Nina is a 30-year old housewife living in Jaipur. She shares her domestic violence experience with us.
A history of violence
I got married at the age of 25. It was an arranged marriage. My husband, Vikram, is a successful IT professional. For the first year, our marriage was pretty smooth and there were hardly any fights. The cracks started to appear mostly from the second year onwards and not in a way that anyone, including myself, could clearly see. Because most of the arguments and confrontations would take place in that area of the marriage which is least talked about in our society – the bedroom!
It was mostly do with his demands for sex on days when I wouldn't be really up for it. I had my own reasons for not being interested. I was suffering from various physical niggles at that time which had got me mentally exasperated and I would say no to sex outright.
But he was stubborn. In the beginning, he would threaten me verbally about the consequences of not complying. This began disgusting me like nothing about him had ever done before. Then it got worse. He began using physical force. I had never been manhandled in that manner in my life. I did not realise I was suffering from domestic violence.
The denial phase
This went on for a good year or two on a not-so-infrequent basis. I was in a mess emotionally and didn't know who to turn to. I was not sure if my parents would receive this news well so I didn't approach them. I was unsure about sharing it with my friends and relatives either. Looking back, I realize that I had instead begun neglecting what was happening to me and pretending that everything was alright. I was in total denial of the domestic violence.
It was only when I took up a job as a freelance technical writer and began spending long hours on the internet, did I first stumble upon some articles about abusive relationships and marital rape. I watched videos and read the experiences of victims who had gone through the same turmoil as myself and who had emerged stronger, clearer and more assertive out of it!
There's more to it
As I explored further, I began gaining a more fundamental insight into what I was being subjected to. I realize now that a lot of our marriage's sexual dynamics at night had a lot to do with its psychological and financial politics during the day.
I had reluctantly take up the responsibility of managing and looking after the home, which I didn't detest, but which put me in a vulnerable position emotionally and financially. My husband thought of himself as the lone breadwinner and therefore the sole person with the legitimate right to make decisions for the house. He almost behaved as if all the work that I put in towards looking after the home was nothing!
Staying back at home, and not having many people in the neighborhood, also meant that I was emotionally isolated. This made me further oblivious to what was happening to me and I became even less assertive and communicative about my situation than I would have been had I had a more social life.
Only when the seclusion got too much to handle did I fight and argue my way into getting a permission to apply for a job. Even here, my husband insisted that I stick to a work-from-home profile to avoid confrontation with his parents!
Standing up for myself
Thinking about my situation and communicating with people in similar situations of domestic violence online gave me enough confidence to broach the subject with my husband as well as my parents. Initially my husband became even more violent due to my sudden openness about these matters. But I stayed my ground. I told him that there was no other option left for me but a divorce. My parents too came on board for a divorce, after many discussions.
Thankfully due to my continued assertiveness, my husband slowly began to come around. In the beginning, he just tried to strike a compromise to save the marriage and avoid the inconveniences of divorce. But then he began seeing his own fault and realized that it was ethically wrong to impose his sexual will on me without consent or, for that matter, to restrict my professional or financial options for no reason at all. All of this was made possible largely because of open and often confrontational conversations that we had and the active involvement of my parents in them.
Today, Vikram is a changed man. He is nowhere near the selfish, chauvinistic husband that he used to be. I began working fulltime as a content-writer soon after our differences were resolved but resigned after two years of working to devote more time to looking after the child we have been blessed with – our beautiful daughter Mira.
Names have been changed in this article to protect privacy. The person in the picture is a model.
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