VAW – Another perspective

The old couple try to bury themselves deeper in their beds and put pillows over their heads to block out the sound as best they can. It’s not easy because she’s screaming and cursing so loudly. They hear their son respond quietly and try to reason with her, shushing her so that she doesn’t wake up the sleeping baby or his parents. It’s too late of course because they’re awake and grieving. She screams some more and the old couple fall asleep to the sounds of it, tears wetting their pillows.

The next morning they are bleary eyed and reluctant to enter the common areas. Not sure what they will be forced to see. But there’s only so long you can avoid the inevitable and they finally raise their eyes to see their son at the breakfast table, his scratched face and hands a reminder of the long, uneasy night.

A heavy silence surrounds them as the mother puts together breakfast for the lot of them, a breakfast that for all the love she puts into it, might as well be sawdust in their mouths. She is sleeping late, and they are all quiet as mice. The longer she sleeps, the more peace there is in it for all of them. Old and retired, they do their best to keep their minds occupied and contribute to the housework. Why do they stay quiet? Because their son has told them to leave his marriage to him. They suffer as only parents will, seeing him mentally and physically hurt.

Why does he allow it? For one, for the sake of the 20 month old daughter she threatens to walk away with – yes, every court in this country will award a mother custody. Also, the slightest bruise on her wrists as he holds her away will turn the tables and put him under the scanner instead. Will give her the chance to walk away with their child. But most of all, like countless others, he still loves her and also, is trying to do that commonplace but difficult thing – honour his marriage vows…Because he still remembers the vivacious young girl he fell in love with and sometimes wonders who this vicious, foul-mouthed, selfish woman is. Because he doesn’t have the heart to abandon her and know that somewhere deep inside is the woman he once cared so much for.

She is not working, doesn’t cook or keep house, and barely bothers with the child, knowing that her in-laws will take care of it all. She spends most of her day asleep or on the phone. The old parents have given up trying to figure out what he sees in her. How long will he put up with this? One wonders. It is his life and his choice and his child and wife.

When I suggested posting this story of violence against a man in the midst of Violence Against Women month, not all of the team was supportive of the idea. It might take away from the focus on women, they said. But I don’t see it that way. I see it as a greater understanding of domestic violence, as the breaking of many myths. My first post on this topic had a number of people commenting in shock and telling the lady concerned to ‘go back to work’. Implying that by not working, you are more likely to be a victim, almost putting yourself in a vulnerable position. Taking away from a family, the choice to delegate and divide responsibilities. Implying that the only reason a woman would stay on in a situation of violence is the inability to support herself. Truth be told almost any woman can walk out and find some sort of position somewhere. The reasons they stay on are varied and many. Love lies at the core of most of those reasons.

In this case it’s a man. He is the breadwinner and his violent wife a SAHM. He stays on because he has loved her for many years. Because now they have a little pint sized version of them, who has daddy wrapped around her chubby little fingers. Because he knows his wife well enough to know that if he lets her go and she takes their daughter, their daughter will lack for a lot. Most of all she will lack attention from the mother who doesn’t even notice that the temperatures have dropped and the child is running around the house cold and runny nosed.

And so it is that he goes to work each day, slogging to earn a living, coming back and keeping a strict eye on their daughter who until now seems to have escaped her mother’s violent wrath. How long will he continue? We cannot say. Is this weakness – its a little hard to call it weak when you realise how successful he is professionally, how firm he is on most other matters, how he is definitely physically bigger and stronger and capable of causing her physical harm. And yet, love is a weakness, is it not?

But as kennybunkportmaine said in one of her comments, as time goes by I realise more and more that life is far more complex than I will ever realise. That as someone wise said to me at the age of 16, there are shades of grey. That relationships are made up of 1000s of little threads and while its easy for us to stand on the sidelines and comment, stepping into the hot cauldron of boiling oil or even dipping a toe in, would give us much needed perspective. See a counsellor, walk out, hit back, don’t worry about your children having a home, these are words we’ve said so long that they slip out with a practised ease. Living them or having our stereotypes overturned on the other hand, is an entirely different matter.

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93 thoughts on “VAW – Another perspective

  1. My heart goes out to the man and MM It was so right of you to put this post even though its VAW month. It doesn’t matter beacuse the stories are similar – one loves the other and tries to be silent for the sake of the family.
    I wonder how could there be women like this??? A really eye opener post.

  2. Yaay! Am I first one to comment today?

    On serious note, I have been hearing a similar story from a friend. He is really upset with his life. They met way back, fell in love, got married. Its a mixed marriage. Wife is a SAHM. Their boy is about 9 years now. There is no physical voilence though. Everyday seems to end with verbal abuses. Inlaws are not staying with them.

    She does not really care for the kid but threatens to take him away in case of divorce. Infact she went away to her parent’s place for a month leaving my friend (who has a hectic work schedule) to care for the kid that too around kid’s final term exams. My friend had a tuff time managing office and home.

    She has already done some cheap stuff like moving her jewellery (including the stuff he has bought for her in the due course) out of the locker into different place.

