Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Say NO to Emotional abuse

During this month as a group of bloggers are helping spread awareness about violence against women I want to share a story of a friend's friend.

She and her husband both work in my organization. He is a very senior manager and very charming and outgoing. They have 2 boys. She is an intelligent lady and I think works in the middle management rungs.

When my friend told me about her I couldn't believe her. She has been assaulted my her husband and her father-in-law. Her parents did not support her then since her sister was yet to be married and hence they had the typical you-have-to-adjust attitude and still has. Inspite of earning a handsome sum every month, she lives on allowances and has her debit card and internet banking account confiscated. She has no maids and she works to please her ILs at home in return for them looking after her kids. She is screamed at when she gets back any later than 7. Even if she reaches home at 9pm, she has to prepare the dinner for the family which includes separate diet requirements for hubby, kids(as in what the ILs think the kids should eat today) and the diabetic ILs. None of the properties bought by the husband using her income as well has her name on it. While the physical abuse is a one-off, belittling her, shaming her and trying to control her is just a way of life.

The more I hear about it, I think, in all probability her husband has been bought up in an environment where his father's word was the final word. His mom probably never argued. He has seen his dad assault his mom and his mom taking it all in quietly. So in his own mind he is justified in doing it to his wife. He probably is telling himself his wife is lucky that she isn't getting the doses that his mom got which could have been worse. Those days of helplessness and pain brought the mother and son closer. The son now wants to give his mom all the peace and "aaram". And such goes the cycle.

Shocking isn't it? It is a myth(if there is one at all) that only SAHMs are victims of domestic violence because of financial dependence. This seems more to do with women who after marriage want the good wife, good bahu certificate and go against their grain to accommodate the whole jing-bang. And as soon as the honeymoon phase is over the miss-goody-two-shoes image that we want to live up to gives us no breathing space and begins to kill us. Most new brides is new to a whole big family and she wants all of them to approve of her and think well of her and give her that certificate of the best wife and DIL. Sadly it very rarely happens. Just like how children need to be reprimanded and shown their limits so do adults. If women let others cross limits with them, women are to blame because they never set the limits in the first place.

The few times I have had lunch with this lady, she has cribbed about her husband and her ILs. She seemed to age considerably every time I met her. But what strikes me most was that she had totally accepted her situation with no hope of change. When asked why does she not just walk out, very predictably, her answer was the kids. She fears she might never see her kids again if she tried something like that. She was scared her family might not be there for her and she will loose her kids too. In comparison the current situation seems better to her. Scary situation to be in, truly. My friend keeps talking to her but she justifies all that has been done to her. for e.g she says she does spend too much and its good in a way that her husband controls the expenditure and such.

An article on Helpguide.org says


"Noticing and acknowledging the warning signs and symptoms of domestic violence and abuse is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and your first step to breaking free is recognizing that your situation is abusive. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need."

We had a young families fellowship a couple of months back in our church. The speaker asked every couple to state a quality you love in your spouse. A middle aged man, should be about 40-45, father of 2, said he likes that his wife knows to shut up and she said he is a loving man. I wonder what message they are sending to their teenaged son and daughter.

While women put up with emotional abuse and violence for the sake of the kids, it doesn't do any good to the kids either to witness an abusive marriage. They risk the chance of ingraining that same abusive behaviour or develop serious psychological problems. Kids do not need a battered, emotionally abused mom or dad for that matter. They need emotionally strong and happy parents. They too need to learn as they grow to say no to abuse in any form. Women do not do them any favour by exhibiting endurance as a virtue. Women should seek help and put an end to abuse for their kids rather than accept it as a way of life or their fate. Every solution is not ending your marriage but every solution should definitely move towards no abuse in any form and if it doesn't then yes end it and move on with your life.

9 comments:

vicky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue said...

Thanks for writing about your friend. I will hope that with time she will learn to negotiate for her right to at least the money she earns.

Sunita said...

Yeah I hope so too Sue.

Pushpa said...

I feel like I am reading a story of one of my closest friend n cousin. I can't believe these intelligent women go thru so much n every single min of their lives spent at home fear for their lives but still want to continue enduring these pains of being thrashed and put to shame at every instance, do not want to walk away, cos they wudn't want their children to be labelled as a child of single parent or wudn't want them to lead a life not knowing how or who their father is or their faternal grandparents are. I m all the more surprised when they drag the Gods and the heavens in the middle of all this. God will lead the way!!! on the other hand u have these extremely attractive intelligent women who chose to walk-out at the right instance (or may be at an earlier stage), when people tell u or talk to u about such women I cann't believe the introductions goes like this "She is MISS XYZ...n guess what she is a divorcee" Boy oh boy...

Sunita said...

From a religious perspective, I really think the churches never take a strong stand against dowry or abuse. The churches should, since a lot of abused women turn to spirituality for relief.
About a women's marital status becoming part of her introduction -I know...how is it even relevant???

vawawareness said...

The kids are the worst sufferers of abuse - whether they are subjected to it directly or have to witness it. It is important that we know how to say NO the first time itself.

Thanks for this wonderful post.. and thanks for sharing your friend's story..

love sms said...

In a religious point of view, I really dowry or harassment on the church does not accept a strong stand to think the church since the abuse, women's spirituality must be set to a lot of relief.
The marital status of women to be part of her introduction to how it out relevan

Singh said...

thank u! Im living in sweden :) and Im a swedish/finnish woman married to a indian husband. Hes from punjab. But he is very kind husbend :o) but I understand that this is a big problem in india...that many woman are slaves.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just wanted to say the 'knows when to shut up' may have just been inelegant phrasing and what he meant was she knows when saying something will aggravate a situation, not that she 'knows her place'. Not like I know this couple at all, but I feel my husband may express it this say, when what he really means is that I have good judgement and a cool head :)

SpicyChai