You don’t know how strong you are, until strong is the only choice you have. I was once asked a question on who according to me was the most powerful species on earth; undoubtedly and without a thought, I answered ‘a woman’. We all know this for sure then why is it that most women go through this term, ‘domestic violence’? It’s heartbreaking to see and know of women around us who are powerful outside homes, have made marks for themselves and also have an image of strength in society but when it comes to home, it’s a different ball game for them. It’s a different stage for them. Yes, if you thought that only a section of women in our society are victims of domestic violence, then you’re mistaken. There’s violence inside the four walls at different levels, be it in a house where lady milks a cow, looks after the family, or is a maid, vegetable vendor, nurse, teacher, engineer or even an actress for that matter. I don’t intend to say that each one of them definitely goes through it, but I only mean that it’s not they don’t go through if it’s not reported or talked about outside the four walls. How many times have you witnessed or known women who have been through this violence and yet carry a smile on their face as of everything is rosy? This does not necessarily mean that these women aren’t courageous enough to reciprocate, but there might be reason that’s hold them back.
I have known a lady, Rima, who’s been through it all and in a big way, this experience has also changed her life. You will know if the change was for good or no towards the end. She was a well educated woman herself from a well to do family. She was outgoing as well as educated enough, was a working woman before she got married but timid when it came to her family matters and handling issues that had her husband involved. Initially after marriage, it was all rosy for her until the day they had two daughters. As days passed into the marriage, it didn’t seem to be the same and life started getting worse. He didn’t like Rima to have given birth to girls. Also, he started drinking and assaulting her for the same. He said she was responsible for the situation they are in and that if it wasn’t for these two girls, things would have been different. He even quit his job without any reason, he abruptly started depending on Rima for all this needs. He was very dominating and always had his choices and decisions forced upon Rima. He even objected her on her dressing, where she went, who she met, what she did, never trusted her. He used to lose his temper at the drop of a hat for no reason. Slowly he even objected her from working. But what would they eat and where would they live if it wasn’t for Rima. This was getting onto her as even her daughters now were growing and watching all this as they grew which Rima didn’t appreciate but what could she do? She lacked the courage to even discuss it with her friends or family. Seeing all this, even her daughters were being effected, lost interest in studies and also grew timid as they watched their mother having similar attitude. Atleast for her kids, she had to do something. Her daughters looked upto her as a role model. But was she really setting an example? May be not!
A day came when I happened to cross paths with her. I knew her since we were childhood neighbours once upon a time. To my surprise, Rima recognised me instantly. I could make out that she was not look normal because she wasn’t the same person I knew of. I couldn’t stop myself from pestering her to tell me what was wrong. She hesitated but I promised she would feel better and comfortable if she did and promised not to let it out to anyone. She trusted in me and came out with all that she was going through. It was shocking to know how her husband even depended on her for financial help and yet treated her like a slave, never concerned about his daughters and their lives. We went back home that day but I couldn’t hold back and her words kept haunting my thoughts. I then decided to write her a letter to give her that strength for only a woman can understand and sympathize with another woman. I suggested her that she needed to stand up for herself. I have never known her to be this weak, she has been very positive, brave and suddenly it was her breaking down. I couldn’t see that especially because she was a woman and women are known to be strong both emotionally, mentally and physically. When a woman can deliver an entire new life, taking all the pain then there’s no reason to be this weak.
We live in a country where Goddess Durga and Goddess Kali and more goddesses are worshipped but the same people who worship these Gods disrespect women to a level that isn’t acceptable. I told her she needs to wake up for her children or they would learn the same and go through the same in their future too. She needs to raise her daughters into strong, powerful women rather than setting an example of a weak personality. She definitely would take time to change, but she needed to take that first step today. She doesn’t have to fight her husband but fight her fears, she doesn’t have to face him but face herself. She can’t take things lying down and for how long will she? I reminded her of how strong she was, she must stay strong and stay safe even now. The more she took it, the more he would give her. Fighting the world doesn’t do good as long as you can’t fight for yourself. I told her how her one step can impact her life and her children’s.
