To ring or not to ring…

indiblogger 1

ringing the bell,

imagine, walking up to someone’s house and ringing the bell, because you or I heard some violent behaviour there, what if you accost denial.

In fact that is what happens most of the times. The govt. Defines domestic violence as “Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

I have had women walk into my clinic with broken front tooth claiming to trip hit the door knob whatever.

One particular instance the person walked up to me to talk about it and but backed out when the counsellor turned up. This is essentially because we are talking of complexities here.

Ever thought of what a woman would feel when she is hit? I remember being slapped constantly as I grew up I never liked it, the unfairness of it was making me furious, it is followed by a sense of being humiliated in such way that we learn to disintegrate, and become removed from pain. This is the shortest route to psychic ruin.

The cycle of violence starts when one partner feels the need to control and dominate the other.  This could be due to low self-esteem, extreme jealousy, anger issues a sense of inferiority. Many of these behaviours are learnt from family, community or other cultural influences during growing up.

Many children learn this as a  form of conflict resolving. Intimidating specially is a great one. Then there are triggers like alcohol, substance abuse etc.

Laws alone are not enough,  this has to be collective movement. Ringing the bell is not only intruding into a volatile space,which would only postpone the act, hence could render it more damaging.

The healing process would begin only when the victim asks for help. That would mean the victim needs to accept that the abuse does occur.  A frank physical assault seems to be the only form of domestic violence acknowledged but it could manifest in many ways.

The input from the crime victims, and women’s help line shows.

  • Domestic violence occurs across, socio-economic classes.
  • 85-90% of the victims are women.
  • 39% land up has hospital emergencies.
  • 84% of injuries are caused by intimate partners.

Some of the behaviour patterns that can be identified as abusive themselves, though they tend to manifest as tactics in the larger pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour. Defining gender role at home and in the relationship, and taking decisions for the victim, without consent.

Some  signs that should ring the bell of caution in the threats and intimidation that a person does, like glaring and staring at a person to force compliance, breaking and smashing objects, physical behaviour that intimates, threatening acts of homicide, suicide or injury,

Recognizing these patterns early help to prevent the problem–

Physical tactics

  • Pushing, shoving,
  • Restraining
  • Slapping, punching, kicking
  • Biting,
  • Suffocating, strangling
  • Using a weapon
  • Threatening.

Sexual tactics:

  • Raping, forcing the victim into unwanted sexual practise.
  • Objectifying or treating the victim like a sexual object
  • Forcing the victim to have an abortion or sabotaging birth control methods.
  • Engaging in a pattern of extramarital or other sexual relationship

Verbal ,emotional and psychological tactics.

These are sometimes subtle and excused in an indian environment.

  • Using degrading language, insults, criticism,
  • Screaming
  • Refusing to talk
  • Controlling the victims movements,like where she goes and who she talks to.

Till pretty recently domestic violence was regarded as a private family trouble.  There was no shelter for battered women or support.  But some community support has been created on general principles.

  • Safety for the victim, and their children. Many times women don’t seek help as they are worried that it would invite greater violence.
  • The victim has to take stand to live of leave the abuser.

Some communities have provided an array of services, including

  • Shelter and safe houses
  • National state and local emergency hotlines
  • Crisis, counselling and intervention.
  • Support groups
  • Medical and mental health referrals
  • Legal advocacy
  • Economic support referrals
  • Housing and relocation
  • Safety planning
  • Children’s services.

indiblogger 3Before you ring the bell realize that the victim, “What does a woman feel when she is hit? Those who are humiliated in such a way learn to disintegrate – that is, they become once removed from pain. This is the most direct route to psychic ruin.”
― Antonella Gambotto-BurkeThe Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide

You are witnessing someone’s humiliation, that is worse than the humiliation itself. I AM NOT TELLING YOU NOT TO RING THE BELL, I am telling you to have your story ready, that bowl of sugar you would like to borrow, whatever it is pleased respect the victim.

Patients in our clinic are more bothered about people knowing that they were abused, it’s the pity that shames them. It is the pity that creates anger in their children.

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