Saturday, August 6, 2011

Domestic Abuse Doesn’t Always Leave a Bruise


Many advocates against domestic violence get outraged when they see a bruised woman on the street. They start angered conversations with those around them, start blogs and do what they can to rally support to help end this violence against the perceived weaker sex. But what about the woman who suffers in silence? The woman whose bruises don’t show?

Domestic violence can take many forms. Abuse can come in the form of narcissistic outbursts or psychotic episodes, to isolation, to mental, sexual and emotional abuse. None of which leave any trace of outward evidence, unless or course, you can see the pain in her eyes. Often these are the relationships where once the woman is murdered, friends and family talk about how sure they were that the husband was a good man and they never knew he was like this. 

They didn’t know because they didn’t look any deeper than the surface. That’s the same thing most domestic violence awareness advocates do. They only look as far as the eye can see. There’s no one there to protect the non-bruised victim. I’m sure the programs would help her if they only knew what she was going through. Sadly, most times the woman herself doesn’t understand and she doesn’t know to seek help and no one is teaching her what is wrong. 

Non violent domestic abuse starts with a few simple, yet hurtful words. Words aimed at tearing away the humanity and self-esteem of the victim. Sometimes they are seemingly innocent gestures which lead to isolation from friends and family. Not sure what to do or if she should pay attention to the angry words the victim sets aside the incident. That is, until it happens again and again. Continually hearing the words she begins to wonder if they could be right. After all, someone she trusts and gave her life to wouldn’t say them just to be mean. Would he?

He always apologizes; he must have only said it out of anger and stress. She believes in his goodness, after all he takes care of her. He’s so sweet sometimes and makes sure she has everything she needs. At least he says he does. She could never talk to her friends about these things because what would they think of her husband if they knew he had these moments of anger. She doesn’t want them to think he’s a bad person and then tell others. What would her husband think of her then? 

As time goes on the outbursts happen more and more as the stress seems to rise in life. The words get more and more harsh and his voice becomes more threatening and intense as he says them. She begins to realize something isn’t right and this can’t just be stress but she can’t quite figure out what is going on. She’s now lost touch with most of her friends and is no longer close enough to confide in them about this for help. Who can she turn to? How do you ask someone what you are doing wrong to make your husband act this way?

It has to be her fault. She should have cleaned the floor better or added more salt to the food so it would taste better. She never should have let the kids be so noisy before he woke up and maybe she should have gotten rid of that toy he doesn’t like so the kids didn’t play with it anymore. She never really was good enough. She tried but just never seemed to learn the right way. She must be stupid like he had been telling her for so long. If only she had realized it earlier so she could seek out better help but now there’s no one to turn to. 

---Hopefully you can see the progression of emotional and mental abuse that was happening above. A few small words here and there, slowly tearing down what makes a person human. Slowly taking away any positive feelings or good self-esteem the person has until they are so beaten down and broken they don’t know where to go. This too is domestic abuse. Many times it accompanies the bruises but sometimes it does not. 

Education is the key and too many women don’t realize this is abuse. These words and constant breaking down of their psyche is normal. They often don’t know to seek help until it’s too late. They wind up taking their own lives or their husbands kill them in a fit of rage. Once she has hit her lowest and starts to feel as useless as the dirt under his feet he sees no value left in her. There is nothing left to rip out of her and destroy. Sometimes he even helps her to think she should die or commit suicide. 

Even though in my example the woman was being abused, the same thing can happen to men as a result of abuse by their wives. It’s a sickening cycle that never seems to break because there just isn’t enough attention to this type of abuse. That is, until it’s too late.

India Domestic Violence Awareness – India adopted the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) however I was unable to find any online resources of value at the time of this writing. If you are knowledgeable about resources available to women in India, please post as a comment. You could save a life.
Assessing Indias Domestic Violence Laws

This post was submitted for the

Tejaswee Rao Blogging Awards

9 comments:

  1. Hmm!! I have had my fair share of abusive relationship! It was more on emotional level than physical and trust me it scars you worse. Luckily I am out of it and in a better state of mind. Abusive relationships are quite prominent in Indian families and its not only men who are abusive. Women are equally abusive.

    http://chintangupta.blogspot.com/

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  2. Nicely written, though from the point of view of a woman. I feel that though women may be vulnerable to more of physical abuse, men suffer more of emotional abuse from women.

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  3. nice article...

    I agree with Vikram on the part that there are men who are also emotionally abused...it's the ego of men that does not let them express it...

    but the proportion of violence against women far outweighs the proportion of violence against men....

    Cheers!
    SUB

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  4. Well written post. Visible bruises are just signs of physical assualt where the invisible ones break a person completely.

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  5. Chintan - it's very good you are out of them! Yes, women are abusive in all ways too and sometimes worse than men because we tend to be more spiteful with our words.

    Vikram - that too is a possibility. I first wrote the post with he/she but then after taking some advice from an editor of mine I removed it down to just he to avoid confusion as the perspective grew. I don't know which sex suffers this type of abuse more, however it all needs to be stopped. This truly is the worst kind of abuse because bruises heal in a few days. Emotional scars can take years.

    SUB - good point. Men are taught to be men and be immune or at least act like it. That too is wrong. Men are just as easily emotionally damaged as women.

    themoonstone - thank you. Words do tear you down further than. I can't help but remember that saying as a child we all hear (in the US at least) "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." I now know that saying couldn't be further from the truth!

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  6. I am glad to see that people are acknowledging that men are vulnerable and and sometimes even worse off because they are socially and genetically wired to internalise the pain. I had blogged about this at http://cybernag.in/2010/08/can-two-wrongs-make-a-right/

    But women are in the majority when it comes to suffering physical abuse.

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  7. Good article. Agreed with all the points of view in here. You must have done all the research, but I do beieve there used to be some TV ads too on this..Kncok the door campaign and the like. i wonder if they were any effective.

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  9. cybernag.in - Absolutely! Men are not immune, just trained to pretend. They can be hurt in very damaging ways. Women can be vile and vindictive and use the insults just for meanness. Men typically use the abuse for control whereas women just want revenge. Both reasons are wrong and need to be stopped.

    Richa - Thank you! I think I will look up those campaigns as I am fairly new to India and haven't heard of them. I don't watch a lot of TV either so that may be why I missed them. I do think that even the smallest efforts help as long as one person sees them. It's like planting seeds of hope.

    John - Thank you!

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