“He became more distant and sometime would verbally abuse me, call me names and then slapping and wrist twisting started happening.”

Can violence begin and exist without disrespect and disregard for the person being abused?  Is happiness in a relationship possible where there is disrespect and lack of regard? 

Sharing an email, what do you think should the email writer do? 

Hi,

I came across your blog on the internet and was highly moved by the stories and the work you are doing. I want to say thank you from all the women out there who are in such terrible situations and who are seeking out help from people like you. I am going to tell my story here and want you to post this on your blog anonymously.

I have been married to my boyfriend for a little more than an year now. We had a long courtship before marriage. There were ups and downs but we had a good dependable relationship overall. So we got married. It has all been downhill since then. After 3 months into marriage I found out that he liked some girl in his office and they used to chat and call each other. She reciprocated his feelings. I was taken aback as I had heard about such things but never thought it would happen to me. I confronted him over it, but he said she was just a friend and he hadn’t crossed any line with her. But he did admit he had some kind of attraction towards her. After sometime his behavior started changing towards me. He became more distant and sometime would verbally abuse me, call me names and then slapping and wrist twisting started happening. I got sick 5-6 months into marriage and used to perpetually tired. My in-laws used to visit us and due to sickness I could not do “seva” to them. We visited 2-3 doctors but they could not diagnose my disease, they said it could be some general fatigue due to working too much at office and at home.

But our relationship kept deteriorating. My husband fought with me more frequently and would slap me in anger. I felt horrible and then he was joined by my in laws saying I was not doing bahu duty and I was a bad person. And my sickness was a drama just to get out of work. So when they used to visit us( for one month or longer). All three of them would say horrible things to me. I was devastated. I hated going home from office and my health kept deteriorating.

Finally my husband was transferred to south India and I thought may be we would get some respite as he would be away from the girl and in laws visits would become less frequent which would give us more time to understand each other. So it was decided that my husband would goto south and I would follow him when I get relieved from office(15 days later). One day before he left, we again fought for some reason and he caught me by the neck and I fell down. So I called his mother and told her about how he gets physical with me during fights and asked her for help to make him understand not to hit me. After sometime I confronted him that he has to promise never to hit me again or I would leave. His response was that he tries to control but has no control over his anger and can’t promise he would never do it again. And the next day he shifted to the south. In the meanwhile my health kept deteriorating. My mother came to visit me saw my condition and said lets see a doctor. And by chance my disease was diagnosed and doctor suggested full bed rest for 2 months and some antibiotics, it was some rare kind of infection. So I informed my husband about it and his response was just “ok”. Do you need my help? I responded with not yet as we were at a relative’s place and didn’t want to burden them further. So I informed my husband that I am going to hometown as doctor suggested bed rest and my mother is going to take care of me. His response was “OK”.

I had told my mother about the verbal abuse and slapping and wrist twisting incidents. So everybody suggested since I was so unhappy. I should wait for my husband to miss me and let him call me. He has not called me since, to even ask about my health. And I have not contacted him either. I do not want to go back to him if he continues getting physical with me during fights. I suggested marriage  counseling or anger management. But he says nobody can solve our problems better than us and does not agree to counselling. I am currently living at my parent’s house. It has been a month. What do you think I should do? I don’t understand whether this marriage is worth saving or there is no hope.

Related Posts:

What advice would you give to a woman whose husband beats her when she does not give him lunch on time?

‘Last month, my sister’s husband picked a fight with her as he felt she was not doing enough for his parents.’

A good husband never hurts his wife, but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him unfalteringly.

Why do women stand by erring husbands?

An email: ‘My subconscious mind keeps reminding me of the initial nastiness, and fears that he is capable of that kind of behaviour.’

“A message is required to be sent, loud and clear that wife bashing has no place in a civilised society and violent husbands deserve no mercy,”

More than half of young Indians believe it’s okay for a husband to beat his wife.

“I remember the first time I got slapped was when I bought some pasta home for $2.00 when the similar thing could be bought for 40cents.”

Recognizing Emotional Abuse – Priya

Feminism has gone to women’s head. Divorce has become like selling onions.

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

‘She believes that her husband has got into job troubles since marrying her (he tells her this) and that she has been unlucky for their entire family.’

Sixty. And nowhere to go.

Changing Someone (or oneself) – Priya

Is your relationship healthy?

An email: “He got very aggressive and even started pulling the loosened muscles of my abdomen (post preg) very hard”

And maybe it is too funny to even imagine the same thing ever happening to a man?

Sarika shared this image [from here] of a child with bandaged head and arm, a bruised eye and some red colour to indicate blood near his mouth and on the bandage. He is holding a placard that says, “I argued with my wife”

The image, also being shared on facebook, is titled – ‘fancy Dress Competition WINNER’

Would it be funny if it was a girl saying she argued with her husband? Why not?

