VAW Month – A victim breaks her silence

As you know, we’re working on a month of awareness of violence against women. Here’s our first story – one that I am witness to.

They fell in love and married each other against all opposition. I was her sounding board and her shoulder to cry on through the roughest patch  – after all this is a route the OA and I had travelled down and we were pros at it! To say I was overjoyed when they took that final step and tied the knot would be an understatement.
We signed in court as their witnesses and stood by them as they started life on their own terms. A mattress on the floor and a few utensils in the kitchen. She wielded the utensils with skill and many a night we’d have a quiet dinner with them, out under the stars. In companionable silence. One where we both appreciated the others’ love. He’d look at her and she’d get up with a gentle smile to get him whatever it is that he needed. She had only to ask and he’d get her whatever her heart desired. Eventually the parents on both sides came around and I was happy for them. Life seemed almost perfect, as they planned to visit one side for Diwali and the other set of parents for Holi.

When the phone call came, I was unprepared for the way her voice shook. My independent, smart, well educated friend who was earning a lot more than her husband when they started life, was cowed down and brow beaten. And this man I’d known when he was not even a man so much as a young boy. Gentle, good natured, well-educated, a successful professional, cooking dinner for us over a beer. It just didn’t add up. But then it never does, does it?

I listened and tried to be the friend who didn’t judge. I offered to pick her up immediately – he’d hit her so hard she’d fractured her neck. I told the OA who shot out of bed, ready to get back into his jeans and drive the distance to pick her up. But she refused to leave home right then. She took comfort in the fact that she had friends to turn to and that in turn gave her the strength to sort things out.

I put down the phone and sat in silence and utter shock. These were our friends. Educated friends from the top professional universities of the country. This thing didn’t happen to us. It was unreal. But I persisted, I called her back the next day and then a few days later and I heard the strength and the confidence gradually return to her voice. I realised that my calls to her were a reminder of something she didn’t want to be reminded of, I gave her an indication that I was there should she need to talk and I would still come running if she needed me at 2am and then I left them to settle matters.

A few weeks ago I had a chat with her and she was finally ready to talk about it. What is significant is that she thinks it is over. I give you an approximation of her words since she’s the best equipped to tell her story.

MM, I think we are past that violent stage. As you know, I was the higher income earner and I think it got to my head – I look back and realise that I was ambitious and also slightly arrogant. He said nothing, just put up with my arrogance patiently. After our first child I took a career break and the sudden loss of one income hit our finances where it hurt. But we managed somehow and he did well and rose in his career – but now it was payback time and his ego was on the rise.

His parents who had come around visited us often and a lot of interference from their side began to cause friction. His mother believed that it was time for her son to spoil her after a lifetime of making do, and she didn’t like the way I chose to use our money. So whether it was fruit being bought for the home or clothes I shopped for, she complained about my wastefulness to him. She got after the maids and I kept having to sack them to keep her happy. Which in return placed the burden of work on my shoulders making me very cranky.

Work pressures were increasing at his end and he’d come home to a mother and wife sitting in the same room, refusing to be civil to each other. This became a pattern. Each time they came to visit there would be unrest in our house, and we’d end up fighting. We had our second child and he bought me a beautiful set of gold bangles. His mother lost her temper – she thought he should have bought her the bangles and not me.

The final straw was a fight when we had guests in the house. His mother began a fight in front of them and I, stung into action retorted in public, something I’d never done before. He hit me really hard that day as opposed to the earlier odd slap and I was shocked. I went to bed in pain and by morning it was clear that something was wrong. We went to the doctor and an x-ray showed that my neck was fractured. We tried to hush it up saying that my son had been hanging around my neck, but doctors know their job and he coldly told my husband that no child could hang in such a manner.

I didn’t speak to him for the next couple of days. My in-laws left within a day or two of the incident. My father in law is a sensible man who didn’t want their presence to harm our marriage. They’d already had their elder son and his wife cut all connections with them over such interference. But things didn’t settle down and the hurt kept festering. A couple of days later a huge fight erupted. I walked out of the house, much to his shock. He hadn’t expected me to leave the kids but I knew that I’d get the kids when I went to court. He caught up with me at the railway station and brought me home.

We spent the next couple of days sorting things out. Among the conditions I laid down, the first was that he’d never again raise a hand on me. Others were that I’d not be taking instructions from his mother on running home although she’d always be welcome and respected if she chose to visit. I also suggested that we see a marriage counselor and someone for his anger management issues. We talked more than we’d ever talked before and we brought out all the bitterness and despair and laid our vulnerabilities open for the other to see. And we began our healing process.

It’s been a while now and we’re reaching a better place in our marriage. My in-laws haven’t visited us in a while and it’s given us the time to work on our relationship and sort things out. I am no longer so hung up on certain matters. I realise he was getting torn between his mother and wife and work tensions; the odd occasion that he lashed out was just his frustration finding an outlet. We’d lost what our marriage was built on – communication. Caught up in family politics, the EMIs for the house, rearing our kids and daily pressures we’d stopped talking. We go for long walks now and talk a lot more. In all these months I didn’t know what my MIL complained to him about and he kept that bottled up. But talking about it has eased his mind and also told me what I can work on so that I can make the changes that are acceptable to me. I’ve also made him see my point of view. We’ve loved each other and gone through hell to get married. We’re not going to let something like this tear us apart.

I don’t know if domestic violence always ends in this way. In my experience a lot of men who hit their wives justify it to themselves and to others. In our case my husband has been racked with guilt and never justified it in any way. Others might not see it the way I do, but it’s my life and I am sure that chapter is closed and over. We’ve learnt our lesson and worked on our marriage.

I hung up the phone and prayed that she was right.

Edited to add: My friend read this post and wanted to respond to the comments. This is what she said.

It is not pleasant to see the smiles vanishing from your little ones’ faces. That one week of tension did that to them. My husband is a very good father, a loving son and a good husband. Scars fade over time but if we keep on flogging a dead horse instead of moving ahead, things get ugly. Things are not the same between us; they are better than before. I am working on it. My mom-in-law wants the lion’s share of his attention. I call her every second day, I make him call her every two days. We had to go on a vacation but I asked him to send her for one first so that he had no guilt about not indulging her when we went. I have not backed down on what is important to me, but I have ensured that he doesn’t feel that I am domineering or trying to get one over his mother. Believe me MM, its not easy to walk out of a marriage when things can be worked out. I have to work on it not only for my sake but also for the sake of the kids we brought into this world.

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155 thoughts on “VAW Month – A victim breaks her silence

  1. MM, someone I know went through something very similar.The other thing was that in her case she did give it right back but got beaten down really bad because she was not physically stronger. In their case they did work things out, but one of those times she was really candid about things, she did tell me that they’ve worked things out but nothing is ever the same- that it was like a start all over again, working on the relationship ground up.
    I don’t understand it. I’m not even sure how people make their peace with such violence.

    • While in theory I can imagine hitting back in a rage if I were ever hit, I shudder to think of how that can just escalate into something terribly fatal. Men are so much stronger. I’d walk out, in theory. But then we can never tell, can we?

      • True! I see my friend, one who had no patience for nonsense and always stood up for what she believed in. I would have thought she would walk out .. but she didn’t. So me thinks unless one is at that point one does not know what one would actually do. I try not to judge, but life as I have seen it has more gray than black or white.

        • hey MM’s friend,

          I just saw your response to the comments. It takes an a lot of courage to go from where you were to where you are now. Dealing with being hurt- physically and emotionally from the one person you expect not to ever hurt you and finding it in yourself to make things work- keeping his emotions in mind too- needs an immense amount of strength. My friend told me that at the worst of times she loved her kids more than she hated her husband for hurting her. And she calls her relationship a work in progress. I’m glad things are working out for you and that they are better than before. I do wish you would give yourself a break where your MIL is concerned. Wishing you all the very best.

          • Thank you. Thank you for your support and for not judging or being condescending – we’re spreading awareness and trying to be supportive. Everyone thinks they are better placed to tell you how to run your life.

  2. That was so touching MM! Absolutely heart rendering.

    I am glad your friend and her husband worked out their issues. Two people get together and work their way through life, thats what makes a marriage.

  3. One a serious note, the women showed remarkable maturity and great amount of understanding. Normally the conclusion would be very different.

  4. Pingback: VAW Month – A victim breaks her silence by The Mad Momma | Violence Against Women 2011

  5. I’m sure she will be fine, MM. Nothing justifies the violence she underwent, but at least her husband has never tried to excuse his actions and is deeply ashamed of them. I’m glad they have been able to re-establish good communication with each other. Honestly, it is sad when love takes a back seat when one is dealing with the sheer busy-ness of living. As long as both of them are happy together now, it is best for them to remember the lesson and forget the pain. All good wishes to your friends- both of them!

  6. It scares me to think that it’s never what you think it would be like. You never even consider that the person you love, you KNOW would do that to you and you can barely get your head around that it could happen to people you know. Decent people.

    I’m torn in the way this played out, on one hand I’m glad she told you and walked out but I’m sad that it had to come to that… Hopefully things get better…

  7. It would be good if she takes up a job again. Since he married her although she was earning more than him, it is unlikely that he would have any problems with her taking up a job again. … and may be she can still respect and take care of her in- laws when they visit, even when she earns her own money. What is wrong if the MIL would like her well earning son to spend some money on her as well? It is her son , isn’t it? if relations are to be so fragile that they should break up with a new relationship then what really is there to hold that new relationship once it turns stale?

