Hey there! Hope you are doing good!… I just have One Question for You. Have you ever felt unsafe or fearful while you are around another person? If the answer is ‘Yes’ then it’s most likely that you are a victim of Domestic Violence and Physical Abuse. In a patriarchal society, where male dominance is considered a right, it is mostly women (approximately 95% of all domestic violence cases) who are a victim of Physical Assault. Whether it may be a Wife who wants a Career, or a Girlfriend who has other Male Friends, a Daughter who Speaks her mind or even a Sister who steps outside ‘Society Norms’ – all are likely to be subjected to some form of Domestic Abuse.
Don’t Accept, Forgive and Forget –
Most women are taught to ‘tolerate’ dominance from men. It may be their Husbands, Boyfriends, Fathers, Brother and even Sons. It is engrained in us to ‘Accept’, ‘Forgive’ and ‘Forget’. The fact that our mothers and grandmothers played a role in building up this perception is open to debate.
On the one hand they were subjected to this ‘Male Oppression’ themselves, while on the other hand, they taught us three wretched short sentences – ‘It’s Alright’, ‘Keep Quiet’ and ‘Don’t Argue’.
Have you ever feel the need to cover up for spousal misbehaviour? Ever applied make up to hide your bruises? Have you ever winced in pain and then silenced yourself quickly so that others don’t notice? Have you ever lied regarding marks on your body? Ever locked yourself up in the bathroom in order to escape your husband’s wrath? Have you ever laughed out loud in front of friends while your insides were screaming with pain? Ever lowered your eyes in public with shame when someone talks about women empowerment?
If the answer to any of this is ‘Yes’ then it is high time that you seek help. It is never too late to get out of an abusive relationship. You get to live once, and that ‘once’ should be the best life ever!
The Changing Times:
With education spreading its wings, people coming out with their stories, women taking a stand in society and social media calling out the hypocrisy, things are looking up in recent times. Now, most women below the age of 50 have ‘Found a Voice’. They no longer accept the unacceptable. What happens behind closed doors does not remain there if it gets out of hand. Bruised faces are no longer covered with foundation. It is not only the women, but men too who are joining hands and becoming a part of this revolution.
“No person has to be a victim of physical abuse. Women have to know that they are not alone.”
While it may seem exaggerated, there is at least one victim of Domestic Violence and Physical Abuse in a Family. Yes, that’s right! That’s how high the numbers are!
If you are reading this blog, and somewhere, in some deep corner, hiding what your husband did to you one night, remember that you are Not Alone! Whenever you feel helpless, don’t give up. If today, you give up, then you will lay down the dignity of all women who have suffered Domestic Abuse along with you!
If you’re a victim of Domestic Violence and Physical Abuse – know that you can get help. In addition to police assistance, legal prosecution of the abuser, restraining orders, and institutional support, there are a lot of resources available.
What is Domestic Violence and Physical Abuse?
Physical abuse is when someone intentionally damages another person’s body by using the force of their own body. Physical abuse can occur in all kind or relationships and friendships, while dating or in marital relationships.
Nobody, not even your parent, partner, child, friend or a sibling has the right to physically harm you.
Domestic Violence and Physical Abuse occurs when one person hurts or is trying to hurt another person by grabbing, pushing, shoving, hitting, pulling, kicking, pinching, slapping, hair pulling and dragging, spitting, denying medical care, forcing to indulge in sexual acts, using physical force to take drugs or alcohol or burning the other person while fully aware or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Domestic Violence and Physical Abuse takes place in the following situations –
If a person –
- Throws physical objects – phones, plate, food, hot tea etc. at you.
- Chokes, Pushes, drags or kicks you.
- Leaves you alone or abandons you in the middle of nowhere.
- Tries to scare you by Driving Rashly.
- Uses an object or weapon to physically intimidate you.
- Spits at You.
- Makes you forcefully leave your premises.
- Does not let you out of a room or your house.
- Hits your Children.
- Sexually Assaults you.
- Stops you from calling the Police or seeking Medical Attention.
Any form of Domestic Violence and Physical Abuse scars a person for life.
India has Women Cells in each city which are dedicated to cases involving Domestic Violence, Rape, Dowry, Abuse, Sexual and Physical Assault, Sexual Harassment and other Women related issues.
Helpline Number – India – 8793088814
Profile of a Domestic Abuser:
Domestic Abusers are extremely sharp and double faced. They will never show their violent streak in public. Domestic Abusers live under constant fear of being judged. They keep up a façade in front of people so that if they are ever caught then this façade can act as a safety net to protect them.
Broadly, a Domestic Abuser has the following characteristics –
1) Perfectionist with Unrealistic Expectations –
A domestic abuser always wants things to be perfect. He also expects things to be as per his wishes. For example, a wife beater would expect his partner to get up early morning and cook for him, wash his clothes, keep the house clean, take care of his parents needs, look after his children, have the perfect figure and earn money to support the family. If anything goes out of plan or is less than perfect, he takes no time to blow his top off and turn to physical assault.
