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Men As Victims Of Emotional Abuse In A Relationship: This Is My Story

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By Anonymous

Note: As a part of Love Matters and Youth Ki Awaaz’s ongoing #BearNoMore campaign on raising awareness about Intimate Partner Violence, we carried out a blogathon inviting you to share your experiences and opinions. The tremendous number of responses only show how important it is to discuss the issue. This post is one of the contributions made to the blogathon. 

I am a 26 year old heterosexual guy, and I was a part of a romantic but abusive/toxic relationship; and boy did it teach me a lot of things! To cut things to a minimum without losing perspective – I was 22 at the time, was doing well at my first job, I felt that I should experience romance. Fortunately (or otherwise, in hindsight), I got to meet a good looking, well-educated and charming girl, with whom I gradually fell in love. There seemed to be nothing wrong with her, except the fact that she used to lose her cool infrequently. I rate that as pretty normal, considering my own hotheadedness.

For representation only

We went on a couple of dates over a course of 3 months, after which things started getting more intimate, both physically and emotionally, which I naturally saw as a good sign. However, her mood swings started to take an upcurve in frequency too, to which I turned a blind eye. I thought every rose has its thorn, and I should not be this critical about someone. Big Mistake!! Pretty big thorn!! Ouch! FYI – She was still in college (2 years younger to me) and didn’t earn yet, so all the dates were financed by me.

I got shouted at for no real reasons (general mood swings), for unrelated reasons (arguments with friends/parents), and for petty reasons (missing a non emergency phone call from her). One instance, that got etched in my memory was when I got shouted at because I didn’t have a good enough job and it did not pay me handsomely, by a person without a job or solid job prospects, and who was enjoying really good meals at the expense of my sweat and blood (so what if I work in an a/c cubicle in front of a screen). We talked a lot on the phone, because of which I almost stopped playing and practising my guitar, a habit I am very fond of.

Obviously, I felt emasculated, as this person would not give me any emotional respite, and I did not want to be a guy who would shout on a girl and put her in her place; I just did not want to give in to that impulsive outburst. I planned to be a better person than that, and thought things would turn out for the better. By the way, it is not that there were no good times. She used to calm down, be the sweetest person around and then apologize, saying,”You know I do this right. Sometimes I cannot control myself. But I love you. Thanks for understanding.” As I mentioned, she was charming.

This loopy chain of events could have continued, had I not discovered she was cheating on me all this while, and cheating on the other guy too. She would flirt with my guy friends too, some of whom got concerned and uncomfortable. She would also go into phases of self hatred and suicidal thoughts. Slowly an explanation started to fall into place, for everything. I was initially too shocked and felt an emotional void, like I had been hit by a bolt of lightning, and could not gather a definite reaction. After much contemplation, I confronted her with whatever I knew and she reluctantly agreed. She asked me for another chance and promised to mend her ways, which I gave to her, since I loved her. Am I stupid or what! Well, I was very stupid to do that.

The cheating game did not continue (as far as I know), but the emotional pressure increased, and eventually I could not spend quality time with my guy friends, lady friends (big NO), colleagues, food, music, etc., without invoking an aggressive/jealous reaction from her. I just broke down and cried one day, and it is the best thing that I did. FYI – if a man cries, shit is going to fly after that. That break down gave way to a more practical way of thinking somehow, and I decided to end my year old relationship. I went through some articles and videos on the internet, about how people can be toxic, and ‘narcissistic personality disorder’, and she checked on most of the traits. I could not thank those articles enough, because otherwise I could have been disillusioned again via emotional manipulation.
I did end it, and after some weeks of emotional withdrawal, I just started feeling exponentially better, like a dark cloud had been lifted from the top of my head, and the sun shone through. If you are still reading this and are in a similar situation, I encourage you to burn all such ties in the best way possible, and take charge of your lives. It does not matter, if you are a man or a woman. The grass on the other side is definitely greener, and there is all sorts of trippy stuff.

One thing worth noting is that such people are not demons and evil spirits, but they are definitely dangerous. They are human too, but something in their past has damaged them so much, that they cannot draw the line between right and wrong, and work only according to their convenience. There is no point in hatred, and being away from toxic people should help. Just my two cents.

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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, 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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