    My friend is not even sure what could possibly make her happy. She is always unsatisfied and selfish. Ego problems are at high.

    The small boy is really confused about what is going to happen next.

    I pity my friend’s situation. But somehow I am very curious to know his wife’s version of the story. I wish I could.

    -Veena

  3. Abuse is NEVER ok. Be it for a women or a guy. Seek out for help before matter’s becomes worse. Often the men thinks they are capable of handling such situation. Experts intervention not only saves your life, but sanity.

  4. My heart goes out to this brave man and his parents. For how long has this violence been going on? Is the wife possibly suffering from depression or some other mental illness? I know it wouldn’t be possible to treat her unless she herself acknowledges her need for help……. I just hope that things improve for them all soon.
    A young man I know well was similarly abused, but fortunately they weren’t married and had no children. He didn’t leave the woman despite the abuse, depite the advice of his well wishers, until he reached his own point of no return.

      • We look for answers because we believe in fairy tales and happily ever after!!! If such rage is part of her innate nature, she must have disguised it well during their courtship period.
        Do the parents have the option to move out? Is their presence adding to the strife?
        I’ve been feeling so heartsore ever since I read this. Every human being is entitled to basic minimum happiness, no?

      • I know a woman who told me about her early married life. There was a time when she would simply lie in bed for hours on together, not doing anything and not even caring for her little girl or anyone in the house. Later on, she was treated for depression and she is a completely changed woman now. She is now a very loving person and has a beautiful relationship with her husband and daughter.

        Why I narrate this is because, the woman in your post, seems to not even care about her own child. That seems to indicate a deeper illness that may need addressing. Also its not an arranged marriage (like your last post). He seems to have known her very well and she has had a very nice personality before. All that makes it even more possible that she may have a medical/psychological problem. Of course, how they deal with the situation is up to them, but one cannot think that there is no need to look for reasons behind her behaviour.

        • You’re probably right. I have no idea about whether they are seeking help or not. In the other cases I knew the couples very well so I could ask more questions. Here I was hesitant to probe.

  5. it doesnt matter who the victim is, a man or a woman, the pain is equally unbearable. thank you again for providing this platform, for sharing these stories…more aware we are, the less ignorant and judgemental we will be.

  6. I feel its about how free ur mind is, may be she needs help, therapy? may be something is bothering her. Don’t get me wrong I am not trying to take her… what she is doing is 100% wrong. I know of cases like this in my circle too and its heart breaking as heart breaking as VAW is but if he really wants the marriage to work there has to be something done about it.

    hugs to him as well along with that 20 month old child.

      • I think that’s because her physical strength is usually less than that of the man- less likely to cause fatal/life threatening/severe injuries.
        Also, I’m sure all of us have felt murderous rage against our spouses, whether or not we act upon them this way, hence the empathy:)

        • I know… and I think its also part of our social conditioning to always think of the man as the oppressor. So when its a woman we immediately want to know the other side of the story, we are willing to hear more, we wonder if the parents moving out will help etc. Am not saying we shouldn’t. Am just suddenly realising how different our reactions are when the situations are the same.

          • yes u both said and also the fact that the cases where women is the one abusing is lesser than the other way round? its like we all know dowry laws are misused but still we know they cant be relaxed because for every one women missuing them there are atleast 100 know need it

            • I don’t think laws need to be relaxed. But I do think our attitude needs re-examining. Where we look at each case for its own merits and stop blaming the man first, the moment an instant of abuse happens. Stop holding on to stereotypes of women needing to go out to work to be able to fight back. You and I both work from home and I’d like to see either of our husbands raise a hand on us and live to tell the tale.

          • you said it, social conditioning leading to gender stereoptypes. i am involved in a local org that helps women of domestic violence. they are now looking to change their mission/purpose/servcies to include men as well. it is pretty prevelant here in the US. Equality at its best!

  7. Pingback: VAW – Another perspective by the mad momma | Violence Against Women 2011

  8. i would say walk out. but and this is a very but, as you said his chances of getting custody are next to zero. sometimes i jokingly threaten my husband – that if we ever get divorced he can give up on his daughter because no court would ever grant him custody. i’m feeling a bit bad for those jokes now. because for this poor guy it’s not a joke. this might be a very bad suggestion but maybe he can somehow bribe her to get out of their life. or maybe that’s not even possible because she might actually be very happy in that situation and wouldn’t want to give up the position of power. i guess the only way for him would be to try and emotionally detach himself as much as possible. tolerate her in his house but completely ignore her.

    • No, you’re right. I often semi-joke with the OA about it. I call it a semi-joke because truth lies at the kernel – that the courts will award the kids to me. Imagine how helpless a man must feel. Years of loving a child and caring and earning and feeding, always knowing that the woman will walk away with them if push comes to shove.

