'I can't take this anymore'

'I can't take this anymore'

grim reality A scene from Provoked , a film based on abusive relationship.

What motivates a person to stay in a relationship that causes emotional and physical pain, one might ask. “Not so simple,” says Amitha Bala, a counsellor with Parivarthan.

“There are several forms of abuse. Physical, verbal, emotional and psychological and can vary from threats to intimidation. In cases of verbal or emotional abuse, it takes people a while to recognise it especially, if the person suffers from low self-esteem. Unlike physical abuse, there are no visible scars to show but the damage is no less.”

“I have observed actual cases of some of my friends staying in abusive relationships. While the circumstances of each one is different, the basic problem is the same. When a woman does not have enough self-confidence to stand on her own  feet or does not value herself enough she becomes vulnerable to an abusive relationship,” says Ema Trinidad, a young businesswoman. While men are generally seen as the abuser and women the victim, there are cases where men remain in abusive relationships. “I have seen sufficient cases to say that spousal abuse is not confined to just one gender although men do find it easier to opt out, some choose to stay on inexplicably,” says Amitha.

Usha Hanumanthappa, a techie feels, “People sometimes believe that the failure of their relationship will hurt their children's future, they fear being alone and hence prefer to compromise with the ‘known devil’. Societal pressure and lack of family or financial support are also contributors.”

Amitha further clarifies, “In most abusive marriages, violence doesn’t happen daily. There are long gaps between episodes and the love that the victims receive during this ‘honeymoon period’ tie them more deeply to the abuser. Unbelievably, it’s hard to walk away from someone you love. Especially when there is hope for change, even if that hope is irrational.”

“People stay in abusive relationships mostly because of family or peer pressure. Sometimes, they might even love the other person and hope that the abuse will stop. In India, the term abusive relationship is only used among the affluent, educated families who have the support and means to break away. Others just bear it with a stiff upper lip fearing social stigma if they leave the relationship,” says Venkat Mangudi, a software engineer.

 “A stay at home mom is usually completely dependent on the financial support of her husband. An abusive marriage can be more attractive than the idea of leaving with no where to go and no money to live on. It takes a lot of courage to step out of a familiar environment no matter how threatening that environment may be,” says Sunitha George,
who runs a shelter for battered women. “There are ways to end the abuse once the victim decides to opt out. Shelters, helplines and NGOs offering assistance will come forward once the person plucks up the courage and  takes that decisive step forward.”

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