Violence against women

Emotional or psychological abuse

I consider this form of abuse as the most dangerous because it breaks a woman from the inside..

Am sure everyone of us have either been a witness to emotional abuse if not a victim.. I think it is the educated mid-segment that is caught into a deep quagmire of emotional and psychological abuse. The slow erosion of self-respect, confidence, and dignity is so gradual that the very women caught in such situations don’t notice and its too late when trying to take stock..

I would like to cite a few instances of abuse without mentioning the names or relationship, but these have happened/are happening in the lives of some awesome women I know..

1. A: She had an arranged marriage and the groom was her dream-boy. But only till a few weeks into the marriage. She had clear indicators on how things were going to be, but she missed all the signs.. On the ‘girl-seeing’ day, the guy had made his expectations clear and one of them was that – wait, hold your breadth- she must not have opinions of her own!!! This, from an engineer from a reputed institute, greatly respected by many in the family circle for his intelligence, sense of responsibility, philanthropy, religiousness et al! Post marriage, he has always decided when to buy rubies or emeralds for his wife, what rituals she must observe, which parties and occasions they must attend, which places they must visit for a vacation etc… She cannot cut/trim her hair! In short- suffocation! She is still the silent partner in the marriage and has two children.. She appears to have made peace with this situation and lacks the courage or will to sketch a career for herself and be self-reliant..

2. B: Another marriage.. Both are well educated.. The girl had a slight inkling that something was not OK.. But attributed her doubts to her anxiety and went ahead.. She did not discuss much of what went on in her life even with her friends because she assumed that is how it would be and that a little compromise can be made.. Her husband, his sister, the MIL would insist that she wear a particular ear-ring, dress in a particular way, sport hair in a particular style, use fairness cream, wear heeled footwear and several petty things like this. It regressed to calling her parents names and insulting them for no reason. He would ensure that she never went to meet her parents and stayed for just a few hours even during her own brother’s wedding. She was not allowed to join the office get-together, dine-outs etc with her colleagues.. She had to skip company-wide outings of any and every kind.. He would reason saying those were places visited by people with cheap intentions.. Her calls home and to friends were policed- he would check her mobile frequently! He began tormenting her to quit her job, but never gave sound reasons.. On the days she reached home from work, he would have a long face and guilt-trip her for ‘neglecting’ her family!! It was at this stage that she discussed with her close friends and parents… When the abuse got physical and he mindlessly dealt a blow to his fully pregnant wife, she called it a day.. Her parents, siblings and friends stood by her and helped her end her marriage to the moron. Her sweet little son is now going to school and her family offers all the moral, physical support she needs.. She is doing well in her career and is respected by her peers and friends.

3. C: Another couple with two children. The wife’s parents and siblings were not welcome.. Every time she visited her hometown during vacations, he would expect the FIL to cover their entire expenses and would never ‘give’ his wife any money.. Not that the couple were well off- they were in fact hard-pressed.. She on the other hand had to visit and welcome all his folks.. She and her other friends in the colony they lived, would catch up on an occasional movie in the theater nearby.. If the husband returned home to find the door locked and the keys with the neighbour, hell would break loose..She would in fact keep his food etc ready on the table before leaving with her friends, only to come back and see all the dishes strewn across the floor.. He did not take her talking to other men too lightly – more policing.. The woman went through depression and none around her knew that she was in a bad emotional state.. She attempted suicide several times only for the husband to fall at her feet and cry and stage a drama.. She would buy all that.. And one fine day, she set herself ablaze… The saving grace was he loved his children and managed their upbringing..

4. D: She gave her marriage 4 years.. Another classic arranged marriage… In the initial few months of her engagement, she sensed some gaps and felt that their wavelengths didn’t match… But that’s too small a time isn’t it? Within few months into her marriage, she knew the guy suffered from terrible complexes.. But she waited, worked.. She pursued higher studies and enrolled herself into some courses and cleared them successfully.. Her professional life took off and that only lead to widening the gap. At the same time, her earning was equally important to him, and he never spared an opportunity to remind her that! Again, a classic case of moral-policing… Friends calls were viewed with suspicion.. She had to account for every penny she spent.. Verbal abuses increased and then something inside her snapped.. Her friends and well-wishers tried to talk sense into him and tried to help patch up differences… Nothing worked.. Both the families intervened, and of course, its all a woman’s fault.. She did not know how to keep him happy.. Her family wasn’t too supportive initially and it was all the more difficult to make a decision.. She decided that she’d waited enough and bid adieu to her marriage. There was all the drama in this case too of the husband trying to mend his ways etc.. But she was wise-enough.. Today, she leads an independent life, has a successful career, pursues her passion, is content with the way her life has shaped up, and is at peace with herself..

I know of women who have given up their career to take care of the children.. Which is alright if it is a discussed, educated, willing decision. Not otherwise. Again, the same pressure of having to worship the man’s folks and ignore hers.. To manage all the tasks at home herself because she is at home and he earns.. Sometimes manage both work and home and still not grumble or sulk for a second- be a multi-tasking goddess.. Complaining would mean giving up the job! No Facebook-ing for the wife because the whole world lacks better business and will pry into her world and their life will become ‘public’.. Only the men know what is right for the wife, which friend to invite home etc etc.. Yeah, men have to decide such things! Most pretend that life is fine and happening and magnanimously let go… And there are many more who do not even realise that its an abuse! Ignorance IS bliss.. For the women who have fought their own battles, here’s three cheers to you!!!