      • You know MM, my husband is such a hands-on dad. My son is actually more attached to him than me. Because he really does everything for him – from getting him ready to school, to receiveing him back – to feeding him meals – to washing his bum. And yet, if we ever part ways, the court will give me the custody of our son! I have to admit that sometimes in semi-jokes, it does give me a feeling of power in the relationship. But I realized that it was so unfair and the jokes were … well in bad taste. So, now I never bring up “divorce” related jokes. Because I feel that the mention of “divorce” is to actually drive the point that “look , eventually you’ll have more to lose.”

      • I’d like to know if it is usually a given that the courts grant custody of a small child (infant/toddler) not yet capable of speaking his mind, to the mother.
        I’ve been looking for legal resources online, and read of certain cases where the father got custody simply because he was capable of providing a better lifestyle financially.
        Also, there is some clause that boys over the age of 5 should be under the care of their fathers, while girls remain with the mother.

        Could anyone help clear the air with all these legal issues in India?

  9. This may help all.

    What is described above are the symptoms of mental illness. Mental illness must be recognized and treated. Not initiating psychiatric treatment for the mental patient is not fair to anyone, including to the patient. It is imperative that victims and sufferers firmly seek psychiatric assistance and also arrange hospitalization as required. If not, the situation will progressively deteriorate and will put the lives of the mental patient, her children, immediate family and innocent people around her at risk.

    One should not be deterred by strong laws against domestic violence, or by the propensity of the judge to award custody to the mother in divorce and custody suits. One should keep in mind that once mental illness is recognized, there are laws to regulate insanity, and incurable mental illness is a ground for divorce in most jurisdictions.

    The treatment for mental disorder is long and difficult, which may involve practically lifelong medication, hospitalization and frequent therapy sessions. But skilled psychiatrists can bring the situation under control to ensure that the patient is not a harm to herself. And that people around her, particularly her children and immediate family are left at peace to pursue their lives with dignity.

    • 1. Thank you for your suggestion. It would help if it didn’t come from an anonymous source as that would make it more credible.
      2. I think its really hard to tell from a 30 line post as to what the situation really is. Heck, even I don’t know very much more.
      3. Before labelling this as mental illness its important to have an expert’s say on it as this post is being read by many people and we wouldn’t want any misunderstandings to arise.

  10. I know somebody close to me whose situation is exactly same or worse because the children are not spared either, esp the older girl who is 7 and now questions the dad, why do I have such a mother.
    And the dad’s suggestion to his mother is don’t interfere when she is hitting the girls as that only makes the matter worse and the kids suffer more. So the grand parents suffer downstairs when the girls are being beaten and the maids stand and watch. And the maids trust me there are more of them than the people in the house to serve ONLY the lady, if they do even one single task which she has not ordered they get verbal lashings.

  11. I feel sad for the kid stuck in this situation. As you rightly pointed out the reactions are different when it is a man at the recieving end. But something must have triggered the change in behaviour..no ??? or was it well disguised before marriage. What about the girl’s parents..are they aware of the situation???

    • I don’t know too much more, Meena. A lot of these stories have come to us after the campaign started. In most cases people are so hesitant to talk about anything that I am grateful for anything they have to say at all and I don’t ask anymore. From what I understand its just regular DIL behaviour, with no major catalyst/trigger.

  12. Thank you so much for posting this. It is a view I have always held and the reason why I suggested we use the Women Against Violence tag line. I am SO glad and grateful you put this post up–it does not detract from “the issue” because it is violence and therefore very much part of the issue. We cannot afford to have such blinkers on when looking at a problem.
    It is downright shameful that courts in our current somehow believe fathers to be inferior parents. I know several who are way better nurturers and role models than mothers. Just because you pushed the baby out of you does not give you moral higher ground or automatically make you the better parent.

  13. What a sad story… I didn’t feel it was different from any of the VAW stories published. Agreed that here the victim being a man doesn’t get as much sympathy as a woman in similar situation does. Thanks for bringing this side of DV into focus.

  14. Really sad for the guy. Seriously I never gave men in such situations second thoughts but ever since I have had a son ….. sometimes I dont know how to read a situation and also kind of helps me give it a wholesome perspective. I know a guy in office who never wants to go home. Rarely sees his wife and a kid of 4 since he reaches late and leaves very early to avoid confrontations. He hates holidays. He hates being home. His wife calls up his colleagues to check on him and stuff. Sad. I don’t know if there is violence but it definitely is not how any one would want to spend th best years of one’s life.
    I would really want my son out of such agony just like how I would want my daughter out. And I think the ability to walk out is about social conditioning without making kids the bargaining chip.
    If ever in such a situation, I think I would be saddest about P losing out on the everday matters of the kids because he revels in it as much as I do. I think, that will break my heart. really.

  15. I am watching so many families today living like this and my heart goes out to them, one thing I always wonder what do such women want? why not come out and tell everyone…
    I know a few such girls, they are quite ok if left to do as they want..which is shopping, eatingout and sleeping….a little mention of responsibilities involved makes them go haywire.

  16. Too close for comfort! You are supposed to “spread the joy”! Can we have Brat and Bean back please?
    However, as you wrote, it is impossible to walk away from the people whom you love, care and consider part of your life. And this includes not only the kids, but also the wife.