2) Lack of Emotional Control –
A Domestic Abuser has minimal or no control on his emotions in front of the victim. He thrives on the fear he invokes in her. It makes him feel powerful and important. In case she tries to answer back or retaliate, he senses a loss of power and immediately loses his cool.
3) Similar Behavior with All Women Close to Him –
A Domestic Abuser does not respect women. It is as plain and simple as that. He considers them a sex object or someone who will cook for them or produce his children. He feels that he is the only intelligent one around and the women are no better than furniture. A Domestic Abuser treats his mother, sister, wife and daughter in the same manner – cruelty and disdain.
4) Good at Mind Games –
A Domestic Abuser is manipulative and good at mind games. He never lets his true personality come out in public. His first priority is to protect himself from any backlash he may face if the victim comes out with the truth. He tries to project an unsatisfactory image of his partner in front of friends and family and always shows himself to be troubled by her. A Domestic Abuser tries to project that he cares for her and makes sacrifices, but she is loud, outspoken and disrespectful to his wishes. He hopes to gain sympathy from people if things go down spiral in the long run.
5) Over Pampered by His Family –
Domestic Abusers are mostly over pampered by their parents. The parents and siblings know exactly what the Domestic Abuser is capable of but choose to protect him. Their love for a sick child, who grows up to be a horrendous man, leads to the ruin of the innocent victim’s life. They set unrealistic expectations from future wives and girlfriends to tolerate anger and expectations. The Abuser has never been told off for his unscrupulous behavior as a child, so he will expect that his wife also treats him with love and respect despite the physical assault. Most family members even cover for the abuser even after his actions have become public in the hope that he will finally improve. But believe me…Once an Abuser, Always an Abuser.
6) Wonderful Story Tellers –
Domestic Abusers have a knack of good story telling. They can twist and turn any situation to their advantage. Even if they are caught red handed during a physical assault, they will manufacture some excuse for it. They have an uncanny ability to create alternate realities to any situation to shift the blame from themselves. The funny part is that they actually start believing their own version of the story in order to rid themselves off the guilt.
7) Pathological Liars
It is no surprise that domestic abusers are compulsive liars. They live in their own bubble where they shield themselves of any guilt of being abusive. In order to protect their bubble from bursting, they will resort to any amount of lies. It is often said ‘An abuser actually lives his lie‘. For him, the lie is the only reality, everything else is just superficial.
8) Addiction to Alcohol or Drugs –
More often than not, domestic abusers have some sort of an addiction. Mostly it is to alcohol or substance abuse, but it can be of other things as well. There can be addiction to sex, work, sports, video games or even food. They indulge in these addictions to escape from reality – A reality in which they are the actual Villain!
9) Narcissistic and Selfish Nature –
The basic belief of a domestic abuser is that he is always right. He believes in this concept to such a degree that anyone who opposes it becomes his enemy. Selfishness and Preservation engulfs his whole being. He turns spiteful and negative from his very core. In order to hide this trait, his whole life is spent fabricating an image of a good-doer. There are so many layers to his personality that he himself often forgets his true nature.
10) Financial Instability –
It is a given fact that He who is not stable in the mind can never be financially stable. There is a tendency to be a miser on one side, and an itch to over spend on the other end. He is always over reaching his own financial boundaries. As a result, he is always in need of money. This is also a major factor of the anger and the frustration that builds up inside a domestic abuser. His ambition, needs and wants always get the better of his limited good sense.
The Victim Makes ONE Mistake –
The one mistake a victim makes is protecting the abuser. Narcissistic abusers make the other person feel that whatever has happened is the victims fault. The Woman, who is already distraught and vulnerable, believes it half-heartedly. She falls prey to the blame game which the abuser tries to brain wash her with. She stays in fear that if someone finds out about his actions, he will be held accountable and she will be responsible for breaking up the family.
In some cases, the women are also financially dependent on the man. She lives in fear that if she reports the physical assault then there will be no one to feed her or her children. At times, her own family pressurises her to overlook domestic abuse and go on as it is. They fear their daughters life ‘falling apart’ and ‘society backlash’.
So, the helpless victim sacrifices her self-respect, gulps down the fear, tolerates the pain and sleeps on her wounds hoping that tomorrow will be a better day.
Domestic Violence and Physical Abuse without Direct Contact –
Physical Abuse can also be without Direct Contact with the other person. Take for example – Someone may spit at you. Although they did not physically strike you, spitting at someone is still a bodily act. Worse, they may hurl something at you, such as a chair or hit you with a bat. Again, no actual body-to-body contact occurred, but the act itself is strictly classified as domestic violence.
Domestic Violence and Physical Abuse Will Not Happen ‘Just Once’:
Physical abuse is a punishable crime whether it occurs within or outside of the family or in an intimate relationship. The police have the authority and capacity to protect you from physical assault. Physical abuse is a crime even if it occurs just once. No one has the right to touch you Even ONCE.
