I was a victim of domestic abuse; I handled it badly!

I was all of 20 when I was married. For me, life was beautiful and I imagined it to only get better. I was in awe of many things when I met to man I was to marry. Life was not too bad during the first few months. Gradually, I found something weird happening, but I was unable to tell what it was. Absence from home, being away or just ‘uncalled-for’ anger; all these showed up in his behavior.

I was not aware as my childhood was so guarded and protected that I was rather naïve and did not know how to deal with certain behaviors. Soon my little baby was my great solace and pride. She was my life. This shift in me perhaps was quite an advantage to the man.

I however enjoyed growing up with my girl. Every day was a new experience and even waking up during nights was not unpleasant! Years passed by and bouts of his violence surfaced and I would just cow down and take the thrashing. Sometimes the bluish marks were visible when I would go to work or when visitors dropped by. One day my sister dropped in when I had large wound marks on my shoulders and arms. She hurriedly left the house to avoid any interference; later on she did tell me she was rather aghast, though helpless.

Yes, I hid under many reasons I spun so tactfully when I was asked what these blotches were. I thought I was smart and was so proud of myself. But soon it was too much to take as I began hurting quite bad, both emotionally and physically. Eating at the table was a scary time, no tea-time conversations, just being at home when he was around was fearful. Somehow, one fine day, I garnered the courage and turned my back on him and left home with my daughter. So now that is history.

But yes, I handled life badly, I did not respect myself and had nothing to call self-esteem. I was allowing someone to hurt me and I assumed life is as it should be. Sometimes when my friends dropped in, I would not open the door and let them assume I was not home — only to escape questioning. Soon I knew this is not the kind of life I would like to live. That was 20 years thereafter!

So what should I have done differently?

Note behavioral patterns

I should have noted the pattern of his behavior and been more alert. Looking back I saw I was not cautious. I did not see it coming and was quite often taken by surprise. Sometimes I made a joke of it saying it is like living with a bush man — never know when the arrow would strike. But being on guard always is not what a marriage entails. Marriage should be fun and lots of love.

Share information with the right people

I should have shared my life happenings with family. But sadly, my family would not really think he was wrong, as he had already formed concrete and great opinions. I did have some very good friends; it would have been good to share these happenings with them. I didn’t, thinking it would reflect badly on me.

Seek advice and help

I never thought of this at all! A few years back, counseling was not seen as a viable option by many, including me. I though as an adult, I should know how to deal with this. I did not see a counselor. But it is believed to be a strong and effective way that helps deal with issues. My friends would turn counselors and each one had a different opinion — and it was just so confusing. Seeing a counselor is highly advised — very important.

Do not cow down and take shit

It is not something to be proud of. You do not have to take shit from anyone, be it your husband or whoever. I thought I was being brave and had a great sense of tolerance. Wow! How stupid that was. Report, scream, retaliate or just try to get off the scene — do something, but do not take it cowing down.

Respect yourself — you are special

I think I did not have a sense of respect for myself — and hence accepted it. This is just not acceptable — nurture great self-respect, remember you are special and do not let anyone trample you. It is a stupid thing to do — no one has the right to even talk you down, leave alone beating you.

See a doctor and keep the prescription and advice safe

It is important to see a doctor when the scars or wounds are fresh — it helps, even for obvious reasons. Make that time and effort and go see a doctor. If possible, a good friend can come along, but either way, see a doctor and document the diagnosis — very important.

There could be many other ways to deal with domestic violence. Dealing with it may not be easy, but there are easy ways; you have to find them. Do not succumb to ‘what the world would say’ or ‘how will my family take it’. This is about you and not anyone else. So it is you who has to take the first step forward, once this is done, all else usually falls in place. If not, just keep trying — options are many.

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