    • 🙂 I told you I won’t be blogging much anymore. I don’t really feel like it these days. Am only blogging about the campaign because I’m part of it. As for too close for comfort- at least you have your answers. I feel really bad for this guy who has no clue what the wife’s problem is.

      • Well I was nursing a hope around “much”!
        Guys in general have very little clue what a wife’s problems are. A generic request on behalf of the boys – put it out in pen and paper – and preferably gives us options that would solve them (in order of preference) :).
        On a serious note, it seems violence and aggression is ingrained in humans. Look at the state – it legitimises and uses violence to solve every other problem, same for the rebels, a teacher uses it against errant students and students use it to rag fellow students. It is central to our history, society, policies, culture, entertainment and inevitably our homes! As humans, some of us just manage to get past it! And Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi are exceptions!

  17. In all this – I feel really sorry for that 20month old child – what would she have to go through as she grows up. And the father too – poor man has to go out of the house leaving behind the child in her/grand parents care… Must be a hell of difficult time for him – emotionally and mentally…

  18. I have a friend in cal who, as I have known him over the years, wouldn’t kill a fly even if he head to… he lived with his widowed mother and really young brother (class VI or VII) at that point of time. One night, soon after his marriage, his wife had an argument with him about some holiday and she started screaming blue murder in the middle of the night. My friend tried to calm her down but to no avail. She even went out onto the verandah and started screaming out to the neighbours how she was being tortured and how they were beating her up for no reason. Thankfully, my friend and his family were residents of the area for the last 30 years or so and nobody ever had a problem with any of them and therefore did not take the girl seriously. Next morning she went and filed a complaint at the police station and as is apparently the rule, my friend and his family got picked up by the police instantly and was in police custody for a day before we could apply for bail and get them out. Later she went on to finally give him a divorce after much hassles and with huge amounts of money ( she even quit her job to show that she was not financially independent and therefore needed support). My friend remains traumatized and has sworn never to go near another girl again 😦

  19. Why are we always more shocked when the tables are turned? Why should it be always expected from a woman to be the better person? Because she’s a mother? A wife? A daughter-in-law? Why do all these relationship tags come with the expectation of an in-built “caretaker” characteristic? Some women are just bitches, as many men are dogs..

    • this is the best comment i have read on this topic so far.

      my take: chronicle her misdemeanours, keep records then get her parents in. show them evidence ask that she be taken for treatment/counselling. give it six months to an year. if things improve, great. otherwise file for divorce using the earlier data.

      courts are not mad. if mental ill health or inability or reluctance to look after the child can be proved, they will give custody to the dad.

      and please do tell the guy that his kid would be better off and less scarred if she is with a single parent rather than an abusive coupledom.

  20. Just last night, I started writing something on similar lines. I’d like to link this post as well, when I’m done. Is that ok?

    PS: Loooong time! How are you? Nah, I’ll email you!

  21. I really do think the woman may have anger management issues . It may well be that she knows she is not a patch on the in-laws standards of keeping house and taking care of the child . Perhaps leaving her to do it alone may help or at least see if she is capable enuff to handle it ( agree it’s a risk for the child though)

    I had a friend who mistreated her in-laws (no violence though but still ).She’d holler at MIL to get us glasses of water which had us scurry to the kitchen to help ourselves and such stuff. On asking her , she felt justified as her initial married years were spent being tortured by the in-laws for dowry etc. I just wonder what it does for her children to see this vicious circle they’ve weaved for themselves . How about treat them with dignity and make them feel ashamed for their deeds from years ago ?

    • She lived alone for a fair bit. I think the inlaws moved in only when the house began to fall apart. No dowry issues here. I’m not even sure she has any issues with the inlaws.

  22. Trust you to always bring the right perspective to a topic. So many times on your blog and IHM’s , I have noticed the ubiquitous advice of ‘walk out’ being doled out. Even unsympathetic remarks accusing the victim of being weak and deserving it because they make the apparently stupid choice of not walking out. You have said it all most eloquently in the last paragraph.
    My brother recently got divorced.. I can’t even begin to relate what all happened. She was SAHW, never even cooked ..they had maid for even folding their clothes, she cheated..he forgave, she said no kids suddenly.. he agreed despite the fact that everyone knows he is crazy after kids, she asked for open marriage ..he put his foot down there, she filed for divorce and he could not refuse else he and probably my family could be in jail…this despite the fact that we gave dowry and gold during marriage as her side is matriarchal. She bared their flat of all furniture, never returned any gold (neither did my parents ever ask for it, my brother just pointed that out to her once and had to face the music) and she ran up a bill of 60k on a phone that was in his name but she was using after divorce. These are just few and mild incidences …. I am happy that he is out of this relationship because I thought it was abusive but I never said anything while they were married. Fact is he loved her and still does despite everything, he tried his best to make it work for them. You don’t abandon someone you love at the first sign of something going wrong. Me and my family never interfered in their life, we believed that as long as they were happy together ,everything was fine. But unfortunately that was not to be.

