused.

Please read this post to understand why she refused.

I have actually witnessed all this and it used to puzzle me, why was she not latching on to their offer and taking her kids to a better environment.

I think we have all seen victims of abuse do this. Abused women feel that if they lived in their father’s or brother’s homes, they would always be ‘outsiders’ and ‘dependents’ accepting charity from their birth families (Remember they are ‘paraya dhan). Indian women are told their husband’s home is their own, rightful home. And don’t forget the Honeymoon Phase and the Domestic Violence Cycle.

With time, i realized that the man definitely needed psychiatrist help but somewhere, this lady kind of enjoyed living a abused life and getting the sympathizes of all around.

She might enjoy the sympathy perhaps because that is the only positive feeling she receives. Respect, companionship and freedom are almost unknown to her.

Sympathy also validates her instinctive feeling that somehow, it’s not she but the abuser who is at fault. Even though she isn’t sure – she probably genuinely believes that she could have avoided the violence if she taken care to wear yellow on Tuesdays.

But nobody enjoys being abused.

Strange but till date she is staying with the guy, talking badly about him behind his back, making her kids feel she is the only one for them in this world but even now she is not ready to move out (she has two kids both adults now and one is already earning) .

Not being judgmental but always found it weird that, she always had the option to be away from the oppression then why did she put herself and her kids through this. Also she claims to love her kids dearly and that’s the only reason she is living with this monster. Again not a strong claim, because these kids only abuse their father do not believe in the institution of marriage, then how has this lady managed to suffer for the good of her children why, have they till now only suffered and believe that life is only “Hell”.

Somewhere, the kids are leading their lives in accordance to their mothers comfort. They feel that for so many years their mother has sacrificed her life for them and now its their duty to sacrifice their life for her… A genuinely caring Mother, educated or uneducated would somehow try to escape from such bad relationships until and unless she is in foreign land or kept under house arrest. Some one who is allowed to meet, socialize, carry on with day today activities without someone hanging around their neck 24/7 , always has an opportunity. Plus the money was also never any issue?? so y do some women stay in abused relationships??? even i am clueless.

The children are also abused in such relationships, if only because they have to live with abuse. They don’t always fail to see that the ‘sacrifice’ has done no good to anybody.

It might be worse when the children are sons, because unlike daughters, the sons are expected to protect the mother and once they marry, their spouse is also expected to understand and sympathize with the victim.

An abuse victim may not understand if the son respects his spouse or if the younger couple does not have an abuser-abused relationship.

They might also expect their daughters to live with domestic violence and abuse.

This is not because the abuse victims are cruel people, but because this is how life has been for them and they see this as normal.

Abuse victims are also likely to believe that happiness in relationships depends on ‘destiny‘ and not on how healthy a relationship is.


If she doesn’t seem to see your logic, will you support her the way she can be supported?

Mothers are known to say they stay in abusive relationships ‘for sake of their children’. ‘An email from a daughter whose mother endured everything because she did not want to ruin her daughters’ lives’ shows what the children (for whom the mothers say they suffered the abuse) go through.

Neo Indian had also blogged about, ‘Mommy’s secret: The monster in my house (an essay by a 4th grader)’.

It is generally agreed and understood that victims should remove themselves from such situations.

What stops them?

In fairytales, you have the good characters and the bad characters. One is easily recognizable as evil, and the other is 100% good. Good witch vs. Bad Witch. Hero vs. Villain. Real life doesn’t work that way though. In abusive relationships, the abuser can easily transform from beast to beauty. It’s a misconception that abuse happens 24/7.

The same man, who calls you every name in the book, will act nurturing when you talk about a fight with your mom.

The father, who is sexually abusing you, is offering to help and console you when you just lost your job.

The friend, who humiliates you in front of others and jabs at your self-esteem, constantly buys you gifts and says you’re the best.

The abused person will struggle with recognizing the abuse, because “he/she is nice to me sometimes! He/she has done this and that for me. They can’t be that bad.”

It’s these random acts of kindness, which is during the honeymoon phase, that keep us emotionally dependent on the abuser.