    • 1. I think taking up a job is her choice – she’d rather spend her time and energy on raising her children.
      2. He has no problems either but I think both of them are happier with her being their childrens’ caregive and not some stranger.
      3. Nothing wrong with a MIL wanting her son to spend money on her. Everything wrong with a MIL telling her son how to spend his money and objecting to anything he spends on his wife. What a man earns is his wife’s business I think, not his mother’s. Its lovely to indulge your parents, but not at the cost of the family you have committed to set up and take care of.
      4. If a relationship is fragile, then it must be examined. If this girl had the maturity to work this out with her husband, surely the parents could have had the maturity to do that too?

      • Dear MM, I find difficult to relate to “What a man earns is his wife’s business”. I agree that the responsibilities towards family ought to be fulfilled, but then how about ageing parents (and other dependents)? Should they not be part of a couple’s responsibility? Should a wife not be an equal partner in sharing her husband’s responsibilities? If we say that a husband’s earnings is his wife’s business, would that also hold true in the reverse- that a wife’s earnings are her husband’s business? I don’t think so. I think how a person decides to spend his/her income , is the right of the person alone. Dependents whether wife, kids, parents or others do not have any right on the income. They can only hope that their basic needs would be taken care of by the person. Anything beyond, is actually a situation of manipulation and control to me and I think any person would rebel against it. That a lady who has been given the capability of taking care of herself by society, has chosen to become a dependent , that she has allowed another person to illtreat her and indulge in physical violence (allowing the first slap itself is a surprise to me, breaking bones is something unforgivable) is what saddens me. Most of the time people choose to live with a situation because of lack of viable alternatives. It is a perception of someone being a soft prey (total financial dependence, no family support) , that leads to perpetration of violence.
        It would be difficult to leave kids with strangers, but then what values would a battered mother be able to instill in her kids? It is usual for working mothers to leave children in the care of their in- laws (requires an appreciation of each others needs and responsibilities though). Anyway if your friend believes the issue has been sorted out with communication and the guy’s feelings of guilt, then my best wishes to her. I hope it is indeed true.

        • Dear Neeti,
          Lets begin by understanding that victims who are sharing their stories with us today are doing so with great reluctance – to share your story so that someone can learn from it. So lets be a little gentle in the way we discuss them and try not to say anything that would hurt their feelings – that would be poor thanks indeed, in the face of such a generous gesture.

          Ageing parents and dependents are a couple’s responsibility. I agree. But those ageing parents have a right to be taken care of, not to guide your spending habits. I draw the line there. As long as they take good care of them, it is not their business if above and beyond that he wants to spend on a holiday with his wife or a pair of gold bangles as a gift for carrying and delivering their child. A wife who has taken the decision to stay home and take care of it and ensure that you come home to no household chores, to a clean house, well fed, happy kids and absolute comfort has full right to your salary and even a court of law will agree with that.

          Its sad that you think a SAHM “has chosen to be a dependent”. Is he not dependent on her for conceiving, carrying and delivering their own children? Is he not dependent on her for caring for their children and raising them the way they want? You make her sound like some sort of leech and I think you do all SAHMs a huge disservice. People choose to divide responsibilities in a way they want to. Do you imagine only SAHMs get beaten up by their husbands because they are dependent and have no financial dependence? You make a great misapprehension. How would that explain a hugely successful Zeenat Aman or even a Somi Ali and Aishwarya Rai being victims of violence? I’m glad you’re reading this post in that case – please follow the campaign for the rest of the month and see how many of the myths are shattered.

          No one “allows” another to ill treat them. I think we all take a judgment call on how far we’re willing to let something go. She took hers and is managing her own life the best way she can. You are not in her shoes and so you cannot judge her. Her inlaws don’t live with her – they merely visit. I don’t think she’s a battered woman – she is one who faced violence and dealt with it. I think I admire her courage to try and find a way to make this work. I would not have admired her for staying on in the face of continued abuse. But in this case she has chosen to take care of her kids in spite of a fantastic career and she has chosen to work with her husband instead of walking out. If society didn’t give people second chances, how would you explain criminals let out of jail after a couple of years of punishment?

          • Dear MM,
            I mentioned that no one (including parents) has any right on the income of a person. and yes no court of law allows full rights on a person’s income to the spouse ; Wife and kids are classified as dependents on all financial matters unless they declare to possess own source of income.
            The situation in the country has changed a lot in the past few decades and a woman is much more empowered today than earlier and to be SAHM is now a choice, not a necessity. I would dare say its a waste of nation’s resources though if she had a higher potential and still chose not to pursue it. All programmes for education of girl child will fall flat if all women decide to take this decision and there are no role models left. Having said that, I have lot of respect for women who take care of responsibilities of running a household (including the extended family. It is essential to hold the fabric of society). But that is good only if there is mutual appreciation of each other’s contributions, not when there is violence.
            I hope you are able to see the issue in broader perspective although it is difficult to be detached when it comes to people close to oneself. I am supposing one of the reasons for putting up the issue here, is also to get unbiased third person opinion, so that better solutions can be found which may not be visible to people close to the situation. The examples mentioned by you, all of them chose to get out of the situation mainly because they could afford to be independent.
            Financial independence will not change the other person, it equips the victim to face the situation better, instead of waiting and hoping for the other person to change.
            Thanks for your efforts in spreading awareness on all aspects of the topic and for publishing the different views. My apologies if any of the comments are hutful , for that is not the intention.. also for using so much of your blog space. Finding a viable solution to a real problem is the only intention. And thanks to your friend for sharing her situation and helping create awareness on this socially relevant matter.

            • Dear Neeti,
              I agree – they are legally dependents, but in my humble opinion, a man and a woman set up home as a unit. What they earn and what they what they choose to do with it – is entirely their business. I don’t think any woman would like her mother in law visiting and telling her how much to spend on fruit for the kids.
              I disagree entirely with your statement on it being the “waste of a nation’s resource” if a woman has ‘higher potential’. I think you just insulted a lot of intelligent women out there by imagining that you know better than them, what they should do with their brains and lives. If they are so intelligent and so full of potential, what makes you think they don’t know what is best for them and their families? Its a trap we all fall into – imagining we know better than the other woman, how she should live her life – should she walk out, should she stay home with her kids – how do we know?
              How do we define potential? By a mere education? I think this is a very nuanced area and not one we can judge lightly. In a way, by choosing to put more emphasis on earning, we’re enablers – we’re supporting the notion that earning is more important than caring for a family and I completely disagree with that.

              There are a whole team of us working on this initiative BECAUSE we’re looking at the issue in a broader perspective – knowing one of them personally will not take away from that. I wish walking out of the marriage and going to work leaving your kids with strangers was the answer to every violent situation, but its not, as our others posts will show. Lets not turn these SAHMs into the stereotypical battered women. These are individuals with very individual lives and problems. She stayed on with her husband because she married him for love – not because she needs his money!!

              Yes, these posts are up for spreading awareness but certainly not to judge those who are sharing their scars and hurt here – and certainly not to generalise solutions like – getting a job will help. The number of working women getting beaten up is mind boggling as the statistics will show you – keep following the main blog and also check us out on twitter if you like. And yes, thank you for interacting and sharing your views.

          • I think Neeti’ response was pretty polite.Not everyone might agree with it -but then if you want only to publish comments where people agree with you, well your choice.Yes financial dependence is very very important-as a human being. Please don’t be so sensitive about being a stay at home mother.As long as you are ok with it,its fine.Different people value different things-for some independence and not having to rely on another person for basic needs is v v imp.

            • 1. You and I don’t have to agree on what we think is polite. Since Neeti is addressing my post, I should be the judge of that. I found her implication offensive even if the choice of words was polite.
              2. What is to agree or disagree on this? Clearly all of us are speaking up against violence and I have published her comment – what exactly is your point?
              3. Financial independence you mean? Of course it is. As important, but not more, than wanting to rear your children in a certain way. Are you implying that you or Neeti know better than the person concerned, how she should run her life? Isn’t that a slightly presumptuous stance?
              4. I am not a Stay at home mom – not yet at any rate, so I have no idea what you’re talking about – but are you saying one is only sensitive if one is in that boat? I am very sensitive to many things including violence even if I havent faced it – maybe the world does need more people who are sensitive, no? Sensitive to violence, to women who make certain choices? And as I mentioned – this is not a fictitious story, not some academic debate. This is a post by someone who reads this blog and is reading every single one of these comments. Lets be a little gentle with her because these are not matters every one is wiling to share with the world. Lets not scare away the few who are choosing the expose their wounds. I have requested her to share her life with us here and it is my responsibility to ensure that no one says anything that could hurt her more than she is already hurting. I hope you can appreciate that.
              5. Precisely – people value diff things. Clearly this very well educated friend of mine who is capable of earning pots of money values her time with her kids more than she values anything else. Who are we to tell her she is wrong?

    • Dear Neeti,

      I came back looking for your comment. Didn’t know you and MM are already discussing something. I have a feeling if I read that, its just gonna rile me up so I won’t read the discussion but I do want to say what I originally wanted to say to you.
      Its funny how we read the same things and draw our own conclusions. I will write to MM’s friend after this. I will talk about the same incident that you did. Yes nothing wrong with a son wanting to buy a gift for his mother ( a wife shouldn’t even have a say IFF they have separate financial arrangements and pool in for common expenses of the house), also nothing wrong with a mother hoping that he would. But don’t u think there is something wrong with a woman who’d fight with her son because he bought a gift for his wife after the birth of their child.
      Do you think such a mother would let the relationship survive?

