I’ve already written about domestic violence, the resultant depression and the final suicide, but all were based on newspaper reports, web articles and hearsay. This last week, I happened to lay my hands on a book by the feminist Writer Meena Kandasamy, When I Hit You: Or the Portrait of the Writer As a Young Wife and for the first time read a first hand account of domestic violence. It completely shook me, to say the least.
I downloaded and finished the book in 3 days flat, a record for me, being the slow reader that I always am. But this is not like any other books you read on a lazy afternoon to relax. It is a book that touches the raw nerve, to say the least. You feel that the incidents mentioned are being enacted right in front of your eyes. Such are the words used. The author accepts that it is partly autobiographical, but to imagine that someone had to go through all of this and perhaps more and still walk out out of it sane, is unbelievable. It only proves the strength of mind that the protagonist has. Even to write this must have been so painful. When you think that a young girl who enters a new phase of her life with dreams and hopes is made to experience brutalities within the first few days, you cringe! And particularly so because the girl is not at fault at all. It is the man who houses unnecessary thoughts and casts aspersions at her, her character and continues to hound her every single minute he spends with her. So much so that the woman dreads evenings when he comes home.
If violence is not enough, rape is added to it to make the situation worse–every single day. And rape so that the girl is rendered utterly useless so that she can never ever go to bed with any other man ever–what a sadistic, pervert thought. As I was reading those pages, I justwanted to quickly skim the pages because I was not able to take it anymore. But then I thought that if reading causes so much pain, what must it be to undergo it day after day? Meena had the guts to stay sane, walk out and write this so that the world knows the truth. But the ugly truth is, many women are still suffering in silence, every day, every minute. And will continue to do so. Everyone is not so lucky. Some have children in an abusive marriage to witness all this drama everyday and are in turn mentally affected. Sometimes, violence is inflicted on children too.
And as the author rightly points out, even after you walk free, your pain doesn’t end. Because now, instead of one man, the whole society takes over. Everyone blames a woman for her condition– some blame destiny, some say she’s uncontrollable, others say she ‘s over-educated and doesn’t satisfy her man–the reasons are endless! The
perpetrator makes sure to keep a sorry face outside and uses the best of emotions to hide his menacing nature only to further intensify the fact that the problem is with his wife alone and that he is victimized. But no one knows what happens behind closed doors. Which is another reason the actual victim cannot escape the brutality. Her family won’t accept her back saying that men are like that and women must be quiet and learn to accept. Reporting the case only makes matters worse because the girl has to answer awkward character-related questions. So which way should she turn to? She can either choose to walk out despite all odds or choose to end her life. Sometimes, the perpetrator might even kill her and put up an act of bemoaning her death!
So, what is in it for us? What can we as a society do? Can we stop this? I don’t have definite answers to that. But yes, next time a friend or a family member musters enough courage to come to you with her story, please give a patient ear and don’t ask her to adjust. Don’t judge her. Give her the strength to walk out of the marriage that is filled with accusations from an unscrupulous husband. While getting your daughters married, make sure that you make it known that you will be supportive of them no matter what the circumstances are. Never ask them to give up their self-respect to adjust to a man who’s not worth it.
Act now before you lose a loved one.