[Click to read the entire article.]

If a victim does not leave, do they still deserve support?

They do. And the first step is understanding ‘why don’t they just leave’.

Supporting a domestic violence victim can be difficult and confusing. One day they will be telling you their partner is a complete jerk. The next day that same person will be starry eyed and defending them. You will be left scratching your head and thinking “What the?!”

If you find yourself in the situation of helping someone in a violent relationship, educate yourself on domestic violence and the cycle it follows. (Given below)

Listen to your friend without judgment.

Don’t belittle their concerns.

Don’t try to hustle them on to a more pleasant subject.

Don’t tell them what they “should” do.

You are not them, and you are not going through it.

Don’t try to better their situation with woes about your own partner.

Your friend needs all the strength and support they can get right now. Support them wherever you can, as long as you are not placing yourself in danger.

If you believe their life is in danger, go to the police.

At times it may be confusing and frustrating to see your friend making progress, only to go back to their partner time after time.

Please don’t give up on them.

While their actions may seem bizarre to you, try to understand that they are undergoing massive emotional turmoil. Sometimes, all you can do is be a shoulder to cry on until they are ready to leave.

Try not to become frustrated with them.

Just reassure them that you will always be there to help when they need you. A safe space and your kind words may be a beacon of hope for your lost and lonely friend. [Click to read the entire article.]

The Domestic Violence Cycle [From here]

The domestic violence cycle involves 6 stages: build-up, stand-over, explosion, remorse, pursuit, and honeymoon. Not all stages are present in every situation.

1.) The Build-Up Phase

The abuser’s anger rises. The relationship does not need to be the cause of the anger.

2.) The Stand-Over Phase

Tension is in the air and the victim may have a sense of ‘walking on eggshells.’ They know that a fight is just around the corner, and may alter their behaviour to try to ward it off.

3.) The Explosion Phase

The abuse occurs. This can be emotional, sexual, financial or physical.

4.) The Remorse Phase

After an incident, the abuser may feel remorse about what they have done, or fear that the victim will tell someone. They may become very apologetic.

5.) The Pursuit Phase

The abuser tries to win the victim back by making promises of changing, going to counselling, giving up drugs or alcohol, buying gifts for the victim, and begging her to stay.

6.)The Honeymoon Phase

The abuser is very sweet, charming, affectionate, and loving during this phase. The good times of the relationship happen in this time. The honeymoon phase is what makes it so difficult for a victim to leave the abuser.

The victim may also reject help from others she has sought in previous phases. The relationship appears happy and normal. Soon, however, the tension begins to build again, and the cycle re-enters the build-up phase.

The Queensland Police website has this visual example of the domestic violence cycle.

My personal opinion is that the abuse follows a downward spiral as opposed to a cycle, as it ususally gets more violent and the stages are completed in a shorter space of time.

This is how I see it:

Desi Girl says,

If you know someone is being abused this is how you can help:

A) Information is Power. Inform yourself about intimate partner violence (IPV) how abuse works, learn about characteristics of an abuser, what happens to the abused and what is cycle of violence.

B) If you suspect someone is being abused, assure them you are genuinely concerned and you believe them. Listen carefully.

C) Tell them being abused is not their fault. The fault lies with the abuser for they made a choice to abuse her. Think. Abusers don’t hit their friends, bosses or strangers then why do they hit just their partners and children? They hit them because they know they can get away with it.

[Read the article here]

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

Dear IHM,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for listening,

Cluless.

When she says she no longer wishes to stay with him, why isn’t her word enough?

“She called me on the very day she committed suicide. She said that she was being battered so badly by her husband that she no longer wished to stay with him. But I persuaded her to give the marriage some more time.”[Link]

(Thanks for the link Momofrs)
Juhi Nakawa’s post-mortem report has revealed signs of struggle and other internal injuries. Her husband and mother in law are absconding. Her mother could have saved her life, but like the mothers here and here, this mother too did not take her daughter seriously. That’s our culture.

