How often do we get to hear about women getting ‘accidently’ hurt or bruised during household chores. Whispers in the neighbourhood when screams of a battered woman fills the silent night. Why is it that we chose to remain silent as a victim or as a bystander in increasing cases of Domestic Violence? What are we scared off, especially when the law and now the government is holding our back?
According to latest government figures, around 70% of women in India are victims of domestic violence, while data available with the National Crime Records Bureau reveals that crime against a woman is committed every three minutes, a woman is raped every 29 minutes, a dowry death occurs every 77 minutes, and one case of cruelty committed by either the husband or relative of the husband occurs every nine minutes.
These glaring figures come as a shock despite the fact that women are sheltered under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, enacted to protect women from domestic violence. It was brought into force by the Indian government from October 26, 2006. The Act was passed by the Parliament in August 2005 and assented to by the President on September 13, 2005. As of November 2007, it has been ratified by four of 28 state governments in India; namely Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha.
Is the government not doing enough or are we still clutched in the shackles of ancient societal norms? What are the women really scared off!
We know that in many cases of Domestic Violence, women prefer keeping quite due to fear of social humiliation and financial dependency; but what’s startling is the fact that despite laws preventing women against domestic violence, many either continue to remain educated dimwits and prefer leading a life of submission or for the sake of their children live in the shadow of a ‘happy marriage’.
It’s also observed that many victims don’t accept the notion of single parenting and believe a bad father is better than none at all. As a result, they also tend to justify the reasons for their abuser’s behavior, often blaming circumstances such as stress, financial hardship, job stress, chemical dependency, etc.
It must also be noted that many women are conditioned to believe that they are responsible for making their marriage or relationship work; that if the relationship fails, they have failed as women.
In some cases of Domestic Violence, there is a certain pattern that an abuser follows. It’s called the ‘Cycle of Abuse’, wherein between violent episodes, there are periods of calm during which the abuser is charming, nurturing, and caring. Those traits which initially attracted him/her to his/her victim resurface and the victim sees her abuser as a loving person, thereby reinforcing her decision to stay.
However, this ‘honeymoon period’ does not last too long and the abuser goes back to his old-self. So the question arises: Is there a way out for the victims? Can a bystander be of any help?
Here is what you can do:
1) Talk to the victim, preferably when her partner is not around. Approach her in a non-blaming, non-judgmental, and understanding way.
2) Assure the victim that there are many victims, like her battling a similar situation.
3) Saying things like: “I am worried about you and your safety” or “I’m concerned about the safety of your children” will help break the ice. However, if she fails to respond or minimizes your concern, respect it in the moment. But don’t stop trying.
4) Offer your help from security point of view.
5) Offer to listen and use supportive language.
6) Avoid saying bad things about the abusive person like, “I would leave the relationship if I was in your situation.”
7) Remind the person that no one should treat them in a hurtful manner, and they deserve to be treated well. Tell them domestic violence is a crime.
8) Use your local resources like contacting your local domestic violence agency for help in dealing with the situation and provide the victim with the resource information.
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