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We are conditioned to normalise domestic violence out of fear of abandonment. Thinking that 'trauma bonding' is better than no bonding holds us back from speaking up!
(Trigger Warning: This post may be triggering for survivors of domestic violence. This post has been published especially to honour the International Day For The Elimination of Violence Against Women.)
Everyone said my perfect husband was like Lord Ram…. but this is how he took unfair advantage of my tolerance!
My grandmother was very fond of my husband whose name is synonymous with Lord Ram’s name. Every call she made to my husband started with the bhajan “Aaj sab mil mangal gao, Awadh mai, raam aye hain“. (Hail everyone, sing praises, Lord Ram has come in the kingdom of Awadh.) It was a mandatory welcome song whenever she met him or even spoke to him on the phone. Yes, his attributes were like that of Lord Ram. His attitude, chivalry, persona, fair skin, smile, height, physique and charm illustrate the perfect image of Lord Ram.
My grandmother always said “Oh! My Ram-Sita, you are so dear to me.” I would always brush her off that I don’t want to be Sita. Little did I know my fate would play out like that of Sita.
Being taught that girls should learn from Ma Sita about her unconditional love and support when she chose exile. Learn from her about the virtues of tolerance & patience to ultimately set down on mother earth. Stay grounded but not voice your right even after “Agni Parikshas” (the greatest test of chastity).
My virtue of being tolerant came at the cost of physical abuse. The first time he hit me, I instantly forgave him thinking that he doesn’t know how to process his grief after we lost our unborn twins.
A few months passed by, we started planning our family again. There was hope, excitement & sunshine but it didn’t work out in the 12th week. My perfect husband supported me through the terrible pain, washing me out, physically supporting me on the bathroom trips, being there with me that whole day when our third child left us in my womb. We felt it was a big deal for a man to take his day off and support his wife through this tough phase when it typically is to be done by sisters or other women in the family. Alas! I didn’t have one and he was glorified to support me.
A few days later, I was grieving my loss. I was asking for his attention and begging him to spend more time with me just like the way he was supporting his friend going through a divorce.
I wondered what enraged him, he slapped me one on the right cheek, then on the left, pulled me from my shirt and threw me off the floor. He hit me more, to which I froze. I couldn’t remember how much more he hit me until I found different areas of my body hurting and bruised the next day.
He did apologise sincerely. He said that he has committed a big mistake and would inform his family of this shameful act (which never happened). I said “I forgive you! please sew the buttons of my shirt.” He did that beautifully the next night. I choose to stay quiet; I was waiting for him to have the time to share this.
A month later, his father humiliated me for not engaging in the household chores after I fell from the stairs and injured my tail bone. I didn’t know how a normal conversation enraged him so much that he hit me in front of his mother. He pulled my knotted bun and dragged me, kicked, slapped & punched me. To which I went running to his father and narrated the whole incident.
He replied, “My son is a diamond (heera) & a god (devta). Whatever he has done is right, YOU DESERVE IT.” I said I want to leave the room than hear this. They stopped me at the door and said when elders talk, you have to listen. I listened to him saying that “we haven’t changed your name on your Aadhar card because we were testing you if you are a fit in this house.”
I chose to stay quiet and came up in our room.
My husband was apologetic for his behaviour, acknowledging his uncontrollable anger and drowned in guilt. I was quiet, hearing him with tears rolling down my eyes and unable to comprehend the whole situation.
His father called up my brother to complain that because of me, there is agitation in the house and that he should come and pick me up. I was embarrassed that this matter has now travelled out of the so-called walls of our shiny empire which was guarded with affluence, reputation, wealth & societal status. We nudged that we need time to solve this and that we two could be left alone to figure it out.
But the next morning his sisters and my brother were called to fix our differences. They did scold my husband for this horrendous act. But when the volume of my voice rose (not words) to answer to my husband blaming me, I was accused of speaking my mind and that girls should mask their mouths in such situations.
I tried to make peace and didn’t leave the house. The next morning, his sisters called up my parents and said that I provoke him to hit me. It shattered us all and I felt deprived of all the support I was expecting, as if these tests of tolerance weren’t enough.
I want to ask our so-called well-wishers – wasn’t I provoked enough to retaliate with a phone call to the police, to relatives, seeking help from neighbours or my parents at the time of abuse? Fortunately, /unfortunately, the time my husband was hitting me, I heard two missed calls on my phone which I found out were of my cousin brother who was outside my house at that very moment. Wasn’t I aware of my rights to exercise despite graduating from Asia’s best commerce college?
Anyone I shared this with would blame me for not calling the police then, choosing to stay in that house after all this. It’s not me to be blamed but the sacraments I received from various sources to be like mother Sita. To always put my husband even before myself.
I needed many wake-up calls, many rejections to realise that I don’t belong there. And where you can’t belong, no matter how hard you try, you never will. We are conditioned to normalise domestic violence out of fear of abandonment. Perceiving trauma bonding as manageable and better than no bonding is what holds us back to raise voices against domestic violence.
Image source: Still from Provoked
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Just because they are married a husband isn’t entitled to be violent to his wife. Just because a man is "in love" with a woman, it doesn't give him a right to be violent.
Trigger Warning: This speaks of graphic details of violence against women and may be triggering for survivors.
Anger is a basic human emotion, just like happiness or being sad. One chooses his/her way of expressing that emotion. It is safe until that action stays within oneself.
What happens when that feeling is forced upon another? The former becomes the perpetrator, and the latter turns out to be the victim.
Rrashima Swaarup Verma's new bestselling book The Royal Scandal is a celebration of the spirit of womanhood set in the 18th Century.
Rrashima Swaarup Verma’s new bestselling book The Royal Scandal is a celebration of the spirit of womanhood.
A true love story. A tale of politics, treachery and war. A piece from India’s rich history. A vivid description of 18th century life in the Deccan. Yes, The Royal Scandal is all that and more. But it is also an aide-mémoire of the tremendous fortitude, the unbeatable spirit that women are, and have always been, capable of.
18th century, Hyderabad, India. A time and place when societal laws and rules came down heavy on the female gender, when zenanas separated and shielded the women from the world outside, when it was understood and accepted that the men in their lives would govern and dictate every big and small decision.
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