I received Momofrs mail while writing about why our gender ratio will not improve until we start  ‘respecting’ women. Respecting women would mean we acknowledge that women are equal citizens, human or people. Just like the rest of the world.

Meaning, we don’t respect them because they brought us into this world (so if they don’t want to be mothers, they don’t deserve respect?)

We don’t respect them because they sacrificed for us or because they are stronger and more loving, ‘they make a house a home‘, ‘they complete men’ or they are beautiful ( 🙄 ), they are wiser etc. We respect them even if they are none of these things, just because they are people, just like everybody else.

Respecting women would mean we acknowledge that they are the best and only people who can decide if they should stay in a marriage. Their word would be enough.

Yes it comes as a shock to their parents who have thought of nothing but her marriage all her life, maybe spent all their savings as dowry in the hope that she is treated humanely by her in laws and spouse.

Yes there are other problems. The neighbour’s third cousin will point a finger at the upbringing. Why do the parents care? Because they fear she will not find another match. Why not stop seeing Getting-married-and-Staying-married as the only goal in her life? A huge number of a woman’s problems are solved once marriage becomes an option instead of being the only goal in her life.

This might just save her life. Not only from abusive spouse or in laws, but also from her parents before or soon after she is born.

And even if her life is not at risk (let’s assume) then doesn’t her happiness matter? She has one life, if she is unhappy why wait for her to get used to abuse and unhappiness and for her spirit to break? Yes, nobody is perfectly happy, yes her grandmother and mother suffered too, but that’s no reason for her to not be given every chance to lead a happy, fulfilled life.

If she is matured enough to be married, then she is matured enough to decide if and when she does not wish to stay married. Here we hold her responsible even for crimes against herself, but we don’t trust her to take that one of the decision that concerns her more than it concerns anybody else.

Why don’t we take it seriously when a woman says they do not want to live with their spouse? Why isn’t her word enough?

Are Happily Married Daughters a status symbol in India?

A mother calls me  sometimes to talk about her very unhappy daughter.

This mother retired from a good job, has a supportive husband and lives a comfortable, middle class life ( a driver, a cook, a maid etc), they enjoy socializing with close friends and family, and they enjoy their beer on weekend afternoons.

She had once asked me to sign as witness, in their will, where they leave everything equally to their two children. She clearly loved both her children and both the children were provided equal opportunity to succeed. The daughter was smart, self assured and she had a good career. The proud parents quoted her opinion during conversations,  “Our daughter says we should pay our bills online, so now we can’t be bothered with standing in queues.“, or “She said the front door should be painted white, so we changed the colour.

Their son couldn’t pass class twelve, the parents seemed aware of his limitations, the mother looked content once they managed to get him a job. The son was polite, he did not smoke, he loves Pizza and Coke, and drank only during the gatherings at home.

All was fine with their world till then.

Then their daughter, then 30, married someone she liked. The parents weren’t pleased with her choice but seemed happy for her.

Then some months later a common acquaintance told me their daughter was very unhappy, her husband was beating her, “...but she chose him, it’s her own fault. The parents are so ill, at this age all this trouble for them...”

I asked if she told the mother to support the daughter and bring her back home. She didn’t because thought a marriage should be given a chance, and this would ‘sort out on its own‘.

Many months later, one day the mother called me, she sounded very old and tired. The fact that she was ready to call a near stranger to discuss what most Indians consider a very personal problem in itself was an indication. She said she came to know there was violence when she saw a purple mark on her daughter’s leg. The daughter didn’t want to go back, but she said the father felt she chose her husband so now she must make this marriage work.

At first tactfully and then quite clearly I have been telling her that this violence which has now been going on for two years, was not going to end. I reminded her of how happy they were when their daughter lived with them. I gave examples of another woman, who we both know, lives very happily with her mother, and of another woman who has separated and looks visibly happier and more confident.

The mother sought legal guidance and warned the husband with the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) and for a short while there was no violence, but now he has made her give up her job, he does not allow her to keep any domestic help, she wears only traditional clothing now, he also lovingly apologizes after most beatings which he claims are always caused because of something she did wrong – the girl is now (according to the mother) not ready to come back.

