Violence Against Women and Men: Domestic Violence in India
9 Min Read
With changing times, in the 21st century women are working with all sections and in all sectors equally to men. Our social system in which men primarily hold more power to control women is seen from traditional culture and belief. Repeatedly in researches and data shows the increasing number of cases, violence against women year after year. In some bollywood movies like ‘Chhorii’ ‘Thappad’ ‘Provoked’ and showing diverse representation towards violence against women also depicting the problems and concerns left unnoticeable. There was a 30 per cent rise in complaints of crimes against women in 2021 as compared to 2020 when 23,722 complaints were received.
Cases of men being takes advantage of are also getting prevalent these days, with the rise of accusation of sexual assaults, being harassed financially, etc. False claims of dowry harassment leading to psychological abuse and incarceration of husbands became the norm. Once in custody, which is non-bailable, husbands generally lose their jobs.
Alarming isn’t it?
What is Domestic violence?
By definition, when one person in a relationship is using a pattern of methods, strategies and tactics to attain power and control over another person. Worsening with the situation, this pattern or cycle of behavior is repetitive and increases over a period of time. Domestic violence can be physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, verbal and emotional abuse, which can also affect a person’s physical, psychological, and sexual health, and many other environmental factors like economic deprivation.
A young girl being touched on her genitals by a family member, older person or any friend within or beyond confines of home can be considered as an act of violence. A married woman who works hard all day, returns home, and her husband is snatching and taking her money, gaining control of her resources can be considered as an act of violence. In contrast, Karnataka (44.4%) and Bihar (40%) were the two States where the maximum share of married women said they faced spousal violence.
Let us understand what leads to domestic violence?
According to the statistics it is seen that violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence – is a major public health problem and a violation of women’s human rights.
Causes of domestic violence can be complex, the researchers often debate on the precipitating factors that contribute to abuse. Let’s understand with a few characteristics of the perpetrator:
-Dominant behavior (aggression) can be seen in the actions and behavior of the perpetrator
-Damaging another person’s reputation and relationships
-Having attention seeking behavior, i.e. high desire for attention, exaggerated behaviors and emotions
-Substance abuse is observed with the excessive usage of alcohol and destructive usage of drugs
-Mental instability where the perpetrator may have medical conditions like a personality disorder
-Gender ideologies where having attitudes and views regarding gender roles, rights/responsibilities of men and women in the society
-Sexual abuse where the perpetrator forces or takes advantage, which can be referred to as molestation
However, there can be certain situations, which can increase the risk of aggression in the perpetrator like having a heavy drinking-smoking habit, unable to handle insults, in-state of denial and other provoking environmental factors.
5 Warning signs to identify domestic violence:
No one deserves to be abused by a family member, partner or any individual in the community. It is seen that violence can happen regardless of socio-economic status, religion and ethnicity. There are some warnings signs to understand the health and safety and when to seek Professional help-
Physical and sexual clues
-The abuser slaps, bites, pushes and chokes you, when in anger
-Getting forced in the act of sex without consent
-Any form of touch (genitals) which makes it uncomfortable to take steps
Emotional and behavioral clues
-Getting threats to hurt children or family
-Getting criticism and verbal abuse humiliation, insults, name-calling
Economic or financial abuse
-The abuser takes complete control over your financial resources and does not give you access to family finances
Thoughts and obsessions
-The abuser has Grudges and deep resentments, narrow focus
-The abuser stalks you while you’re going somewhere, or uses your mobile or listens to your conversations secretly
-An abuser has a particular object of desire and brooding over an event
-The abuser have deteriorated thought process
-Understand if the abuser have a history of violent acts
-Check if the abuser was prescribed any antipsychotic or antidepressant medicines before
Domestic violence can have psychological and emotional implications as in one of the community based research found that there can be serious physical as well as psychological and emotional health consequences. Therefore, understanding the signs of abuse can help in reducing and minimizing the emotional and psychological effect amongst women.
Some common symptoms affecting emotions are:
-Low self esteem, lack of self worth, living with fear and intimidation
-Feeling of loss, hopelessness and powerlessness
-Living with shame, self-blame, guilt and secrecy
-Loneliness and isolation
-Finding it difficult to confide in others
Some common symptoms affecting mental health are:
-Changes in sleeping patterns and eating habits
-Anxiety and depression
-Personality disorders (for example, BPD)
Here’s what you can do:
STOP blaming yourself
Abusers may develop a tendency to blame others for their actions, and after listening to them for years, people can actually start believing it. The hardest symptom for women to overcome is self-blaming. Researchers found that excessive self-blaming can lead to loss of self-worth, hopelessness and depressed mood.
Establish boundaries with the abuser
Healthy boundaries are an important part of self-care. Communicating clearly about likes and dislikes in a relationship is a necessary step, as it will help in understanding the behavior which is not accepted and tolerated. Try to leave the space when a range of words are abusive and manipulative. Listening to verbal abuse can lower self esteem and also bring guilt and shame. For example, “We can talk about that later, I think we can focus on what is upsetting you and finding a solution to it. Let’s take one thing at a time.”
Realize you can’t “FIX” an abusive person
Criticizing, making you feel guilty, threatening, self blame, harm, are some common ways to make people feel isolated and affect their mental health. It is important to understand that your love, support and care is not going to fix an abusive relationship. Take a step back!
