“He beats her every day even though her frail body cannot take it. She cries to sleep every night.”
“What a disgusting man. And why is the woman so weak? Why is she putting up with this abuse?”
“She is in a pitiable state. She is in no position to speak for herself.”
“That is just sad. Wish someone had taught him a lesson.”
“We have to do something about it. Should we all confront him? Should we report him to the police?”
“Stay out of it. It is their personal matter. We should not be interfering in this.”
When we talk about instances of abuse, or violence in relationships, we talk as if they’re distant events. We will speak about it, debate on it and demand laws. But when the time comes to act, we tell ourselves that it is none of our business.
When a confession of abuse is made, the person goes through a lot of emotional turmoil and needs a great deal of courage to do so. And when we dismiss it as a ‘personal matter’, we push that person back into that hell to fight alone. Abuse isn’t something unheard of; sometimes it happens in our own household, sometimes in the neighbourhood, sometimes with a distant friend. But it isn’t uncommon even when we choose to ignore it. We keep thinking that it cannot hit so close to home. And when it does, we either suffer or choose to look the other way.
A few days back, I got to know that a girl who I see every day and occasionally talk to, has been suffering in an abusive relationship for over a year. That girl is an acquaintance of a close friend of mine. And when I got to know the horrid details of the relationship, I was utterly shocked.
I know how some women choose to suffer in silence in cases of domestic violence because the society and their own families stop them from taking a stand or because they are scared to let go of the ‘stability’ of married life. Many are stopped by their own emotional vulnerability. I always thought it was the institution of marriage that made people suffering from abuse unable to speak up or walk out.
But I see this girl, with mental scars even deeper than her physical ones. Yes, the abuse is both physical and mental and she has suffered for far too long. And now that she finally disclosed it to the ones close to her, she is still in a dilemma and blames herself. And even though she has been in a relationship (not a matrimonial relationship), she finds it impossible to walk out because she has been manipulated and conditioned to believe that she needs that guy and whatever he does is right.
That guy slaps her anytime he wants to and vents his frustrations on her. Over time, she has learnt to accept it. He humiliates her in the public and does not allow her to mix with other guys likely due to his own insecurities. The last time she tried to walk away, he brainwashed her into thinking that she is to be blamed for all that he did and all that he continues to do to her.
After tolerating it for a year, she finally confessed to her friends. She was completely heartbroken. The ones who stepped up for her were chided by that guy. And the rest simply dismissed it as a personal matter.
I ask you all, how can we treat it as a regular confrontation? Is violence in a relationship to be looked upon as a personal matter? And why do we refrain from voicing ourselves? Do you really think anyone chooses it or voluntarily signs up for it?
I had a friend who was in an abusive relationship for a few months. Luckily she managed to walk away from it. But she was a wreck even after it.
Don’t you think actions like this should be dealt with even more severely because the most trusted person chose to become the abuser?
Why does the law fail to protect the survivors in such cases and, on the contrary, blames them for it?
And we sit here and call abuse a personal matter and dismiss it till someone close to us is subjected to abuse. Anyone can be a victim of abuse irrespective of their sex. It is about time we started reinforcing the idea of consent in society instead of ‘victim shaming’. It is about time we realised that it is never the fault of the individual that suffers abuse and that abuse is never a ‘personal matter’. It is about time we raised our voice.