The mother, I sense, still wants this marriage to work, but she is realizing that there is little hope of that happening.

What is compelling this independent and loving mother to allow her daughter to go through this abuse? The girl can start working again so financial security is not a real problem.

Could it be that the parents like most Indian parents see a ‘Happily Married Daughter ‘ as a status symbol? Are they are concerned about what the neighbors and relatives might say?

Would it not be easier to answer or to ignore those who don’t care for their child’s welfare, than to watch their child’s life being ruined?


Related Posts on this blog:

  • Sixty and nowhere to go.
  • An email from an Anonymous Confused Wife.
  • If someone dislocated your jaw…
  • Feminism has gone to women’s heads. Divorce has become like selling onions.
  • Overheard at a Beauty Parlour.
  • When a daughter refuses to go back.
  • Is a Known Devil really better?
  • How important is it for a girl to get married.
  • 🙄

    “An ordinary fight with wife…”

    Indian diplomat in Britain claims immunity on wife-beating charge.

    Diplomat transferred from London after wife-beating charges

    He (Anil Verma) … suddenly flew into a rage over the fact that there was a Christmas tree in the house … given to them from one of Paromita’s relatives.

    “He stormed up the stairs to grab the tree and throw it out but Paromita …tried to stop him because their son had been decorating it. He suddenly turned round and punched her full in the face, very hard…

    “She was screaming and blood was pouring from her nose like a tap…

    “The front door was open and Paromita ran outside, …. Neighbours took her into their house to comfort her until the police arrived,” the daily said..”

    If he was in India he would not have needed to claim any immunity. His neighbours would have protected him. Take a look at two of the comments following the news article. My response in red.

    1.

    By: DEV
    On: 17 Jan 2011 02:19 am

    In my view, our Indian government authorities and the people should think, what led him to this situation.These days it is hard to believe some of our Indian women who are well aware of law abuse due to western influence.Who knows she is well guided by one of her friends with vested interests.

    – The only thing that ‘lead him to this situation’ is the abuser’s confidence that the victim would tolerate the abuse. Unfortunately, Western or Indian influences don’t protect victims from violence.  Dev should read about victims who have successfully fought back against Domestic Violence – because they had support.

    2.

    Another comment. My response in red.

    By: Ram
    On: 10 Jan 2011 10:29 am

    We should consider the following things before making any assertions

    1.Has the woman complained to police or not. Just becoz som neighbors reported and the person involved is diplomat the police should not take action or media should not give vast coverage.

    – Do we recommend leaving the victim alone in any other crime? Domestic Violence is a crime, though the abuser would like it to be seen as ‘a family matter’.

    2.If voilence has happened what is the extent of physical injury that has hapeened to the lady.

    – How much injury is permitted? If the injury is not severe does the violence become acceptable? What about what the violence does to the self respect of the victim? It is not surprising that victims hesitate to complain.

    3.Most couples fight (some times voilently) and scream when there is difference of opinion and they settle it with in few minutes or few days. An external involvement will aggrevate the differences and cause irreparble damage to relationship (between husband and wife).

    – Once there is violence in a relationship, irreparable damage has already been done.  The victim needs external involvement. The abuser does not welcome ‘external involvement’ (except when he is sure of being supported, like from his family elders in India). Isolating the victim is important for the abuse to continue.

    4.An ordinary fight with wife, should not be a reason to recall or to force to resign from such a high profile post or for that matter any other person.

    – This is not an ‘ordinary fight with wife’. Domestic Violence (verbal or physical) is a crime.

    5.Hence the Indian high commission stance to allow or to expect the matter to be resolved between husband and wife to their mutual satisfaction is highly appreciable.

    – “The ‘Daily Mail’ also reported that Paromita has gone into hiding with her five-year-old son as she fears for her life. She left the home soon after the incident and has not returned since then.”

    6.Last but not least, any couples should not get provoked and endup in this type of situations, especially those who are in responsible position like representing a country and or attract media attention.