      • Precisely my point, TND. What kind of mother would get upset at her son buying his wife a gift after she carried a baby for 9 months and laboured to deliver it? Most men are just waiting for a chance to show you how they appreciate what you did to create something that is precious to both of you.

      • Dear tearsn dreams and MM, at the risk of being labelled a troll and banished forever, I dare to post my last 2 cents on this topic here.

        1. Implying I have equated ‘potential’ with ability to earn loads of money is a disservice to me, dear Mad Momma. My definition of potential is that which fulfills oneself. If it is homecare so be it. But as everyone knows eachone of us has a different potential and it is not possible to generalise.
        2. Let me gently remind that it is neither a stereotype, nor a personal opinion but a fact, that homemakers’ contribution is not accounted or considered in any nation’s count of productive work (GDP and such measures evolved by economists).
        3. I have great respect for all the intelligent women (and men) who choose to be homemakers and actually am quite jealous of them for I believe they lead a comparatively stress free life (who wouldn’t love such a life, although on a personal note I would probably get fidgety if was in it for too long) . I am however definitely not jealous if the bargain involves physical or emotional abuse.
        4. Its beyond me to be in another’s shoes or another’s life, but I believe it is natual for everyone to judge a situation (don’t we all survive only on basis of our good judgement?) and suggest possible solution based on one’s own experiences and beliefs. It is entirely upto the other person to take or leave the suggestions. Even suggesting solutions is sometimes a person’s nature just as some people’s nature is to offer a shoulder to cry on, some just listen , some cry along, some can be brash… everyone has their own way of empathising and there can be no one way of ‘correct’ respose. Even what is perceived as hurtful(unintentionally) is something very unique to people’s nature. People are different and to prejudge another’s opinion without knowing a person is I think rather unfair.
        5. For a person like me, it is natural to read the narrative, pick out the pain points and think of solutions that can please all. Contrary to the statement that I am implying job is solution to ALL instances of physical abuse, I am implying it only in this case, mainly based on the fact that my sis (I believe in sisterhood) was a well earning woman at one point in time. I also did not suggest that she should break up her marriage as can be seen from the first comment that stressed more on building relationships.
        6. The mother in law is clearly a control freak. I read what atrocities she has done but my focus is on why she does that (insecurity, old age, a life of scarcity spend raising kids, looking after home, alienation from grown up children, new entrants laying claim on income and affections of her children perhaps?). I noticed her objections and interference on the spending in the house. It doesn’t look to me that giving all the affection and control to her, would change her attitude towards the spending by daughter in law. It is very easy for a daughter- in- law to stick to her posture and drive the in- laws away, only if the son remains unperturbed. This is clearly not the situation here. Hence the suggestion to start working again for the daugther-in- law and earn her own money to spend the way she likes, leave the kids in the care of MIL and not random strangers (I noticed in one of the responses that in-laws stay here for long stretches of time. Would they mind if suggested to move permanently?? ). To suggest the MIL to change is an impractical solution.
        7. It also appears to my limited intelligence that the nice , decent guy of earlier years is actually not equipped to handle the pressures of becoming the sole provider in the household. A working wife may be what he needs to lower his stress levels and provide the support that he needs, rather than anger management.
        (Pl. go ahead and shoot me now for all the advice , for all the judging of the situation/ persons and… anything more).

        Finally both child abuse and the abuse of elderly (http://ibnlive.in.com/news/daughtersinlaw-are-on-the-top-abusers-list/188781-60-120.html) disturb me more than abuse of the group in between because I think children and elderly are completely vulnerable whereas the group in middle (abused women and men) have the choice in their hands to change the situation. The solution of one should not lead to creation of problems for another set. Individual choices shape the collective choice at the end of the day.

        Amen.

        • Not at all. No one gets labelled a troll unless they behave like one – I’m sure you’re capable of not crossing that line. I think we’re all going around in circles when we mean the best. For instance, a lot of the points you are making, are rather general and not applicable to the person who wrote this post.
          1. In this case then, your statement that “a lady who has been given the capability of taking care of herself by society, has chosen to become a dependent , that she has allowed another person to illtreat her and indulge in physical violence (allowing the first slap itself is a surprise to me, breaking bones is something unforgivable) is what saddens me” – is what saddened me!!
          Potential is hard to define and the fact that you are “saddened” by her choice, is pretty sad too. It is entirely her choice and unconnected to the violence. That you choose to draw a connection between her being dependent and a victim, is sadder. There are plenty of women, from filmstars to the maid who does my dishes – who are working and in violent marriages. As women, why do we fall into the trap of making it seem as the though the victim is responsible for the situation? Isn’t that taking the blame off the man’s door and laying it as hers? That she CHOOSES to be dependent and ALLOWS herself to be illtreated. Those are pretty harsh words on a woman who is already suffering and is trying to work out a situation and clearly has done it to her own satisfaction, your and my opinion be damned.

          2. What the GDP states and what we as a society should appreciate are two different things. I don’t think a homemaker’s contribution needs to be sanctified by a government or by you and me, for its worth to be realised. I don’t know about you, but I personally believe its time we stopped measuring worth in monetary terms. It’s a rather chauvinistic world view, one built for the convenience of those who earn, to place no premium of care and management and place all power in the hands of those who earn. How are we helping to change that?

          3. I always find it slightly patronising when people say they are ‘jealous of home makers who lead stress free lives’. The moment a home maker stays home, she takes a burden off her kids who prefer her to anyone else, and her presence at home ensures that the husband has no household chores or need to come home and put away his laundry or make the kids do their homework. How come no one is jealous of the man who has no housework to do because his wife is home, ensuring that the plumber comes in and sorts out the pipes, books the gas cylinder and basically does everything so that he goes to work, earns pots, scoots up the career ladder and comes home to absolute comfort and as a result has a less stressful life too? Division of labour when it is a free choice, works for both people. there is something very condescending about the whole notion that it is stress free, would cause you to fidget etc. So if you honestly meant that statement about respect, then I’d gently suggest you re-look at that statement.

          4. Exactly – its unfair to judge another’s opinion or choice. So just as you felt bad, perhaps you can give some thought to how your statement came across to her – particularly if it was unintentional.

          5. We’d already specified in the post that she is one of the country’s top colleges and a high earner. Clearly lack of financial independence is not her problem. Which is why I wondered why you would suggest it.

          6. You are right – the MIL is clearly a control freak. What woman in her right mind would invite that woman to live full time in her home, run her house and handle her children?!!! They’ve just about distanced her and are working out their solutions. Inviting her back into their home is only going to undo all the good. Earning your own money is scant comfort when your kids are being turned against you and you have to come back to your own home like a guest and get to do nothing your own way. This lady is the root cause of a lot of their trouble- the poor woman will die if they move to her permanently.

          7. Everyone gets stressed out and you’re right, maybe he is not equipped to handle. But he too appreciates her decision to stay home and not send the kids to daycare so maybe its time for him to pull up his socks, deal with the stress that most single earners have, deal with his parents and protect his wife against unfairness. Just as she’s learnt to give up her job and independent finances, give birth and care for children. It’s called being an adult. Some people have a harder time dealing with it than most, but clearly that is something they both want – now working the details out is something that they need to handle -without the added stress of a MIL who hasn’t forgiven her for marrying against their wishes.

          8. Yes, I agree – kids and the elderly are my biggest concern too. Doesn’t mean I am not concerned about those who fall in between. Not everything is black and white and not every woman wants to walk out, whatever be her reasons. You and I might not do it, but hey, that is where we stop judging and start appreciating the fact that she actually solved her problem without our help.

          And now… peace 🙂

        • “I have great respect for all the intelligent women (and men) who choose to be homemakers and actually am quite jealous of them for I believe they lead a comparatively stress free life.”
          I beg to differ. This might be taking the current discussion into a tangent but being a stay at home mom is not less stress than being a working mom. You are at work 8 hours a day, during which someone else really takes care of your child, being at home with your children means being their primary caregiver for the major part of the day and also being the sole responsible person for housekeeping as well, and guess what that means? that means you are scrambling to take care of kids, drive them around activities, keep them engaged, take care of their food and nap schedules AND cook and clean the house, and that cannot be less stress than going out to work 8 hours a day! Please don’t have any misconceptions in your mind about the so-called stress-free life of a SAHM!

          • Wow, some perspectives amaze me. I am not a sahm and I have publicly stated at work that coming to work is vacation when compared to dealing with cranky toddlers. I have a lot of respect for your friend who chose to become a sahm. I don’t think that choice is easy.

          • of all the things in here i choose to react to this.. oops… i am not jealous of SAHMs. In fact I admire them for being able to do it. It would drive me crazy because the work never ever finishes and you have to schedule everything around school pick up timings and everyone just sits around and eats your head. There is no peace – the doorbells rings all the time, among other annoyances. You could ask my husband, who is trying hard to be a SAHD for the past few months. he is rebelling and refusing to have anything to do with the purchase of vegetables…already…

          • Have gone back to work after SAHMing for a while. Man, I love my life now. Very stress-free compared to the SAHM years.