Because we believe that this could actually happen to a woman? And because despite social tolerance to domestic violence we do not think Domestic Violence against women is a joke.

So do we think domestic violence agianst men is a joke?

No. So, maybe we think it is too funny to even imagine the same thing ever happening to a man? And if it does happen – then the man had better not talk about it or risk being seen as a joke or as unmanly.

Links:

That ‘joke’ about violence? It’s not funny.

दुल्हन मुस्कुराई और अपने देवर का परिचय अपनी सहेलियो से करवाया…

Why We Laugh With Kapil at Things That Are Not Funny at All

Chetan Bhagat’s Marriage Tips – Only for men. Just for fun, on a lighter note.

What misogynists dream and joke about.

‘She believes that her husband has got into job troubles since marrying her (he tells her this) and that she has been unlucky for their entire family.’

What should you do if you are sure someone is in an abusive relationship but they believe you can’t understand or they don’t need your help, though they do talk about how unhappy they are? 

When do attempts to help and support become interference, and what would you view as indifference

What prevents domestic/intimate partner (or any) abuse victims from seeing even the most obvious abuse? 

I think, one could share this link with them: Is your relationship healthy? 

And then try not to judge them for not doing what we think they ought to do. (Like take control of their lives)

And then we could try and be there for them – not easy but I don’t think there is anything anybody can do without this – because trying to force them to act is not too different from what the abuser is doing – and the abuser does not just use force. Also, they often have time, inclination, self-interest, social permission to control the victim.

And how do we know we are right? I think there are some obvious non negotiables – but beyond that how do we know what would be the right thing to do?

I think the victim has to be the one to decide. All we can do is let them know we are there for them when they need us.

What do you think?

Sharing an email. 

Hi IHM,

One of my very close relatives is in an abusive relationship.

She is a very smart educated woman, she has great presence of mind.

She also has a one year old son.

She also has a good well – paying job for the moment.

She has a husband who keeps leaving his job and will not stick to any of them.

She believes that her husband has got into job troubles since marrying her (because he repeatedly tells her this) and that she has been unlucky for their entire family.

She supports the family now but believes that she is the reason for their troubles in the first place.

Both of them have fearful tempers and talk abusively during fights.  He hits her, he has kicked her a couple of times that I know of.

She believes that she provokes him into hitting her – this is also reinforced by his family – her mother in law and sisters in law keep repeating this.

When I talk to her and ask her to come out of the relationship, she says I have a happy marriage and I will never be able to understand what is going on in theirs.

She always wants to give him another chance.

What can I do for her???

Any practical inputs from you or the blog readers would be very much welcome.

Related Posts:

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

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

An email from an Indian father: I want to place on record my own story as a warning to anyone…

Closing that chapter – just as if nothing happened – Careless Chronicles

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

“I need suggestions – these girls are ruining their lives with their stupid ideas about love.”

Because we can still be honest WITHOUT saying, “Gosh woman what is wrong with you?”

Why do we never talk about sisterhood, about women defending one another and supporting each other?

“Let me give you the reason I asked for advise here instead of talking with my family.”

 

Child marriage “is an evil worse than rape” and should be completely eradicated from society, said a Delhi court

Child marriages can (and do) lead to ‘sex with minors’ – with or without the minors’ consent.

And, sex with minors is legally acknowledged as rape except when the rapist is married to the rape victim.

So for the child who has been ‘married off’ to the person legally not-raping them but forcing them into sexual activity, the child marriage is truly worse than rape. Because here the rapist has the legal right to sexually assault the minor victim.

I know of two women who escaped such marriages (link) – and when I shared this with an acquaintance (who was worried about western influence on Indian culture) she said, “Oh but these things happen only to the poor and the uneducated.” (a factually unsupported statement)

So such things only happen to other people, who are not like us?

I wanted to tell her that ‘the poor and the uneducated’ are assured that early marriages prevent sexual crimes, and that sexual assaults happen only to ‘the Westernised’ in India, not to those how live in Bharat. 😦

But I am glad to hear this acknowledged.

Child marriage worse than rape, Delhi court says 

Link shared by Abhishek Oza

Child marriage “is an evil worse than rape” and should be completely eradicated from society, said a Delhi court while ordering registration of a case against a girl’s parents for getting her married at a tender age.

….

“There are serious outcomes of child marriage. It is the worst form of domestic violence against the child, not only by the respondents (husband and his family) but also by her own parents.

….

“Child brides have a diminished chance of completing their education and are at a higher risk of being physically abused, contracting HIV and other diseases, and dying while pregnant or giving birth,” the magistrate observed, adding that luckily this girl was “healthy”.

And here is an effort that can help children stay in school and schooling makes it easier for parents to avoid child marriages.

Related Posts:

When life ends at twelve.

“In my own company in a cosmopolitan city, I know women who were horrified on the First Night.”

Pregnant at fifteen? No moral issues. Unmarried and pregnant at fifteen. Degeneration of society.

