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‘For Weeks I Couldn’t Walk Properly’: A Woman’s Horrifying Story Of Domestic Abuse

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My pillow was perpetually soaked in tears. For a week, my entire body was frozen. I had blood clots in parts I was ashamed to show. This is what he did on a recent Sunday morning – I was beaten black and blue, again, for not booking movie tickets. The price I paid for not watching a movie was rampant swearing and a lot of physical abuse.
I am an unnamed victim of domestic abuse by my ex-boyfriend. I do not have the courage to tell the world who I am. But nonetheless, I do have the courage to warn the rest. I have a smile stuck on my face, and my heart bleeds every time I look at myself in the mirror.

domestic violence in india

Everybody thinks that domestic abuse happens to women who do not have a say, may be have an alcoholic husband or just the inability to say what happened. I am an educated woman, have a corporate job, and am someone who by normal standards is quite aware of what is happening. I still don’t have the courage to say what happened.

As a person who was never hit by her own father, I was regularly beaten up for even things like not waking him up on time. I did not book tickets to a movie because I slept off. My now ex-boyfriend tried to physically manhandle me only because I loved him at one time. For three years, I silently kept bearing with these “minor” incidents. My friends were unaware of the real deal. They thought we had verbal fights. Barely did anyone know that behind the close doors, I was told that I was a prostitute and kicked in the stomach for the silliest things. And just because I believed in the stupid connotation of love, I let him be. He walked all over me. I did have other men who liked me, but I stood by him. I was trying to re-instate my love, he probably laughed in his head. And if you think the physical intimacy was a savior, well it was one sided.

I dated a man who, from social interactions, is called quite lovable. I commit the mistake to love him. And then it started. After dating for a couple of months, the abuse started. He told me that he takes me to places on his vehicle and that was his contribution to this relationship. I did everything for him. He just sat back and enjoyed. When he lost all his money on gambling, I stood by. When he had to take someone for coffee, random girls from college were the first option. I was promised fancy dinners , fancy gifts. Well, I obviously got nothing. He said that his love should be enough. I believed.

A few days ago, my now ex-boyfriend beat me up again. Even though we buried our relationship, we tried being friends. On a recent Sunday, he still thought he had the same authority. Over the years, I have been told that I had an ugly face because of a birthmark, how I should be beaten so much that I cannot walk again, that I am a home breaker and that it was because of people like me who incite men that women get beaten up. I was told once by my ex-partner that I deserved being beaten up because of who I am. I let him stay with me in my house for a year during college because he did not want to go through the entire process of finding a house. Like a blind girl, I welcomed him in my apartment.

Well yes, I bore it all. From being beaten up in a narrow lane in Delhi because I did not come to pick him up late evening, or because I was late in ordering food. I did it all. Even cooked food at odd hours because he was hungry. I surpassed every possible definition of love because he meant that much to me. He said he loved me back. But I paid a heavy price. Every time. Over and over again.

I have tried to slice my wrist once. I did so because he beat me up just because I apparently incited him. I started leaving behind my own friends because I wanted to be with him. I was blinded by the hollow definition of love.

After every such event he would feel bad, then maybe apologize, touch my hand and for him it was all fine. Not this time. I cannot do this. My ego and self esteem has been ruined by a man who has a pea sized brain. For weeks, I could not walk properly. I have had my head banged on the wall so many times that I even fainted once. He just kept beating me up. He told his friends another story. Walked like a hero without an ounce of shame.

A few days ago, he messaged me saying that I should not make a scene of what happened. I was advised by him that I should accept his fake apology because there was improvement in his attitude as time had gone by. He reinstated that talking about the past incidents does not make sense.

It has been over two weeks, and endless attempts by him to apologise. If I let him come back to me this time, I will lose myself in the process of loving this shallow man. Whatever little I have of myself will wash away.

To all the women out there, please judge the man before you fall in love. I did the wrong thing with the only man I ever dated. And now I have no trust. Love for me is meaningless. Yes, this feeling may exist for some, for me it finished the day I tried slicing my own wrist because I was madly in love.

Men do not have a right to assault you. If you let them they will, I learnt it the hardest way possible. It is a choice as to when to speak. Either you do it now or later. I regret every moment when I did not speak up. I should have, but I didn’t. For all those who think that you will speak up against these men, now is the time. Now, all I am going to do is to erase every memory from my head and start afresh. Love is something I don’t want. EVER. For those who have found the right one, you are lucky. I wasn’t, unfortunately.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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