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Dealing With An Abusive Partner: “Each Outburst Would Be Followed By, ‘Sorry I Didn’t Mean That'”

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By Anonymous:

It’s funny how years of social conditioning and popular definitions of certain terms limit our understanding of our own lived experiences. While I possessed the notional understanding that anyone could be a victim of abuse in a relationship, I realized that I had subconsciously categorized abuse as something very drastically violent and also something which could never happen to me. In a sense, I had essentialised abuse to a very limited definition of physical violence, and since those narrow boxes were not being ticked off despite my discomfort with my relationship, I couldn’t even entertain the idea that I might have been in an abusive relationship.

sexual abuse

It is difficult to encapsulate my relationship. It was categorized by periods of extreme love, to times when it felt like I didn’t even exist. Then, I slowly started discovering his anger. It initially started with small things and each outburst would be followed by, “Sorry I didn’t mean that.” But the hurtful words lingered, because they were soon to be repeated and each one of those words pierced me. He knew exactly what my insecurities were, and targeted them with precision. These episodes would drain me of all my energy, and his apologies started becoming more and more curt. Whenever I tried to take it up with him, I would get the same response of, “Let it go, I was angry and didn’t really mean those things” and “why can’t you just let things be”. The recurring theme though, was my inability to ‘prove’ my love and thus, there were small tests which I had to pass to ease his insecurities. I soon started getting terrified of accidentally missing a call or forgetting to reply on time, apprehensive of the next set of hurtful things that would come my way. Soon the fear itself took a form of its own and started controlling me. I had, on several occasions, questioned the relationship but the stigma of being the one who ‘gave up’ haunted me and also led me to justify the unpleasantness of the relationship as ‘a rocky phase’ which would get better. Unfortunately, it only got worse. The aggressive verbal abuse later hinted towards possible physical abuse. Slowly, I started losing my own identity and started seeing my existence only in terms of the relationship. Thus, if the relationship failed, I failed.

It was only after I distanced myself from him, and spoke to friends and loved ones that I slowly realized how much the relationship had sapped me of myself. This realization gave me the power to finally end it. The end was bitter, and I was emotionally manipulated to believe that I was to blame and that I was a horrible person. I started questioning everything about myself.

The relationship has made me question many facets of abuse that I had misinterpreted, like how the abuser needs to be a ‘bad person’. My ex is one of the most charming people I have ever met, can talk at length on issues, is artistic, but that in no manner reduced or diminished the impact of what he had done to me. It doesn’t absolve him of the abuse he inflicted.

It would be naive to state that the relationship is completely behind me, because even now it suddenly sneaks up on me at times. Sometimes I can still hear his voice in my head and while it still affects me, its power is slowly fading. I constantly strive to shed some of the fear and judgment I had internalized, and while the process is slow, the small successes are extremely liberating.

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  1. Manjari Jagannath

    Before we get our panties in a bunch and start judging the boyfriend, I want to listen to his side of the story. Maybe there was a certain trigger that led to this behaviour. It need not have been from you, it might have been his environment elsewhere. I am not saying that he can get away with abuse stating these reasons, but it’s good to analyze and get to the root cause behind this. Instead of being mere judges we should help them resolve their issues and become better humans.

    1. Jake

      What you said is extremely correct, not letting the BF going but i was in a similar situation of the BF and these triggers that happen are caused sometimes by external factors, for me it was the girls parents Day and night hey would find complains about me plus i had a ton load of financial problems and the only person who could i could count on was her.
      I would like to hear the boys side of story in this as well.

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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.

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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.

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

Bidisha was selected in’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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