Any act that threatens the well-being of an individual is termed as abuse, while domestic violence is the systematic method in which one partner gains power and control by instilling fear and forcing subservience. Violence is not only physical abuse, but emotional, economic, verbal, and sexual. The social stigma of public dishonor is the greatest cause for a woman to become trapped in this atrocious environment, and another important reason is economic dependence on her perpetrator.
Many women believe that staying with her husband and tolerating this abuse would be in the best interest of her children, as the family is kept together. But a study conducted by psychologists saw those infants that were victims of extreme abuse, had also become abusive towards other children and lacked the ability to express empathy. Abuse becomes a learned behavior, and a vicious cycle. Studies have shown it is in the best interest of the child for the parents to separate if they cannot maintain a healthy relationship. A mother is doing a disservice to her child by continuing with her toxic relationship, and a greater disservice to herself.
There are severe effects of domestic violence on the victim. She slowly becomes dependent on the male as her freedom is snatched from her and she is cut off from family and friends, she is made to feel incompetent and doesn’t have the confidence to leave him. If a daughter sees her father abusing her mother, and is a victim of that abuse herself, subconsciously she is more than likely to choose a partner who will show the same traits. When she will go through the same experiences as her mother, it brings a feeling of normalcy and a greater acceptance of this indiscriminate act, as her mother suffered in silence for years so will she.
The famous ‘Bell Bajao’ campaign encouraged residents to stop domestic violence by ringing the doorbell whenever violence was suspected. The problem is that even though we are aware of a neighbor whose shouts are heard due to pain, we tend to mind my own business and walk away. It’s not that we don’t feel bad; it’s that the ‘bystander effect’, a concept of social psychology comes into play. We believe that someone else will help that individual, someone braver, stronger, and more experienced in handling this situation.
Women are usually afraid to report cases of domestic abuse in fear that her husband will be arrested, that a long legal proceeding will ensue bringing public shame and scrutiny. For this reason ‘Special Cells’ have been created, it provides counseling to husbands and wives where they teach communication methods, and the counselors slowly work to remove aggression. The first attempt is always to save the marriage, as the solution to domestic violence is not always separation. Yet this decision is in the hands of the wife, if she believes she does not want to stay with her husband then she is not obliged to go through counseling.
Now the law is on women’s side, with the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act (2005), the Indian Law has come to realize that there are multifaceted problems faced by women in domestic affairs. This Act protects women, helps women, and also provides safety to women economically, physically and mentally. When a woman files an FIR against her abuser, she gets immediate help from the police and there is no delay in nabbing the criminal. Now, a woman does not have to go through a battery of cross questioning where her integrity is put to question, she is legally in the position of power and her needs are met first.
We tend to ignore the fact that help is needed from both sides. The abuser needs to go for psychological counseling and should have anger management therapy, while the victim needs counseling to regain her sense of self and individuality, to make her more independent and self-assured. Being an extremely aggressive individual with no control over your emotions does not have to be your destiny, it can be stopped with the application of the right methods and getting the right help.