You may falsely believe for the first time that the physical assault will never occur again and it was a one-time thing. Your partner may try to persuade you that it won’t happen again and he is extremely sorry for it. He may make an excuse of being under the influence of alcohol. The abuse may cease, but in all probability, it will happen again. This is because the abuser got away by manipulating you the first time. If he sees no severe repercussions of the first time he abused you, he may feel that it is a safe and secret way to vent his anger and frustration.
The Empty Apology –
Most abusers only apologize for the first time. After it happens the second or the third time, there is no apology as well. The abuser always feels that the victim does things which invoke the feeling of anger and violence in him. He convinces himself and the victim that he is normal and happy with other people, but when it comes to her, she does things to provoke him.
In reality, all these are despicable excuses to absolve oneself of a heinous crime of physical assault. The abuser does not want to believe that it is him who is mentally diseased and handicapped at accepting his own flaws. He has no control over his emotions or his actions. He is actually a big coward to not own up to his mistakes and blame it on the victim.
Effects of Domestic Violence and Physical Abuse
Physical abuse can have long-term consequences for your physical and emotional health. Domestic Violence – Physical Abuse can result in various chronic issues –
- Increased Fear or Anxiety
- Lack of Trust in the Male Community
- Anger and Frustration
- Shame and Guilt
- Social Withdrawal
- Economic Instability
- Alcohol or Drugs Dependence
- Vindictive and Defensive Nature
- Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases due to Increased Stress
- High Blood Pressure and Digestive Issues
- Vision Problems or Seizures
- Lack of Self Esteem
- Difficulty in forming future relationships
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Visible Injuries and Scars
- Pregnancy Complications – Miscarriages and Still Birth
- Negative effect on Child Development
- Confused and Unstable Mind
Domestic Violence Survival Tips:
Making a safety plan will help you in knowing what to do if your spouse or someone else near you abuses you.
1) Get Close Friends on Board –
Create a code word to alert friends, relatives, or neighbors that you are in danger without the abuser knowing. Agree on a hidden spot where they can pick you up if the situation arises.
2) Make a Safety List –
Important identification documents and money are most likely the top priorities. Gather these things and store them somewhere your partner will not discover them. Leave without them if you are in immense danger.
3) Collect Proof of Abuse –
Getting proof of physical assault is vital if you want to hold the abuser accountable. It is also helpful if you want to get out of the relationship quickly. Proof may include recordings of threats from your partner. It might include copies of police and medical records. It might contain images of your injuries or property damage.
4) Take Self – Defense Classes –
Defending yourself is the only option where there is domestic violence and physical abuse. In such dire circumstances the woman is likely to be alone with only the abuser present. Hence the onus is on you to protect yourself. You should be physically strong to defend yourself in such a situation.
The only defense you require is to hold the person back till you escape the room or the house. There are several self – defense classes which are available at gyms for women of all ages. It is better to prepare yourself for all physical assault eventualities than regret later.
Living with Domestic Violence and Physical Abuse –
Suffering through Domestic Violence and Physical Abuse is worse than anything that can be put into words. While a person who hears you out may empathize and sympathize with your situation, he or she cannot really live of feel what you go through. An inferiority complex takes root at the very base of our being. Whether you are educated or not, have exposure or not, are financially stable or not, being physically abused cannot let you think rationally.
Most people advise that the victim should have spoken out the first time she was being abused. However, they fail to understand the influence a domestic abuser has over her. She has to grapple with the fact that she has lost her self respect in front of the person whom she trusted her life with. She also knows hearts of hearts that the abuse will happen again and hates herself for turning a blind eye. A small part of her blames herself for landing in this situation and giving someone else so much power over her. Even a smaller part called ‘Hope’ makes waves in her distraught mind – of the Domestic Abuser miraculously turning into a new leaf.
To Expose a Domestic Abuser –
There is no second opinion that one must expose a domestic abuser as all abusers are serial abusers. They are pleasant-looking predators who will ruin the lives of every woman who comes close to them. Each of us, who has ever been faced with a domestic abuser has a responsibility towards society to make his true face known. Whether people believe you or not, take him to task or not, is not your responsibility. It will at least send a warning signal to all others who enter his life in future.
The Road Ahead for the Victim –
While there is no one-way to heal after a physical assault, having a good support system around you helps in moving forward.
Personally speaking, I do not feel shame and guilt for being physically assaulted anymore. I do not hold myself responsible for the abuser raising a bat on me or punching my nose. After exposing his deeds and throwing him out of my life, my life has changed for the better – a hundred times over. I no longer live in constant fear. It still gives me nightmares a few nights a month, but I know I sleep safe and with dignity.
Family and friends continue to help me every day to live through this ordeal. While I still get startled when someone shouts out loud, but I know deep down inside, that I now have the power to shout back!