Abuse exists in various forms, it can be verbal, physical or mental. Often, different forms of abuse overlap. Living in lockdown would be easy if our families were all perfect, but most of them aren’t. Often, abusers are people who live in our safe spaces and create trauma in our lives when we least expect it. Physical abuse in the house can lead to mental abuse at the same time. Since the teenager is financially dependent on the parent, he/she may not have any alternative but to deal with it during the lockdown.
The movie “Thappad” had a deep impact on society because it reflected on the plight of women who live with abusive men. While women who undergo abuse by men sympathize with other women, they do not sympathize with children at the same level in Indian society. Child abuse at home is not openly discussed in society. Even progressive parents do not apologize to children for hitting them, often claiming a right on their child (only if they were educated enough to know child rights), and claiming to do it for the betterment of the child.
Physical abuse leads to a reduction of self-confidence in children, and also makes children conscious about themselves leading to several insecurities and mental health issues in the long run. While many women discuss the mental health issues their patriarchal husbands caused in their lives, very few women are able to take ownership of the negative way in which they impacted their child’s mental health. According to “All about love” by Bell Hooks, the man has a toxic agency over the women in a patriarchal household, and a woman has a toxic agency over the children. There is no love in such families since the only desire among both parents is to dominate. The only form of communication is aggression, and this leads to lovelessness in most families.
When people don’t find love in their homes, they tend to find love elsewhere. However, in situations like lockdown, where the only people you can love are the people you live with, can be toxic because of the lovelessness and loneliness you feel. It is harder to stand up for oneself during the lockdown and fight situations which cause trauma. For overthinkers, distractions would help in keeping the mind off the trauma and not interacting with the person who caused it could be healing. However, during lockdown, there are no bars to drown sorrows, no malls to shop distractions at, no restaurants to escape sitting on the dinner table with abusers, no friends to make you forget the lovelessness which exists in life. Living with a toxic parent is even more toxic, even if it doesn’t lead to suicide, it sure kills a part of you which is fearless within.
Even families where children are blessed with a good education can be toxic. This turns the children cold and insensitive many times and impacts their ability to love in the future. Abused children often grow up believing that they are not deserving of love and this affects their image of themselves during relationships. Various children who were abused end up in toxic relationships because they do not know any other kind of love since childhood. Even during the lockdown, girls are more vulnerable than boys for abuse. Boys who have already developed an independent mindset are often feared by their parents of abandonment, however, parents often exploit the societal expectations and oppressions on girls, and abuse them further. In Indian families, the agency which a parent has on a girl child is much more than that on a boy child, leading to higher levels of abuse among girl children.
Low levels of education and toxic societal ideas about child-rearing are the prime cause of abuse. Many parents who are merely frustrated by the lockdown take it out on their kids. Parents who need help must seek out therapists instead of using their children as punching bags to release their frustration. If any child undergoes abuse, they must reach out to someone from their extended family and speak to them about it. For anyone who needs to hear this – no one in this world has a right to raise their hand on you, no matter how old you are. Do reach out to someone. To parents who are abusive – you are doing a grave injustice to your kids in the long term.