VAW – Another survivor shares her story

After the last story I posted on the woman who stayed on with her husband, I decided not to post anymore because of the number of questions and judgment she faced. But the truth is that there are many more such and we’re really not in a position to judge them and their choices. They are not you, they do not live their lives to gain our approval, and yes, we all want to set the best example for our kids but can you honestly say you make every choice in your life only to set a good example for your children? Is there never a time you make a choice because it seems right to you and to hell with what it looks like to the world and whether people approve of it or not? Well, these are those times.

At no point are we suggesting or encouraging women to stay on in situations of violence. Quite the opposite of course. On the other hand, we’re talking about these issues to get them out of the closet. So that the next time you see your ‘accident prone’ friend with a bruise or a fracture arm, you create an opportunity for her to talk, to confide and perhaps find a real friend in you. One who supports without judging, one who helps and one who allows her the dignity of making her own decisions. Isn’t that after all, what they’re fighting in their marriages too?

So inspite of my resolution, I’m posting this one. This lady reads my blog and wanted to share her story. Please be gentle. And appreciative of her willingness to share.

 

 

 

 

So the story is nothing new. Two young adults. 22 years old. Fell madly in love and got married, after convincing both sets of parents that they were meant to be. He was the real McCoy according to her. And she was an intelligent beautiful woman whom he’d like to spend the rest of his life with. Or so they thought. Moving into the in-laws house was her dream. Which began turning into a nightmare. Slowly, she realized everything was not as hunky dory as it seemed in the beginning. Unrealistic expectations. Young love took a beating. And how. The first time he hit her was during a spat about the in-laws. And she kept thinking, “I caused it.” She had a violent temper too – with a caustic tongue. But no, that does not mean you raise your hand against a woman. The first thing she did was go to a doctor, and told him she fell down the stairs. The second time was when she was seven  months pregnant. Again, due to a spat where she dared to speak out in front of her parents about the atrocities at home. Then they moved cities, and she thought it would get better. Sadly it didn’t. It got worse. Alcohol is never a good thing when it comes to violence. Then one day he hit her so hard she passed out. She came to, and promptly called the police. Sadly he was too drunk to know. The next morning she showed him the call and the time and told him he’d better be prepared to lose everything he had and owned if he ever so as to even thought of raising his hand ever again. She was the daughter of a police commissioner for crying out loud. She gave him an ultimatum. He’d better clean up his act. And she would, in turn try working on their relationship. Raising a baby and work and home wasn’t easy for her. And it was taking a huge toll on their relationship. They started going out on dates. Started everything from scratch. And thankfully, are in a better place now. But she will never forget. It’s always there in the back of her mind during a fight. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger they say. And she’s much stronger now. And she knows she will walk out, no questions asked, if it ever happens again. That’s a promise she has made to herself and her child.

Edited to add: Her response – Nikko (And others) Ironically, I always thought I’d be the one walking out too. Whenever I heard what other people did, I’d be the one telling them, “Just pack your bags and go.” It is not that simple in real life. I wish it was. There were far too many things involved. Families. Emotions. A daughter who loved her father and vice-versa. I recognized what was causing the violence. He apologized over and over. I could sit and tell you the entire story, but no one else but me will understand. What I ask of you and the others is just what TMM said. To sit and listen and to hold our hands and support us. That will do us a world of good.


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17 thoughts on “VAW – Another survivor shares her story

  1. Women are a resilient lot, no doubt. But it’s imperative to draw a line at times and say ‘This is it’. She has identified that line – that’s a good start right there. Thankfully I’m not in such a situation, but if I were, COULD I do it ? Frankly, I don’t know…….

  2. Its a double edged sword really. I mean yes part of me is disappointed she stayed and did not walk out or do something like that, but when one does not walk a mile in some body elses shoe would not be well put to pass judgment on them. But, saying that, her decision just baffles me. Or I guess I am a very strong believer in walking out , just going and leaving, cause if a guy does it once..hell do it again..but thats just me

    • It really depends on you, the man, the situation, how many others and involved and so many other factors… right? It’s never just a vacuum where you can get up and walk away.

  3. Thanks for sharing this story, and the previous ones. I have not been reading the comments closely but I was struck by your requests to commenters to desist from passing judgements. I think it was there in your previous post, and this one too.

