Trigger warning: Domestic violence / abuse
Did you know that it takes 7 attempts on an average for a woman to leave her abuser?
This statistic made me sit up in shock while mulling over what could possibly be the reasons that would make any woman take so much time to snap and move away from a situation of domestic violence.
I’ve seen Domestic violence up close a few years ago, when one of my woman bosses came into office wearing dark glasses & kept them on through the day. She brushed it off by saying she was in an accident and a relatively young me who had never encountered anything like this didn’t really think it was unusual.
Then, one day she broke down and shared how her so called polished and respectable husband would beat her up at drop of a hat. “It is a lie”, I thought to myself. “How can such a polished and respectable person be an abuser?” That was the day it dawned to me that an abuser can be in any strata of society. They’re NOT only the husbands of our house help who beat them up after drinking. They could be very near to you, they could also be one of you!
Darlings is a recently released movie with Alia Bhatt as the main protagonist who suffers domestic violence from her alcoholic, abusive husband & how she deals with it. It got me thinking about domestic violence and abuse.
I’ve always wondered why the woman just can’t leave such a situation. On probing, most of them say:
“It’s not easy to just leave”
“I don’t want to just give up my relationship”
“It’s easy for you to say just quit, you’re not in my place”
“I know he will change”
“He loves me too much, it’s just the alcohol”
“Society will question me /my parents”
Digging deeper, I believe that most victims form an emotional bond with their abusers. There’s a love-hate relationship; while blaming themselves for the situation that they are in, they also develop empathy for their abusers.
Pendulum behaviour – In the movie, the husband showcases typical abusive behaviour, switching like a pendulum between showering love, being aggressive, abusive & again being a loving husband. The victim chooses to live only in those happy moments & keeps giving her abuser the benefit of doubt.
Emotional blackmail – The abuser keeps talking to the victim, reiterating how great her life is in his company & that she is & will be nothing without him. This further demoralises an already low on confidence victim, who’ll end up believing her abuser & lacks the courage to take a drastic step. Such abusers also tend to be extremely sharp. In this case, he started using her plan to get things from her & keep her in check; like where she keeps saying she wants a baby & he keeps promising her one to get her to toe his line.
Creating toxicity in the environment – Constantly pointing out her mistakes, blowing them out of proportion, suffocate & punish her for making decisions on her own, belittle her, be extremely possessive about her, isolate her from her support system which in this case was her mother.
Gaslighting – Was common here, when Badru (played by Alia) starts doubting her own sanity. She’s unsure of what is actually right or what is true. In her efforts to not to displease her husband or upset him in any way, she would just go with the flow. She stopped being herself!
My two bits here – While I know it is not easy for any victim to step out. I do believe that by not taking action you are making your abuser stronger. They are literally feeding off your emotions & weaknesses, feeding of the fact that you’re too scared to take the decision to walk out. But did you ever stop to think that nothing can be worse than the situation you are in currently?
Take that leap of faith! There are enough people to help you and support you. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org & I will guide you.
About the Author
Smita Shetty Kapoor is the CEO & Co-Founder of KelpHR and a subject matter expert. KelpHR’s flagship offering of varied services under the umbrella of PoSH, from legal compliance to best practices, was Smita’s brainchild. She is also tirelessly working towards creating awareness about Diversity & Inclusion and is the only Indian to rank amongst the world’s top 10 diversity consultants in the year 2020.
Smita is empaneled with over 30 organizations to help them monitor the working of the Internal Complaints Committee (IC) and also works as third-party support to help companies investigate cases of harassment. An active blogger, Smita loves hosting interviews and talk shows on subjects pertaining to PoSH, women & LGBT rights, and empowerment.
KelpHR was incorporated in 2013 to provide the best HR solutions to organizations, and to improve workplace culture across the board. Over the last 8 years, we have serviced more than 700 clients in India and a few overseas, across various industries in the areas of PoSH (prevention of sexual harassment at workplace), D, E & I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and EAP. But the common objective of all of these services is to build safer, happier, inclusive and productive workplaces.
For more information on Prevention of Sexual Harassment offerings by KelpHR, posh online training and certification, filing annual reports, third party empanelment, external members on the IC or any of our other offerings EAP (Employee Assistance Programs), D,E&I (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) please contact email@example.com or call us at +91-9500129652.