My friend Lisa is writing a story on women’s escape from domestic violence. This post got an inspiration from her unstinted efforts to help ‘The Great Escape’.
Is it possible to escape domestic violence? I have often wondered…
If this could be probable, why would a woman of 21st century swallow everyday abuse, why would she compromise and be told to ‘ADJUST’! Adjust to intimidation and assault? To slapping? To emotional blackmail?
If this could be conceivable, why would female feticide be forced upon a young mother who yearns to hold her child in her hands!
Why would a woman be assaulted or killed for petty demands like dowry or standing up for her rights?
I know I am presenting a very negative picture despite being a robust optimist.
But I have seen domestic violence, its shapes and shades. I have seen it grow and flourish despite laws against it.
Domestic violence is not just perpetrated by a husband or a partner. Families too are a party to it. To my mind, violation of basic human rights by anybody around us – a parent, a sibling or a relative – is domestic violence.
According to National Coalition Against Domestic Violence ( NCADV ) Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.
I have seen so many women in such situations. They don’t even think that a mistreatment in a family means domestic violence. They don’t have the courage and the confidence to confront it.
Not just a husband unleashes domestic violence upon her; his mother is more to blame for nagging, verbally and physically abusing, making her work like a slave and not giving her enough to eat.
This is the story of most of the homes in many Asian countries.
I had seen this woman in my early childhood…working all day, carrying out all the odd jobs of the house, from looking after the cattle of the house to cooking for the family as well as all those who worked in the fields. My most vivid memories are of those days when it would be raining heavily and continuously but she would be as active as ever, with just a gunny bag on her head, attending to the milking of the cows, early in the morning.
Abandoned by her husband at the young age of 25, she chose to live in his home all her life, probably due to societal pressures. She devoted all her life to her only child and grand children, giving them all they needed, without even a single word of complaint.
As I look back now, trying to understand the definition of domestic violence, this image seems to be more disturbing than physical violence in the homes. This memory is etched in my mind. The emotional wounds that I can feel even today for my aunt, after almost 5o years are irreparable.
Even today I can hear that unspoken message…where can I go?
Even today I can see that agony in her eyes saying…what can I do?
Who is responsible?
Women too are equally to blame for accepting such a behavior. Fifty years ago when economic independence and social taboos didn’t let them take any action, it could be understood but in the present era when there are no such constraints, women accept domestic violence as part of their life and destiny.
The sordid saga continues…
Another real story:
She is a highly educated, successful doctor and financially independent woman. There was a time when she could take her own decisions, when she was single though many of her friends couldn’t.
She married according to her own wishes, having found her soul mate at the age of 20. She has been living with domestic violence of unspeakable volumes but could never gather the courage of reporting it, stepping out of her marriage or divorcing her husband. She is a widely travelled woman but cannot step out of her own home, without her husband.
People say women have been empowered and emancipated! Really?
“We live in a world in which women are battered and are unable to flee from the men who beat them, although their door is theoretically standing wide open. One out of every four women becomes a victim of severe violence. One out of every two will be confronted by sexual harassment over her lifetime. These crimes are everywhere and can take place behind any front door in the country, every day, and barely elicit much more than a shrug of the shoulders and superficial dismay.” – Natascha Kampusch
Who can help?
No soft words or empathy, no laws or stern action against those who inflict such a cowardly act can help.
Only women, yes those women or victims who accept such a beastly behavior can help.
Unless you help yourself, all others effort go futile:
- Refuse to tolerate domestic violence
- Never hide it to protect your self-esteem
- Stand up for your rights
- Don’t equate it with destiny
- Communicate your dissent the very first time
- Speak your mind out loudly and clearly
- Seek help
- If the perpetrator doesn’t change, be bold
- Never believe in their false promises
- Never give a second chance to such offenders
- Be firm and take your own decision
- Walk out of such relationships as soon as you can!
Do you know that 603 million women live where domestic violence is not considered a crime!!
If you are living in a country that recognizes domestic violence as a serious offence, you must report it.
My dearest friend Kim supports this cause most vociferously at her website. You can visit her for advice and help.
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Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable comments, they are much appreciated.