    –  The attempt to make it look like a ‘couples’ matter’ is also an abuse and many victims are lead to believe that they are responsible for the violence.

    The abuser committed a crime. If he had punched anybody else there would have been no excuses.

    This is something the abuser did to the victim, not something a couple did together by getting ‘provoked’.

    *

    What makes victims, their many well wishers and commenters like Dev and Ram above believe that abuse and violence is  ‘an ordinary fight with a wife‘?

    How does an educated and seemingly confident woman allow herself to be abused?

    Naomi Ackerman’s powerful monologue, which I found on Desi Girl’s blog explains how abuse begins and continues. Do share these amazing, eye-opening  videos with others.

    Video 1

    Video 2

    Video 3

    Let us not for a minute forget that we women still walk across minefields…

    Starry sent me a link to this article from ‘The Hindu’ warning women against treating their legal rights and equality (that they have been so magnanimously granted) as their rights. (Author : Lakshmi Visweswaran)

    My response in red.

    Having struggled hard to obtain legal means to break free from male dominance and depravity, are we women today at the point of endangering those very means?

    It’s not ‘we women‘ against ‘them men‘. Patriarchy is the problem, not ‘Male dominance and depravity‘. Although Patriarchy appears to empower men, it actually allows a few men and women to control the lives of most others.

    I myself am a strong believer in the equality of men and women and the right of every woman to lead a life of respect and self-dignity.

    Why just women? Everybody, including men and children deserve ‘to lead a life of respect and dignity‘.

    Yet, we cannot forget that we live in what is even today a male-dominated society.

    The so called ‘Male Dominated’ society does not create happy male members either.  Patriarchy allows a few to control the personal lives of many, for their personal gain, and generally with excuses like ‘family honor’ or ‘has always been done this way’. Patriarchy does not respect individual rights or happiness of those it does not empower, which is why it has failed to protect basic human rights of baby girls, female fetuses, girl children, senior citizens without male children, victims of sexual abuse and rape, victims of domestic violence, widows and single women etc.

    Women have had to struggle and fight male egoism at every step to get even a few benefits like the above legal provisions on our statute.

    The society struggles against set norms that have become a habit (customs). Those who benefit from the biases are resisting the changes. E.g. Khap Panchyat and those who get caregivers through the Joint Family System.  It’s much more than ‘male egoism’.

    The bill seeking 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies was passed in the Rajya Sabha this year, after almost 14 years of its introduction, and it is anybody’s guess when it will be implemented.

    A lot of men support the bill, if only to bring their female relatives (along with their male relatives) into politics… (my views…)

    A shield

    The modern Indian woman with her new-found economic, social and political independence is no doubt kicking to break free from the fetters of subjugation and subordination which have haunted her since time immemorial.

    Many Indian women have no idea that they are as equal as anybody else, they  believe abuse is a part of a woman’s life. Some other Indian women  have every opportunity to grow and they knows their rights. Many other Indian women are ‘allowed education’ but warned against ‘forgetting their limits’ or thinking they are ‘too equal’ – it’s possible that this Indian woman gives the impression that she is ‘kicking to break free from the fetters…’. Her inevitable though slow successes seems to worry those who fear change.

    In this uphill task, she has to learn to use the law as a shield to protect herself and not as a weapon to attack. A handful of women are forgetting that any relationship, whether marital or otherwise, is not about who has the upper hand but about who complements the other and how.

    Most of the Indian society has always been about ‘upper hand‘ and ‘control’. A handful of women today are able to see they need not accept that as a rule.

    Unfortunately today, aggressiveness has somehow become synonymous with “assertiveness” so much so that there are women who do not hesitate to file an FIR with the police or knock on the doors of the courts at the drop of a hat.

    Most women do not knock of the doors of the court even when they have every reason to. Their families and the societies warns them against being seen as aggressive.

    A heated discussion or disagreement, a refusal by the husband to allow his wife to wear western clothes or go out with friends, some chiding by the in-laws could all easily be labelled as cruelty by some women and, with enough stoking by unscrupulous advocates, this snowballs into a legal battle which leaves nothing but a bitter taste and an empty purse.

