By Asmita Sarkar:
“I don’t even know if my relationship is abusive or anything. Only that I sometimes feel like it is”, said a journalist friend who wishes to stay anonymous. After talking to other friends, I realised that they had a common position – they weren’t quite sure if they were in an abusive relationship or not. The journalist also added, “Every relationship has an aspect of it. At least almost every Indian relationship does.” Another friend, an M.Phil English Literature student, Ishika Grover (Name Changed) said, “I don’t know if it qualifies as emotional abuse. Sometimes he is sweet. But I stay mostly because of nostalgia and I am very scared of being alone.” Her classmate, Laboni Bhattacharya when asked if she had heard of men being on the receiving end of abuse said, “Abusive women? There are none I know of, in India. But I read a story online where a guy landed up in the emergency room with injuries from being beaten by his partner, and everyone disbelieved him.”
Intimate partner violence is described as emotional, physical and sexual abuse that a partner inflicts. We accept what we grow up seeing around us – in the media, in popular culture, in our families – as normal. Violence in relationships has been justified in movies, books, and some even perceive it as romantic, an offshoot of passion (think Shahrukh hitting Aishwarya on her forehead, making it bleed in the movie ‘Devdas’, so that she’d have a scar on her un-blemished beauty). But is it really so?!
Owing to this sociological upbringing that ‘normalises’ violence, many a times people in an abusive relationship accept their situation as a given, what we may call an ‘accepted reality’. These accepted realities then prevent them from actively questioning their relationship and the harm it does to them, whereby they then choose to live with the violence. The most common of these are:
Acceptance and coming out of the denial phase is intrinsic for coming out of a violent relationship. Only when one questions these ‘accepted realities’ will we be able to bring about a change in mind-sets and society as a whole, enabling more people to feel the courage to walk out of such relationships.