Days passed and I hadn’t heard of Rima until one day when she herself gave me a call. I was overwhelmed to hear of how she fought for herself. She told me how she took my letter seriously and mustered courage. She had to play the role of a woman as well as a mother and portray to her children that she was brave. She recollected many famous, powerful women who fought for themselves and some for their country. There were women who faced similar circumstances but overcame it all. These helped her change her life for good. Today, she is separated from her husband, happily settled with her daughters, playing single mother to them. The journey want easy for her to make this bold step but she made for herself and her girls. She wants them to grow up to be strong women too, women of courage on whom no man can walk upon his rules and life. She’s now working double shifts to double up as both father and mother for her children but completely enjoying it along side the efforts she’s putting in to make their new life beautiful. She’s proved that she doesn’t need a man to make her life happy, but needs herself and her wit. She is most happy and satisfied as a person because she got out of her fears and faced her life. She is glad she made that one choice to reciprocate and fight back. Today, she’s in love with herself for all that she is and has. Her inner self is at peace.
I was so happy my letter gave her that little push. Finally, I remember of how my letter was not just for her but for her daughters as well. Most of the times we see, hear, read and know about husbands involved in the violence but it’s not just restricted to this. It can also be a colleague, friend, relative, brother, sister, in laws creating domestic violence. Like I mentioned earlier, domestic violence occurs in all cultures, in people of all races, ethnicities, religions, sexes and classes, at every level of our society. Women are continuously fighting for justice; Some for self and some for the ones they love. Let’s be a part of the betterment of these victims and create an awareness, bring change. Let’s not shut our eyes to this injustice. If women don’t fight for themselves, such men will not stop what they are doing. By giving in to them, we are only giving them more strength and allowing them to do more.
Here, I would also like to share why I would like to read Meena Kandasamy’s new book, When I Hit You; it’s because it gives women the courage to take themselves and their challenges positively, not only because you are experiencing violence at home but also it will give you an outlook to help someone you find stuck in a situation like that. Also it is a marvelous write up on how life takes a turn and how one must be prepared to face it,especially for your loved ones more than ourselves. It gives one courage to deal with such circumstances. It shows how you can overcome pain and suffering. The book isn’t just about a single violence but also talks about how violence happens in different ways, rape and abuses are serious issues of our society and the author has helped us understand it and sets an example to eradicate it.
Well there can be many reasons that cause domestic violence, some major ones I feel are these:
- Intimate partner violence or abuse — may start when one partner feels the need to control and dominate the other.
- Abusers may feel need to control their partner because of low self-esteem, extreme jealousy or when they feel inferior to the other partner in education and socioeconomic background.
- Some people with very orthodox beliefs think that they have the right to control the woman and that they aren’t equal to men.
Consequences or results of domestic violence also known as domestic abuse are:
- Children who witness or are the victims of violence may learn to believe that violence is a way to resolve conflict between people. Sons will learn that women are not to be valued or respected and who see violence directed against women are more likely to abuse women when they grow up. This is the major cause of abuse around us.
- Girls who witness domestic violence in their families are more likely to be victimized by their own husbands. Women are most often the victim….
- Children may fall prey to alcohol and drugs and contribute to violent behavior amongst and others.
While these are some factors and results of violence, we must know that domestic abuse is not just a husband assaulting or abusing wife but it could be case of dowry, emotinal, psychological, sexual, physical and financial abuse, character assassination. These may include people from different backgrounds and also relations.
I would also love to quote here, “To those who abuse: the sin is yours, the crime is yours, and the shame is yours. To those who protect the perpetrators: blaming the victims only masks the evil within, making you as guilty as those who abuse. Stand up for the innocent or go down with the rest.”― Flora Jessop.
With a hope that tomorrow will be better. Cheers..