    Until recently, a refusal to allow his wife to wear western clothes/meet her friends  was seen as a husband’s and his family’s right. If husbands and their families do not accept that they can’t control an equal citizen’s life, even if she happens to be the lowest in the Patriarchal hierarchy, perhaps they need some counseling along with/before police custody.

    Still a minority

    No doubt, such women still form a minority, yet no one can overlook the harm they may inadvertently be causing to a large number of Indian women, who genuinely need the law to help them find a way out of their miserable and pathetic situations; also, many a time it is an escape route from what has become to them a living hell.

    A law being misused is not a reason for depriving victims of a legal recourse. This is a much needed law. A society that still thinks a wife should not mind if her husband does not allow her to wear Western clothes or to meet her friends, needs such laws even more urgently.

    With more and more cases of abuse of women-centric legal provisions, the day may not be far off when the same men who conceded our reasonable demands start re-thinking.

    It’s not men verses women. Nobody needed to ‘concede’ “our” demands. Law-making is not about magnanimity. If a wrong was being done, if unfair advantage was being taken, it was time to put an end to it. The society will take time to accept women as decision makers in their own lives. The law – unlike unwritten customs, can be reviewed, challenged or made stronger through legal processes. As of now social norms seem to undo a lot of good that laws begin to do.

    With the joint family concept having become a thing of the past and with family ties getting weaker by the day, the need is for the establishment of several more counselling centres in colleges, offices, hospitals and even in courts.

    The slow end of Joint Family is the beginning of the end of Patriarchy. It is a much needed change. The end of Joint Family will also be the beginning of respect for  female children – the unwanted liability, the paraya dhan in the Joint Family. It might also bring relief to the parents and families of girl children – they may find they can hope to see their children living with respect, self confidence, dignity, equality, love and safety.

    These must be manned by trained professionals who have in-depth knowledge of human psychology and behavioural patterns. People, especially youngsters, must be encouraged to seek the help of such centres.

    People of all ages might need counseling.  The damage that the Joint Family system or Patriarchy has done to the society will be more difficult for the older generation to understand, because this is the only way of life that they might have seen.

    In fact, all family disputes should be taken up only after it has been certified by a counsellor that the case is beyond counselling.

    No ‘certified counsellors’ should be allowed to become the middle men between a citizen and their right to justice. There is also a risk of the counselors being bribed.

    Parents, family members and close friends can mediate and help the couple identify their actual problems and assist them in solving their issues amicably.

    This is exactly what was being done for centuries. Girls were being sent back to adjust and many die adjusting even today. The law was made to protect women from such families and in laws. Patriarchy does not value it’s female members and through centuries the counselling they received has amounted to asking them to ‘Please adjust‘.

    Advocates also have a major role, for they can make women see the futility of their case and advise them accordingly, instead of stoking the embers into inferno.

    Why should advocates make women think they have no hope? Why should it be  assumed that what women are complaining against is not important? Taking a woman’s case seriously is not ‘stoking embers into inferno’ – it is making sure that she is not made into an inferno.

    Compromises

    Lastly, women themselves have the power to make or break their future.

    Unfortunately they don’t. When they try to help themselves they are warned against the ‘unknown devils’ and lawyers who might stoke the embers of their unreasonable demands into infernos – the only way to be taken seriously is to agree to sacrifice their happiness.

    The modern Indian woman should not forget that every form of relationship calls for some give and take.

    Indian women are taught that the ‘give is for daughter in law’ (only future, no options, sacrifice, serve, adjust, honor etc), and the ‘take is for the husbands and their families’ (dowry, ladke wale, can divorce and remarry etc).

    Small compromises or adjustments need not be misunderstood as signs of suppression.

    Examples of small compromises? Eating when everyone has eaten? Taking permission to work, having children and taking decisions for these children, meeting friends, wearing salwar kameez or jeans, walking without covering one’s head…?

    No woman should ever suffer cruelty or harassment of any form silently.