  8. This post really articulated something I’ve been wondering about for a while. The conventional wisdom is – he hits you once, leave. But marriages and people are more complex. I don’t know I would have stuck around after a fractured neck but this gives me something to think about.

    • Same here. I think it was a wake up call for him. And yes, there is so much to consider in a marriage that its difficult for an outsider to judge and hold an opinion on it.

      • yeah, i also have always thought that one slap, then you (or me) walks. it felt very simple when i was in my twenties. right now i recognise the world for what it is – a much more complex place than i can ever fathom sitting here… its amazing to hear this story…

  9. Dear MM,
    I always comment here with my name, but this time around i want to keep it anonymous. I hope you understand.
    I have been in a similar situation like your friend. Myself and my husband are from two different religions and we got married much to everybody’s warning that things will not be as rosy as it appears to be. Nevertheless we went ahead. The most shocking revelation was his anger management. The only way for him to vent was to smash or break something in the house. I must admit i am also the type who lets my tounge run away with my temper. Well, there is never a marraige without fights, once the tea cup came flying on me and once i was shoved on the sofa so bad i had a few marks on my hand, Luckily nothing very serious that needed medical intervention. Last straw was a year ago when he broke the furniture and raised his hand on me. I don’t know what came over me i hit back and threatned to call the cops. I walked out of the house with the kids. Had no clue where to go. Went to my mom’s place and stayed for a couple of days. It was when they realized that something was wrong. My mom decided that it was time i stopped pushing things under the carpet. SHe came over to speak to him which he never expected. By then he had kind of mellowed down and guess he realized what he did was not right either..agreed i did hit below the belt but violence is no answer to it. I was adamant that i wanted to walk out, however he wanted to make things work. Yes, like your friend mentioned communication between us was lost in the process of managing house, kids, deamanding jobs etc.

    Things are a lot better now, i think twice before i talk and when he really looses his cool he goes out for a walk. As your friend said am not sure if all cases end amicably, but the point is we should know to stand up against it.
    This is not something that happens in the lower strata of people, it’s every where. Even with the well educated and the professional lot. Awareness is what matters.

    • I am so sorry to hear about this. And I am so happy to know that you are working things out. A lot of time I think we’re just stressed out and anger management is important. Half the reason I don’t go back to fulltime work is because I realise that the stress of managing home and kids when we come home was making us crankier human beings. Now we have so much more time, love and affection for each other. We both are happier on less money and less stress.

      • God MM – how many more things can I agree with with you!! I have the same thoughts about full time work…It is what I know personally I can cope with w/out stressing out the kids with my anger from managing too many things.

  10. “the odd occasion that he lashed out was just his frustration finding an outlet”
    Not being able to handle frustrations is a problem that might require counseling.

    “But talking about it has eased his mind and also told me what I can work on so that I can make the changes that are acceptable to me.”

    Most abusers are able to convince the victim that they caused the violence and if they worked on themselves, the violence would stop.

    “we began our healing process”
    There’s no WE here. In case of violence the only person who needs to heal is the one who is violent.

    “Others might not see it the way I do, but it’s my life and I am sure that chapter is closed and over. “

    Best wishes to her.

    • In this case he didn’t convince her that she was the cause of the violence, so much as tell her finally, what all his parents had issues with. I think dealing with a lot of the trivial things reduced a lot of stress for them. So often you’d be happy to do something if someone would just tell you openly what they wanted. I know I do a lot for the OA’s parents because I know it makes things easier for them, soothes troubled waters and reduces his stress. All said and done, watching a man get torn between his parents and wife is not fun.

  11. I would never justify beating. We have misunderstandings with our friends, colleagues, neighbours…do we start slapping them all if we think we’ve had too much?? with the wife, the woman its just that she’s physically less stronger than the man, in the spur of the moment its this thought that crosses his mind.

    • No, there is never justifying beating. But I don’t agree with the argument of misunderstandings with friends.
      Where there is great love, there is great hate. I could never compare the love I have for my husband with the affection I have for a friend. And neither could I compare the rage I feel when the OA and I are arguing, to a disagreement with a friend.

      • ‘Where there is great love, there is great hate’

        I think you made a very good point here. responses to a argument are so much more amplified between spouses rather than among friends. and hence the shock when someone who seems normal enough in public………. turns out to be a abuser.

        i admire your friends for being able to work it out. someone very close is trying to do the same. yet i keep worrying….a tendency to violence…does it ever really go away?

  12. While I am really glad that your friend and her husband have faced their issues, opened up to each other and dealt with everything in a very mature way, what really concerns me is this line-
    “He hit me really hard that day as opposed to the earlier odd slap and I was shocked”

    It concerns me because it makes me wonder if violence, in any shape or form, was always a part of their marriage?! It could just be a simple case of mis-phrasing above, but it worried me.

    No form of violence is acceptable in any relationship. There is no such thing as an “odd slap”. Why do we need to resort to violence in any form to communicate anger or disappointment. Words are enough, aren’t they?

    I do hope everything your friend says and believes about where her marriage is at right now is right. I wish them all the happiness in the world….

    • Yes, that is my fault – I have just written down our conversation in short and as best as I can remember. No, violence wasn’t “always” a part – but yes it was a part for 2-3 years if I have understood it right.

      An odd slap is never right either and I’d not accept it. But each time I say something like this, I realise that I have different limits and others have their own. Clearly she didn’t think the slap was matter for divorce, but perhaps matter for counselling?

  13. whatever be the provocation – violence is UNACCEPTABLE unless in self defence. your friend may have worked it out and good luck to her. i would have done it too for the sake of the kids. but it will never ever be the same again.

  14. Men who are physically abusive tend to either have a bad childhood filled with oppression, deprivation and violence or lack something more fundamental like ability balance expectations and release stress in a productive manner. Our society discourages men from being emotional and releasing bottled up stress. A woman can cry but a man cannot. Therefore the built up stress, feeling of inadequacy and insecurity forces itself out in the most instinctive and natural way. The solution is regular communication, raising esteem through approval and regular physical exercise.

  15. it’s her life. yes. but if she has any sense, she’d go right back to work, and start building her career, and become financially independent. hitting someone hard enough to fracture her neck? how much anger, and how much intent went into that action?!

    • Quite a lot of anger, yes. Intent, I am never sure.
      At the moment she’d rather be with her kids and that is her choice of course. I respect her a lot for the way she’s managing her life. I have a comment from her that i will add to the bottom of the post.

  16. Well I’m a guy whose girlfriend/soon-to-be-wife earns quite a lot more than I do..and while there have been instances when I wonder if i’m man enough to accept that my wife is valued more than me, the litmus test for me is to see if I can actually refrain from raising my hand on her when it comes down to the brasstacks..i think nothing quite smacks of desperation and insecurity as when you physically abuse the woman you swore to love and protect come-what-may..perhaps i’m being idealistic but i do believe when someone does it once, it doesn’t take much to resort to it again…

    • I agree – if someone does something once, it doesnt take much to resort to it again. But if we only functioned that way, we’d never trust someone who failed us, ever again. I often wonder what the line should be – and I think each marriage has its own line.

  17. Different people, different marriages, different thresholds, and different ways of working things out – I’m glad their marriage is in a better place now.

  18. I havent read through the comments and I am not married. but let me say this, my parents have gone through a lot of misunderstandings and fights like a lot of couple do – but never have they lifted their hands against each other.

    I do want to point out – whatever be the problem – raising a hand should just be not a part of our dna.

  19. I am speechless….!! How much patience, tolerance & resilience this educated lady possess..?!?! Am getting inspired from her to value non-violence of my husband more..!!

    • On a second thought..we don’t know much about the initial phase when she was arrogant &her hubby was patient. No idea how much damage she has done during that period with her mightier-than-sword-words..& how much guilt she is carrying & how much pent up anger her hubby is carrying for that..!! Just taking a wild guess..as not much elaboration of that phase is given.

  20. I really hope that your friend has made a wise decision by staying back and I am glad that they both of them are putting an effort. Anger management is so important, I myself am trying to work on it. I want to thank your friend for agreeing to put this post here.

  21. It maybe irrelevant but one point which stuck to me is where were her parents? maybe you just didn’t mention it here. but somehow it’s troubling me. it’s like the family consists of husband-wife and husband’s parents. i think that’s one of the certain recipes for disaster. (ps – i know i’m over-generalising here and no i’m not speaking from my own experience)

    • No, you’re right. Her parents are typical Indian parents in that they won’t show up and visit too often or overstay their welcome. His on the other hand, believe that it is their son’s house and so they can stay on for months on end and run her home just as they please.

  22. Chilling. Like Sally above – the line about “the earlier odd slap” really creeped me out. A one-off fit of madness I can understand, but not regular slapping. I hope things work out for them but I am not that optimistic. Where are her parents in the whole picture ? Remember that old line about never cutting your kids off even when they go against your wishes, because if things go down the tube they should always know that they can come to you for help. So true.

