Sudha felt trapped. Every single day with Ankit was becoming like a thunderstorm of humiliation and she kept looking for opportunities to avoid him.
Trigger warning: Post contains details of emotional abuse that may be triggering to the survivors.
The day had begun on a sour note for Sudha. The spark in their relationship had died within six months as Ankit grew more and more possessive each passing day. While Sudha, initially, found it fascinating how Ankit seemed so in love with her, gradually he seemed obsessed with making her upset.
No time spent together was enough for him. When they were together, there were no exchange of sweet nothings anymore. Instead, he would hurl a herd of accusations at Sudha about how her behavior proved that she wasn’t as interested in the relationship as he was.
“Why is it so important to meet Shravan everyday with such a broad smile?” he asked her.
“Ankit please don’t start this again. The whole world knows Shravan and I are just the best of friends. He is getting married this December. Can you keep him out of our conversations?” Sudha pleaded.
“Show me your phone.” Ankit demanded.
“I said show me your phone. Is it that you’re scared I will read your lovey-dovey messages to him?” Ankit snapped.
“Don’t talk to me like that.” Sudha said and threw her phone at him. She knew that if she didn’t, Ankit was capable of creating an issue of it. Humiliation had become a regular part of their interactions and it was mostly Sudha who was at the receiving end.
Ankit grabbed her phone and opened her message box, looking for her conversation history with Shravan. When he didn’t get anything he wanted, he searched her call history.
“You had the time to call Shravan five times today, but you couldn’t even call me once?” Ankit accused, fuming with anger.
Of late, Sudha had stopped reacting and sat in silence while Ankit continued to glare at her with burning eyes, awaiting a response. “I asked you a question.”
“Ankit, we do this everyday. It’s pointless for me to say anything. It falls on deaf ears. I am tired of answering the same questions.”
“This is what you do. You spend this limited time with me and even in that, you don’t want to talk to me.”
“In the limited time that you get with me, as you say it, all I hear is your accusations. I am so sick of this. And I could go without talking to you for ages if this is all you want to do when we are together. In fact, where the hell are we together? I feel suffocated! First with Prerna’s expectations at work and then your accusations outside of work,” Sudha snapped.
“How will Prerna’s expectations be fulfilled if Shravan keeps distracting you at work all the time?” Ankit threw another bout of sarcasm.
“Don’t you dare say that. I’m not going to keep taking this crap, Ankit. Enough is enough. If you have so many problems with me, we should call this off. This relationship is not going anywhere. In fact I’m not even sure there’s love anymore.”
“Yeah! So now you don’t love me anymore! But what about me?”
“What about you? You are so busy creating these issues all the time. And you have no respect whatsoever for me, which shows in the words that you use to converse with me. You don’t even seem to trust me anymore. And to think you love me? Please Ankit! Let’s just face it. This is not working out.”
“So I’m asking you for your time because I don’t love you? Is that what you’re saying?”
“Ankit, I am just a habit to you. Just like your addiction to the cigarettes. What is happening between us is not love! Let’s get this straight, we have to…”
Sudha was cut short as Ankit sprung up next, pressing his lips hard upon hers and scragging her resistance. She continued to push him away until she was out of his grip.
“Stop Ankit – this is not the solution to it! It’s disgusting. Listen this is over. I’m tired of handling your mood swings everyday. Please let me go.”
This wasn’t the first time Sudha had pleaded for Ankit to let her go. The minute Sudha would ask for it, Ankit would be in tears and would beg her to stay. She would stay firm about her decision until he would continue whining and eventually threaten her to hurt himself if she didn’t agree.
Sudha felt trapped. Every single day with Ankit was becoming like a thunderstorm of humiliation and she kept looking for opportunities to avoid him. But he wouldn’t budge.
He had almost started to stalk her, wanting details about every minute of her day, checking her call history, reading her texts on her phone. And showing up when she least expected it and putting her through embarrassing moments by arguing loudly in public.
Today, she had put her foot down yet again about parting ways and never bothering each other again. He was angrier than ever when he had read one of the messages (which she had forgotten to delete) she had exchanged with another friend. She was talking about how their relationship was draining her each day and how the friend had suggested she should get rid of him.
He was driving her back home after her long day at work. In his anger he sped the car as he continued to grit his teeth at her. She kept asking him to stop speeding at first. When he wouldn’t budge, she asked him to stop so she could alight. He didn’t. She continued in a calm yet determined way, “Ankit stop the car!”