    But having to take permission to work, study, dress comfortably, save or earn, meet friends & birth family  – is not harassment.

    Yet, before rushing to court, let her ponder over and see if it is indeed her rights that have been trampled upon or it is just her ego that has taken a beating.

    Being ‘disallowed’ from working, having female children, meeting friends, wearing jeans, eating with the family, spending what they earn, visiting their parents etc should be seen as a trampling of ego?

    And being beaten (only if they didn’t ask for it) should be seen as a trampling of rights?

    Women have traditionally been discouraged from having anything that might pass off as ego.

    For, let us not for a minute forget that we women still walk across a minefield and if we do not tread carefully, there is every chance of the mines blowing up not just our lives but also the future of women.

    The only minefields women need to fear are the minefields of old habits and social conditioning. And the way to avoid these mine fields is by boldly  knocking at the court’s doors if they in their own judgment (which is as good as any other adult family or community member) feel they are unhappy.There are some who fear that empowerment of women might mean a change in the system and those who comfortable with an old system (Known Devil Syndrome) assume any change can only be bad.

    Does loving someone mean we should ‘improve’ them?

    I once received this email,

    IHM I would like you to if possible do a post on boundaries in relationships…you see more and more I find that domestic violence is not the only form of abuse, there are many more subtle forms of abuse and these assholes (pardon the language) think and even the women involved with them think that atleast its not beatings or any such thing so let me put up with it and let me lower my expectations…would you do a post on such a topic?

    I didn’t know what the question meant until recently  when a friend was discussing her  in laws. I realised the husband and I have this unwritten boundary. We don’t say anything disrespectful about the other’s families. And it’s very easy to do this because we don’t force the said families’ expectations on each other. So if my dad thought my husband could maintain his cars better I won’t convey the message to my husband.

    If his family thinks I should be…? No idea because he doesn’t convey their expectations (if any) either. The families sense this and respect this. So visiting the family on both the sides is always a pleasure.

    A friend says her mom in law does not tell  her how to raise her children or how to dress and how often she should visit her own mother. Her logic being if we care  to be polite enough to give personal space to friends, then why not family. Makes sense also we don’t really have much choice.

    No choice because more than a few of my friends do not wish to settle in the city where the spouse’s family resides. If personal spaces and boundaries in relationships were respected they could have enjoyed the benefits and support of their families.

    Marriage might mean a loss of old friends to some people.

    Can one partner have friends who are not also the friends of the other partner? One may not share every interest and hence have nothing in common with atleast some of the other’s friends? Should the other partner feel insecure then? Is it okay to control who the other partner interacts with? Sometimes the aim is to protect the partner – but that sounds like complacent confidence in one’s  superior judgment!

    How right is it for us to wish to change another person? Should there be some (written or unwritten) boundaries in relationships?

    Traditionally one is lead to believe that a wife could make a Kaalidas out of a fool, or a man could turn a shrew into a perfect, ‘obedient’ wife.

    And some might try to change people, generally through criticism. How effective is criticism in improving relationships?

    Can you be close to a person without giving them personal space?

    Is it possible to respect someone and still not respect their personal space?

    Does loving someone mean we own them? Sounds romantic?  But in real life how comfortable are we with personal decisions being taken out of our hands? What do you think of this song?

    What about trusting and respecting a partner’s judgment? Do you believe that the best way to make a marriage work is through compromise? (Tomboy mom’s blog)

    This post was in drafts, publishing it after reading TBG’s ‘Space’ and Cilla’s ‘I am what I am’ on the same subject.

    And here’s a must-read,  ‘There are signs..If these signs are repeated, be aware you have stepped into an abusive relationship that can be dangerous in future.How Abuse Begins‘ by Desi Girl.

    The Pinkest Protesters : The Gulabi Gang

    Thank You DoubleX for sharing this link about the pinkest of protesters.

    Ladies and Gentlemen put your hands together for…

    The Gulabi Gang!