    If we are unable to read an unknown person’s story without pointing out what she did wrong, when she should have walked out, why she should be strong, then how can we create the space to listen to a friend or a sibling who might be battling her own nightmare?

    It is hard not to come up with our own quick fix solutions since we are sitting far away, moved by the story. But we need to hold back, and respectfully try and acknowledge the struggle the person must have gone through to break free, or make the situation better.

    I cannot imagine having to confront the fact that the person I love has a violent side to him. And then acknowledging it publicly. So much of the struggle is internal. Reading each of the accounts by survivors shatters so much of what I hold as a given, the basics. Rather than jumping at protecting my notions, i have to find the compassion to listen to how another person made sense of the madness.

    • Thanks Sur. That is what I wanted to say too. And these are just a few words – hardly the entire story. So many sides to a story. It wasn’t so much the judgment as the tone. Some people were quite brusque and I can only imagine how hurtful it is for the person who shared the story and is reading the comments.

  4. Walking out might seem be the most logical thing to do at times. But sometimes it is not. The person who goes through the dilemma is often the best judge himself/herself.The max we can do is to provide unconditional support.

    I am glad your friend was strong enough to take a decision and is convinced of the reasons behind it .

  5. While I completely understand that real life situations are complex and layered and have far too many things involved, I can’t help but wonder if ‘walking out is not an easy option’ is mere conditioning at work? Whoever said it was an easy decision to make but one that has to be made! Most of the victims of domestic violence end up staying in situations because ‘walking out’ on something so important is not as easy as it sounds.
    Suggesting to walk out of an abusive relationship is not judgement. If I tell my friend who’s been in a physically abusive relationship to walk out of that immediately, does it mean that I am judging her for staying on? No! It only means that I am trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) to tell her what seems right objectively. And if all this is judgement, then the entire feminist movement could be rendered a judgement against women.
    It almost seems like an encouragement to forgive the men involved in domestic violence because the situation is very complex.

    • You make a good point. Yes, it could be conditioning at work. But it is also true to some extent isn’t it? You’d not rush into a marriage, so how can you rush out when there are legalities, love, bonds, kids, families involved?

      And no, I don’t know if you’ve read the rest of the posts and comments, but I don’t think telling someone to walk out is judgmental. What I called judgmental was the tone of the comments. While to a lot of people this is merely academic commenting on a post (Husband hit you = walk out), to the people who are being kind enough to submit their stories, it is real. Some of the comments bordered on rude and I was really upset to have been instrumental in exposing people who are already hurt, to the rudeness of strangers.

      The posts are up here for awareness and discussion, but I wish others would also be polite like you have been. And finally, its tough to say objective when all you’re getting is a 500 word encapsulation of the situation. Do you honestly think that is enough to tell you what choice is the obvious one? I think not.

      I’m sorry you think it encourages men to violence. When in each case the women who choose to stay say their relationships are improving, not that they’re staying on in a situation of violence. Not every story has to end the same way. If they’ve managed to help someone with rage or alcohol issues, who are we to tell them that we know better? Maybe we should find something to laud in their working with a person who has issues. I’d do it with a child or a parent – why not a spouse?

      That said, there are always situations when you walk out without looking back, and I hope we can let these women trust their instinct and intellect and make that choice themselves, only offering them support and encouragement. By telling them we know better and that they’re making the wrong choice, we’re not much better than the men who want to wrest the power out of their hands, are we?

  6. MM, i too know of two such relationships where the women have continued being in the abusive relationship, simply because they love the guy:) After every insane fight that these couples seem to have, they realize that it was in the heat of the moment that they behaved in a weird manner, so i guess, its about individuals and the way the wish to live. Both these women, are known to me at a personal level and many a times they have spoken to me after they have gone thru hell during their fights. Initially i too used to give strong worded advice and ask these women to pack their bags and move on but with time i have realized this has become a pattern in their life. A few days of utter bliss followed by some nasty moments and bitterness and then back to the normal life. I have stopped giving advice to these friends. Whenever they feel depressed they call me, i just listen, for i know, the next time they call all will be well. Somehow, i too feel quite surprised the way they are living but i guess,its their life and they know whats best for them.

    • And you know, not to encourage violence, but only to encourage conversation on this, I’ve known extremely violent couples – who hit each other and then get back to loving each other madly. Its always scary to be in the presence of such strong passions and yet you can see they’re equals in it. I think as civilized society we EXPECT that there should be no violence, but the truth is that it lies so close to the surface. IT only takes a scratch for it to erupt… 😦

      • Me and my husband used to be one of those couples. Crazy about each other, then fight like animals, then make up like kids. More like siblings than spouses, really. Then we decided to grow up and stop it.

