Standing up against Domestic Violence

Jyoti Shekar

Just as charity begins at home, so does empowerment. Unless you can claim your rights at home, it will be pointless to do so outside.

Let us take a brief look at the dowry issue.

We keep coming across dowry death cases, without even actively looking for them. What is happening? Are the women empowerment talks just that? Or are they for other women, but not for women in our own homes?

Dowry is a tradition that has been going on since time immemorial and has been misused by in-laws and submitted to by parents. Though they also have to take responsibility for things going awry, what about the youngsters? Why are the grooms not stopping this, in spite of co-working with women at their workplace, and even reporting to women bosses? Again, are we engaging in drawing room talks on empowerment? Why are the brides not stopping it, despite being working professionals and being financially independent?

Dowry deaths can either be due to murder by husband and/or in-laws or due to women being driven to suicide unable to take the harassment meted out to themdowry2

As per the data of National Crime Records Bureau, there was a total of around 25,000 registered dowry death cases in the country between 2012 and 2014. This is a huge number, and note that these are only registered cases. Most cases do not get reported. And also, these are only where dowry harassment resulted in death. In many cases, women face a fate worse than death. And this number is only rising.

When the Nirbhaya case happened, the entire country was shocked and stood up as one condemning the incident. But there are so many Nirbhayas out there, who were not raped by strangers, but slapped, raped or killed by their own family members.

We need to understand that violence against women is not just when someone rapes and kills, but even a slap in a moment of anger qualifies, for that matter even verbal or emotional abuse. Not many of us seem to realize that.

And intentionally so. Because we do not want to see it. We do not want to accept that something like this can happen to us. Once we go past that stage, we will be able to take a stand to protect ourselves.

But there are a lot of domestic violence and abuse victims who do not leave despite being knowing that they are abused, at the cost of losing their dignity. There are a lot of socio-economic factors for this, the top ten of these reasons being:

  1. Low confidence

Many women lack the confidence in taking a decision. A lot of it has to do with upbringing and the way they are treated. If they are never allowed to take any important decision, they would not be able to take this decision either, without proper support system.

  1. Lack of self-worth

Our own sense of worth is what makes or breaks us. If we feel we deserve better, we will take better. If we don’t, then we remain in the same situation, wallowing in self-pity. This is a very common problem not only at homes, but even at work. We ourselves tend to put a threshold on how much we deserve. This sense also largely develops from the way we are brought up and treated, especially the level of importance given compared to the father or brother or husband.

  1. Belief that things will change

Most of the women revolve around love. They give a lot of love and expect the same love back, if not today then someday. But believe me, if someone has a tendency to be violent or abusive, that person is not going to change ever, in most cases. And where somebody is actually changing, you will be able to see and sense it very well. A person who genuinely repents wrongdoing, suffers a lot in guilt and remorse. But most people usually say they are sorry and promise not to do it again but end up doing so almost immediately after.

  1. Societal pressure

The most obvious and important reason for living with abuse is society. The log kya kahenge syndrome. We are scared of society’s judgment, including our unsupportive parents, family and friends. But once we realize that we are the ones living this life and not them, it will get easier to let go.

  1. Belief that kids will make a difference

Another myth is that having kids creates a bond. Well, it does create a strong bond between parents and the child (even that does not happen in all cases), but if there are problems between husband and wife, they are not going to magically disappear.

  1. Belief that their child needs an unbroken home (however unhappy)

We come from a mindset that a child needs both parents living together happily. But a child actually needs both parents being happy, whether together or not. A child’s psychology is much healthier with separated and happy parents, rather than an abusive, dull and morose environment. So we should focus on giving them the right environment, not necessarily two fighting and violent people thrown together.

  1. Scared of going out into the world alone

The world being what it is, some women get scared of being alone in the big bad world. But as someone who has lived independently since the age of 18, let me tell you, the world (with all its crimes) is a much rosier place than a home which is abusive and scary instead of being nurturing and protective, as it should ideally be.

  1. Financial constraints

This is a very practical problem faced when making such a decision. I see even working women being scared of this. But we learn everything if given the right opportunity, don’t we? These days they are multiple opportunities to put talent to good use.

  1. Lack of support from family

We are, after all, social animals. It is natural to be scared of being alone and not have support from loved ones. But sometimes, they are helpless in the face of their own beliefs and sometimes they are not in a position to understand the circumstances or situation. Be open to making new friends.

  1. Scared of change (fear of the unknown)

This is something all of us struggle with. We are scared of what might happen, whether it actually does or not. But I always say – a healthy fear of the future makes us vigilant, but an unhealthy fear makes us walk backwards.

i cant do itTo sum up, we usually tend to feel that one person can’t change the world. But it takes that one person to actually change the world. History teaches us that. And in an individual person’s case, it is only that person who can change his/her world.

To all the beautiful ladies out there – be confident about yourselves. You are not a second class citizen. You are assured equality by our constitution. Recognize your self-worth and say no to such practices which, by its inherent nature, treat you as a burden. You are not a burden, you are the torchbearer!

Take a stand for yourself today.

*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design or widely and freely available on the internet.*

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