    • She didn’t want to upset them. I know that if things get particularly bad she’s not the sort to stay quiet. She’ll let them know and head home. I also know she won’t need to, because she’s intelligent, educated and a good earner if she wants to be one. I just hope it doesn’t ever come to that. They’re good together 😦

  23. Dear MM’s friend,
    The stance you have taken is every bit as courageous as other options–it takes a brave person to work things out and be willing to seek positives when the ego is crushed and you’re supposed to do the ‘right thing’ by walking out because you’re educated, independent and ‘should know better’. Do I know how I would respond in your place? I don’t. But I do commend you for making a choice, making it work, and making peace with your life.
    Good luck and god bless,
    OJ

    • Thanks OJ. It helps to know that you feel the same way. I know my first thought was – walk out! But when I see her turn someone around, I wonder if I was right in my way of thinking. I’d never encourage someone to stay on in an abusive relationship, but then I’m sure he needs help and love just like a child with problems.

      • i remember the last time you blogged on this.And I commented that I’ve been through it too once & not walked out.For the sake of the kids.So that they don’t miss having a father around.They were very young then, just 2 & 4.It was not an easy decision to stay.I think some men just cannot handle their wives earning more .My kids are 10 & 12 now & no ,things have not worked out for the better between us although there has been no more physical violence .We’re like 2 strangers under one roof.Believe me, there are lots of families living like that.That’s one of the reasons I can’t easily give up my job even if I want to.I can understand you friend’s position .Mine was an arranged marriage so the bond was not very strong to begin with & our views in life & marriage turned out to be totally opposite.I tried to adjust, suggested counselling .But when one partner absolutely refuses to acknowledge there is a problem there is not much you can do.I have no idea how long it will continue like this .It’s been 13 years now.My only focus at present is my kids.Hope & pray your friend has a better ending.

        • I admire the strength it takes to stay on … although I do see lovely women in marriages that are not marriages. Life could be so much more beautiful with the right partner. Thank you for sharing this with us again – and I wish you love and luck and strength.

          • That is the story of my parent’s life! But now with both of us sisters being married and out of the nest my parents seem to have settled down to a comfortable companionship with each other. I used to be quite distressed growing up seeing my parents as they were, my dad being violent with my mom and not understanding why my mom put up with it. But she stuck it out and although she has definately missed out on her share of peace and quite and joy her investment of forgiveness and tolerance seems to be paying off now. My father has been pulled up for his behavior by both of us children (now that we seem mature enough to talk to him about that) and he is truly repentant. My mom is my model for how to be patient and also to be forgiving.
            Hope your friend’s choice is truly right for her MM!

          • Thank you for your good wishes.I do know life could have been so much easier with the right partner and I often think of what could have been.But I also do know finding the right partner willing to take on a ready made family of 2 kids is not easy, especially for a woman from a middle class background in India.Funnily enough this experience has made me wiser , stronger , more independent , more tolerant & more sensitive to the needs of others than I would have otherwise been. In short it has made me a better person.Despite it all , I am today able to count my blessings ( my 2 kids being the foremost) & am still an incurable romantic at heart:)

  24. dear mm i think ur friend has shown amazing maturity in handling this n am sure she did the right thing by giving him a second chance. when i was single i had a long list of things which i would never tolerate in a marriage and now am married for 10+ years am realising the list is much shorter. physical violence is still a big no but if i were in her shoes – a love marriage which distanced own family, two kids who look upto u for emotional n financial security and a husband who is ashamed apologising n asking for a second chance who is otherwise a good father – well i guess i would have tried to work it out too. i wish her all the best MM. like u rightly said lines are different for every marriage n i would think she’s the best judge of hers.
    btw it’s also true tht wives often possess an acid tongue n it causes as much emotional trauma n damage in a marriage. while we should always stand up against physical violence, it is also important tht we learn to control the terrible things we say in a fight. when u’ve kids ur marriage is an institution larger than u!

    • You’re right. I should know. I am capable of chopping the OA into little pieces with a single statement while he looks at me in shock. I am sure it hurts as much as it would hurt me if he used his greater strength to give just a single slap. Perhaps its a lesson for all of us to learn – that words hurt as much as slaps.

      • agree with you MM. If men must control the urge to slap or beat, women must learn to tie their tongue, it’s a two way street and there is no single side to any argument.

        • My – I just read these comments – I should think of this more consciously. I too sometimes feel bad at my own words said in anger. How different is it from a hard slap…not very. Words can hurt even more sometimes. You can never forget some words.

  25. While supporting your friend all the choices she has made, I can’t help but think only one thing: Do be on the standby, MM.

  26. It only takes once to conquer your fears. The fact that she had the courage to walk out once and reach the railway station is worth a thousand salutes. I’m sure the ground is laid strongly now – no violence.
    Though I am a crusader of ‘ come whatever may – violence is just unacceptable’; cant help myself leaning towards the decision your friend took. I don’t know what’ll I do if I’m ever in her shoes. For the time being I am hoping that she get her share of smiles back! Blessings…

  27. Oh my!!! This is a story that is so close home. There are 2 worlds, the old that thinks life is such and just stick on and the new that says walk out if you are educated and have a job. Like your friend we are at a better place now and I hope it gets better. But the scars will remain I guess.
    Having said that, I also believe life is about living to the fullest. So once you have called it truce I think it makes all the more sense to take the lesson, set the ground rules and let go the past and create a good happy life for yourself(incl the spouse) and the kids. We surely do not want to dwell on the times we were unkind to each other. I really believe it is a bold decision to stay on and give marriage a chance without being a doormat.

  28. Dear Mad Momma,

    I have some fundamental questions.
    1. Is the institution of marriage, family, procreation and “the so called fabric of society” not Over rated? Why is staying single (either as divorcee or unmarried) not an option ?
    2. Is there scientific studies/ sociological studies that show that a child grown up in a single parent home turns out to be less productive in life / inefficient or under developed? Infact i read articles that says parenting itself doesnt matter much…
    3. Are the action of your friend more to do with “what society will think? How society will look at me?” rather than her own independent assesment of her position in Marriage?

    I am just wondering loud…no offence meant to anybody…

    • No offence taken at all, Imran. Nothing wrong with staying single – its an option more people choose as times change. But I do believe even a lot of single people get lonely and bored (they tell me) when their friends get married, get involved with their kids’ PTA etc and move on) – very few single people are single out of choice and because they are self sufficient. Most have broken their hearts, got a responsibility like ageing parents and hence no one wants to marry them, or something else. I just wish that everyone got what they wanted and deserved, but life isn’t fair.
      I don’t know about any such studies so I wont hazard a guess. I do believe that children brought up away from a toxic atmosphere will fare better than those who witness violence.
      Finally – I don’t know if its possible to ever make an objective decision. In her case, she’s not just a woman, she’s a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter – just like he is a son, a father, a husband, a friend. Our decisions are so highly coloured by our upbringing, our priorities, our fears – its really hard to say what an independent assessment would be like 😦

  29. While I haven’t read all the comments and I can not even begin to think how someone in your friend’s situation would feel, what alarmed me the most was a line in her recounting of the situation and more than the fractured neck, this line sort of got to me
    ” … He hit me really hard that day as opposed to the earlier odd slap and I was shocked”

    ‘Earlier Odd Slap’ … There is nothing casual about a slap in my opinion … it could be one slap of multiple slaps … the fact that someone harmed you physically is enough to start the alarm bells ringing

    But really sad to know that whatever the circumstances, people resort to such violence and then call themselves educated and civilized

  30. Hey MM’s friend,

    I am not sure how open you are to unsolicited advice but I hope you’d listen. There are so many thoughts that are flooding me and I need to make sure that I say them slowly and coherently. We can all tell that this marriage is important to you. I hope you’ll keep what I say at the back of your mind.

    You know your husband well. He is a great guy. I believe you. The slaps, the lashing out isnt domestic violence because he is not doing it to show you your place, you know he doesn’t think women are any less, he has always been proud of you, your earnings, everything, would love to see you rise, right? So may be its not violence against women, its rage, like road rage, right?

    Its dangerous still. May be more dangerous than the man who knows what he is doing and does it to show the woman her place. The man who knows what he is doing is evil in my eyes, but his anger will never lead to a fracture.

    But I wouldn’t stay with an evil man. A man who gets into a mad rage…may be. A girl friend told me that she has hit her husband hard twice during fights. He has never hit back. Just proves that it rage is gender neutral.

    These people who hit…they have not been taught how to control themselves, they are like little children who throw a fit. It does not happen because they think you are a lesser person because you are a woman, it happens because You are not getting their point and its frustrating to them. So yes, they are not evil. The beatings are not habitual and happen only under extreme stress. Another reason to give it another shot, right?

    But I can tell you one thing. Its very hard to get people to change. You can control the stress factor, try not to get him to reach that boiling point. And that’s what you said you are working on.

    And that’s where I hope you would something different.There are a number of things that can cause any two people to argue and fight. It could be that you are very organized and he is sloppy, your views on how to discipline children could be world sapart. Add finances to the mix. Each of these things will require both of you to recognize the triggers and nip it in the bud. Before the argument gets to a level where he feels frustrated and trapped. And it can be done. It is possible that violence will never happen again.

    Only if there is no toxic third party involved. All of us, we can only give so much. By trying to win over a toxic person, we are already giving so much, that it gets harder and harder to give more. Its even more frustrating when no one appreciates the effort that goes into the phone calls and bearing criticism with a grin and making peace with people who will not stop hating you and being jealous of you.

    And I might sound Ms know it all but if this marriage is important to you, you’d have to let go off your determination to prove that you are the ‘best DIL in the world’.

