From Fear to Freedom " I am Unbeatable" ~ Domestic Violence, Let's Stop it!!!!
The helpline at 1091 rings. It’s late at night, past beyond dinner time here in Bangalore. Some one some place in the city is in trouble. The police van known as ‘Hoysalas’ * which move in different areas, manned by two police constables and a sub inspector drives fast to reach the victim. It’s a case of domestic violence.
It’s a serious matter. You have to take a call. Ask yourself if the violence is within limits as between a husband and wife, or is it more? If you have borne injuries, been hospitalised, have a broken skull or gashes on your skin and constantly live in fear of being hit by him, I will help you decide. GO GET HELP.
When a man you are married to keeps on battering you physically, don’t believe what he says why he is angry. What he says is the cause of his anger and abuse on you, isn’t the real cause. It’s all about subjugation, making you feel worthless, taking away your identity and feeling happy in your misery. Domestic Violence is about power and control over another person. It is not a problem with anger. Rarely do you see an abuser act violently with friends, co-workers or a boss. It is a Jeckyl and Hyde personality that confuses others who learn of a person’s violence with their partners. Abusers can act charming, loving and attentive when they want to. Drinking, drugs, genetics, the victim’s behaviour or stress does not cause domestic violence. It is learned behaviour. It is learned in the home by observation and reinforcement before the age of 10.
Another school of thought attributes domestic violence with the stability of the man of the house. Unstable relationships come from unstable spouses. The major reason for a man’s violence on his woman is his dissatisfaction with himself and the events in his life. The woman is the recipient of his wrath and frustration. Low self esteem, loss of a job and livelihood, alcoholism, substance abuse, social pressure, stress and identity crisis have all been seen to lead to a crisis in the life of a man. Domestic violence and the psychology of a man cannot be two separate entities. Somewhere somehow they are interlinked.
Conflict between a couple and spontaneously hitting each other in a moment of rage doesn’t amount to domestic violence worth reporting but the picture above will give you a correct depiction of a situation where you being a woman need to tell yourself, that you need help.
If you are a woman in danger it’s important you know how to get to this place in Shivajinagar, BMTC office building, 2nd floor if Bangalore is your home. There is this organization which will help you. You can dial their helpline at 1091 or 080-22943225 or just call 100 and ask for Vanitha Saha Yavani. If you live in another city or country it’s important to know where to find help.
Vanitha Sahayavani is Karnataka Police’s initiative to curb violence in the homes of Bangalore. It differs from any other agency dealing with violence at home by having the traffic police in the rescue and confrontation of the incident. The Commissioner of Traffic Police is the President of the organization. Vanitha Sahayavani is the barrier between you and violence. The moment the helpline rings the traffic police van is despatched for ‘rescue’. Mrs Hema Deshpande, 60, the Program Coordinator, says that the most important facet of domestic violence rehabilitation is timely crisis intervention with immediate rescue by them where the victim is protected and brought out of danger. This is where they network with women police station, local police stations of Bangalore city, Hoysala services, NGOS of Bangalore urban and rural district,to extend timely help and support to the victim. It also networks with hospitals, de-addiction centres, Karnataka Legal Aid Authority, government departments like Woman and Child, Social Welfare, Karnataka State Commission for Women, Family Court and so on.
She says most of the calls for help come post midnight. In 23 years she has found the gravest physical assault on a woman was burn injuries which doesn’t only physically deform the appearance forever but has lasting psychological impact as well. Victims who have gone for repeated plastic surgery have been made to appear ‘near normal’ but never the same as before. Acid attacks and stab wounds are also common. In the heat of an argument the kitchen knife has been used to slash the eyebrows or face of the woman causing irreversible damage to her appearance. It’s almost as if these men don’t want their wives to look appealing to any one.
After rescue of an injured or abused woman, she receives counselling here on what are her rights and the legal options that she is entitled to. She also gets help in organizing for herself, a short stay in a home, if required. Counselling is done jointly with the husband of the woman to help them address their grievances and if possible, reach an understanding. Where violence against the victim is serious, the victim may exercise her right to file a case of domestic violence seeking a protection order from the court, separation or even monetary relief from the respondent.
Hema Deshpande says, “I am not a feminist and I am certainly not an activist. We just try and look into the conditions which are making the couple at conflict with each other to enable them reach an understanding and to negate violence in between them. At the same time, we are there to support the woman who is in danger. We have solution for both these extremes of domestic violence and offer options likewise.” The dedicated team consists of professional counsellors, lawyers, activists, doctors and the traffic police. Hema says it’s hard to define what success is when a woman files a domestic violence complaint or case because there is no such thing as success here, if you really ask me, just some relief in terms of security and protection for your life. That’s because you cannot hope to solve the underlying cause of the violence in most cases.
“The stigma associated with reporting domestic violence and seeking help to come out of it is waning rapidly. More and more women are choosing to walk out of abusive relationships and physically tormenting marriages. When just a few years ago when we began in 1993 more than 75% cases of domestic violence reports that came to us, ended up in reconciliation but the trend is changing”, Hema laments.
This is the first instance in the country where the police department of a state has a program of intervention of domestic violence and runs a helpline and counselling centre. Bangalore which used to be known only as the IT hub of the country, the silicone valley of our dreams stands tall on its ability to keep social ills at check, like the rising crime in its homes. A lot is changing in our country and globally, the perspective and the support available to you if you are a victim. All that is left now is for you take a stance today, tomorrow or soon enough.
“People make cultures. And people can change cultures. There are good things in culture that can be used to bring about change, and this change must be towards human rights.” - Thoraya Obaid, Former Under Secretary General, United Nations and WLP Board Chair
Humanitarian, having worked with the United Nations Organization
Columnist/Community Development Journalist & Writer