Can love hurt? And we are not talking about a heartbreak here. Can it really hurt – physically, mentally and emotionally?
Statistics from the Indian National Family Health Survey show that around 34% of women (between the ages of 15-49) in India have experienced violence, the vast majority of which are perpetrated by their spouses. But that’s just physical abuse – the one that shows up on your body in black or blue. And that too just among married couples.
There is no data in the country that records being hurt mentally and emotionally. And there is no such data for intimate partners, who are outside the socially sanctioned relationship of marriage.
But at Love Matters, we are hearing, witnessing, and recording a silent epidemic. It is called Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), in which the people closest to you are also the perpetrators of physical, mental or emotional abuse.
“My boyfriend wants sex all the time. I love him very much and want to keep him happy, but it hurts.”
“My boyfriend promised to marry me. But now he doesn’t want to talk about it all. Some days he is really nice, other days aggressive”
These hurting voices reach us every day. Some are visible and clear and it is easy to advise the person to move on. But others are complicated.
“I got very close to a girl but now she doesn’t even talk to me. I am so angry and hurt.”
“I love my boyfriend very much but he is very impatient with me now. I don’t say much because I don’t want to upset him. But I hardly get to see or speak to him.”
Years of social conditioning (where men often tend to feel a sense of ownership over women), pressures of living alone in big cities (is it a shoulder to lean on or is it love), peer pressure to have partners (everyone has a boyfriend) and lack of support from friends and family (what if the family finds out) often legitimise or encourage behaviours that border on abuse. Many times, the victims aren’t even aware and would recoil at the thought that their partners could actually be abusing them.
“My boyfriend really loves me. He doesn’t want me to talk to anyone. He cries and says he will hurt himself if I speak to others. So I just do as he says, it makes him happy.”
Intimacy can often come with a strong sense of ownership – where you feel obliged to share every bit of your life with your partner and often get your decisions taken for you.
But ‘kya yahi pyaar hai’? Is it love or is it control? Experts say that the basis of any relationship must be mutual trust, pleasure, respect and open and honest communication. But, alas, that doesn’t always happen. Everyday love can often veer off towards everyday control.
Can anything be done about this epidemic of getting hurt physically, emotionally and mentally?
The very first thing is to create spaces and societies where intimate relationships don’t need to be hush-hush. Love and romance are a huge part of being young. When such natural needs are not given social legitimacy, they can often become susceptible to abuse.
So let’s talk about love and the love that hurts. Lend a listening ear to your friends and talk about what care and control can mean in a relationship. At times, you really need to be in someone’s shoes to understand how they feel. At Love Matters, we have given this a try by creating a virtual reality film that looks at care and control in everyday relationships – to help you perhaps step into a friend’s world, who has perhaps long been waiting for you to just get it.
#KyaYahiPyarHai is an Indian film on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) produced by Love Matters India/RNW Media and will be launched in Delhi and Mumbai on June 17.
The cases presented in the post above are all real queries addressed to SRHR experts at Love Matters India.