    If you are sure, its just the bangles and the vacations and the maids, and once you please her on those counts, she’d be happy with you and stop complaining to your husband, do it by all means. But if you know that the complaints won’t stop no matter what you do, then by doing what you are doing you are on the ‘ I did everything I could have, I gave this marriage everything, Now I am out’ path.

    Try and find ways of cutting off ties with them. At least till you heal and can become a giving person again. Right now, I think is too soon. You are expecting too much from your own self. This whole…trying to please the inlaws, or making urself cheap as MM called it in the past, is so much of a compromise in itself…it will take away from other compromises you’d have to make to keep this marriage going. You’d want recognition both from the husband and her, it won’t come, instead you’d see new reasons to complain and you’d have less and less to give to other situations that need you to be patient and prevent things from escalating. And then what about the times, when it will be totally unfair and may be even dishonest version of what you did. Will you still be able to keep your cool?

    Take at least a year off from them. Don’t call. Let her complain. They’ll get used to it. Tell your husband you just don’t have it in you. Let her visit, let him call. You distance yourself. Completely. How long will she have the same complaint? They will all get used to it, trust me. Explain patiently to your husband that you will never have any problems with him keeping a relationship with them, but you just can’t because in your heart you blame her for what happened. Ask for time. One year. At least.

    On the other hand, if your treatment of his parents has been the only issue and the only reason if he has hit you, then by all means continue and make them happy. However if the reasons were something different but the stress was already there because of their presence, I’d suggest you become one of those women, who don’t care. Some of us are not wired like that, and care too much about labels and being judged wrong and want to prove that we are not what they think we are..calling a woman who saw you getting hit every two days….your husband was mad with rage, what was her problem? That was the time she decided its not her place to interfere?

    I am sorry for so much unsolicited advice, but I have burnt my hands because I wasn’t firm with my husband about cutting off or at least taking a break. I kept being nice when in my heart I couldn’t forgive her for all the lies, criticism everything. And the result was I was the one that went mad with rage. I wish I hadn’t considered my self capable of being the person I wasn’t.

    I hope you turn out to be a better person or if you have to pick one person you want to adjust with for the sake of your children, you pick the right one. The one who wants to save this marriage as much as you do.

    All the best.

    • *bows down and touches TND’s feet*
      ohmigod. You are so right. I have told her that SO many times!! 🙂
      I was so unhappy as long as I was the trying for the best DIL prize. I was tired, stressed out, nervous, giving, giving, giving. And it was never enough. Every smile, every gesture, every word I said, was on the weighing scale and I was being tested. The day I said, “To hell with it”… I will be civil and nothing more, I felt this weight lift off my shoulders. And I think it gave my husband a break too because he was getting really upset watching me bend over backwards and getting nothing in response. This balanced the scales and sorted out a lot of issues.
      Thanks for the wonderful advice
      Hugs

      • I just want to thank TND for putting into words so clearly what was wrong. For tying all those loose ends that have plagued my marriage as well…thanks a lot.
        And thx to you MM for your clarity.

        • My personal experience…the moment I stopped bowing and scraping to my in-laws whims, and pointed out very politely but pointedly behavior that was unacceptable, they actually started respecting me. Now, my relationship with my in-laws is better than ever because they know they cannot take me for granted.

          Sometimes, taking a strong stand helps.

          And god knows, my mom faced severe mom-in-law issues, my grandmom (whom I love madly, but who definitely was difficult) spent hours complaining to my dad. He was wise enough to turn a deaf ear to all wife’s and mom’s complaints.

          I think MM’s friend is a bit too much of a momma’s boy. It can never work well as long as he keeps pandering to his mom’s wishes.

          There’s only so much of buttering up a DIL can do before the dam waters break, and then things become terrible…better to keep expectations low from the beginning itself.

    • I totally agree with you tearsndreams. I have been in a similar situation and I have also taken the same stance now.

      Mine is an arranged marriage where my in-laws really wanted me as their bahu. But once I got married and they started coming over to our place for long stays things really turned bad. So much so that my MIL used to constantly blame me for stealing her things, opening her belongings, stealing her keys, exchaning her things (which we only have bought in the first place) teaching my kid to be nasty to her grandparents, and such. My FIL was also taking her side and while I was at work, my in-laws will whole day find some or the other reason to prove that I am a bad person. I used to dread going back to my own house after work. My kid was the only draw. If my husband used to scold them for something, it has to be his wife who taught him to say that. If my kid did something, her mother has taught it and she will not do it to my folks. I was always under a scanner. I tried for four long years to please them by taking them on many exotic holidays and buying expensive gifts for them and their extended families, though my husband used to constantly tell me not to do anything for them. My husband and I tried to sit down and talk out what they do not like about me many times but whenever we used to sit together for a talk, they’ll say you are perfect (in a very sarcastic way), there is nothing to change. But the very next moment they are back to their act. I started becoming very snappy with my husband cos I also needed an outlet for my furstations. I reached a stage where I had nothing left to give and I decided to break all ties with them. I told my husband that I cannot take any more abuse from them and I need to stand up and be a role model for my child. If I continue to accept their abuse, she’ll also grow to think that it is OK to be treated like a doormat. I realised that no matter how much I give them, they’ll still not so much as accept me as as a human being. So I have stopped calling them. My husband regularly calls them, visits them, sends them money but I told him not to expect me to go to their place and be nice to them after all that happened (at least for some time, I also need some time to heal). I know even if I give my life for them, they will still not believe it. I know I will never have the same type of respect or love that I had for them before all these drama happened.

        • Absolutely. I tried my level best to be a good bahu but that was never to be. It takes two to tango. Too bad for both them and me.

        • I’ve done that too.Bent over backwards to please both the in laws & the friends.For years.With no reciprocation of either affection or thanks from them.On the other hand every act of trying to reach out was dissected with suspicion till I just gave up, in sheer exhaustion.MM’s friend ,this is sincere advise from one who’s been there .Don’t try to be superwoman, for now at least.You need time to heal & to concentrate on the ones who really matter the most.The rest can wait.

    • TnD, Its been 3 years since I broke off my ties with my in-laws. As in, I dont engage in anything more than a polite hello unless asked anything any futher and I don’t encourage conversation. We stay at a stone’s throw from each other and we keep bumping into each other at many places and its awkward most times. But though I have forgiven them for all they said and did, I haven’t forgotten. While they want things to go back to normal, as in, appear atleast like we are all hunky-dory to others, I haven’t made that effort simply because I dont think anything that has happened changed both the ILs, because to them I am the one who is wrong and they were well within their rights to have done the things they did …even when they took my daughter away to threaten me to toe the line. So even if I walk that extra mile today, chances are pretty high that history will repeat itself and we will again be screaming at each other over issues that aren’t really issues between us. We have enough personality issues between us and that keeps us pretty much occupied.
      But I feel bad for my kids who so young can see the divide since they visit their grand parents every weekend and love them dearly. My eldest has seen the worse and like MM’s friend said I have seen the smile dissappear from her face and that hurts.
      We are pretty good now but I always keep wondering if I am right in my stand. My husband while is ok with my stand for the peace it brings but would like me to reach out but he still does not understand the viciousness of things said and done behind his back. My family stands by my decision. You saying it out like that makes me feel better. I can say its worked for me, its given me a lot of peace of mind and space to nurture what matters to me. Also no amount of gifts solved the problem either. Initial years of marriage I have generously gifted and sponsored holidays only to add more stress to self and raise expectation every time. It got very competitive. My husband couldn’t even gift me anything. Even a happy day like a birthday or anniv would be ruined by what he got me and snide remarks. He used to hide and give it to me and tell me not to tell her he bought it. So yeah that strategy really did not work for us. It backfired badly.
      The break-off has worked wonderfully for me. My husband is free to do all he wants for them and I really don’t get involved at all. I dont even want to know as long as me and my kids are happy and taken care of.

  31. That last line – that makes her a super woman in my eyes. Of course it does not work out this way for every one. But the fact that she tried so hard to work things out not just for herself but also for the sake of the kids…just that effort shows what a wonderful mother she is. It is not at all easy to not be paranoid after such incidents and to not get ego get in the way every single minute. You did that horrible thing that day remember, so why should I listen to anything you say kind of attitude. She got past that and worked on the marriage. It is so hard to even work things out between friends once things go awry. Let alone in such an intimate relationship. I am happy that things are working out and that both people are trying so hard. I really hope their relationship gets better and better and they can live a long and happy married life.

    • 🙂 noon.. this is so you. Full of hope and generous praise. Yes, I really hope they get better and are happy forever. I’ve been there and watched this grow and it broke my heart to receive that call.

  32. Have immense respect for your friend and her decisions MM. To say it takes much is an understatement.

    I say that because I know. Been there.

    The Awareness month , the initiative , the inspiring posts are all really nudging me to be brave and put it all out there. But, not there yet…

    Hoping to get the heaviness off my chest soon.

    • Mail me at themadmomma@gmail.com if you can trust me and we can put it up anonymously. The last person who wrote this down felt it was a cathartic experience. It helps to unburden your soul – this one is such a heavy and lonely burden to bear. Who do you tell?
      hugs and love.

      • Hi MM, Anon,

        It;s the same for me! My bitter past is now a couple of years behind me , and I have been lucky enough to find immeasurable happiness since.

        But my experience remains a taboo subject, something I never mention. Everyone including my parents think the divorce was just due to “incompatibilities of our thinking”, and I would rather be seen as ‘stubbborn’ than ‘weak’.

