A young lady told me she was hit by her husband. She said it in a matter of fact fashion, but I could see the pain in her eyes. She is a working woman, has a young child. She is not happy in her marriage, but is pulling on as she says she has no family support.
She told me it was a minor issue. She had been abused physically before, but she had put a stop to it. She faces verbal and emotional abuse from her husband and his family. She has learned to steel herself to ignore the barbs.
She told me when he hit her and abused her verbally, she was so upset she immediately packed a bag of her clothes and her kid’s clothes. She sat on her bed crying, and later calmed herself down. She realized she has no where to go. She cannot leave her infant son with anyone, she cannot give up her job. Neither can she take him to her office.
She said her family are not in a position to help her. In fact they expect help from her and so staying with them is not an option. There are a lot of issues there. So I asked her what she could do under the circumstances? What did she need to make a clean break, if that was on her mind? She pondered over the question and said she did not know. I asked her if she could build her resources that could help her take a decision later? She agreed right now that seemed to be the best option.
She had discussed her problems with her friends, and some of them wanted her to walk out. She asked where? They had no reply. Though they tried to offer suggestions. She could rent a place, leave her child in a creche, she could move to a place near by her office, etc. But the reality is who will give her a house on rent? If she is divorced, she could get accommodation, but otherwise who will risk a house for her? That person will have to face an abusive husband, who is capable of creating trouble.
She said when her son is a little older, she could think of walking out. She could train him to become independent. But till then, she was stuck. She did feel sorry for herself. She wanted to know why she got married. The only benefit of her marriage is her son. She wonders sometimes if that is worth the trouble she is undergoing. It was difficult listening to her.
She hands over her income to her husband, she does not know when he will erupt. She also does not know what will set him off. Her son is traumatized and she hurts for him. Maybe her breaking point will come when he turns his wrath on the child. Then support or not, she will walk out. As a lady, she is willing to suffer, to be able to provide a home for her child, but if her child is threatened, the maternal instincts will take precedence. Women are known to turn ferocious mothers.
It is easy to give suggestions to such women, but practical options need to be explored. If she had family support, she could walk out and refuse to return. She could leave her kid with her parents, and be financially independent too. But she does not have this luxury. Family support for women is so essential; it gives them the courage to take decisions.
She will not be a burden on her parents. She is earning, and all she needs is a safe place for her and her child. But since, unfortunately, her parents cannot offer her this, she feels helpless. Why she cannot approach her parents, is another story altogether. The crux is she has no where to go.
There are several such ladies who are stuck in loveless and abusive marriages. Most of them are not earning also, so double whammy. They feel they have to hang on for their children’s sake. And generation of indoctrination of a married woman’s place is her husband’s home is the value they internalize. She walks in as a bride, and leave the marital home in a coffin. This belief system has to be changed, women should be given the means to internalize the fact that they can look for options. They need not lead miserable lives in the name of marriage.
This young woman needs to be able to earn more. She should be able to live independently, have sufficient financial support. Women who earn good salary, who walk out of troubled marriages, find living in society alone difficult. They need to be constantly on the alert. There are people who will take advantage of their vulnerabilities. So where does a middle class, young lady with a infant son go for help? That too who does not earn an attractive package?
Yes, she can approach some organization that helps women in distress. But that will require a lot of running around, unpleasant situations with the husband, and also it will take a toll on her emotions. She cannot handle this alone, here too she needs support. Some people who are willing to face her husband’s wrath and take a firm stand.
My client agrees she needs to be patient. Since she has no choice, she needs to keep a low profile, hope he will change or she is able to build up enough resource to leave. Because once she does, she does not plan to return. She is resigned to her present condition and even joked a little. It was her attempt to lighten her sagging spirit. She seems to be a fighter. She realizes things will not change in a hurry. And taking hasty decisions can have nasty repercussions.