Teenage Pregnancies – not our culture…

Forced intercourse in marriage not rape: Delhi court

What is that one thing that can change an Indian girl child’s life?

Who will benefit from criminalising sexual assaults within marriages?

‘Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sex’. Does it really?

 

 

 

NGO for victims of domestic violence and abuse in Gurgaon

Dear IHM,

Would you or any of your readers have a reference of an NGO for victims of domestic violence and abuse in Gurgaon. One of staff members from my office’s housekeeping staff is facing some trouble at home.

Any references would be really helpful.

Thanks.

Related Posts:

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

Some problems seem to have no solutions…

What advice would you give to a woman whose husband beats her when she does not give him lunch on time?

“What should l be doing? What good is my feminism if l don’t help this woman?”

“Some women harbor sexism and uphold patriarchy even when they have nothing to gain from it.”

“Some women harbor sexism and uphold patriarchy even when they have nothing to gain from it.”

A Guest Post by Vamp.

Dear IHM,

I saw your recent post on domestic violence. I think this story will highlight several different aspects of domestic abuse from the victim’s point of view.

As I have said countless times before, my MIL, though an adorable woman, is a victim of chronic domestic abuse, both physical and emotional. The emotional part is also meted out to her by others in the family, who actually end up abusing her without knowing that they are actually being abusive.

I read about the cycle of abuse and it was very insightful. However, I feel that becoming a victim also involves a very vicious cycle.

My MIL wasn’t very weak-minded or submissive originally. From what her sisters and extended family says to what she has actually told me during our numerous conversations, she was a brat of a child and a chirpy woman who loved playing pranks. For her time and the community she lived in, she was quite the daredevil. In a time and age when women’s education was frowned upon, she did both B.Com and a Bachelors’ Degree in Music. To top off that chilled-out attitude, she had a ‘love marriage’.

Often, we see that people who get their own way all the time are also extremely stubborn. My MIL too, is extremely stubborn in her ideas on certain things, as in, she refuses to acknowledge facts even when she is actually wrong. She has a habit of going into the defensive. It’s a surprise seeing this in a victim of domestic abuse, but there it is. And believe me, it is a lethal combination.

My MIL would serve everyone selflessly in the family, including me, though I staunchly refuse to take any help from anyone for stuff I can do on my own. So, my husband, who readily does chores when with me, just gets served on his backside when his mom is around. I even chided him about it, because his mom being Diabetic and generally physically weak and taxed, needs help, in fact, even more than I do, so he must be highly willing to share chores with her. He acknowledged this fact. But this is what he said:

“I and <brother> do feel bad and try helping her. But while you openly assign me chores, she and grandma (daadi saas) drive us out or make fun of us saying that we men don’t know anything and that we would make a worse mess of things than they already are. They tell me it’s not men’s work…”

And this is very true. Some women harbor sexism and uphold patriarchy even when they have nothing to gain from it.

My MIL says these things in such a matter-of-factly way that there is no hint of sadness/hesitation in her despite that she is a victim of the very values she upholds. She is a curious mix of ignorant stubbornness and educated submissiveness that I just don’t know what to do with her.

So my MIL, with all her obstinacy, staunchly believes and defends the following:

 

  • Traditional gender roles; women cook and serve men while men buy them flowers and spend for them
    I guess she used to watch too many 60s-70s Tamil movies. Goodness heavens!
  • Giving birth as soon as possible after marriage
    She badgers me a lot for grandchildren, although very affectionately. And because she is nice and already abused so much, I don’t have the heart to be unkind to her. So, feeling sorry for her, I stay silent and pretend to listen even while I don’t actually do what she asked.
  • Women are not as skilled in financial or other ‘outside’ work as men are
    There are countless times she has said that the men would know better even when my decision was clearly the most rational/practical one, or I had better knowledge than the men of the household. The men’s decisions get accepted by default, no matter how stupid they are. (It’s only my husband who takes me seriously and consults with me on all matters)In fact, she is a living example of her belief. She has no original say in anything that matters. At most, she stays silent. Come to talk about practicing what you preach.I sometimes wonder if she really lacks knowledge or pretends to lack knowledge. Sometimes, she does make her ignorance evident. Other times, I feel she does it simply to please her husband’s and in-laws’ ego.
  • Wife is always below husband no matter who/what she is
    When I and my husband fight, and she hears about it, she does give out some advice to me, a major part of which cannot be called unbiased. It’s not really about him being her son because she genuinely considers me her daughter. The problem is her view of gender roles.There is always this subtle emphasis of even working women (read corporate, because she was a teacher in a local school once, and somehow, that is a more “passive” profession for wives. Corporate women are some kind of bitches) needing husbands (I do work, but it has got nothing to do with my fights with my husband).
  • Treat husband reverentially and make delicious dishes for him
    I and my husband have dated for 4 years before our marriage, and being from the current generation in a large metro city, we are more like friends. After marriage, this equation was upset by our families, who wanted us to adhere to their traditional gender roles.For instance, I am expected to formally address him at all times. We both hate it, but being basically respectful of their wishes we enact this drama whenever any elder is near. MIL insists on it.
  • Always obey elders, no matter what they say. It is always your good
    Ironically, she, in her heydays can’t be said to have quite obeyed her own parents and older siblings as evident from her life before marriage.Somehow she is the picture of ideal Indian submissive wife after marriage. All her sisters are strong ‘fighter’ women. But here, my MIL is known or even hailed for being so submissive, silent and easily-threatened.
  • Being an excellent cook is vital for a wife
    She is an excellent cook. I am an okay-okay cook; I have my good days and bad days. Somehow she believes I have to pick up better skills from her.Yeah I am perfectly okay learning from her, but cooking is not really my primary interest. For her, it is like everything in a marriage.
  • People have all rights to reprimand you at any level if you forget to add mustard, curry leaves, coriander, salt or other extras in the dish, or if you spoil the dish or basically if you don’t “do your womanly duty”
    Which happens quite a lot with me; I am a novice cook and sometimes turn out really bad dishes. My husband doesn’t make a fuss, but FIL makes sure he insults/beats or scolds MIL that “She let this happen…” She meekly accepts it.Okay, for the sake of convenience, let’s assume traditional gender roles are a fair norm. If equally responsible for dereliction of their respective duties, don’t women get a more raw deal than men?I mean I don’t flog/scold/abuse/scream at my husband if he doesn’t get the A/C fixed or forgets to pay the credit card due.

