Choosing a life partner is serious business.And risky.Risky because a wrong choice could jeopardize your health,happiness & safety.Any number of irritants could breed discord in a conjugal relationship but the one which is deadliest of all is-abuse.As we all know,abuse could be emotional,physical or sexual.Most of the times,it is the female who is the victim.Almost always,this truth is hidden scrupulously from outsiders.Strangely,it is the victim herself who will go the extra mile to hide it.In this way a crime which could plumb to the depths of torture,inhumanity & crime,is assured immunity from law & societal censure.This cuts off the victim from all probable sources of support & protection.Her isolation exacerbates her vulnerability.
Let us consider what all a victim has to put up with.Emotional abuse starts innocuously enough.The tyrant wants to have everything his way.He does not like contradiction,criticism or debate.If she fails to comply he may withdraw his affections or give her the silent treatment.Going a step further he may bully her into obeying his orders.Or still worse,he begins to humiliate her as being incompetent, uncouth,uncultured--or un-whatever.Equality?Respect?Consideration? No sir!These words do not exist in his dictionary.
As for physical abuse,starting from threats & intimidation,it could go on to pushing,slapping,hitting,punching & thrusting upon her,sexual acts which she abhors.Adultery & betrayal would pale in comparison.
This is followed by more emotional & psychological abuse.She is made to feel that it is her fault that all this is happening to her.There are glaring shortcomings in her personality & behavior which fuel his righteous anger.A victim is branded as the root cause of the fracas.The whole purpose is to demoralize her to such an extent that all thoughts of resistance & rebellion are quashed for ever.
An episode of abuse is generally succeeded by acts of repentance,conciliation & promises of better behavior.As a result the victim shrugs it off as a one time occurrence & stifles all thoughts of reporting him to the authorities.If the abuser sticks to his word then of course nothing much remains to be said.A more stubborn spouse or partner could be brought around by consulting Marriage counselors or Psychologists.
But what does one do when a violent episode is followed by another & then many others ? Slowly the time gap between these episodes decreases untill it becomes a daily routine.Minor scuffles give way to serious acts of aggression and she is likely to suffer grievous injuries.In order to ward off future attacks ,she tries to please him by following all his dictums.The more she caves in the more domineering he becomes.Her efforts to buy pace give contrary results.Here i am talking of a compulsive sociopath or a psychopath whom it is difficult to reform.Life with such a person is not only stressful but also dreadful.It is not unusual for such a relationship to end in the victim's
On the emotional front she lives in a perpetual state of fear,shame&impending doom. It is but natural that this sort of life leaves a ghastly impact upon her psyche.There is mammoth erosion of self esteem & confidence.She loses all hopes of fighting her tormentor & finding peace for herself.Nor can she see any savior coming from outside to rescue her.
There are three reasons why this is so.Firstly such an anti-social personality keeps his private life hermetically sealed from prying eyes.He is also very good at impressing people by his pleasing ways.Secondly,he has probably shackled his wife well&proper.Thirdly,she herself being ashamed of the treatment meted out to her;has wilfully severed all ties with relatives,friends & well wishers.All in all,she finds herself alone & helpless in face of grave danger.
Therefore if a woman realizes that she is living with such a person,it is time for her to take stock of the situation.She has to decide whether she wants to stick it out or get out fast.Here are some warning signals which can aid her decision-
*She tries hard to please him in every possible manner.Obeys him.
*She is scared most of the time.Dreads being alone with him.
*Minor clashes give way to major brawls.
*Small cuts or bruises are replaced by deeper cuts,welts or fractures.
*Violence becomes a daily feature.
*Her mood deteriorates consistently & she feels that she is slipping into depression.
If any victim feels that she can relate to some of the points mentioned above,then it is certainly time to break free.But this is not how,many sufferers view it.We are often amazed as to why they continue to live in such hell-holes.The answer to this question is as complex as the situation itself.Perhaps--
*She is not economically independent.
*She does not have any support system to fall back upon.
*She is afraid of being alone.
*She is apprehensive that if her own home could not offer protection to her,how will she find safety outside it's confines.
*She still has love for the perpetrator.
*She hopes he will turn over a new leaf.
*She is afraid that if she leaves her conjugal home,it will sully her image.
*She has been conditioned to believe that her husband is her superior & she should put up with his behavior-however cruel it might be.
*She does not want to opt out because of her children.
*She has had a traumatic childhood & thinks that she deserves no better.
*She has no knowledge of any agency which can offer shelter to her.
*The villain of the piece has threatened her
with dire consequences if she dares to leave him.
Thus we see that there are so many factors which pressurize her to stay put despite serious danger to her life.However it is necessary to point out that today there are many Shelter Homes run by the Central Social Welfare Board of India for the protection of such women.State Social Welfare Boards & various NGOs also provide such facilities.In addition to this there are Mahila Thanas & Family Courts to help women in distress.Over & above are various laws which shield women from atrocities & punish offenders.The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 offers protection to not only wives & live-in partners,but also to sisters,widows & single women living with the abuser.More information about this Act can be found here.
Putting up with abuse or getting the abuser punished is a very personal decision.Only the aggrieved can make a choice.But turbulent circumstances tend to cloud a person's judgement &it is advisable to consult a counselor at such times.At the risk of being labeled an oxymoron i would say that while patience & forbearance can resurrect a sagging relationship;putting up with a life-threatening & increasingly violent relationship is counter productive.It is best to get out of it while there is still time.