Update: 30/8/2010 : It was brought to my notice that my view on the abuse-perpetrator is a bit misleading. Not all people who abuse their partners have a substance abuse problem or stressor, more over they do not abuse BECAUSE of these stressors. Men behave the way they do because that’s how they’re socialized and because society condones their behavior. While the above might contribute in their violence, the act of violence is a behavioral problem, not primarily an environmental
Some time ago a friend of mine told me about a friend of hers who was in an abusive relationship. This girl’s boyfriend would smack her around even in front of her friends and humiliate her in public but the girl “refused to see light” and stuck to the guy. It might have been the horrified look on my face, of her continued vilification of a friend which made her hastily add “but he is actually a nice guy”.
Abuse in relationships is an underplayed reality. This is because most of the time there is a certain criminal-victim exchange happening, people dont talk about it directly, but the defensive ejaculation by my friend is a small evidence for it. She knows that the guy beats her friend, she has seen her humiliation and tears, in spite of which she thinks he is “nice”. To her credit, among all the abused girls friends, she is the only one who has had the courage to stand up to the guy and ask him to back off in such situations. Yet, even she is unsure of what to do and what to believe.
What she means by “nice” is, when he is not beating up his girlfriend, he is pleasant, often doting towards her, works hard, is not beating up other people.
The had truth is, we believe that the girl deserved it. Else, why would a bunch of doctors who have witnessed a crime happening continue to hide behind the weak excuse of it being a “personal matter” and “she needs to help herself”.
I am willing to concede that ignorance about how to deal with the situation contributes to such beliefs and that most people have no idea how such relationships end or what harm they do to the people involved. Before I get into statistics, here is the basic thing to keep in mind :
The DEFINITION of a good person excludes someone who beats up his girlfriend/ wife. So think this, he is the enemy, the bad person, the criminal, He is NOT a nice g uy. Someone who runs a brothel and uses the profits to educate slum kids is TWICE a sinner, first for running the brothel and killing the souls within it and second for poisoning the children he feeds. He is NOT a nice guy.
Now, the Science and statistics.
Physical abuse has not just physical effects, it affects the woman’s mental emotional and social health also.
A significant portion of women who have been abused do not seek medical help for the injuries themselves, but those who do, present with non specific and chronic pain and bruises from having “bumped into something”. Women who suffer long term abuse, and are battered are found to have more injuries in the head, face, neck, thorax, breasts, and abdomen when compared women injured in other ways. 1
Many women also have to put up with forced sex from intimate partners, which results in sexually-transmitted diseases, bleeding or infection, fibroids, genital irritation, pain on intercourse, and urinary-tract infection. Studies show that the odds of having gynecological problems is upto 3 times more in victims of physical abuse.
Mental effects of abuse are quiet profound too, some studies have shown that the risk of depression and post traumatic stress disorder was higher for abuse victims than even those who have had childhood sexual abuse.
- Major Surgery
- lacerations requiring stitches
- Sexually transmitted infections including HIV
- Loss of vision/hearing
These are some of the prominent outcomes of intimate partner violence that most studies find. 2
In more than half of the cases of abuse, children are witnesses to it. And in upto 5% cases even the children are abused by the partners.
A study from rural south India showed that thirty-four percent of the women surveyed reported having ever been hit, forced to have sex by their husbands or both. Women belonging to lower caste, poorer households, having greater economic autonomy, and whose husbands consumed alcohol were more likely to report violence. Women’s economic autonomy and husbands’ alcohol consumption were significantly associated with violence,independent of caste and economic status. 3
Why does she not realize, react and seek help?
This is typical of a situation in abusive relationship. The reasons are a complex mixture. Many times health care workers who are the first to see the results of intimate partner violence fail to identify it or do nothing about it. This and the social approval for domestic abuse ensures that she “normalizes” the abuse. She is deluded, as people around her that she deserves it, or that he is otherwise nice, or that there is nothing that can be done to help her.
We need to realize that at this stage, it is no longer a personal matter, it is public. We need to step in. Perhaps there is a stressor, maybe the guy is mentally unstable, or there might be substance abuse, or maybe he is just a jerk, whatever be, if we stand by looking, we are accomplices to the slow murder of usr friend, soul first then her body.
Does she deserve it?
Is there any excuse for beating up ones spouse/girlfriend? Suppose she did provoke him, does that mean she should be beaten up?
Let me tackle the “its their personal matter” excuse again
If you see a robber getting into the house next door, do you go back to sleep because it’s a personal matter?
There is absolutely no difference, abusing ones mate is a crime and cases can be registered under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005. Not just that, abuse, as you have seen above, has far reaching consequnces. If you know about it, you should react to it, you might be rejected or ridiculed or even shouted at but not doing anything is akin to abetting murder.
She cannot help herself, people like us who compose the society further make it difficult for her to come out, also she is probably lead to believe that it is her fate or that its ok.
He is not a nice guy.
photo by eyesonmephotography
1 Health consequences of intimate partner violence Jacquelyn C Campbell Lancet 20012; 359; 1331-36
2 Berrios DC, Grady D: Domestic violence-Risk factors and outcomes. West J Med 1991 Aug; 155:133-135
3 Krishnan, Suneeta(2005)'Gender, Caste, and Economic Inequalities and Marital Violence in Rural South
India', Health Care for Women International,26:1,87 — 99