    It’s not really about the traditional role really. It’s simply about who is in power. MIL refuses to accept this concept though it is in her favor. She, in fact, brings out “evidence” to argue against it.

  • You can work, dress or go out but with in-laws’ permission
    So, she grants me “permission” and convinces her FIL to grant me “permission” for the above and because of this I am supposed to count myself “lucky”. Heck, I don’t even NEED their “permission” for this. She doesn’t accept this concept too.She thinks she is a nice MIL, not because she is actually a nice person, but because she gives me “permission” to live my life.
  • Domestic violence is her personal life
    She doesn’t like it when I talk about it. But whenever she gets beaten, she comes to us (my husband or her other son) for help.When we do try to take concrete measures against FIL, she sides with FIL and says, “Respect your father… this is our personal life, why are you interfering?”After some days, she also complains about FIL to us. We listen. But when we make comments, we get a huge backlash from her.

    FIL knows for a fact that I and my husband care two hoots about his blackmail so he uses the only weapon he has. He abuses MIL. The abuse stops (for that time period) only when we concede to his demands. This is also partly achieved by MIL crying and begging us to help.

    Well, WTF really! The woman gets herself abuses to abuse us indirectly. Then she says it’s her personal life and gives us a strict warning. I wonder sometimes if she is a secondary abuser.

    Sorry for the long mail, but to conclude, victims aren’t always in it because they do not have support or they really have any way of survival. It is also sometimes because their own innate faults make them susceptible to not acknowledging that they are also partly responsible for their own pathetic situation.

    I don’t mean to blame the victim here. I am just emphasizing the fact that if you get a raw deal once, you are a victim, but it happens again and again and again, it is clearly your fault. And, this is not a case of child abuse. This woman is clearly equipped enough to escape if she wants to.

    You would think a stubborn person wouldn’t be abused. But in this case, my MIL’s stubbornness is her only problem. Despite having a good start in life, and growing up in a more relaxed environment than her present one, MIL clearly screwed up her own life.

She has puzzled us so much, we don’t “interfere” anymore whether she gets beaten or not. She is just not the kind who will even listen to what you have to say. Her beliefs are etched on stone, even if self-harming.
Baffled,
Vamp

Related Posts:

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

“My Mother in law is very patient towards all the doings of the Males in the family.”

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

Letting an outsider see or comment upon our imperfections is washing dirty linen in public?

“A message is required to be sent, loud and clear that wife bashing has no place in a civilised society and violent husbands deserve no mercy,”

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

“An ordinary fight with wife…”

Is a Known Devil really better?

“I always wanted my mom to get out of her marriage. I still believe she shud have.”

What advice would you give to a woman whose husband beats her when she does not give him lunch on time?

Or rather: What advice would you give to a woman who fears her husband might beat her if she does not give him lunch on time?

Do you think men who stab or burn their wives are non violent men who are provoked into violence by a delayed meal (or a second baby daughter)? So if the meal was served on time, would the woman have remained safe?

I also wonder if a male child could generally add to a woman’s worth, and hence her confidence, and make her comparatively safer? Do we have statistics that confirm that mothers of male children face less abuse by spouse and his parents?

In most such murders, it seems, the man has a history of violence and the wife has learnt that he is dangerous. But the cultural requirement to ‘Get Married Stay Married or Die Trying’ forces the wife back to continue living with a potential, brutal killer.

