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“I Never Suspected Him To Perpetrate ‘Abuse’ Since He Would Often Spoil Me With Love”

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By Anonymous

If I had to graph it out, my relationship with him would probably look like a tightly drawn squiggle. I would often dread good days, because it usually meant a bad phase was soon to follow. A “bad phase” simply meant his annoyance with me, how much I take his love for me for granted, how I don’t understand the pressures he’s under, how unstable I am for trying to leave him and go. The guilt trips were many, the grief, unbearable. Sometimes I would try to sneak out of the apartment before he woke up so that he doesn’t find out. Unfortunately, he found out always, and I had to bear the brunt of my disloyalty, both emotionally, physically and sexually, later on. In one such episode, a coffee bottle was flung towards me. It shattered into countless pieces, and while I mopped the entire floor, once, twice, thrice – sobbing, trying to get the appalling fragrance of coffee out of the apartment, he slept on, peacefully, as if nothing had happened. He did not seem to remember the events of the night before (like always), and I chose not to remind him, for the fear of triggering him again. The evidence however, was right there – his extreme stoicism the morning after, and the numerous cuts caused by tiny glass shards on my knees and hands.

girl sad silhouette
For representation only. Image source: Gabriela Camerotti/Flickr

Soon, the bad phases followed everything. A low giggle maybe, if he was sleeping. The way I smiled. One word I used. If I talked to a particular co-worker for longer than he permitted. If I used my phone in his presence, if I kept him waiting, if I said no to staying over the night. I did not know I was in an abusive relationship until the red flags were glaring right in my face. The breaking point came when my luggage was thrown at me with full force, missing me only by an inch. Surprisingly, I had never suspected him to perpetrate “abuse” towards me, since he would quite often spoil me with love. I always assumed he is surrounded by the perils of stress and this is just him venting it out. It is never easy to come to terms with the fact that someone you love so passionately would inflict abuse on you like this. I was assured multiple times that he’ll improve, that he’ll never get so violent or aggressive, that he needs that “one last chance” after every tiff we had.

Beyond that illusion of something electrifying, an abusive relationship often follows a similar skeletal structure. Manipulation, deception, the abuser identifying as the victim, shifting the onus of the argument to the victim, extreme bouts of jealousy and possessiveness, are some of them. I don’t recall how often I was accused of “provoking” his anger. Bound by “duty” and guilt, I decided to stay by his side till this “difficult” chapter of his life passed on, in false hopes of going back to our initial, rose tinted romance. It never did. I was conditioned to believe that anything I did without his approval was illicit and caused him immense pain, for which, I was liable to handle his outbursts and face estimated punishments. His “love” seemed to exult every time I was humiliated by him and held responsible for the cracks in his fragile ego.

When I finally decided to leave him, I was met with a lot of verbal conflict. He threatened to kill himself and called me an unappreciative jerk who failed to acknowledge how he’d gone out of his way to protect me from the harsh world. The thought of moving on initially made me panic, because of how used to I’d become to the idea of loving him. After trying every method known to him to choke my escape, and his failure to do so, I was free. I was free from the burden of somebody else’s inappropriate decisions weighing in on my life.

It is never going to be easy getting out of an abusive relationship, at any point. By the time you notice the first signs, chances are, it has already laid its roots too deep. There is also no “one key fits all” solution to this. It has been two years now, but each incident of mistreatment is etched clearly in my mind, never to be forgotten.

It took me a lot of time to understand that I was not responsible for his mood swings, that I did not deserve to be hit, have stuff thrown at, be blackmailed into doing things I did not want to, or clean up after him whenever he messed up. I had ceased to exist as myself, and survived only as an extension of my partner. The shadow, however, of the whole experience still remains. After being blinkered by the idea of love painted by my partner during the course of this very tumultuous and difficult relationship, one thing I know for sure is, that love doesn’t harm like this, it only flourishes and nurtures.

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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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