When the world’s oldest woman credits her longevity to two raw eggs a day and walking out of a miserable marriage (“I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,” she explained), it’s time to pause and think. Take or leave the raw eggs, but domestic abuse is something no one should tolerate.
The legal definition of abuse encompasses all aspects of ill treatment by the spouse, be it physical, mental, emotional or financial. But most women don’t need the definition to tell them that they are in an abusive relationship. They just know. Yet, sometimes women find it difficult to accept this. Constant derision and disparagement by the spouse is something that is a part of their daily life and this seeps into their self-conception.
The wife shrugged off [her husband’s abuse] saying, “There must be something wrong with me,” or “It’s for my own good.”
Recently, in a case that I was handling, the husband was constantly finding faults with the way the wife dressed, behaved, her parents, her family background and was admonishing her in public about it all the time. It was clear to me that the wife was in an abusive marriage. But the wife absolutely refused to accept the fact and just shrugged it off saying, “He’s like that,” or “There must be something wrong with me,” or “It’s for my own good.” The situation got worse when he started hitting her, claiming that she was too dumb to understand and her behaviour was forcing him to beat her. Still, the wife refused to accept the situation and kept justifying the husband’s behaviour. In her mind she was wrong and he was right and nothing that her family members or I said has changed her mind. Each time I meet her, her self-esteem is lower than the last time and now the husband has filed for divorce. Guess what? He’s blamed her for the breakup of the marriage and she’s caught like a deer in headlights claiming that she genuinely tried to improve to “meet his standards”. It reminds me so much of my situation when I was in an abusive marriage and it probably mirrors the experience of millions of women across the globe – UN data indicates that one in three women worldwide has experienced physical violence by an intimate partner.
Why would you let someone hold the reins of your life, pulling you back from reaching for the stars and putting them in your latest handbag?
The abuser-victim cycle is so difficult to break and it’s only when you are free of the relationship do you come to realise that you are much more than all the negative qualities that were attributed to you. It’s a metamorphosis from a caterpillar to a butterfly, painful but beautiful. Being in an abusive relationship is not only demeaning, but in extreme cases could be life threatening. Recent examples of young lives lost in the context of domestic abuse include actress Pratyusha Banerjee and Bobbi Kristina Brown.
Why would you let anyone in the world judge you and tell you what to do with your life? What is right and wrong? Why would you let someone hold the reins of your life, pulling you back from reaching for the stars and putting them in your latest handbag? No one has the right to take away your dreams and decide that you are worthless. No one has the right to tell you that you amount to nothing until you make them happy (which is never possible anyway).
Get rid of the abuser, carve out your own destiny. Next time he comes to hit you kick him where it hurts the hardest or better still just walk away from the blows with your head held high.
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Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.in