    • Sigh… I’m glad you agree with me when I say its easy to say ‘walk out’. Its not a restaurant with poor service. It’s a marriage. While I’d never advocate to someone to stay in any form of abusive relationship, I’d also not assume that I know better than another about their marriage. Yes, at times you see someone in this sort of position and you ache for them but as you said – you can’t really interfere. And telling them that they were blind for not seeing the signs or weak or foolish, is not helpful, is it?

  23. sounds much like the same thing i see unravelling before my eyes close home – while i know it takes two to tango – there has been fault on both sides in the past.
    now – despite the older gen laying off completely – the lady has walked out after throwing tantrums – and shows no signs of coming back. the husband and she both refuse to budge from their positions.
    makes me thankful for the peaceful home i come back to everyday and take for granted. and saddens me a family life’s going like this….

  24. You know,such cases do abound and men are at the receiving end. they are not reported that’s all. Women too get violent and my friend’s mother was diagnosed as being bipolar a little before death. The world sympathized with her father and she herself was never close to her mother but 40 years back no one thought of sending the couple for counseling.

  25. Oh, this is horrible. Truly,truly.
    Great job on writing this side as well,MM. I never knew that women get automatic custody,MM. That was news to me.
    I wonder what exactly it is that propels such people,men and women alike to act that way. Do they not want happiness in their lives? What about some peace?
    Gave me some food for thought with your comment that said ” maybe shouldering responsibility could be the crux of the problem”… Could it be that the burden of caring for the child she gave birth to and caring for the man she married that is so huge,all of a sudden? Oh this is horrible 😦
    Sona
    PS: Seems like I have missed out on quite a few posts 😦 Hope you have been good,MM 🙂

    • I think some people just don’t grow up and are unable to bear the responsibilities, no? A lot of them stay single. Others will marry and have kids and realise too late that this isn’t the right thing for them.

  26. MM, did they trying speaking to her family about it? I imagine they did and the woman’s parents are as impossible as her.

    There is a similar case in the extended family – only, in that case, the father is a jobless, inefficient ass too. So, the onus of bringing up their two kids has fallen on the grandparents.

    • i have no idea about that Inba. I think the girl’s parents from what I recall were the typical, ‘we’ve got our daughter married and now she’s your responsibility’ – in other words, we have nothing more to do with her.

  27. when the man is the one abused, it seems like all the laws of the land support the woman. and yet… when the women is abused… the law doesn’t seem capable of doing much then either.

    Is there a problem with the law? Cos in the US, if the mother is lax or abusive, the father *can* be given custody. If he can prove that the child is better off with him.

  28. Unfortunately this story hits very close home. I recently got to know that one of my uncles has a similar story. His wife (I find it tough to call her my aunt) would beat up their kids black and blue if he didn’t agree with what she said. Because of my father’s ill-health and other issues, he didn’t share it until very recently and that too, to only say that he hopes his daughters find good partners.

    There is also another dimension to domestic violence which happened to a very close friend. Her brother got married and the couple moved to France. His wife suddenly got alot of freedom which she didn’t have when living with her parents. She took to partying bigtime and bringing strangers over and once spent her entire limit on the credit card buying clothes. When my friend’s brother objected, she would cry and say she was missing home and parents. One day when he was at work, she just flew back to Delhi and stayed with her in-laws for 2-3 days. Then she went to Bombay and stayed there for next couple of months. My friend’s parents tried hard to bring about a reconciliation, even asking her brother to quit his job and move back to India immediately. Her brother came down twice to speak to his wife, but her parents influenced her to file a suit alleging she had been beaten and locked up at home in a foreign country with no money etc. My friend’s brother couldn’t come to India for 2 years for fears that he would be arrested. Her parents ran from pillar to post to have the charges dropped. Her father, a retired naval officer went into depression. Ultimately they bought her a flat in Bombay and let her keep all that she had bought in France as well as all the gifts she received in the wedding after which she finally agreed to the divorce. Unfortunately there are quite a few women who do misuse the Protection of Domestic Violence Act as well.

      • It so doesn’t. I know the family very well since I was a child and I know for a fact that this is all bullshit. My friend was not named because she was a lawyer, but even then she went through enough trauma. She still blames her brother for having brought that woman home and having given so much trouble to her parents. She refuses to even consider dating a guy now, let along think of marriage. She has stopped socialising with alot of people and doesn’t even answer my calls anymore.

        And for whatever reason, I seem to have come across way more instances of the woman abusing the man. A batchmate and me joined our first job together and we were given workstations right next to each other. We were already quite good friends and being in office 16 hours a day, 7 days a week made us much closer. His girlfriend (another batchmate) got very upset and would keep calling to find out what he was doing. If he didn’t answer his phone, she would call me. I stopped answering her calls. one weekend when she came to Bombay to visit her boyfriend, a bunch of us had planned to go drinking that night so she joined us. In the middle of all this she suddenly started screaming at me to keep away from her guy. I walked away from there and the others came after me. her boyfriend apologized to me on her behalf but there was a definite crack in the friendship after that. The others also gradually chose to stay away when she started telling them not to take her boyfriend to pubs. They are now married for 2 years and she still calls him every hour on the hour to see what he’s doing and whom he’s talking to.

