Why Do Parents Act Only When They’ve Lost A Daughter To An Abusive Marriage?

Why do parents prefer to keep their daughter in an abusive marriage because "what will people say," instead of supporting her to get out?


Why do parents prefer to keep their daughter in an abusive marriage because “what will people say,” instead of supporting her to get out?

Trigger Warning: This speaks of suicide and may be triggering for survivors.

Do you know what ostriches do when they are under attack? This majestic bird that can run really fast chooses to stick its head in the sand in the hope that the danger will go away. Recently I have started feeling that Indian parents probably took tuition from ostriches when it comes to dealing with their daughters and their unhappy marriages.

Parents take action when things are too late

Meena* came from the Marwadi community and had been married for 10+ years; her mother in law was abusive and her husband non supportive. She has two kids and had committed her life to moulding herself according to her in laws’ dictums.

She recently died by suicide and both her mother in law and husband have gone into save their own skin mode.

Her parents, brother and other relatives had come in here one day to ask about what had happened, and have now taken it upon themselves to ensure that the mother in law and husband pay for years of systemic abuse. They say that they didn’t know anything, and are relying on what the neighbours and other friends tell them about what her situation was.

I find it very difficult to digest – really, in the last 10 years, they didn’t know? Or did they choose not to know?! Because if they pretended to not know and live in denial, then yes everything was hunky dory, there would be no ‘dreaded’ divorce happening.

Is what society thinks so much more important?

Another friend who has separated from her husband and has been very unhappy in her marriage, is stuck convincing her parents that she needs a divorce. The parents have tried every manipulative trick in their book to ensure that the divorce doesn’t happen. They sound like a broken record when every time they say that if she divorces, they “will not be around anymore.” They believe that all she has to do is adjust. “Why can’t she adjust?” is all they have say!

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Even after 7 years of marriage and trying ‘to adjust’ and numerous counselling sessions that their daughter and her husband have gone to as a couple, the parents and other relatives believe that this is an ‘impulsive’ decision. They choose to ignore the anguish she has shared over the years, they refuse to see the pain she has been in over the years, all in the effort to not have the dreaded D word happen!

Why do parents do this?

Is it that only after you have cornered a woman, isolated her, made her contort and ‘adjust’ in numerous ways, and then God forbid something happens to her, that you will come to seek revenge? Where were you all these years? Why didn’t you listen? Why do you put marriage on such a pedestal that the woman ends up having to hold it up like Hercules? If you want to stick your head in the sand please go ahead, but don’t clip your daughter’s wings while you do that!

*Name changed

Image source: a still from the film Heaven on Earth

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Anju Jayaram

A traveler at heart and a writer by chance a vital part of a vibrant team called Women's Web. I Head Marketing at Women's Web.in and am always evolving new ways in read more...

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