Kumar* is a doctoral student at the University of Delhi.
What went wrong
After dating for one year, we both decided to start living together to have more time for ourselves. The passion and elation of a new relationship blinded us for a while from our reality. I was unaware of my emotionally controlling behaviour and he was partially oblivious of his violent temperament. However, just barely a year into it, intense arguments became regular, revealing darker sides of ourselves.
When I look back at the possible causes of our intense arguments, I do not consider Sharad* solely responsible for it. I blame myself equally for our fallout and want to attribute some of our fights to my obsession with cleanliness and my urge for having control over my surroundings. I had been living alone for quite some time and was used to living in a certain way – the kitchen being spic and span, the dishes are done, the floor always clean and absolutely no dirty laundry! But Sharad was more casual in his approach, especially because he was five years younger to me.
I would often scold him for not helping me in housekeeping or not getting himself involved in any household work. He would shrug off the matter saying he is not just used to living his life this way. But that would frustrate me.
One day, after we came back home from college, he talked his heart out to me. He said he felt overpowered by me and said he has lost his say in our relationship. He was also quite open about being questioned repeatedly for things that he wasn’t ready for and said he was losing his individuality because of me.
I should have listened to him and changed my behaviour towards him but at that time, all I felt was frustration. I didn’t have the patience to wait for him to change or change myself, so I continued to make him fulfil the tasks that I believed were crucial. To make things worse, I started breaking things once a while during our intense altercations and that scared him more. But, he wasn’t the only one who was getting damaged in the relationship.
After our ‘honeymoon period’ was over, I was continuously subjugated to name callings and accusations. Sharad would often call me ‘retarded’, ‘asshole’, ‘selfish’ and other names during our altercations but apologised immediately, saying it was just a momentary outburst. I would feel emotionally drained for some time but as they say, time can heal all the wounds, I would soon be softened.
The pattern continued for almost two and a half years. The worst was once when he got physically violent during one of our heated arguments. The memory is still fresh in my mind. He grabbed my neck and pushed my face on the wall and yelled at me. My whole perspective about our relationship took a nosedive after that incident though it took a long time before I came to understand abuse clearly.
When the altercations continued, I was aware we needed some outside help but what triggered us to seek early intervention was when he suffered a mild stroke after one such nasty, violent outburst. Sharad was immediately put on medication by a physician. However, his wounds were not merely physical but I was aware he needed some psychological intervention.
We looked for a therapist in the LGBTQAID+ community and found one. Visiting the therapist together definitely opened up new perspectives on his personality and on issues of anxiety and abuse.
One day, I was watching a TV series called ‘Big Little Lies’, which deals with the problems of married couples (including violence between the partners) and asked him to watch it with me. He couldn’t go forward after watching a few episodes saying he could relate to the characters. It was the moment of realisation for us that we were in a relationship of mutual abuse. I was a victim of physical abuse but at the same time, I realised that I also overpowered him and forced him to do things my way. Was he a victim too?
A rollercoaster relationship
For the first time in many years, it occurred to me how I had been oblivious to the presence of signs of Intimate Partner Violence in our relationship. It did become apparent that our relationship was a rollercoaster ride with all the arguments and outburst. Today, I know we both have damaged each other’s lives. We don’t socialise, our sleep patterns are erratic and we are in constant consumption of alcohol and nicotine. We don't know where this is going but one thing is certain that we have to be with each other to support in dealing with this. So we are together and working on making our relationship better each day.
This article was first published on Nov 7, 2017.
*Names changed. The person in the picture is a model.