It also seems, many women first refuse to go back and then sense that staying away from the husband brings social disapproval for them and their entire families.

Do you think Human Rights for women (and everybody else) should include the Right to opportunities for Self Reliance (emotional and otherwise)? And the Right to be informed about Intimate Partner Abuse in school/via media?

We hear so much about staying safe from ‘eve teasers’ but almost nothing about intimate partner abuse. Maybe because domestic violence is not taken seriously, and it is assumed that a good Indian girl would manage to avoid being beaten.

Most Indians don’t see domestic violence as a crime, or even as wrong. There is almost no information available to the victims and those who care for them. Most parents of women in violent marriages seem to sincerely believe that it’s possible to ‘change’ (by ‘winning his heart’) a violent, manipulative and abusive man.

Do you think these two young lives could have been saved? Manju was 20, Sarla, 26.

Updated to add: These two horrifying, but very ‘everyday news’ links shared by Kavya. 

1.

NOIDA: Enraged with his wife consecutively giving birth to two daughters, an employee of a city-based export house allegedly strangled her and smothered their two girls, 2 years and six months old. Their bodies were found on Monday morning in the family’s house in Bhangel in Phase II. While the man has gone missing, police have arrested his father and two brothers.

 

“Amit used to physically abuse my daughter ever since they got married three years ago. He got more violent after a daughter was born for the second time,” said Sarla’s father Jagbeer. About two weeks ago, we brought Sarla with us because of the alleged domestic violence she had to face. She however returned to Amit’s house after his family assured her safety, he said.

2. And another,

‘Man stabs wife to death for not serving lunch on time’

Manju (20) was preparing lunch for the family when her husband Gautam (25) came into the kitchen and asked for food. Manju told him to wait until she finished cooking. An angry Gautam abused Manju and started hitting her. When she argued and fought back, he picked up a kitchen knife and stabbed her a few times on the neck and abdomen.

Seeing Manju fall on the ground bleeding, Gautam came to his senses and dragged her body to the first floor balcony. He prepared to throw it down to make it look like a suicide. By this time, neighbours had gathered hearing Manju’s calls for help. They raised an alarm and one of them entered his flat and got hold of him.

Another newspaper reports,

“Neighbours claimed that on Monday night too, they heard screams from the house. The couple always fought on petty issues, they said,” the officer added. A case of murder has been registered at Seemapuri police station. [link]

Screams from a house indicate a couple fighting over petty issues?

Why does violence stop being a crime just because the victim has been ‘married off’  to the assailant?

Related Posts:
If you had to to say something to inspire a victim of domestic violence to walk out, what would you say?
Is child murder their first crime or do they have a history of violence?
India leads in sexual violence, worst on gender equality: Study
“I always wanted my mom to get out of her marriage. I still believe she shud have.”
The father threw the baby on the ground and tried to strangle her with his legs: No case registered.
Some problems seem to have no solutions…
When a daughter refuses to go back…
An email: “But my parents, fearing the society and their reputation begged him to take me back.”
Are Happily Married Daughters a status symbol in India?
The interference of parents in the married life of their daughters…

“What should l be doing? What good is my feminism if l don’t help this woman?”

Sharing an email. And this has been the story of almost every married, domestic helper, who has ever worked for me.

Dear IHM,

I’ll get straight to the point. (And my terminology may be very politically incorrect.) My maid is about 30 to 35 years old. She is/was married but her husband left her for another woman. Either way, she wears a thaali. Her son is about 12 years old. She lives with her parents.

Last night her father came home drunk and beat her violently. He also injured her son and told them to leave the house. His main problem was that even after getting her married, she was still with him. l speak very broken Tamil so l got only the gist of it. Her son is temporarily safe at her sister’s house and she is sleeping in my neighbour’s house. However, l need a long term answer. She’s also very, very depressed. So l thought of finding a helpline she can call.

Obviously she needs her own place. We support her son’s education so that’s not the main issue. The question is more about what l can do to help her physically and emotionally. And how l can help her realize that it’s ok to not be with her husband etc.

What should l be doing? What good is my feminism if l don’t help this woman and l don’t ensure that her son at least knows there are options and he doesn’t need to be like his father and grandfather…

Thanks
SB

Related Posts:

Some problems seem to have no solutions…

When Is It Okay For A Man To Beat His Wife?

When life ends at twelve.

The Life And Times Of Another Indian Homemaker.

When a daughter refuses to go back.

“I always wanted my mom to get out of her marriage. I still believe she shud have.”

Sharing an email.

Hi IHM

I follow your blog religiously, in fact it’s the one huge saucer from which i can quench my thirst of my deeply feminist sentiments. Everyday.

I am 25 years old, a doctor pursuing my MD. Apart from that, (coz i m quite bright!!), i have a lot of hobbies and am passionate about a lot of things. I dream about my future, opening a clinic, travelling the world, buying a car, helping the needy…….So…err….. what’s my problem…??