Make your mental and physical health a priority
Domestic violence can change an individual’s overall health, including Mental health. Crossing the boundaries of physical harassment, not only upsets physical health but also shatters their emotions and feelings from inside. With time passing by, the miseries and sufferings grow and make an individual weaker. Domestic violence does not always leave visible wounds, but can sometimes be left with greater psychological marks and symptoms such as fear, guilt, shame, anxiety, withdrawal from society, and suicidal or negative thoughts. We often think that our mind and body are separate from each other, whereas the health and well-being of mind and body are closely linked. Balancing your life is very important, understanding what you enjoy doing and what can make you think and feel happy. Exercise, diet, sleep well, follow a good relaxation exercise, start communicating and building healthy relationships.
You can visit a professional therapist who has experience in this area. The professional therapist can help you to understand how to be in harmony with yourself; maintaining a healthy social life, finding a sense of purpose and improving emotional health.
Family and Friends can be key to helping end domestic violence
Lack of social support can bring loneliness and isolation. Try to build a support network. In times of need and distress, try to talk and initiate conversation. Having a closed friend circle can encourage healthy behaviors, which can build confidence and self-esteem, and also provide support and help in building feelings of reassurance.
Speak and take a stand
It is important to understand the benefit of togetherness and staying connected with family can guide and help you make informed decisions and financially. Setting a regular time to talk for a few minutes. Sharing ideas and healthy habits can bring a positive change. Talking to a close family member or a relative can bring tremendous courage and help in building a safety plan. Making your friends and family aware of the issue and difficulties you’re facing in a relationship.
Work on an exit plan
Making plans in dangerous situations, understanding and identifying safe places nearby and friends, these are extremely important. Plan to leave an abusive relationship. Plan in advance for a crisis situation. Having helpline numbers and an extra phone near you can be of great help.
Domestic violence and men
In light of recent events and the attention that they have brought to the issue of domestic violence, it would be interesting to take a look at the issue through a male perspective. While it is true that men are less likely to be victims of domestic violence, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. In fact, there have been many cases of domestic violence in which the victim was male. 52.4% of Males experience gender-based violence in India. 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence (e.g. beating, burning, strangling) by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Men when being emotional or expressing themselves in the society are considered as weak and powerless male suicides, maximum suicides were committed by daily wage earners (33,164) followed by self-employed persons (15,990) and Unemployed Persons (12,893). In 2020, men died by suicide 3.88x more than women.
Research and studies found that Men continue to silently suffer from mental illness more than women. Whereas in India, there is no provision, act or law to protect Man who faces violence by family members, wife, or at workplace. Hence, laws should be executed and made in such ways which can equally protect both Men and women.
Recognize, help and prevent
It is necessary to understand the law and be aware of the legal rights. Only 1 in 10 women would seek help from police if they experienced domestic violence. The Government of India, with fundamental rights and duties, is also helping the women to understand measures, policy formulation and equal participation in all spheres of life.
The National Commission of India under the women-specific and related legislation established the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, Immoral Traffic Act 1956, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, The Indian Penal Code, and Evidence Act, to support and help the group of people in need.
“An Act to provide for more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and formatters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
It empowers courts to grant protection to victims of domestic violence.
Understanding the signs and educating about the rights can help us to prevent domestic violence and understand the silence for help.
5 frequently asked questions about domestic violence
Isn’t violence and fighting a family matter?
Having conflicts and differences is a common part of our life. However, in a healthy relationship, family members seek ways and conclusions to help each other, finding solutions to a problem. There can be alternative ways to handle situations. Violence and physical abuse is not normal and healthy.
Do men beat their wife because they love them?
Slapping, pushing, hitting, are all signs of abuse, not love. It is important to understand that taking out frustration on weak targets can lead to frequent abusive and controlling behavior.
How can I help someone going through domestic violence?
Check in with your friend, stay in touch, express your concern and believe in them. Give them alternatives, help them to think how to stay safe. Help them with local helpline details. If needed, you can also offer some financial help.
What are the effects of domestic violence on children?
Children imitate what they see. Domestic violence can affect children physically and also mentally. Children may feel guilt, shame, fear and isolation. This may lead to learning gestures, loud voices, and giving signs for child counseling.
How to deal with getting flashbacks of abuse?
Flashback can be the memory of vivid representation of pictures of past memories, physical and emotional signs needed for counseling. An emotional flashback can be triggered by a situation, or an event that reminds you exactly what happened to you in childhood. Practice mindfulness meditation. Breath focus. Counseling. You take long, slow, deep breaths (also known as abdominal or belly breathing) to help you relax.
Finding Helpline and Counseling In India
Understanding your thoughts which can be interfering in your day to day activities can be a sign to seek help. Don’t suffer alone. Try to take the first step and then another. Sharing with your therapist and talking about relationship issues, physical and mental health problems can help you in giving a different perspective of a problem.
Your therapist will help you understand what your problems are and how to solve them. A therapist will not tell you what to do or how to live. If you’re having difficulty making a decision, a good therapist will help you explore your options and make a decision that is right for you. Discussing and seeking counseling can help in dealing stress and problems effectively with difficult life events, which can be either face to face, or over an audio or video call.
National helpline details
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