        I don’t open up mostly because I dread the pitying glances and sorry smiles. I hate it that poeple would think me weak, I don’t want to admit , even to myself, that this experience has transformed me, that I (at 28) am still struggling to find the confident, bubbly , easy 25 yr old I was before this happened. I hate to think that someone managed to break me , and saying it out loud to friends and family would just validate that.

        And so, all the more I admire women like you friend who have the courage to speak up and share, to give hope to the other so many women, and one day I will do it too… !

        Thanks!

  33. Pingback: For Losers Who Didn’t Have the Spine to Walk « Priyanka Nandy

  34. i hope and pray that your friend and her husband have moved on to a happier life…only to never again revisit this phase in their life.

    I strongly belive in this philosphy for any relationship : “its not easy to walk out of a marriage when things can be worked out.”.. one must give it their best and well..if things dont work out after that…then walk away… But as much as i am against abuse , i u’stand that sometimes a person loses control of their words and actions and its people who truly love and know them, will forgive them for that. So ya..thanks to your friend for reinforcing that belief of mine.

    BTW..am planning to share this post with a friend..’coz she is dead against arranged marriage and hasnt been able to find somone who she loves. This post to me is yet another proof…that people change. and any relationship needs work from all parties involved all the time, for it to work.

    • Do share this post – for the awareness – but please, definitely not as proof of any kind. I’d never advocate arranged marriage to someone who is waiting to fall in love.

      • MM.. I am NOT PROMOTING arranged marriage.. All I am trying to convey I NOTHING guarantees success in a marriage, other than constantly working on the love and faith the couple has on each other. Just don’t want my friend to be delusional about love marriages and life after one. After all the only difference between a love and arranged marriage is the way a couple begins life together, after that it all boils down to the same .

        • I don’t think anyone imagines a love marriage is a success. But I think those who want one, want it for a reason. I like most of those reasons! And I beg to differ – I don’t think it ever boils down to the same. I say this after watching my parents and their friends’ love marriages after 30 years and a number of arranged marriages. And I see the same in my ten year crazy life with the OA and the more sedate lives of friends who went the arranged route. Won’t say one is preferable to the other – but I will say they are vastly different.

  35. Dear MM,
    I have been an ardent admirer of your blog for a long time- but never commented. But this topic -touched a nerve and i had to write to you.

    I totally understand your friends situation – and realise that there is no straight cut answer or solution to this issue. It is extremely heartening to know that your freind and her husband were mature enough to step back, reflect and re-start their lives together. But only time will tell – and i hope and pray your freind has the courage to act if there is any such repeat.

    I am a product of a house where violence was the norm – as kids, we thought our father was right in screaming at us and beating us to pulp. My mother – though well educated and earning on her own, was unable to stop him and has stayed with him for our sake. My father – is jealous of the close relationship we have with our mother, of her success in career and among social circles and is abusing her as well. Today, my parents are in their mid -sixties and me and my brother are both managing our own lives. My mum has had enough – she wants to get out. I am helping her to do that.

    Am hoping that it does work out for her. wishing your friend all the very best.
    And a big thank you to you- for making this the VAW Awareness month. we definitely need to talk about- get it out of from the ‘private’ to the ‘public’ and take action on it.

  36. I read this post yesterday and have not been able to stop thinking about it…Hope her efforts dont go in vain and they have a lovely life togetehr..

  37. I shuddered while reading through this. I believe most men have violent streak (however faint). Some manage it, some don’t.
    When we have a heated argument and he’s on the verge of breaking things, and I get the look in his face. I just tell him, ‘never even think of hitting me’. I am not one who takes things like that (even thought I’m a lot weaker in physical strength). It is NEVER ok to fly into a rage and hit your own wife, even if you are going to feel sorry about it later. I’d definitely lose all the faith and trust I have in him. So he knows how I react to violence, and he keeps his rage in control or goes out for a walk. But yes, as your friend mentioned communication is the key. We talk through it later and things usually fall into place immediately. It’s that one moment of weakness.
    But to each their own, right? I admire your friend’s patience and trust in giving themselves another chance. A broken neck is not really a passing thing. The fact that they sat and talked through what they need to do to make this work, makes me sigh with relief. It is definitely the first step. But he has to always keep this at the back of his mind. He cannot hit her, should not!
    I hope and pray they get back to how they started. Loving, caring for each other. I also hope he stops caring about being teared between mother and wife, esp. when wife is making so much effort for the IL’s sake. Good luck to them!
    And hats off to you for handling this in such a beautiful way, pitching in when needed and giving them space when they wanted it. It’s very secure to have someone you can call in the middle of the night. Also, you’ve placed some really well framed replies.

    • You know, its funny how everyone thinks physical violence is the one thing they’d not tolerate. What about infidelity? Physical violence is usually spur of the moment, unplanned, too hot to handle rage. Infidelity is the planned, premeditated, not something you just slip into accidentally. Both are unacceptable.

      • Infidelity, as in emotional infidelity, wouldn’t be pre-planned.

        And yes, physical violence, emotional atyaachar that most women indulge in, infidelity – hard to tolerate. As so many people said here, hats off to her for doing this with such a grace (why should I give you a breathing space, since you did that to me). And to him – it must be hard (is she still punishing me for that). And to the kids – my wishes with them.

      • You are right about infidelity. But a slap hold such profound meaning. Why else would they use the phrase ‘a slap in the face’. It’s supposed to cause so much emotional pain and break self esteem.

      • I actually know you, MM, but I’m being anonymous for now, because these things are so very hard to talk about. I got married less than two years ago, and I never dreamt I would ever have to talk about these things. I grew up in a home where violence and infidelity were unthinkable, and I still look at my parents, and I can tell that more than 30 years down the line, they love each other so much, and can’t think of life without the other. I always dreamt that I would have the same kind of marriage.

        My husband, on the other hand, has grown up in a broken home. His dad walked out when he was a kid, and he’s ended up with so much pain as well as responsibility on his head. He worried, before we got married, that he would not be able to live up to my expectations, that he would be like his dad, and I constantly reassured him that would never happen.

        My husband has never, ever hit me, and I can’t imagine he ever would. He has also never physically cheated on me. For these things, I am grateful, and I know that in the light of what so many people go through, I have no right to complain.

        But he has had what I guess you’d call “an emotional affair”. And to me, that kind of infidelity is as bad. He is first in my life, so I can’t imagine that I am not first in his. He apologised when he was caught out, but he still works with the woman, and I must admit paranoia often gets the better of me. What hurts most is that loss of innocence, loss of trust. I never dreamt something like that could happen to me, and now that it has, I don’t know what else to fear.

        I can also feel with all the people complaining about MIL problems. We live with my MIL, so it’s a full-time problem. She has had her own problems in life, so I often don’t know what to say, but it hurts when he cares more for her opinions and well-being than mine. I’m being understated, because I’m already crying over my computer keyboard.

        I never thought I’d be this woman.

        There is still so much joy in my life, and I believe he loves me, and I can’t help loving him, but life is just so much harder than I ever dreamt it was going to be.

        I can’t talk about this to my family or friends, but it’s good to share it with an anonymous group of women who also know that life is hard. Thank you for providing this space for that.

        • Oh my God. And now that you mentioned you know me, I am even more worried that one of my friends is in such a low place and I am of no use to her 😦
          You love him, he loves you, you’re moving on… can he not get a new job? That he works with her still bothers me. Its not easy to break up and still be in the same office.

  38. Maybe I am not really mature enough to handle these things but ‘the odd slap’ would have seen be running far far away from the man. I don’t care how gentle he otherwise is, or how loving he is, I think she should get out of this relationship before there are kids in the picture. I really hope she is right about things being fine now.

  39. Very touching post. And, amazing how many people have responded that they have gone through something similar in their lives. I wish your friend the very best and hope things work out for the best. And, we always think we will react in certain ways to certain situations but when that situation pans out, our reaction might not be what we imagined it to be. Yes, we think we can walk away. Yes, we think we will not tolerate an ounce of violence. Yes, we are independent women but it is because we are independent women, we have the choice to decide to give it another shot. The fact that we HAVE the choice makes us independent, not because we can walk away (although if circumstances demand it, we can do that too). Wish your friend the very best. Maybe it is time for some lingerie, champagne and new beginnings.

    • Lingerie and champagne to get over domestic violence? So the wife should slink into sexy lingerie after being hit and uncork the bubbly? I guess you didn’t intend it quite in that vein right?

  40. Its rather sad what your friend had to go through but in the end I have tremendous respect for her on having made the choice to give her husband another chance, talk out their differences and the underlying causes and resolving to work on those. As much as I believe that physical violence is extremely wrong in dealing with any kind of situation in a married couple’s life but I do know of husbands whose wives lash out at them verbally like crazy. If the husband himself doesn’t have the same verbal ability, while I do not say he is right in doing it, but somehow I can’t hold him absolutely and only responsible for the physical abuse. While the wife shouldn’t be held the cause of the physical abuse but I think its desirable even for her to reflect on how such situations can be avoided totally rather than having the attitude “Oh but he is the one who hit me!” which is most commendable about your friend. I really really hope and pray her relationship with her husband grows really well.
    Also the fact that she could have walked out, earned well and raised her kids easily in the physical sense but not been able to raise them the way she hopes and dreams of shows how important it is for her and for so many of the SAHM’s. I was surprised at the POV expressed by neeti above about wasting oneself and not contributing to the GDP and all that.

