Thursday, February 18, 2010

Abusive relationships (Contd.)

In my previous post I had asked “What makes a woman put up with an abusive relationship? Is it love alone or is there a fear factor involved? Is divorce a solution?”

I think not. Not unless a strong will to confront the abuser is involved as the following example illustrates.

If J married a man of her choice, G had an arranged marriage. Her husband was a bank manager and they were married after their horoscopes were duly matched and declared very compatible. G was a small town girl and in awe of life in a metro when she accompanied her husband to New Delhi. Three months after her marriage her mother came to Delhi to invite the couple to come over to Ajmer to celebrate the first Deepavali after marriage. She saw the girl cooking in aluminum vessels and was surprised to hear that her husband had rented a bank locker to put away all the steel ware and other costly items given to her at the time of her marriage. The mother being worldly wise and experienced realized that the girl was being taken for a ride and began investigating her son in law’s credentials. The truth was bitter. The son in law was victim to every bad habit one could think of and had sold off not only her jewelry and silver ware but also her costly saris and steel ware. He was heavily into debt and drew only a fourth of his salary. When negotiations with his family failed, the mother insisted on a divorce and the court granted it within a year. The family moved to interior Tamilnadu.

As luck would have it G’s mother died in an accident soon after the divorce came through. Her father was a mild mannered person who had let his wife handle things. G’s husband took advantage of the situation and began to pester them again. He would visit them from time to time and ask for money. He had been dismissed from his bank job and found sadistic pleasure in torturing G and her father. He would buy stuff from the local store on credit and the shop owner would come to their doorstep to ask for money. He would pop up from nowhere when she went out and snatch her purse and take out whatever money she had managed to earn by coaching school children. The father could take it no more and died soon after. Her younger brother, who had faced the loss of both parents even before he finished college, took up a job and soon married a colleague and G had absolutely no one to turn to. Someone suggested that the local church needed someone to sweep and swab the place and would give the person food and shelter in the convent as well as a nominal remuneration. Would she be interested in working for them? She felt that it was the best option available and agreed to work there although the church insisted on conversion. Religion had no relevance to a woman in her position and anyone who could shelter her from the abusive husband was Almighty personified as far as she was concerned. Relatives and their so-called well wishers criticize G but do they have a right to do so? What kind of protection does a woman like her have under the circumstances? She is a distant relative of mine. I had suggested that she come over to Jamshedpur. Our town, being far from her native place in Tamilnadu, would perhaps be beyond the reach of her husband. She was good at sewing ladies and children’s garments and I could get orders for her from my college. She could stay at our place for the first few months and move out later once she established herself. Her sister and aunt vetoed the idea saying that it was too far away from their place and should she face any problem it would be difficult for them to attend to her. However, I am glad she found a safe haven in a convent. This was perhaps the best solution.

Take the case of Sa whose marriage to her colleague KS came as a surprise to anyone who knew the two of them. She was a convent educated, brilliant girl from an affluent background with a promising future and had taken up a job in a primary school just to keep herself occupied. She was preparing for competitive exams and hoped to make it to the administrative service or a nationalized bank. KS, on the other hand was an average student from a middle class background and would be happy to see his temporary job in the school regularized. That theirs was a mismatch was evident to all but the couple concerned. Sa’s parents were merely informed that they were getting married in court and they could act as witnesses to the marriage if they so wished. Unable to let down their daughter, they followed her to court and later to their house with a whole lot of household goods and stuff. With time they became fond of their son in law and he reciprocated in good measure. Sa got a job in a reputed bank and left her job in the school. Soon a crack in the seemingly good relationship between them began to show. The couple had a son who was growing very fond of his father. Sa then decided that she would divorce KS before further damage was done and their son began to miss his father. The world blamed Sa and declared her head strong and willful. Her parent’s plea fell on deaf ears. She had decided to divorce her husband of 5 years and that was the end to the story of their marriage. No questions were asked or answered. One later heard different versions of their failed marriage but nothing was confirmed or denied. But today we know that KS was into drugs and alcohol and also had a weakness for women and it was only fair that Sa withdrew herself from his life keeping her son’s future in mind. If she had gotten into a messy relationship she was smart enough to come out of it. She was certainly not going to let the world decide for her. I do not know for sure if their relationship was an abusive one. I, for one felt that Sa had perhaps pre-empted an unsavory situation before much damage was done.

I stand by my claim that an abusive relationship cannot be addressed by anyone except the concerned persons and that too not unless one wants to. It requires a lot if inner strength to stand up against an abusive partner. Divorce too cannot offer protection as G’s case indicates nor can relatives or friends - much as they may want to. It is for the person concerned to decide what the best option would be under the given circumstances.


