Women who are subject to domestic violence often hide their plight from society. Nisha JamVwal urges women to come out and let the world know the truth, and walk out of the relationship
The recent breakdown of the ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’ beauty Rati Agnihotri’s marriage after a 32-year innings has led to a lot of speculation. She is a close friend, but I was afraid to call her after her public declaration of her abusive marriage. I was worried it might not be what I was hoping it was: a spat blown out of proportion, that all I’ve been reading might be true, that she was indeed subject to violence and abuse. Something within me was hoping that it was untrue. Had she actually come out and decided to call an end to abuse and domestic violence or was it a passing phase?
Sadly what I’d hoped was by some miracle untrue turned out to be true. It was 32 years of abuse and violence, accepted and lived through for the love of her only. For most women, no portion of putting up with the pain is because of the hope that the trauma will magically vanish, that it is ‘a passing phase’.
I had met Rati 18 years ago on a flight back from New York. Some years ago, she hosted a party to celebrate the launch of her son Tanuj into movies. She looked radiant and was her usual ebullient self, greeting her guests warmly. I thought, looking at her youthful face, with not a wrinkle or laugh line. Happiness does that, I mused. How looks can deceive. Now we know what a harrowing life of mental and physical abuse hers has been, since the last 30 years. I’ve known her all these years and never guessed even when she always made excuses for birthdays and dinners. “I’m accident prone Nisha, I’ve hurt my ankle. I’ve hit my head on the bedroom door in the dark.”
If it had to culminate to this, why did this lady who had it all – name, fame, and financial independence – waste the best years of her life on a situation worse than a dead end? A situation that drained her peace of mind her finances her family life and surely must have been traumatic for her son? The mystery is not just with Rati. Social counsellor’s files are full of cases where the victims waste their lives by not taking a course that leads them out of their tortured existences. I met famed counsellor, who said, “Indian women have more often than not been subjugated since childhood. It is not to do with financial independence but with your courage to get out of an abusive relationship. Women are not often encouraged to speak up and stand up for themselves, and if they do they are given labels of ‘aggressive, too independent’ or told that “because you are financially independent you think you can do what you want.”
What transpires in the mind of these women who put up with years of abuse? Shame and a sense of failure. Even parents say, “bide your time, be patient avoid conflict”.
Trust me, it will not. It will get worse. And habitual abusers are pathological offenders. Get out while the going is good and you have the youth and energy and the opportunity to still get a life. Never mind what people say, what parents wish, what you hope. Every women subject to abuse owes it to her self-respect and importantly to her self-esteem or both will crumble beyond repair and she might cringe through life till probably ‘death do them part’!
There is something called the “Stockholm Syndrome” which works inexplicably upon the victim where she gets habituated to bondage so that she does not even want to get out of the situation. Strange indeed, but the mind in abnormal situations, can and does behave outside the fold of rationality. Any determined action requires courage of conviction, of looking the consequences in the face, of going through immediate difficulties for eventual betterment. I do wish our so-called educated society would not disparage approaching counsellors when there is a need.
We all know friends are “good time” folks that fast disappear at the first sign that you might turn to them, parents succumb to their vulnerability of age, uncles and aunts if they exist, are relatives in name. Today there is need for sharp awareness, and self-reliance, especially in the youth. Everyone entering a relationship must know that no mistake of theirs warrants physical abuse. Let your partner walk out on you but do not allow your partner to hit you physically and get away with it.
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Volume 4 Issue 12