I don’t dream of a relationship….I never dream of marriage…

It’s not like I think of these as a ‘MUST HAVE’ in my life, or anybody else’s.. for that matter. but it’s only human and normal to want that. My problem is, I know that deep down i want that, but i shrink away from it, i block it out. and finally i have figured out why.

The most important reason is the dynamics i have seen at play while growing up, in the marriage that created me. My mom (a doctor) left her MD midway because my dad and his parents wanted her to ‘come and be their bahu’. My mom is a superlatively intelligent woman, soon after, she began her practice as an MBBS doctor in the tiny town we live in (as opposed to a big city she always lived in), and naturally, her kindness and brilliance paid off, her practice began flourishing.

My dad, on the other hand, became distracted with politics and other stuff, even with an MD, his wife earned more, became more popular. He being a typical Indian Male chauvinist could not absorb this, and so began the endless emotional abuse that haunts me even today.

He’d pick a fight without any reason with mom. he’d taunt her with ‘bahut kamati ho, iska matlab ye nahi mujhe daba sakti ho. mujhe jahan jaana hai, jo karna hai, karoonga, samjhi’. He’d yell at her if she asked why he was so late to dinner. he’d spend the entire day outside and expect her to not ask where he was. he’d yell saying how atrocious the food was and what a bad cook she was. he screamed if she asked for groceries for home, medicines and stuff for clinic, saying there was no money for ‘all this stuff’. He kept all the money she earned and gave her monthly pocket money. if we went out shopping and my mom forgot her mobile or purse, he’d scream at her and her irresponsibility, of course, it was perfectly ok for him to have forgotten any damn thing. when he entered the house, there was a silence of apprehension, of an upcoming war, yet again. When he was out, I would cry, only because my mom was being hurt everyday.

She could not go out when she wanted to. Her social circle shrank every day because of him. She could hardly ever visit her own parents. he’d roam all over the place, but she had to ‘see patients and earn money and look after the house’. Her 25th college re-union happened. She really really wanted to go and all uncles and aunts requested my dad to come with her. But HE was adamant, and SHE COULD NOT go.

He never cared about her happiness. He wanted her to find all happiness in him. He hated seeing her happy with her own family, friends or colleagues. he had a short temper, a sharp tongue, and a way with taunts. and of course, he had the moral police attitude. TYPICAL.

It tore my heart to see my mom. It was good I studied in a boarding school and college. That put me off-scene, but it was worse to imagine her alone with him. She could have been anything she wanted, she could have had it all. She is the kindest, nicest, most amazing and brilliant person. not just me, a lot of people around her confer to that.

In the past few years, things at home have gotten better. Much better. but that cannot make up for all those horrible years of torture. I always wanted my mom to get out of her marriage. I still believe she shud have. but, as we know, getting out is never really an option for the ‘married Indian woman’. Stupid, mean, cruel world.

Anyway, it’s evident now why I don’t fancy marriage very much. What I saw, what I went through, it twisted something inside me, it probably broke something within me. I am actually quite an open-hearted, happy, warm person. Just like my mom. she has survived all of this because of her amazing strength. SO HAVE I. But along with inheriting that, I’m afraid i have also inherited a little cowardly and (forgive my use of the word) doormat-ish attitude. sometimes I m extremely accommodating, eager-to-please and a bit of a pushover. I know my weaknesses, and work on them.

But I’ve never mustered the courage to think of having a relationship, let alone get married. I’ve built a hard stone wall around me. I WILL NEVER GO THROUGH WHAT MY MOM DID. I know of a lot of great, equal relationships and marriages. I know a lot (or atleast a few) men out there will be progressive, romantic and nice. I know I can find a good guy. Problem is, I m too afraid to attempt to even look for one. It’s always like ‘what if he turns out to be a jerk?’, and that ‘WHAT IF’ chills me, stones me, denies me. It’s paranoia, and i know it. Inwardly I love romantic movies and books (am even writing one) but I am afraid of letting love, (paranoid it will be coupled with misogyny) into my life. Lest it ruins my freedom, my aspirations, my dreams, my identity, and ME.

I know i will have  all other forms of happiness and adventure in my life. WILL I HAVE THIS TOO? I know it’s my own battle, and only I can fight it, and hopefully one day, win it.

Sorry for the LOOOOOONG mail.

Cheers for all the good work,

My mother’s daughter.

Related emails – from and about children who have grown up with abusive and violent fathers.

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

When Discipline Becomes Abuse : Why I need Feminism

An email from a Divorcee’s Daughter.

‘Unbelievable? Believe it. This isn’t your usual Ekta Kapoor serial.’

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When Discipline Becomes Abuse : Why I need Feminism

“I have so much to tell about this one man who is “almost” a representation of every Indian middle-class husband.”