    These smart feminists, from UP were also forced to apply Saam, Daam, Dand, Bhed… but not many seem to know about them. Nobody guessed and I am forced to keep the Pink Trophy with me 😦

    “The Gulabi Gang protects the powerless from those who abuse their power. They retaliate against violence of brutal husbands, they crack down on those who abandon their families. They fight corruption and they force reluctant police officers to register cases for underprivileged people.” [From their website]

    Poignant and yet motivating lyrics, I wish Bollywood makes an inspiring song out of these… Or maybe a blogger who loves music.

    Saath hai saal purani azaadi hamuu kabahi naa jaani

    Tiresath saal puraani.Azadi hamuu kadahi naa jaaani

    Maar maar dandan kaam karame

    Translation:

    Sixty years of freedom, we have never known,

    Sixty three years old freedom, we have never known it

    They beat us with a sticks to make us work…

    And their slogan 🙂

    Oh I think Muthalik with his special interest in what women wear,  and his association with saris and pink chaddis really should hear this!   😉

    Hum Bharat ki naari hai,

    naari nahi chingaari hai

    Abhi to yeh angdayee hai

    age aur larayee hai

    Kaam kare to baat karenge

    naheen to joota-laat parege

    Rishtwatkhor dalalon ko

    Maro inko salon ko

    Rough Translation:

    We are Indian women

    (Bhartiya Nari :P)

    We’re not women we are red hot embers

    This is just the beginning (stretching)

    There’s lots to fight, ahead

    If they work, we will talk

    If they don’t we will use shoes and kicks

    Pimps and middlemen who take bribe

    Thrash these  useless fellows

    Part I and Part II of Gulabi Gang documentary have more information. How Sampath Pal managed to study till class four and why she chose Pink. Why women join and men support.  And men do support them – why? Because, there was oppression and what choice were they left with.

    Though I don’t believe they wear only pink to support them.

    They even have a website.  Earlier I had linked to this website, http://www.gulabigang.org/  but received an email on Dec 29, 2011, that pointed out that the real website of the Gulabi Gang is the one below,

    http://www.gulabigang.in/

    Sixty. And nowhere to go.

    9 20 PM : I stepped into the balcony to call the cat inside and heard the distinct thump of fists landing on somebody’s back.  Dimly visible in the shadows, on a bench, was the back of a white shirt and a hazy figure.

    I had heard similar sounds around 7 30- 8 PM. I was suspicious, but although dark, the park had been crowded then, Volley Ball and Football matches going on, the audience scattered all over the park. The two dark figures, I was sure, were from amongst them.

    But now the park was empty, and I saw lifted arms folding hair into a bun. The sound must have been something else. Suddenly the shadow of the man (it was very dark) moved and more thumps were heard – he was hitting and muttering something angrily. It was too unexpected – who were they? Was he known to her? How were they out of their homes at this hour? I wanted to warn this man that someone had seen him.

    The park is behind the houses. No one, not even the watchman goes there at this time. I called out aloud to our cat, loud enough for him to hear. He hit her again. I called out to the kids to call their dad (he wasn’t home). The man looked back and stood up.  A hefty man in shorts and t-shirt, the girl was skinny and wore tight trousers. They walked away like a couple taking an after dinner evening stroll.

    I thought of all the things I could have said to that girl to  let her know this was abuse. I wanted to tell her about this email I received yesterday.

    It was an anonymous email about an upper middle-class woman who wants to know what her options are. She is a professionally qualified, a Gold Medalist – her husband made her give up her jobs one after another and he sold the house they had in her name. He has been verbally and physically abusive all their lives.

    If she walks out now, where can she go in Delhi and NCR? She is sixty.

    She could have walked out earlier, but she thought it would be better for their son to have a ‘normal‘ family life. She regrets the decision today. She did not know that there can be no normal family life if there is Domestic Violence involved. Even today she feels ready to leave but also fears that “He can’t manage without her.” She needs guidance.

    So if this young girl on the dark bench in the park is thinking things will improve, I would like her to know about a sixty year old woman who knows better now.

    Related posts:

    Is a Known Devil really better?

    When a daughter refuses to go back.

    If someone dislocated your jaw.