    • With all due respect, there is NO justification for physical violence no matter how aggravating the wife’s behaviour.

      It doesn’t matter if the wife “lashes out at the husband like crazy”, physical violence is NEVER justified.

      Would you justify physical violence in the workplace? Many bosses “lash out like crazy” at their subordinates. I’ve never seen physical fights breaking out because of that.

      When you assign partial blame to the victim, you shift responsibility from the abuser to the abused.

      It doesn’t matter what the provocation was, the husband has NO right to hit his wife.

      Everyone goes through stressful periods when everything that could go wrong is going wrong. How many of us beat up our spouses during such times?

  41. I see a discussion above regarding working mom/SAHM. In a typical scenario, every woman has the right to choose between the two, regardless of “potential”, and for reasons that need no justification. And hats off to all women for managing their roles with aplomb. That said, in this case, I would personally advice this lady to please go back to her job. Simply because, you need a safety net (financial stability), in case things do not work out. Just like MM admitted that she is always on the standby, I feel the lady in question needs to be equally prepared. Maybe, her parents can be enlisted to help with childcare? (Please not the in-laws, seems like a recipe for disaster)
    However, if you feel totally confident of the state of your marriage, feel free to discount my advice; good luck and God bless!

    • Her parents don’t live in the same city and are unaware of this. She doesn’t want them to get upset – that is her choice I guess. Money is never an issue. She gets job offers often enough and its only a matter of her choosing to go back to work when she wants.

  42. Hello MM, Just read this article on your blog. I am a doctor going marrying the love of my life with everyone’s blessings. Though my would be wife has started earning and is supporting me in a foreign land while i pursue for a job I can very well relate to your friends post. It’s like when you love someone even small arguments feel like stones. Couples take each other too seriously when they are in love, every small word small advice. I maybe 27 now…but i would say if a wife is earning more than you kindly let her earn….and if you start earning later its good for you…Nobody in the relation ship should think of himself as a boss just on the fact that they are earning more than the other partner.
    We are like very opposite personalities, though we both are organised but our things to be organised differ, maybe i adjust because i am dependent on her or maybe i find it a too small of a issue to fight on, but sometimes you just give in. I am sure if i start earning i won’t bring these issues on which i adjusted …they just are small issues. Fighting over gold bangles or any other cause is something what women are trained to do…sometime the other person is just testing your limit before he/she friends you, your friend should have the heart to let go…she would eventually win over the heart of her MIL so much so that she would hand over those bangles to her by herself.
    Regarding the slap and broken neck…believe me it takes more than a slap to break a neck…this is just totally unacceptable.kudos to your friend for persisting with her husband….i know he wont slap her again, but rather than shifting the focus onto the slap…please find out what was the cause of the slap.
    Most of the couples fight when a change of routine or set habits happen eg. In laws coming, new baby, changed time schedule, changed work, new work, new boss, new male friends or female friends….the list is endless…as a couple we all strive for that perfect harmony ,an ideal world…and we see only our-self and our children in it…the perfect world differs for everyone….but if you are careful in planning and execution, identify the triggers beforehand in a relationship…dont take things for granted…any influence that tends to alter the balance of our supposed perfect world and harmony tends to cause a argument or a fight…..it is natural….couples who love each other selflessly become selfish to the world outside them…they just see the world through their own eyes…probably which is the reason why love marriages have a great success rate if the couples live separately from their parents. It is like a whole package deal..you have to include the whole package into your deal…Communication is very essential both with the partner and the family.
    Don’t let a slap or a fracture neck or a gold bangle ruin your marriage. These things are worthless, He loves you, you love him, your kids love you……but that is not all..manage your job, finances, education, and the extended family….if you include this all into your thinking and decisions believe me it will really help.
    Thanks

    • I’m afraid I must make two points – the slap sent her flying into a wall which is how she fractured her neck.
      And second – I don’t think you can put a neck fracture and a gold bangle in the same category. I wouldn’t call it worthless…

      • I am appalled at how this guy has labelled a fractured neck/physical abuse as ‘worthless’. I understand what he is trying to say, but it is NOT the same issue as a gold bangle. We women, are not so vain.

  43. I just want to give your friend a tight hug. Everything I know about marriage is second-hand (as of now), but I am awed at her strength and courage. And I hope her husband never gives her a reason to regret her decision to stick it out.

  44. I first come across your blog via that infamous “North Indians versus South Indians” post and loved your reply back then. Forgot all about it later on, till I stumbled across this page again today.

    The issue you are raising awareness about has my personal vote to it (and millions of other young, educated women across the world). Visited the other linked blog, I dont have a story to contribute or experiences to share. I even shudder to think how I would react if was ever faced with a similar situation in future (I know, i wont take it lying down but I assume walking out of the marriage isnt a very simple thing either)

    Just wanted to say kudos for supporting this movement as you are. And dedicating a week or a month to this cause won’t help much, its a change in the mindset of people at large that we need to bring in.
    Respect!

  45. I don’t know this person and only read her story. Here is my take (and only based on her story, not the context of her life): To me, the husband seems abusive. The multiple occurrences of violence seem like he would resort to physical violence. Fracturing someone’s neck in return for having your ego hurt is really not a normal response, however “normal” and “lovely” and gentle this man may be. Further, it seems to me that unless this guys is going around slapping his boss or friends when he is angry, he doesn’t just have anger management issues, he’s taking it out on someone he perceives to be vulnerable and who can’t hit back, either literally or metaphorically. The reason they are happy today is that she is going out of her way to be nice to him, his mother etc. What if she were to say that she would have absolutely nothing to do with his parents? Or what if she were to again get a job that earns more than his? Or if she were to do something he doesn’t like but she wants to do? Does she have the space and option to say or do that or try and achieve a compromise that suits both of them or would he get “angry” and hit her again? I see her going out of her way to maintain this marriage and to me it looks like she doesn’t want to set him off again.

    I hope she reads this and other responses and see what people who don’t know her life at all think of the situation as often that’s an unbiased look. Perhaps she has excused a lot of behavior. While she may continue to do so, at least she will do it with her eyes open. Maybe part of domestic violence awareness is for victims to know that domestic violence is not normal?

    I would think of getting a job if I were her. I know she wants to look after her children, but I think at the moment having financial independence is probably much more important for her safety than having her kids brought up by someone else. And while a job doesn’t guarantee against violence, it gives you more options as a response.

    Finally one more suggestion: I am sure this is helpful for the victims themselves and of course, great for spreading awareness – it can happen in a love marriage, it can happen to someone who is well educated and a professional etc. But if I were a victim coming to this site, I would also want to see some resources I could turn to for help in this case.

  46. Oops, sorry I didn’t see that.

    Also on re-reading, ugh, my comment sounds (not a little bit) strident and insensitive. I admire her courage in putting her story out for others and don’t have any intention of upsetting her further.

  47. I got the link from my friend. I am so surprised to find the similarity of this story with my own life. Our marriage was arranged one. We fell for each other after marriage, when we started staying together. I conceived very early. After 6 months, my MIL came to our place. Since then she started complaining about me and my so called educated and well established husband changed drastically. I was forced for mutual separation, threatened, beaten up. But I decided to stick to him, wanted to win him back, as if I was fighting with my MIL to prove that my love is more powerful than her influence. It sounds so stupid now. But that was me that time. My hubby stopped talking, started abusing, even we started staying in different rooms in the same house. My parents asked me to come back. I didn’t listen to them. Moreover, the south indian society, my neighbours (educated and professional women, like Asst Prof at Sathyabhama University, Proj Manager at Infosys etc) told me to keep myself locked in bathroom if my hubby goes violent and pray to god. Slowly I started losing myself, lost health, lost mind, started shouting, used abusive language about MIL (which I could never think in my life !), couple of times beat my child, used to work hard for whole day, used to skip food, lost sleep, I was in a total mess. I was on the verge of giving up, decided to go back to my parents. Suddenly my MIL passed away. Since then my hubby stopped asking for separation and rather held me back whenever I wanted to walk out.

    But believe me, when I look back, I hate that girl who despite being educated, working and self-sufficient, succumbed to the pressure of the so called society and kept the tradition of domestic violence on. Now, I do not feel the need for walking out the marriage. But the marriage became meaningless to me. We stay in separate houses and only in week ends we meet, I do not share any of my personal information with him, I do not allow him to interfere into any of my personal matters. We have a marriage for outsiders, but I made sure he lost me forever. Now he needs me. At times I find a strong resemblance of that loving and caring man I fell for. But I keep myself awake and never try to bank on him as before. He apologized quite a few times, fell on my feet, held me close to him, burst into tears but I could not forgive him for whatever he has done to me.

      • Yes I took very very long time to come to the decision that I don’t need this marriage any more. But when I decided to walk out, he fell on my feet, burst into tears, specially for the kid. One thing I must say, my son and my hubby were very fond of each other. I discussed with my parents as well. They asked me to give him a chance. So I decided to stay back. But I made it very clear that any moment he goes violent or uses any abusive language, I’ll definitely take legal action right away. I took him for counseling as well. Initially he resisted but later he went and in psychological assessment, he was detected with mood disorder and asked to consult a psychiatrist.

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