        So yes, agree that every situation is contexual and not a simple equation of man-hits-you-hit-him-back-and-move-out.

  7. You know the more I think about it, the whole VAW stuff, it is so complex. It involves so much love, trust and emotions that makes a marriage work. There were a couple of times my dad got violent with mom during an argument when we were kids. I remember telling her to just shut up and my dad to back off. She wouldn’t shut up and would say such mean things and wasn’t afraid of being hit even. And my dad could hardly hold himself. A scene I remember during one of those arguments is where dad is sitting on the sofa quiet with head bowed while my mom went on and on. I remember thanking God for my dad’s calmness at that point. My father had a drinking problem and my mom was a SAHM. It took 10 years of my mom’s life to sober him down. He did finally. He left smoking and alcohol totally. My mom wasn’t fighting physical abuse against her she was fighting my dad’s problem. And she was succesful in making my dad give it up. What would have happened if she walked out on him then – I don’t know. But I am sure life would have been very different for us. After all these years I dont think of my father as cruel or mean or hold up that violence against him. Infact I am proud of him that he made it through. Infact those memories didn’t even come to me when we started the VAW month. As for my mom, she is so much stronger for having gone through it and she has my dad’s gratitude for having stood by him and my dad’s family’s respect.
    Yeah so my point is different things drive different people. The point being don’t be a doormat and accept it. And yes I wish my mom could have gone about the problem without getting hit and my father was wise enough not to raise a hand on her ever but that is not how it was. Over the years I have seen them both argue over various other issues but none of those issues were important enough to rile up a tempest.
    So to the lady who went through so much, I hope it helps that your decision to stay on might be a very good one in the long run of things.

    • Thank you for sharing that with us. In most of these cases the kids are young and everyone is worried about how its affecting them. I am glad to have the POV of a child who has seen it and has an opinion.

  8. Pingback: VAW – Another survivor shares her story by the mad momma | Violence Against Women 2011

  9. I am a bit conflicted on this. While agreeing that one can be kind, and also that one cannot expect people to react in precisely the way one would (or imagines one would), I do believe the prevailing POV in India is in fact that one should *not* walk out, that it is the wife’s responsibility or “capability” to “cure” violence. In that larger context, I am a little unsure of how one should react to stories that talk about deciding to live with violence/in spite of violence. I doubt many people really believe that walking out is easy; at the same time, are all other options equally valid? One argument is that if burying the hatchet and moving ahead works for both partners, why not? But I am also skeptical that in most of these cases, does the woman have a true choice? Or is her decision to stay dictated by social expectations and financial necessity rather than love? While child custody may be awarded to women, it is not an unmixed blessing – alimony tends to be poor and even the nonsensical amount doled out as maintenance is rarely enforced. So, I am a little confused on how to respond and I have to say that I find it difficult to be “positive” about certain choices. Of course, that does not mean one cannot be compassionate.

    • I understand what you mean, Apu. Yes, a lot of people think it is a wife’s responsibility – or so it seems. What it is in truth, is the expectation that if one partner is weak or failing, the other should be the one to help him/her over that hurdle – just like you would any other loved one. This I’d say is not valid in cases of just clear cut violence and not people who seem to have simple rage issues that counselling can help. Sadly, as someone pointed out, men are mostly the perpetrators (maybe because of physical strength – its not like I dont have the urge to smash somebody’s face in) and so it more often becomes the woman’s burden. In my post before this one, it is the man staying on – no social expectation, no financial necessity.
      Yes, there are plenty of the cases of the kind you mentioned. But I’d say we should look at each case for what it is and support/be positive depending on its merits. I’d not be positive about a woman who was staying on and getting beaten. I’d be proud of any man or woman who helped their partner get out of substance abuse and violence.
      My only suggestion is that people don’t judge those who stay. Whatever be their reason – financial, or love or whatever, clearly it is important enough for them to stay and it must be hard to do so in the face of violence. Why add to their woes? If anything, be a friend, support, be there, be that one phone call away friend.

  10. Have you forgiven him? Are you able to forget? Do you take it up during every fight which happens subsequently? I am trying not to but cannot help it.

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