Usha said...

Hi, Thanks for tagging me. IO posted my entry here:
but I cannot link it in the comments section in the Indusladies site, I cannot comment there. What do i do?

Anonymous said...


In the second case, it may be that KS started taking drugs and alcohol only after broken marriage which is common in weak men, when no one is there for them and as they feel rejected.

I'm not sure can it be concluded, that Sa broke the marriage for that reason; maybe she found him not suitable as she grew.

This is just My opinion.


apu said...

HHG, I do agree with you that ultimately a strong will is needed from the victim, else she cannot survive. However, don't you think this will is strengthened if she knows other people will support her?

Thanks for tagging me btw - my response is here -

starry eyed said...

Liked your post. I'm glad to read that these women made it despite all the odds. I wish we could figure out what it is that gives some women the strength to stand up and walk out even without any support, while others who would have all the support they needed suffer more abuse in the name of love and devotion?

Hip Grandma said...

Usha:Thanks for doing the tag. I read your post and commented too. It was an insightful post and I do hope we are able to take positive steps in this direction.

Anon:You may be right but it could also be that KS felt inadequate as a husband and resorted to drugs and alcohol to conceal his shortcomings rather than work towards improving himself. An inferiority complex can ruin a marriage in ways that cannot be explained.

apu:Support of other people cannot help unless it is supplimented with a will to resist abuse. In the examples quoted in the previous post as well as this one J and G did have family support but the final decision was their own. In the case of Sa society and her own family did not support her decision. But she stuck to her decision to call the marriage off. So the will to tackle a difficult situation need more than anything else, a strong will.

Smi:The mental tuning of the girl child is such that it is difficult to imagine life without the protection of a husband - so what if he beats one up each and every day. I hear of a mother whose husband used to get drunk and beat her up in front of her grown up sons. The older one would offer himself on her behalf. When he left home to study he deputed his younger brother to take care of things. This is not a cooked up story believe me and the couple belong to the upper rung of society and are very well off. Any explanation for this kind of sub servience?

starry eyed:There comes a time when one's patience is tried to the maximum and nothing matters. Most of these women have decided that nothing matters anymore and they step out of an abusive relationship because they can take no more of it. As for the sufferers, they have their own valid reasons which to an outsider seem absurd. That is why we need to be understanding of the victim whether she opts out or remains in an abusive relationship.

hillgrandmom said...

HHG, my personal opinion is that if the woman has some kind of self-confidence, she is able to walk out of an abusive relationship, or a cheating husband. But if she is a person with no self-confidence, she would feel that she was incapable of fending for herself and may even feel she deserves some of what she gets!! Of course having a good education is always a help.

Hip Grandma said...

hillgmom:when I talk of inner strength that is exactly what i mean.confidence is absolutely essential to tackle problems one faces in life including an abusive relationship.

simplyshuchi said...

Dear Hip Grandmother,

I came to your Blog via the Indusladies link, but I found it so nice to read that I started all the way from the first post and finished on this one.

I love the way you write, but more than that I love your attitude. I am young girl, less than half your age, and I hope I will be able to face life with the optimisim that you have shown. I am married and currently living in Melbourne. But i was born and brought up in Jamshedpur where my father worked in Tinplate. Your blog brings back fond memories of my city.

Thankyou for sharing all these amazing stories with us.

If it is not too much trouble, I would like to mail you sometime.

Hip Grandma said...

shuchita:Nice to hear that whatever I write impresses youngsters like you.Each time I think of winding up my blog a comment such as yours peps me up and I start anew with increased enthusiasm. i have however begun to feel that I am becoming repetitive. you are welcome to write to me anytime. my id is as well as however I regularly check the former.

Unknown said...

How true P . Abusive relationships have to be resolved only by the people involved . If one chooses to end it then it should be honoured .
P I havent had the time to do the tag although I did start one . Apologies .

Tys on Ice said...

I dont know why breaking off a relationship requires justification to people who had no say in its formation. We seem to forget that relationship is an act of convienince. Its a mutually agreeable arrangement, therefore if it doesnt seem to work between 2 parties , it logically shud be dissolved. I do agree that like in any relationship, a certain amount of compromise , tolerance, give and take shud exist. If the concerned parties are incapable of that then I would say that they are not ready for something as complex as a relationship which to a large extent involves modifying the self to accomodate another.

in my book, every relationship is abusive.It just varies in degrees.

(iam going to deny all this if mads reads this :)...)

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