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14 thoughts on “Violence against women

  1. Its so true Vidya…emotional abuse…its difficult to pinpoint it…but when its there, you cant give evidence of it being there..and yet it eats away so much of a person’s self confidence 😦

  2. That’s a great articulation Vidya!
    But, unfortunately, in the eyes of our society, all abusers are monster men, all victims are pure and innocent sweet little woman.

  3. yes, emotional abuse is far more severe than physical abuse for, one, it takes some time to even recognize it, second, it corrodes your self-confidence and to pick oneself up after it gets tougher. Cheers to women who have come out of abusive relationships.
    My heart goes out to all the women you have mentioned here.

  4. I recently overheard a guy saying “Divorce rate has manifolded at India because ladies started working”. In previous generation women depended on men monetarily and that forced her to stick to him but at this generation women are independent so divorce rate had increased”… I felt like slapping him right away and ask why can’t you men correct yourself and bring the divorce rate down? I also know several woman who have been through these emotional abuse but I am not sure if I will be able to write about them.. I will break down..

    3 cheers to all the woman out there who struggle day in and day out with their bitter half…

  5. A much needed awareness across lower, middle, upper class & across the world! A bigger % of them still don’t realize or choose to ignore (in their own ways) such emotional / psychological abuse because it isn’t physical, but in the long run many fall a prey for these silent killers! This abuse can be found in any form of relationship but predominantly seen in married life… Also, not only females fall prey for this but there are cases of men too; comparatively lesser % though.

    It’s all a matter of each individual learning to respect & accept the other human being as an equal irrespective of sex, ties, age, cast, creed and so on. One small initiative that might help a big way is to create awareness amidst our next generation on these factors…

    Hats off to the ones who have faced these challenges and emerged successfully. For the ones who are yet to, would say its high time they do take the step! For the ones who chose to end their precious life for such ‘unimportant people’, I can only say ‘sorry’ – wish you had taken one more second to think or talk it out…

    Good writeup Vidu, as always 🙂

  6. Nice post! Yes emotional struggle is much much worse ! Unfortunately only few have the courage/chance to come out of such stress !

    I guess Bharathiyar died too early or may be one Bharathi was not enough to change these situations

  7. My girl I know, got married a year before and the moment she stepped into the in-laws, the MIL sensed insecurity and tortured the girl like anything. You will not believe, she never gave them a separate room. Son, the girl and the MIL would all sleep in the same room. She was the one who wanted to quit job after marriage, take care of the family-a typical DIL kind, but started working late and would stay in office even if there is no work. She was not able to come to a decision and didn’t know as what to do. I don’t know how is she now as I lost touch with her few months back.
    The emotional crisis these woman had to go through, appa, I seriously can’t imagine.. Kudos to them and their strength.

    • @RM: Yeah 😦

      @RC: C, its largely the women who go through this rigmarole.. I agree that there are cases where the men are innocent, but such instances are rare.. On the other hand, there are men who go through tough times, but are they answerable to anyone like women?

      @Uma: The two woman who steered clear will be happy to see your comment… It is with their permission that I posted..

      @Ani: Yes Ani, its always the women..

      @Sri: Yes Sri, as RS above has subtly hinted, there are men who take the hit and not all women are innocent.. but culturally, they’ve always enjoyed the benefits of having been born as men..

      @Summerscript: Courage, yes.. that is the biggest lack.. and the societal pressure.

      @Tharani: Hope things are working well for your friend now!

  8. Different Women.. similar stories. Thanks for sharing them, Vidya…..

    For those who had the courage to get out of such unhealthy setup – A big cheers! and for those who couldn’t, and are still struggling – A prayer to give them strength..

  9. This post ties it all together. Girls who are not allowed to have opinions, whose in-laws make all her decisions, who constantly bad-mouth her family – it seems to happen a lot. It is best not to keep quiet about such abuse otherwise it is like giving tacit approval. The more women (and men) speak out, the more others will have the courage not to take such abuse. And RC, although I sympathise with your point to a degree, please be reassured that women don’t think all men are “monsters and abusers” nor that women are “pure, innocent, sweet and little” things. We are all unique, independent individuals and viva la difference.

  10. I too know a lot of such ill-fated ones – including some very close relatives. What I feel is, in the initial days of the marriage the girls pretend to be all-obedient and submissive – striving to be the epitome of all the accepted feminine qualities – which is later taken for granted by the husbands. How long can one pretend? And when the reality peeps out of the veils, trouble creeps in. Cheers for the struggling women!

  11. Hi Vidya,

    I came across your blog when reading posts for the Violence Against Women Awareness Month and I really appreciate the stories you’ve shared here. I’m wondering if it’s OK if I use content from this post for my research. I am a Social Sciences student of the University of Freiburg in Germany and am currently working on a project regarding gender-based violence for my Master’s thesis. If you could mail me at emmils@hotmail.com, I’d be so grateful! Best wishes, Emily

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