An email: “My in laws want me to stay here with them while my husband works in another city.”

Sixty. And nowhere to go.

‘Unbelievable? Believe it. This isn’t your usual Ekta Kapoor serial.’

Don’t patriarchal gender roles get doubly reinforced for children who have grown up watching their fathers beat and emotionally abuse their mothers? When do they start grasping how much of what they have lived with is not ‘normal’ or right?

When do they begin to see and  then wipe away almost everything they have learnt about relationships? Please note the abuser could be a very involved, controlling and a very ‘demanding’, perfectionist  parent.

It can’t be easy to totally wash away the conditioning and to start rebuilding the part of their brain/thought process that helps them understand relationships, rights, personal space, equality, happiness, gender roles, family values? It would be like a mindset overhaul.

And then imagine doing this when almost everybody, most media, most family elders (generally trusted for knowing better), the legal system, friends from the same generation, colleagues, siblings and worst of all, even the victim – can’t see any need for ‘these trivial issues’ to be taken too seriously.

Sharing some answers to comments from the courageous young woman who wrote: “My in-laws don’t hate me at all. But ‘love’ isn’t about all this. ‘Love’ is about letting your loved one ‘live’.” –

– IHM

* * *

Thanks for giving my story a chance to go up. There are some comments from the viewers, and I realized I haven’t been clear about this issue.

1. Why did I not do my research before marriage?

 I did. I knew my husband. I knew his family. I knew all the fine print. But, could I simply break up with the one man I loved just because his father drunk? Was it his personal flaw that his father was like this? Did it dampen our love? The answer to all this is ‘no’.

I know this is controversial. I will go ahead.

2. How can you love someone who is sexist?

 

My husband isn’t sexist. He is a perfectly ‘normal’ person as every other feminist out there.

3. How can you claim this when he clearly didn’t support you in your trouble?

I reflected upon this and I asked my husband about this yesterday- “If you are really the nice person that you are now, why didn’t you support me then?”

Here is the feedback.

Every time I was away, my husband used to fight with his family for my rights. He fought through all the emotional drama, alone. He was branded a “gooja thookaravan”, the Tamil equivalent of JKG. He took it in his stride and still fought on. Nobody relented.

But, he never told me what was really going on, thinking he was protecting me. Sadly, he was also not very mature to deal with this situation very effectively and couldn’t bear this all alone- me complaining, his parents complaining. So, he’d get frustrated.

As to telling me to “adjust”, since his family clearly wasn’t giving up, he tried to persuade me to keep low until we figured out a solution. I must admit, it was my mistake too that I just panicked and freaked out instead of dealing with this situation as a mature adult should. I don’t mean a mature adult “adjusts”. A mature adult tries to find out workable solutions. I wasn’t mature. I just cried and like I said, tried suicide. I should have fought back in a decent but firm manner. I didn’t do that, even though my husband encouraged me to speak it out openly and politely to my in-laws if I couldn’t obey all their wishes. I was so scared of their censure that I didn’t do it, and I came back to complain to my husband.

4. How can a husband be supportive if he doesn’t help around with the chores?

How can a husband help around with the chores if he doesn’t actually know how to manage a household? You have to teach him. What if he is constantly discouraged from learning housework? He is hesitant and slow in learning even if he doesn’t believe in pelting all the housework on the wife. What if the wife herself is too young to teach him things? The couple has to learn things together.

And, that is precisely what we are doing now.

We both were absolute rookies. Like I said, MIL was a slave. He wasn’t used to being actively involved in the house. He had eventually become addicted to TV and then, lazy enough to procrastinate. He had his own frustrations (coming to that subsequently). But, he believed in helping around the chores and had promised me that before we married.

Million dollar question: Why didn’t he actually come round helping me then? Because I never really asked. I was too scared to ask him to help, what with his grandma staring at me with hawk-like eyes and passing an odd comment that “this was a woman’s job”. You see, there was social pressure too. It is an object of ridicule in my community if a woman isn’t good at all this. All the women I knew were absolute pros at single-handed household management. I didn’t want to be ridiculed.

When I finally overcame this and did ask him for help, I discovered that although he wasn’t unwilling to help me, he was actually a very bad procrastinator. He was quite lazy. To get anything done, I had to remind him over and over and over again. Result: he’d be cleaning up the hall at 3 a.m. in the morning after watching movies all night. Sexist society + husband’s general procrastination/laziness led to him being perceived by everyone as a sexist.

To be fair I wasn’t very different when I was single. I would simply nod to every chore my mom assigned me and ended up doing it very late or never doing it at all. Why is it so different if it is a man this time?

5. How are your first write-up and the remaining story so contradictory?

 

Because that is exactly how reality works in most educated middle-class families. People are conscious that they don’t want to be called villainous in-laws. The result: Internal politics.

To this date, I have never had a fight with my in-laws. They have never scolded me directly. They have praised me to heaven of course, before my parents and everyone else. The “daughters” in this family are treated the same way I am.

