Help at hand for marital distress

A 29-year-old jumped to death with an infant son earlier this week. Suicide is no answer to marital abuse, counsellors say.

Bhavana jumped to death from the seventh floor of White House on Dinnur Main Road, R T Nagar. DH PHOTOS BY SK DINESH

Shock and gloom pervade the White House apartment complex in R T Nagar, a day after one of its residents jumped to death with her infant son.

When Metrolife visited the spot on Wednesday, the ground, with blood stains, was cordoned off.

Evening walkers, all residents of the apartment block, and playing children were talking about the tragedy. 

Bhavana (29) jumped with her only child Devnath (2).

Bhavana, the 29-year-old who plunged to death, was rarely seen outside the house, neighbours said. 

Bhavana, hailing from Bengaluru, was married to Arihanth.

She jumped from a seventh floor flat. Her father has accused her husband of abusing her and pushing her to suicide.

Archana, who has lived in the neighbourhood for a year and a half, says no untoward incident had ever taken place around the apartment. 

A tenth standard student saw Bhavana seconds after she jumped. “She was still alive and her body was writhing,” he told Metrolife. The boy gets nightmares and hasn’t been able to sleep.

Women in the apartment say Bhavana should have found help for her marital difficulties. 

“She was educated and it wouldn‘t have been difficult for her to get a job. There are so many people like her,” said a woman who lives in a flat near Bhavana’s. Another woman believes it was Amavasya on July 2 (the day the incident took place), and the full moon aggravates depression.

How to spot an abusive relationship

- Partner tries to control all aspects of life.

- Undermines the other‘s confidence.

- Blames partner for every problem.

- Gets aggressive when important questions are raised.

- Justifies behaviour saying, ‘I love you so much.’

What triggers abuse?

- No common ground

- Possessiveness

- Lack of transparency

Desire to dominate

(Source: Vanitha Sahayavani)

From the counsellors’ case files

Overbearing husband

A few months into an arranged marriage, the 26-year-old wife realises her husband does not participate in any household chores. He tells her to handle everything on her own. He also begins to dictate the way she should dress, whom she should meet and talk to, and starts hinting that she is having an extra-marital affair. He constantly puts down her abilities, and undermines her confidence. Over time, she loses her ability to cope. She takes an overdose of sleeping pills and is rushed into emergency.

Child shudders in fear

The marriage between a 26-year-old woman and her 30-year-old husband is on the rocks because of his bad temper. He abuses her verbally and sometimes physically. He doesn’t miss the smallest opportunity to humiliate her in public. When confronted, he blames his behaviour on work pressure. Her parents advise her to stay in the marriage, and don’t provide any help. She sees her little daughter shudder and hide when he raises his voice. She finally seeks separation, and is released from the unending anxiety.

Nervous breakdown

A techie in an arranged marriage realises her husband doesn’t care about her even when she is ill. She also discovers he is seeing a colleague. When she confronts him, he says she is not ‘broad-minded.’ After repeated, failed attempts to mend the relationship, she slips into depression. Psychiatric treatment helps her cope.

Abusive partners refuse therapy 

Marital counselling is a challenge because not all couples are amenable to reason, says Dr Divyashree K R, consultant psychiatrist, Aster CMI.

In a week, she counsels at least two or three women in abusive relationships. “Most are educated and earn good salaries.  Their partners are extremely abusive but project a good image to the outside world,” she observes. The underlying need in an abusive partner is to control and dominate. “Abusive partners can be extremely charming with others, showing no signs of violence in any other interactions. This behaviour is reserved only for the spouse,” adds Dr Divyashree.

Marital counselling is suggested, but since abusive people are not distressed, they don‘t participate in therapy. In such cases, separation is the only choice, says Dr Divyashree.

Every day, 10 women seek help at police help centre for women

Bhavana is not alone when it comes to educated women suffering in silence in unhappy marriages. Senior counsellors with Vanitha Sahayavani, a wing of the Bengaluru police, get at least 10 cases a day. “Verbal and physical abuse by the husband and in-laws top the list of problems women come with. And most of them have suicidal tendencies as well,” says Saraswati BS, senior counsellor, Vanitha Sahayavani.

Women seeking help are usually between 30 and 40 years. “Incompatibility, financial differences and possessiveness trigger abuse in marriages,” she says.  Suicide is a complex multifactorial phenomenon that has no single attributable cause, says Dr Senthil Kumar Reddi, additional professor of psychiatry, Nimhans. Suicide could be triggered by multiple problems a person is facing, he says.

Victims of verbal, emotional and physical abuse suffer from various mental health problems not restricted to depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorders.</p>
"These remain undiagnosed and untreated due to the stigma associated with mental health problems. As a result, individuals suffer from these illnesses for prolonged periods with increased vulnerability for suicide,” he explains. 

Call for help

- Vanitha Sahayavani: 080-26676050

- Maanas: 99005 42739

- Optima Clinic: 99800 94600 



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