Furious, Ankit pulled at the breaks suddenly. The car was at a speed of 60 and it screeched and skidded on the lonely road before bumping into a railing on one side and stopping. Sudha realised she could barely scream.
For a minute she thought the car would blast and this would all be over. Perhaps there was not enough time to get out of the car before this happened as her knees hurt after a blow against the car’s interior.
In a few seconds, she realised the impact on Ankit was much different than on her. He was further infuriated. Without bothering to check if Sudha was okay, Ankit got out of the car to check the damage. Sudha couldn’t believe what had just happened.
This wasn’t the person she thought she had known. She had read about relationship abuse but never imagined she would ever be a victim to it. Sudha thought about all the times Ankit had displayed negativity towards her and shuddered at the thought of it could further worsen.
When Ankit was inspecting the car, two security personnel from a nearby building walked towards them and inquired if they needed help. Sudha helped herself out of the car but realised the shock had drained her energy and sat down on the concrete footpath.
One of the men walked up to her and asked if she wanted some water. Ankit began to get uncomfortable when the men asked Sudha what happened. But when she couldn’t gather herself together to respond to their questions, they looked at Ankit suspiciously. He soon got involved in a spat with them.
Sudha looked at the men and thought hard. Could she have been killed? Is it worth staying in a dead relationship to stop Ankit from hurting himself but going through times where he seems so willing to hurt you in every way? How was she going to ever get rid of him? When will all this end?
Ankit wasn’t looking in her direction and had his back turned towards her as he continued to argue with the men. Sudha made a quick decision to sprint away from the place. She definitely didn’t want him to drive her back home. Neither did she trust him with her life anymore. The minute she scampered past the main road and slid into a dark lane, she heard Ankit scream out her name. He had possibly just turned and not found her around. Sudha did not stop and kept running away.
The night screeched through her ears as she ran away from her tormentor. Every corner of the way seemed dark. And every by-lane was pitch black. She could not think bright at the hour. The morning seemed too far away.
She could hear his heavy footsteps at a short distance. So, she sought refuge behind a deserted vendor cart under a baobab on the road. Her breathing paced up. In the quiet of the night, her heartbeat sounded like it was pounding outside her. It seemed to rise by a few decibels when, she saw the monstrous figure, emerge from behind a cart, and look for her.
The beast in him appeared stubborn to keep looking for her. She held her breath, lest he hear it. Sweat streamed down her face as he stopped and looked around for her. She gulped to suppress a terrified scream, her hands covered her mouth.
All in vain, as she moved and accidentally got her flowing gown caught in the nail of the cart. The silk tore and made an audible difference to the deafening silence. His savage eyes turned in the direction of the sound and met hers. She stood numb, consumed by fear, her voice lost.
As she saw his shadow getting nearer, she screamed, got up and ran as fast as she could. She didn’t look behind but knew he was following. A few yards away she noticed a lit up two-storey building. She kept running towards the light. If there were people around, she could ask for help, she thought. Hell! She could scream for help right away!
Without a second thought, she began screaming for help. Ankit slowed down just as Sudha noticed she was running towards a police station. A few men in uniform came running towards her. Sudha collapsed on the floor, exhausted. She looked back in Ankit’s direction. He stared back at her in astonishment and tears began welling up in his eyes.
The next moment he turned around and began to run away. Soon, some policemen approached her and asked her what had happened. She lied to them and told them that a goon had been following her for a while and seemed to have run away now that she had help. Sudha was driven home safely by one of the policemen.
In the following weeks, after some suggestions by her friends, she sought professional help and helped herself out of the abusive relationship.
It is easier to notice physical abuse. But when you’re in a relationship, emotional abuse can often go undetected. It goes undetected until you reach a stage where you feel traumatised or hopeless about being in such a relationship.
At the beginning of the relationship, the abuser may appear to be very generous and observant. Thus winning over the trust of their victim, which then makes the victim vulnerable to forthcoming abuse. Emotional abuse, which is used to gain control in a relationship, may take a number of forms, such as insulting, criticising, threatening, among others.
What you really should know is how to detect that you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship and let go at the right time. There’s enough material over the internet to help you understand emotional abuse.
Allowing anyone to inflict any kind of abuse upon you must not only be discouraged but also stopped. Know when to stand firm and say that enough is enough. When required seek professional help, the victim needs more help than the abuser (who, I believe, may need thorough psychological treatment)
A version of this was first published here.
Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Silsila Badaltein Rishton Ka
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Sneha Acharekar is the author of 'Let Go Yet Glow' (2014), 'Faith, Fate and a
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