Why is it so hard to for people to support a DV victim?

What is most shocking to me is how people who talk up reams on facebook on behalf of Nirbhaya and scores of other victims of rape and other heinous crimes still regard domestic violence as a softer issue.

Even if they suspect a woman is being abused, they would rather lean back than move forward to help. I guess it is all talk with such people. They would rather do their armchair activism than any real useful activity.

This ad by the salvation army uses the latest “black and blue” phenomenon on the Internet to highlight the issue to domestic violence:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/03/06/the-salvation-armys-powerful-new-ad-on-domestic-violence-puts-thedress-debate-in-a-new-light/

It is an awesome ad. I wish there were more such ads  to also highlight the other forms of domestic violence including emotional and sexual abuse. The scars that are not visible on the skin are still there.

The trauma is real. And why is it that you won’t support anyone till they have visible scars, or are brutally raped, or are burnt for dowry?

Does a woman have to die or be left half-dead for you armchair activists to sit up and take notice of what is right under your noses?

Especially if you are friends with the abuser you think he could do no wrong?

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Victim Blaming and the Social Media Vigilante

Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because ‘girls are responsible for rape’

So rang the headline. And there was a video along with it that I have not watched. I am admitting that I have not watched it not to invalidate my opinion or put forth a disclaimer. But, because I can’t take yet another round of victim blaming after what happened in my own life.

Also, this is not a rant about my own life, but a take on those who are outraged on social media because of the rapist’s attack on the victim.

I personally know so many of them who posted or “shared” the link and the video with remarks like “wtf” and other forms of disbelief and shock and rage. The discussion is often just a momentary reaction, no deep, meaningful conversations on even exploring their own gut reaction. Because aside from the collective revulsion towards the perpetrator, what is it that you all feel exactly?

Rape is horrific because of the physically violent nature of the crime and instantly provokes a reaction. But, this is not about the nature of the crime. It is about perpetrators of crimes against women blaming the women. Have you ever blamed someone for walking the street provocatively dressed and then “asking for it”. Or, saying she was asking for it when you saw a father hit his daughter? Or said that it was her fault she went to the guy’s apartment? Or, what was she thinking when she slapped her boss’s arm playfully? Or called someone a slut? Or condoned a “guy” for just being a “guy”? Or laughed when someone made an inappropriate sexually offensive remark in your presence? Or wondered how a guy like him could be with such a “behenji” type?

All these attitudes go a long way towards shaping how as a society we condone the perpetrators of the so-called softer crimes and then we are so shocked when somebody does exactly what we have been doing – blaming the victim.

I would like each vigilante to explore the answers to a few questions:

1. What would you do if your own cousin, aunt, sister, mom, or daughter told you they had been sexually abused?

2. What would you do if they told you that it was x,y, or z “guy” who you know so well and would never in a million years think he could do something like that?

3. What would you think if it was somebody in your own family who was being abusive or offensive or guilt of any other crime against women, which is not rape?

Are you going to be concerned at all? Or, is it like the dowry crime to you? Someone has to burn the bride for you to sit up and take notice? Daily verbal torture is not enough?

There are a few who seek to understand what we can do as a society to change. Well here is the simplest answer:

“Be the change you want to see.”

Sit up and take note of all behavior that violates a person’s body or mind or both, instead of sitting back and getting outraged at murders and rapes. Female mutilation, rape, infanticide, foeticide and other physically violent crimes are horrific. But, the ones that don’t leave a very visible trail are scarring too.

The cycle of abuse will not end till we put a stop to it collectively in our own family, in our own neighborhood, and our offices. Stop thinking that it happens to other people. I know that in India women are supposed to put up with a lot and we do, but we need to put an end to it at some time. This is my time. Hope it is yours!

A study on abuse

Studies show that emotional abuse almost always escalates to physical. My monster had once asked me to recollect how he used to grab my throat and he had stopped doing that for so many years. He said that he screamed at me because he kept a tight leash on his temper to prevent him from grabbing me by the throat again. So he did everything short of the one thing he knew would make me go to the cops. All the abuse he heaped on me would not leave physical stars.

But, when this abuse flowed over to my little one, I could not take it anymore. The different forms of abuse that many of us face are mentioned here:

https://mainweb-v.musc.edu/vawprevention/research/defining.shtml

I hope that after reading this, women find the courage to move out of an abusive relationship sooner than I did.

Protecting my baby

Yesterday, for most part of the day, I felt strong and that I would be able to cope with anything that comes my way. Then, suddenly out of the blue a wave of nostalgia hit, I cried thinking of what could have been. I have a lovely baby girl. I should have had a lovely family. The ugliness of it all, tore at my heart.

The worst part is that I can’t tell anybody about what I am going through because later it will get back to my baby. When she grows up, I hope she will never have to learn about what he did ever.

But, if he insists on taking her away, all this muck will be raked in public. She will learn that her father abused her mother emotionally, sexually…She will learn about his substance abuse. She will know everything, every filthy detail  because it will come up in court. And worst of all she will grow up to realize his negligence and abuse towards her. There may be no other way to keep her safe.

How do I protect my baby from all that? Please God give me the strength.

Recognizing a pattern

He was so abusive with me over a period that I kind of got used to walking on egg shells around him. Did my best to not piss him off. Never knew what would trigger his temper what would not. And then suddenly out of the blue he would out of guilt or something do something really nice for me, which would make me think that I am really bad for feeling bad about the way he was treating me the rest of the time.

Now I recognize the pattern.

Scream and threaten

Cry and seem genuinely upset for justifying the abusive behavior

Make me feel guilty for adding to his stress enough to behave badly

Show me how reasonable he is by doing a nice thing and telling me that he does it even though I don’t deserve it

There would be no reason for the abuse – it could be something as simple as me asking him what a character in a TV show was doing or it could be because I ask him to not drink as much because he is not stressed now or even worse because he doesn’t want to “waste time” taking my daughter to the hospital when her thumb is blue and swollen because he thinks it is nothing.

In the last case, she had a fracture and was in a splint for one and a half months. But, since the x-ray was done on a Sunday and the radiologist didn’t see it till the next day afternoon, for a whole day he lashed out at me for wasting his weekend time (which is the only time he had to relax) and for subjecting the child to x-rays which would cause her cancer and when I said that I only wanted to err on the side of caution, he was dismissive of it by saying that he knew it was nothing major and that I was an un-supportive wife because I didn’t trust him.

As usual I was crying and only that any mother would take a child to the doctor if the child thumb was swollen and blue and she was crying in pain. I felt so miserable at the time.

He never accompanied her or me for any visits to the doctor or anything because he was so busy at work, but he found time to be with his hookers.