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We were three sisters and never ever felt deprived or out of control of myself until I got married. It was a arranged marriage. Our parents were childhood classmates, and my ex was pursuing his Phd from IIT Madras in the department of Cryogenics. I guess we had too much of expectations since he was a product of IIT. Slowly after a year in marriage things began to change, my parents had to pay off the mortgages of my in laws, my college fees when I decided to do my higher studies, the medical expense of their family and the list goes on. I was not aware of it for long time because fathers used to make all transactions and the son was updated on this.
Until I got pregnant and he got a job as a lecturer everything was fine because my parents used to send us money for our expenses since both of us were students for around a year and half. With my parents stopping the monthly expense after he got a job, things started to take a different turn. He started to isolate me from my parents, relatives and slowly he wanted me to convert my personal account to a joint account. He started questioning my spending and was always skeptical that I was sending money to my parents.
He brought his mother to stay with us saying that she would be of help to me but would always try to create a guilt in me saying that his father was all alone as I wanted his mother to be with us to help me. And slowly arguments turned into verbal abuse and then ended up with physical abuse. Lot many times I would have to drop my plans of attending any functions / events because I would have bruises on my face. I never uttered a word about this to my parents or any one, I still do not understand why I did that. The more I kept it within me that more he was abusive, he got a feeling that I am silent because I was wrong. I was ashamed of his actions and did not want him to lose face in front of others.
One fine day I was brutally beaten and pushed out of my house with my daughter and had to take an auto to one of my aunts place who lived nearby with no money to pay for the auto. My family members after a initial angry phase started convincing me to get back with him for the sake of my daughter. After getting a few commitments from him I was back with him and it was 6 months before things started getting back to worse. Many a times it takes the second time to understand that we were right the first time.
Any day without an incident was a rare episode but I could not enjoy it because I would be always worried about what might happen. There were nights when I would have to swear on my daughter that I did not do something if he is awake sometime during the middle of the night.
I still wonder why was I with someone who used to hurt me day in and day out. Every time he hits, the next thing he does is cry holding my feet. I was completely out of control and did not know how to deal with this person. When he could not get enough out of controlling me he stated to control the activities of my family members through me. This was when I decided enough is enough and did not want my daughter to go through all the pain of my relationship. I felt I was getting too much into my problems and was not spending enough time with my kid.
I walked out in May 2006 with the help of my cousin and my father only a few other family members were supportive of my idea of walking out of the marriage. In other 6 months I got admissions in a US university to do my Masters and had to leave my daughter with my parents. After I left he took her from my parents and from that day he has completely cut me off from my daughter. I have know for sure that this man did not get my daughter out of love but he took her so that he could control me through her. Those were the most painful of the days, I was all alone in an alien country and as a full time student my financial burden was also huge. I did not have any money left since all that I earned had given it off to him or spent it in running the household.
With great difficulty I met her in Feb 2009. My daughter would not want to come with me, she was so scared that I was there to take her away from her dad. Now its nearly 5 years and have no contact. He has remarried and still does not want to give me my daughter. I stopped fighting for my daughter after a while because I found that it was more of a revenge, for me walking out on him. Although I could forgive him of all the harm that he inflicted on me and my family in the name of marriage, I am not able to forgive him for depriving me of my rights as a mother.
I have learnt to move on in life hoping that one day I would get a chance to explain it to my daughter. As a survivor of domestic violence some part of me still wanted to know why an abuser abuses someone who is family and why does a victim stay in such a situation. And this is when I stated to volunteer at a domestic violence program where we do intervention programs and help victims of domestic violence to take control of their lives.
There were many times I would hope against hope that one of the neighbor would come and knock on the door when I was beaten up by my spouse. There was not one day that ever happened. I had to get out of the situation all by myself. But when I did manage to get out I had everyone on the earth to come with their piece of advice asking me not to walk out. For a victim to get out of abuse in itself is a big move and episodes like these urged me to be a source of strength to underprivileged women.
Yes it took a while to get out of my self-pity, but when I came out I did come out with a completely renewed vigor. Got back my self esteem as a human being. The internship at the domestic violence program motivated me to change my career from engineering to psychology. I have learnt to choose life. I have decided to spend the rest of my life with the victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. I did not have a helping hand when I needed the most and hence I want to be that person who could make a difference in the lives of other women and children in this world to live their life the way they want to.
This is a true account of a Domestic violence survivor. Views expressed are author’s own.