‘A stitch in time saves nine’

Today, November 25th is commemorated by the United Nations (UN) as “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women”. A lot of us largely associate the term violence to ‘physical abuse’ only. It’s much broader though, including emotional or psychological abuse which in most cases even the victim is unaware of.

While physical abuse is serious, mental and emotional abuse can ruin a women as well. It can destroy her personality, erode self-esteem, cause depression and anxiety, and in the workplace, context affect productivity leading to increased absenteeism and attrition. So you see, even though you’re not being actually hit yet, mental abuse isn’t a less serious type of abuse. In a lot of cases, it can be happening to you without you even realizing it. Here are a few signs / indicators to see if your partner is abusing you with his words and actions.

One of the most common tricks of a mentally abusive partner is to isolate you from the rest of the world. Be it convincing you, your family is not good to forbidding you from seeing friends or limiting your socializing. The consequence is you become so dependent on him for all your social needs.

Someone who truly loves you in a healthy way would never tell you that you’re worthless or criticize you. This type of a partner is always pointing your faults and you are constantly wondering if you really can do anything right ever and if everything really is your fault. It’s a harsh blow to your self-esteem.

There are a set of spoken or upspoken rules about how you are supposed to live your life or how the house should be run? Does everything have to be spotless before he gets home? Do you have to have dinner cooked a certain way by a certain time? Excessive rules are a common means of exercising power and control and certainly amounts to mental abuse.

Neglect and jealously are two extremes but these can amount to terrible mental pressure. Your partner may refuse to talk to you, withhold affection, or disappear for days at a time. But if you find refuge in your friends (particularly of the opposite sex) he will allege you of infidelity.

One of the major reasons it is so hard to leave an abusive partner is that he often keeps tight control of the finances. You are either a housewife or have your finances under his supervision. Both partners should have equal access to money to prevent financial abuse

To summarize, the COVID-19 pandemic and prolonged lockdown situation has aggravated the situation of gender-based violence. The National Commission for Women has seen a spike in the complaints it receives. Between 23 March and 16 April 2020 — roughly the first three weeks of the lockdown — the commission received 239 complaints of domestic violence. This was a significant jump from the 123 complaints it received in the month leading up to the lockdown. We need to take urgent and immediate steps, to curb the problem both on a personal level as well as community level.

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Sonal Panchal Shah

Sonal Panchal Shah

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An adventurous professional, an imperfectly perfect mom or a WooMAN with special interests! I live life at the mercy of words-it pays my bills after all:)