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From all news reports, clearly, Aftab Poonawalla seems to be a psychopath, and It was a well-strategized story of domestic violence, abuse, subjugation, and a well-planned murder.
Trigger Warning: This deals with domestic violence, gaslighting, murder, and abetting violence, and may be triggering to survivors.
One case has gripped the nation and I do not need to mention which. My problem is with how the news reflects a victim’s character. The disrespect we show to someone who was long abused and lives no more is appalling. The disservice we do to her through spoken and written words lies in the sensationalizing of the entire case.
How do you spot a crazy human? They do not have two horns and red eyes. They may have no empathy but will show it to lure the victim, just like a child abuser lures a child with candy. Their grooming styles may vary but it is mostly about creating an untrue sense of safety and security around the victim. They present themselves as this effortless savior, an ultimate generous destination for a mentally and emotionally vulnerable person.
Since many days our media is trying to set an example for the girls of this country about what “not to do”. Do not leave your family, do not fight with your parents, do not get involved with a man of another faith, do not stop reaching out to your friends, and do not blindly trust any man.
And I do not intend to fight any of these. However, how the entire situation panned out is very concerning.
Let’s respect the fact that the girl tried to reach out to other people several times. This one time when she had filed an FIR and was about to exit her relationship, the accused man’s parents emotionally blackmailed her. (Read the full text of her FIR letter here.)
In fact, if her friends are to be believed, the parents always “patched the two up” after a rough fight. For months she was beaten and abused but every time she tried to take a step, she was trapped again.
Where are these parents and why are they not complicit in this domestic violence case along with their son?
My second question is to the police who did not counter-interrogate why the girl retracted her FIR.
With allegations as serious as he wants to kill me, and has beaten me blue and black, a withdrawal of the complaint mostly happens when there is an out-of-police station settlement. That basically means the victim has compromised. In such cases, it happens because she is either threatened or emotionally blackmailed.
I will not blame the friends and family of the girl because they tried their best to be in touch with her. Similarly, I cannot blame the girl for not being in touch with other people because that is how psychopathy works around you. It is pertinent to understand that psychopaths “groom” their victims, as I mentioned before. During this process, they isolate the victim, manipulate them, and disconnect them from the outside world. The victim may still be present on social media, but there is a marked difference in their personality and social behavior (something that her friends had noticed too).
None of them could exactly pinpoint the cause because they knew a different guy she was friends with. He was popular, friendly, very active on social media, and seemed like a good boyfriend. He was the guy next door. He showed no signs of psychopathy. But did he not? Now when we look closely, we see them all. He was a narcissist, he was impulsive, he showed no empathy, he had no guilt or remorse about the things he said or did, he was arrogant, disloyal, toxic, and he was extremely aggressive. From his statements to the police, we can see that he is a pathological liar too. The girl had seen the storm beneath his superficial calmness. Certainly, the abuser’s family did as well, and yes, chose to save him and not the girl he was constantly harassing. Today, the same family is absconding.
Lastly, I would like to point out how domestic violence was completely overlooked in the case. I know many will get upset that I am naming the merciless butchering of a girl as domestic violence, but that is where it all began.
Even today, many individuals harass and threaten their spouses/partners that they would kill them and get away with it. Aggressive attacks are quite common and known, and the least talked about in our society. On the other hand, women who are trapped cover themselves in the attire of self-loathing, self-betrayal, lack of dignity, and emotional deprivation. These women are not weak or defeated. They are kept in dark for too long and they begin accepting it as their reality. They feel fear, but they do not know how to react when they finally see the signs.
All hope is still not lost at this stage. Many women have escaped even from worse conditions. But this is the phase when the victims start losing their confidence and grip over the situation. Regular insults lead the victim to question their sanity, worth, and sense of identity. A cheating partner can also cause a grave assault on confidence. Lack of compassion, affection, support, and fidelity in addition to physical violence and emotional torture can lead to many mental health issues.
Grooming is the first stage of abuse. It usually begins with a soft request that seems like an earnest plea turning into a brutal order. When these orders are refused, the victim is met with consequences that can be terrorizing. Compliance can have a very grim side to it, and it can pull any person away from their choices, healthy boundaries, and all shreds of rationality. Over time they are so dependent (emotionally, mentally, and financially) upon their abuser that they believe they deserve what they are getting. This drop in courage and confidence never allows them to reach a loved one and ask for help. The shame of not being human enough glues the person to their situation.
Now, consider a girl trapped in such a situation. She made several attempts to get away but was always pulled back.
This is the story of many victims throughout the world. Some of them are underage preys who could have been trafficked or pushed into slavery or prostitution. This one case has indeed shocked us all but it has done so for all the wrong reasons. While its gory details scream to us that humans are capable of all brutalities, it is the lessons that are wrongly interpreted.
No, we cannot blame the victim because she left home. Had she left home for a nice guy, she would have been alive today. The biggest lesson here is that psychopaths live amongst us. Some girls could fight with their parents to live with such diseased creatures, and others could be married off to them by the family. These predators may look and act normal, but they do not think normal.
My point here was to not trivialize a barbaric murder. My point is to explain how such relationships work. The accused here, too, conveniently put all the blame on the victim. “She triggered me”, are his words to the police. While psychopaths can be impulsive, let us not view this as another killing in the heat of the moment. It was a well-strategized story of domestic violence, abuse, subjugation, and a well-planned murder. And this is the biggest commonality among all psychopaths. They want to get rid of their prey as soon as they are done with them.
Because anyone can be susceptible to being prey. You and I are equally vulnerable to such traps. We are also equally inclined to be stuck in a situation in our despondency and never come out. That does not render a victim weak or any less worthy than other humans.
A story of abuse must always be a reflection of the abuser’s abusive character, not victim’s victimhood.
Mostly writing, other times painting. Here to celebrate little wins. I am on the same page as you, just a different book - you read mine, I'll read yours.
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