  29. This is something I always used to wonder when I was reading some of the posts.. Especially the ones where the husband was hacking the wife’s mail account.

    Because suddenly one fine Sunday afternoon I got a mail from a classmate’s account filled with obscenities and signed off with his wife’s name. I have no words to describe the anger and pain that caused me and it didn’t stop, I kept receiving mail after mail, each a reply to the gtalk chats we had had some 3 or 4 years ago. Add to the fact that, this was someone I wasn’t even remotely attracted to. And I have been in a different country most time since college.

    Few months before this he emailed me saying ‘My wife has not taken kindly to our friendship’ blah blah blah.. and that he will not be in touch anymore. That amused me, but I could understand a women’s insecurities and signed off with All the best. Heck we weren’t even that close for me to miss his company.

    Then came this. 4 to 5 mails filled with abuses and naming me very bad things. I had to go for a long walk that day to clear my mind of those words hurled at me. I did not know what to do, no idea on what kind of mental state she was, what was wrong with them, or even is she as imbalanced to contact my parents or my other friends.

    I knew that contacting this guy was not going to help. So I got in touch with another mutual friend of ours. She was equally angered and irritated and promised to talk to him. Moreover, they were closer than me and she wondered why did she not get these mails. And concluded that she was referring him to a job at Google and that could be the reason that she had been spared.

    The next day comes the reply from him through our friend. This will not happen again. Two other people have also got these mails (so I should be happy? that I have company?) And that his wife is going through lot of changes, being SAHM, having a child and having sleepless nights tending to a toddler, so she kind of is upset and we gotta understand! Till that point even the little concern and worry I had for him vanished and I hated him as much as I hated his wife. What about me? what about saying a sorry? Why am I expected to understand these obscenities, just because she is married and has a child she gets the right to wrongly judge and hurt people? Just because his wife had a baby should everyone else not related to them take on this mental torture. God even today I get goosebumps when I remember those words.

    • Bullshit – just excuses on her part. I had a similar experience. A friend’s wife hacked into his account and mailed me back – rather nasty emails… I was going to react but the OA told me to let it go since she was insecure. Arre, if you suspect your husband, deal with him! Not me! Anyhow, the husband mailed saying politely that he had to stop being friends with me. I was upset with the way things had worked out but naturally said fine. Years later he mailed trying to be friends again – but once bitten, twice shy. I didnt refer to his super-suspicious wife, I just ignored him. I dont think I can handle her rudeness and jealousy. And this time I’d have set the OA on her to give her a piece of his mind! 😉

      • Exactly MM! I couldnt even vouch for that guy! But deal with him.. The part I hate is why am I supposed to understand.

        I am with you on ignoring him..

  30. MM, a very sad story. Just an FYI – given that the man is well educated and seems (from your post) to have sufficient means, he probably can get custody if it comes to a divorce. He will need to get sufficient proof and will need to get an experienced lawyer on board asap, but no, his losing access to his child isn’t a given.

    That said, while I agree that men as well as women can be perpetrators, men are still overwhelmingly likely to be the abusers. Given that stat., and the fact that women’s rights, while present on paper, vary widely in execution, I don’t think it is *unfair* per-se, to present domestic violence as a problem for women rather than men. When and if the problem grows more equitable (not a good thing to have happen, I agree) is the time to focus attention away from women, IMO. I’d liken this to the breast cancer movement – overwhelmingly, it has been women focussed, and it is only now, in the US, that I see some small tentative men-also-get-breast-cancer movements.

    • I don’t think its only custody. He probably still cares for her and thinks of her as his particular cross to bear.
      Also, I dont think one can dispute that domestic violence is more a problem for women. I only presented this story to remind people that its not a problem particular to SAHMS. You can’t tell them that getting a job will solve their problems. Many are home for a reason and will continue to do so because its a choice. Just like an Aishwarya Rai or a Tina Turner( – are you reading out other blog) are as much victims as Phoolan Devi or the househelp. We’ve got to understand the problem and also realise how pompous we come across when we come up with something as simplistic as – get a job! Do we imagine the victims arent aware of that option? Its a lot more than that. There is a lot of nuance and this awareness campaign is precisely for that reason.