Unbelievable? Believe it. This isn’t your usual Ekta Kapoor serial.

In fact, every time we meet, and the moment I turn on my charm (which, I must admit, I have a lot) people are too jovial and cordial with me to think about my flaws. My FIL openly declares to the world that I am his daughter not DIL. Though grandma does some “internal politics”, I’ll be the devil’s advocate- she’s 70 plus; you can’t expect her to simply snap out of her old-generation views. Grandma has affection for me, but she also wants to survive in this not-so-conducive environment. She is dependent on her alcoholic-wife-beating son even if she hates his behavior. But, she is helpless. She was also a victim in her days. Talk about vicious cycle. Anyway, I digress.

Whenever my ILs interact with me, it is so sweetly put, you would hardly figure out that they are actually encroaching on your space/being sexist/controlling you and most often, they end up convincing the listener. Eventually, you realize you are unhappy only when you have actually started doing what they said. My husband had warned me, but I took it lightly. I had no clue “politics” could be this bad.

For example, when my FIL told me to stop wearing jeans, he didn’t openly forbid me. He said, “Please wear salwar kurta/saree whenever you are going out with me. You can wear what you like when you and your husband go out alone. The society doesn’t approve of women dressing in modern clothes.” So, sweet and polite right?

Clincher: He was ALWAYS with us. Almost ALL our outings consisted of family trips. Finally we all moved in together. Result: I would get a cold stare every time I wore jeans, as I couldn’t “fulfill this very simple and reasonable request”.

If I cooked a bad meal, my FIL would sweetly instruct me to learn the right technique from MIL. Then he would call MIL and abuse her for “letting it pass her scrutiny”. I would feel guilty for having become the reason for my MIL being abused.

So what you all call “abuse” was so sweetly and nicely put and the folks were so openly affectionate otherwise, there was no evidence that their acts were making me unhappy. This is why my parents, who lived miles away and knew only secondhand information, persuaded me to “adjust”. I was also somewhat a spoilt kid, so my parents had no clue as to the “veracity” of my claims, as being very sensitive and emotional, I used to show more emotional responses than the cool reasoning of an adult.

In fact, it took me a very long time to discover the real reason why I was unhappy. There was hardly any evidence so I couldn’t pinpoint anyone. For the same reason, I couldn’t openly rebel or fight as I didn’t know how to subtly and firmly decline requests, without leaving evidence in my wake. I was either angry or happy. I didn’t have the tact.

One of my MIL’s SILs (my FIL’s brother’s wife) had openly rebelled and had got branded a “vamp”. My husband didn’t want that for me. Nor did I. (Now, we don’t care.)

6. How is your husband a worse victim of patriarchy?

 

My “abuse” was what you’d call an undercurrent and one had to really read between the lines to discover “abuse” in it, so the problems were more psychological than physical. With my husband, the “abuse” was full-on.

Since he had a work-from-home job, he was constantly bothered. He had to do the usual pick-up drop-at-even-odd timings routine even if people could simply take an auto to get somewhere. He was supposed to drive his parents around everywhere, including pilgrimage trips. They sent him out to get grocery, sometimes as many times as one grocery per trip, instead of giving a complete list. They spent exorbitantly, bending him with emotional drama. They made him run so many errands he was almost given a pink slip. Eventually, the company forced him to resign. He got another job, but it was recession and he couldn’t negotiate the salary as much for his experience. Then MIL says, “You dare not blame us for this. I saw your performance slip. You performed badly so they sacked you. It’s your fault.”

Much earlier back, they didn’t let him choose his own course, or a career. He was told to give up his job and move to another city to take care of his younger brother who had come to study there. He was told to send home his paltry salary of 6000, and as a consequence, he had to go hungry for a week. Despite all this, his younger brother was hailed as the best son and my husband was called “a misfortune to be born with my (FIL’s) blood”.

There is a lot more.

My abuse has stopped now. His hasn’t. Yesterday, he was down with fever. FIL called him and told him to pick him up and drop him somewhere. This would have meant a commute of 16 kms to pick up FIL, then 40 kms to the destination, then another 30 kms back home. My husband picked up his courage and refused. Result: My MIL was abused last night.

But, we have decided “not to interfere in their personal life”.

I know my husband has seen so much and he has a deep psychological trauma. The only thing that can heal this is true happiness- loads of happiness and freedom. Our primary aim now is to make each other as happy as possible.

BTW, I told him about this site and sent him a few articles to read. He enjoyed reading the “invisible person” blog.

Thank you IHM.

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

“Ask your father if he has never beaten your mother!” Please adjust.

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

The invisible family member in the saas-bahu post.

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An email. Aren’t the sons supposed to have their own family lives?

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“A message is required to be sent, loud and clear that wife bashing has no place in a civilised society and violent husbands deserve no mercy,”