It all starts with domestic abuse; speak up before it’s too late: Experts

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New Delhi: The new year is just around the corner and as we all gear up to enter 2023, the brutality in the air is impeding our high hopes.

Phrases like ‘love is blind’, ‘all’s fair in love and war’, ‘love makes the world go round’ etc. seem to take a bad turn these days, costing us innocent lives.

Looking back, there has been a surge in murders that were motivated by romantic relationships. Now, the appalling and blood-curdling killing of partners in India -- Shraddha Walker in Delhi, Shipra Jharia in MP, Krutika Baranda in Gujarat, Anitha in AP, Rukhsar in UP, and more -- have caused fear among people.

With people now learning to speak up and take strong decisions, a few seem to have a problem with it. However, a controlling mindset, strong patriarchal setup, substance abuse, financial issues, suspected infidelity, etc. are some of the most common reasons found in these cases. We talk to experts to know more.

It would be difficult to put a number to the number of cases that are seen every day. We come across new murder cases every day, but those are cases that are being reported. What about the ones not getting reported? Domestic abuse is grossly underreported and the rates are much higher than seen in usual practice.

“According to National Family Health Survey (NFHS), approximately 30 per cent of women between the age of 18 and 49 years have had to face such abuse.

“In my clinical practice, domestic abuse is seen in 3-4 couples per week,” said Paramjeet Singh, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, PSRI Hospital, New Delhi.

There could be several reasons that drive the perpetrators to take such gruesome steps and it all starts with being mildly violent at home. The reason, however, can be very diverse for these people who find themselves in this situation. It may not involve a real rational reason as well a lot of times.

Instead of trying to resolve or work through problems or situations that they find themselves in with more healthy adaptive behaviours, they tend to have a more aggressive approach.

“Having or being in a relationship where there is infidelity, financial concerns, concerns which happened at the level of the larger family or an individual that you are with could have temperament or personality issues,” said Kamna Chibber, Head of Department, Mental Health & Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.

“However, what has been found common in the victims is their tendency to keep quiet, seeing this as socially acceptable, submissive traits, financially and emotionally dependent, poor support from paternal family, etc.,” added Singh.

Domestic abuse is seen in all strata, educational and social backgrounds. It is a rampant problem and can be happening around us without us being aware.

It is only rarely that the abuser ever stops abusing.

Jaya Sukul, Clinical Psychologist, Marengo QRG Hospital, Faridabad, said that the form and degree of abuse changes but doesn’t entirely stop in most cases. It could vary from person to person. The abuser needs to work actively and have the willingness and motivation to get rid of one’s abusive behaviour.

“The individual should be willing to work with an expert in order to be able to determine what could be the ways forward,” Chibber said.

She said that for a victim, it is extremely important to try and look at whatever is the earliest stage at which she can start seeking help.

Talking and sharing experiences are very crucial. Ensuring that they do not end up allowing themselves to submit when they see their personal space or boundary is getting breached is important.

They should not try and believe that there’s something that they have done, which is causing this kind of behaviour or this kind of action.

“Do not allow yourself to believe that this is something which will change on its own, that maybe this was just a one-off if you see that there is a pattern emerging. Don’t ignore that pattern. If your partner is not someone who is willing to work on his bad side, seek support for your own self,” Chibber said.

It is for the betterment if we talk more and more about these things and spread awareness. Reaching out and sharing your support with someone you think might be a victim of domestic abuse, and being active in encouraging them to be able to stand up for themselves becomes important. Also, a lot of these things need to start at a very early age.

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