  31. Alarmed and disturbed by all the stuff that I read on the VAW blog. An uncle lost custody of his daughter to a wife who was similar to the woman you describe in the post here. He didn’t want a divorce and was ready to work things through, because he didn’t want to lose the daughter. The wife persisted and took away the child as well. It’s been close to 15 years now, he has no idea where the child is, even!
    Three- four years back, he re- married, after much persuasion. L, the lady he married, had been married to a drug- addict, stay at home husband for 20- odd years. He eventually died due to drug- overdose. The marriage was a struggle and while there was no physical abuse, there was a lot of mental torture. She is happy with my uncle now. Her children from the first marriage (a son and a daughter) however, chose to side with their father and his side of the family. While they talk to their mother, it is not without constant barbs at her. Aunty L is a wonderful lady and it upsets me to see the kind of crap that her kids dole out to her sometimes! Its an unfair world.
    I remember a vicious fight with my ex once – there was a lot of screaming and shouting and banging of doors. I will never forget the kind of emotional vulnerability and nakedness that I felt that day (it was both our faults and he admitted to feeling equally vulnerable too). That night was a lesson to me in never reducing someone you love to that position – the knowledge of the emotional power that you wield over some one is more overwhelming than any physical power. What must cause these people to do it, every single day? I can only pray for healing.

  32. Glad to read this. Gender neutrality focuses the issue on the problem and forces us to look at the violence versus getting into an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ situation, helping no one.

    • I don’t know her well enough to know if there’s a her side. I do know she quit a couple of jobs one after the other because the team here was like this and the boss there was like that and the job here was like this and the pay there was like that.. blah blah. She very clearly says she doesn’t want to work. That apart, I don’t know what else her story is….

      • I feel very bad for the child…for not getting enough attention from the mother and not really having a childhood to reminisce. I really hope and pray these problems get settled down before she can understand and realize what is going on in her family. It leaves a bad scar in a child’s mind…its a kind of a pain which the mother somehow somewhere in her childhood or youth, could have experienced…all I can say is they need help, big time!

  33. Thank you for this post. My heart goes out to this guy. Sadly, I don’t see things improving on their own for him.

    As someone who’s been on the other side, all I can say is that she probably doesn’t know what she’s doing. I’ve been there and done that to (i.e. heaped emotional abuse on) an ex-boyfriend. He, too, stuck it out for a very long time. But every time he said something about it, I’d go – “THIS. This is my problem with you. You’re SO critical of me. You don’t respect me. Blah de blah de blah.”

    I had NO f***ing idea I was doing it. Because in my head, it was still nothing compared to what HE was doing. Every word he said was a real or perceived insult. I now realize, several years later, that they were all perceived insults. He was just trying to help me, to be there for me.

    [Disclaimer: In the rest of this comment, I’m going to come across one of those people who blame their parents for everything. I don’t. I’ve only very recently *acknowledged* the impact my upbringing had on me. So far, I’d just blocked it all out. Lied to myself that any of it even happened.]

    Why did I behave that way? Partly because it was a stressful time for both of us. Grad school and job hunt during a recession. I now know that partly, it was also because I was doing what I’d seen my own mother do, growing up. Never forgive, never let go of the smallest mistake the other person makes. Keep rubbing it in, keep pulling them down, keep using it as a weapon in all future situations, and still – STILL – keep playing the victim card because of what they did to you. Believe me when I say I had no idea, because all I remember is being mad about what HE did to me……which was the occasional slip, the occasional harsh word because he had a lot going on too, or normal couple behavior. But to me, it was all a big personal attack, amplified beyond reason or logic.

    He’d recommend a book to me, and if he asked me weeks/months later about it, I’d go – “Who do you think you are? You think you can just walk in here, recommend a book, and I’ll drop everything else to read it?”

    Never occurred to me that the poor guy just wanted to SHARE that experience with me. The reason we even got together in the first place was because we had similar tastes. But this became another example of how he was trying to control me, in my head. Reason? What I’d watched my dad do, growing up.

    It’s not like I didn’t love him (I’m sure nobody’s going to believe that now). It’s just that, growing up, all I’d seen was people being mean and hurtful to people they supposedly loved. I won’t go into more detail on that dysfunction here, and I’ll be the first to say the blame is all mine, but there was a reason to all that madness. I’d do ANYTHING to go back in time and undo it. It breaks my heart to think of everything I put this guy through. But I wasn’t made of pure evil. I wasn’t doing this with the intention of hurting him; if anything, I thought I was reacting to all the perceived ways in which HE had hurt me.

    I just had…..a lot of baggage. A LOT. I didn’t know, that’s all. And I’d hate for anyone to think it was because I wasn’t a responsible person.

    Her parents might look like normal people with a normal marriage. The way my parents do, because nobody volunteers information about all the abuse/cheating that went on. She might have come across in the past as a normal person with a normal childhood. They way I did and still do to a lot of people. But we don’t know the demons in her head, the filter with which she’s viewing everything and everyone around her, and the definition of acceptable behavior that she’s grown up with. She needs help. He can’t help her while he’s also a victim to her behavior, and she can’t help herself because she probably doesn’t know she’s doing it. She needs to talk to a professional, but even that’s something you can’t MAKE her do. She has to want it on her own. It took me a divorce to get there. I hope it takes her (and him) far less.

    • I think its incredibly brave as well as honest of you to come right out and admit to all this. I honestly hope her problems get sorted out. The guy is a nice guy, the little girl is adorable and the old couple are very gentle and non-interfering. I know for sure that if she gets out of this, she’s got a lot of support and help from her family.

