It is extremely pertinent to note that the issue of Domestic Violence (DV), also referred to as intimate partner abuse, spousal abuse, intimate partner violence (IPV), dating violence and domestic abuse; is not only confined to the lower and lower middle classes, but is also rampant among the upper middle class and the creamy layer of the society. Moreover, it is not just a problem confined to India, but is a global issue, and is a matter of universal concern.
Domestic Violence is a multidimensional evil. The traces of domestic violence (DV) are not always apparent and a majority of victims seldom speak up about being abused and violated. When it comes to Asian countries, on account of the stigma and shame attached to such issues; even the victim’s own family is not supportive of victim. On the contrary, shockingly, they impose the entire blame upon the victim; thereby putting the victim into a more miserable spot.
While it is true that the majority of victims world over that fall prey to Domestic violence are women and children, the suffering is not age and gender restricted. It also affects men, senior citizens, the third gender, teenagers and people; irrespective of them being married/unmarried and in heterosexual or homosexual relationships.A major road-block that women in India face is the difficulty in bringing home the guilt of the offender/perpetrator, beyond reasonable doubt. However, over the years, we have evolved an excellent legal frame-work to combat domestic violence in India such as the Constitution of India, The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, The Indian Penal Code, 1860, