Domestic Violence is a crime but unfortunately we take this in our stride because of shame or in the name of “family values”. Domestic violence is a part of patriarchy which needs to be converted into equality and respect for one another. Domestic violence specially refers to physical, sexual or mental violence in an intimate/marital relationship where one spouse tries to prove his dominance through violence. While majority of domestic violence sufferers are women, men too face domestic violence and in either cases it is unacceptable.
Usually, domestic violence starts with verbal abuse and threats but soon with time it escalates into physical harm or emotional torcher. The effects of it can be both physical as well as psychological trauma. Relationships in which you are always frightened of speaking or doing something that might make your partner angry and violent, is an unhealthy and violent relationship. If your partner verbally belittles you or humiliates you to make you feel small or to control you then that is also termed as domestic violence. When your house is not a safe abode but a place to avoid then you are living in an abusive relationship.
It is difficult to know how many people face domestic violence because it goes unreported. You might not even agree to the fact that you face domestic violence because the patriarchy and ‘culture’ teaches us to accept it but the more we accept such behavior, the more the abuser gets power over us. Many of us are unaware that the slaps or insults we are thrown at are actually a part of domestic violence because nobody should have the right to do that. Indian daily soaps show us these ideal daughter-in-laws who are abused, insulted and raped by their husbands, they are torchered by their mother-in-laws and yet these ideal ‘bahu-ranis’ keep adjusting to these torchers. These shows are a weapon designed by patriarchy to teach women that all this is ‘normal’ and acceptable. We are taught to obey to our husbands or mother-in-laws and accept the disrespect. Women have become so accustomed to this behavior that it does not seem wrong any more. But I plead to you; if you are facing any such thing report it to the police.
You are facing domestic violence if your partner:
- Calls you names, insults you, puts you down and does not allow you to go to work or school.
- Prevents you from seeing your family members or friends.
- Is too possessive and jealous and constantly accuses you of infidelity.
- Gets angry every time he consumes alcohol or drugs.
- Threatens you with weapons or violence.
- Hits, kicks, chokes, slaps or torchers you or your children or pets.
- Forces you to have sexual relationship with him/her.
- Blames you for everything and says that you deserve being punished.
You must understand that no violence is big or small, violence is violence. If you have not faced any kind of physical violence but are torchered emotionally then it is even more dangerous. Name calling, insulting, demoralizing, controlling and threatening you are very dangerous for your psychology. It takes away your feelings of self worth, leaving you completely dependent on your partner. Scars of emotional violence might not be visible but they do a life time of damage. Understanding and getting away from a physically violent relationship is much easier than an emotionally violent relationship because the victim feels that he/she is incapable of existing without his/her partner.
Domestic violence has a common pattern:
- Abuse- It makes the abuser feel powerful and dominant.
- Guilt- Guilt out of shame but fear of the consequences.
- Excuses- The abuser might give a reason by blaming you or apologize so that he does not have to take responsibility.
- Normal behavior- You might now start believing that it was a one time mistake as the abuser now showers you with love and affection. But not for long.
- Planning- The abuser finds reasons to punish you. He/She insults you for every small thing.
And the cycle continues.
The best example that comes to my mind is from the movie ‘Provoked’. The NRI guy (Deepak) marries an Indian girl (Kiranjeet). He seems normal to everyone but screams at her and abuses her every time she talks to a guy. He beats her when he is drunk and calls her names and also rapes her. Later he apologizes to her and blames her saying that it was her mistake. Kiranjeet is so frightened of him that she is always trying to please him or not commit a mistake. When Deepak’s friend asks Kiranjeet to dance with him, it is Deepak who tells her to go and dance but when they return home, he abuses her saying that she was flirting. He does not like it when she talks to her family or friends. One second he is normal, the other he is violent. It is a circle that continues till the woman, Kiranjeet, could not take it any more.
A campaign called ‘Bell Bajao’ urges residents to stand against domestic violence. It is your duty to speak up if you feel that someone you know is facing domestic violence. You must not think that it is not your concern because your care might save that person’s life. You should talk to the person in private and express what you feel. You should tell him/her why you feel that way and should tell him/her that you care and will be there if he/she needs help. This will boost confidence in the victim who has been tortured into feeling unworthy and isolated.
As a victim, when you recognize that you are in an abusive relationship, you should leave it as soon as possible because the longer you stay the more will the abuser grow stronger. Take action by telling your family, neighbors and relatives. It might feel uncomfortable talking about your relationship but once you do, things will get much easier. Domestic violence is a crime and you should report it directly to the police without hesitation. There are NGOs (SNEHA, Mumbai; Breakthrough, Delhi) and groups which support domestic violence victims and will help you in every possible way.
So, be aware of your rights and be safe.