      • WildChild, kudos to you for having such clarity of thought. And I can ony begin to imagine how much pain it would have caused to arrive at this. It is easy to forget, ignore and move on- compared to analyse and acknowledge why we did what we did.

        Best wishes.

    • Wild Child, thank you for sharing your story. I have heard myself saying some version of your line – “THIS. This is my problem with you. You’re SO critical of me. You don’t respect me.” And as soon as the words come out I want to die and bury myself deep down under. Usually I blame it on PMS, stress at workplace, so on….but I know that ain’t the case. I have trouble controlling my anger and seeing the other side. I’m going to seek professional help.

  34. I didn’t comment on the earlier posts. But the first one I honestly thought the guy had anger management issues which his wife seemed to recognize were something that could be handled with therapy which is why she chose to stick with him. I think a lot of people in that post thought she should have walked out but a fair number also thought she made the right decision. I think a similar situation seems to be the case here with the genders reversed. It seems that the husband needs to get some help through joint marriage counseling or therapy for his wife or both. It’s sad to say but people do face mental issues and express it in different ways. The ugly side of depression is when it causes people to lash out and hurt others because of their perception of the situation around them. She may be feeling persecuted for issues that no one else sees or things that may not even exist but since for her they are real she probably feels justified in lashing out. Since you also mention that they have a very young child she might be experiencing postpartum depression? I am not qualified in any way since I don’t have a degree in this but I’ve seen these issues at close quarters so thought I’d offer my 2 bits. It wouldn’t hurt for the guy to try to get help if he isn’t going to try the divorce route or even if he is (I wouldn’t blame him) he could attempt this first.

    • I’m not sure if they are actually taking counselling. I am well aware that people have suggested it to them. In this case I can only assume that the woman needs to agree – can’t take someone who is unwilling.

  35. It is very heartbreaking to read such incidences in a relationship especially when a child is involved. The child is now only 20-months old. I shudder to think about her future and the scars she is going to carry for the rest of her life. I agree with you on how we think about the spouse’s version when it is the female who is not the victim. I hate how it is depicted as ‘comedy/fun’ in movies when a wife abuses the husband. Abuse in any relationship is completely unacceptable. Indeed, it is very easy for a 3rd person to say ‘just walk out’. Inspite of their misgivings, it is hard to not to love the person anymore. I can only pray for this guy and his child and may God give him the peace and happiness that he deserves.

  36. There is clearly something wrong with the woman mentally…why is it such a taboo in India to get some help for mental illness or get counseling?!

  37. Dear MM,

    for VAW month, we have read about women mistreating men and vice versa.

    Without taking names would also want to share the story of a close relative who not only abuses her husband and child (now 17 years old) but also regularly beats up her own parents if she perceives any behaviour which is not to her liking. This could be as simple as saying infront of her that the sister in law is a dutiful DIL.

    she has been taken for counselling and treatment. diagnosed with inability to control anger. prescribed meds, which she refuses to take on the grounds that they make her sleepy. She however continues to hold on to her job.

    what I fail to fathom is how her inability can be selective? while she screams, shouts and hits out at people at home (ones who will take it lying down, she knows from expereince) she manages to control her temper and manners in stressful office situations (she is a journalist – so you can understand the kind of stress).

    mental health too seems to be a conveinient excuse for bad behaviour.

    • I’m tempted to agree with you because I’ve seen at least two-three women who come from a service industry background and yet use the anger management excuse. How is it that they manage with cranky customers when they handle call centre lines etc and yet can’t manage a simple request from family?

  38. Thanks MM for posting something related to this topic. I always used to think to write to you or IHM related to VAM. But thought that its women dominated forum and many will not like it.

    There was a woman like this in my family. I am happy to say ‘was’. She is no more part of the family. Both of them have decided to walk out of the marriage. But the process of course was not easy. As someone mentioned earlier, indian laws are literally against men. Whatever women does is reasonable. Only option remains with man is to say ‘Yes’ to what she demands. And it ends with something big (flat, jewellery). Because many families and men would want to start their life again. And to get married again legally they need to get divorced. Feels strange that a relationship of lifetime ends on monetary terms. If the girl is educated, can earn herself, and she is also willing to take or asking for divorce – then why indian court does not think that her demands to ask for money/flat/jewellery are not acceptable. I think we can’t deny the possibility of women taking advantages of this and getting married for 2-3 times and asking for big amount to every husband and becoming millionaires. Does our court system at least have any track records of such women? I mean do they really care about intension of a women in this regard. We always shout about dowry. But what is this? Men ask for money to enter into marriage and women ask it to walk out of marriage. I will not be surprised when in future girls and boys would want to go for contract marriages. I can see some point in it. I may be talking too many things here. But when we hear a lot of stories from women, we usually don’t know other side of the story. Men are generally not that much vocal. And I am damn sure that when this woman I know will go and talk with people about her divorce, she will only tell how it was a hell for her. And people like us will pity on her. It surprised me too at first but there are women like this in society. I am not sure if they suffer from any illness , or they want to take advantage of their gender or they are just people with very low moral values.

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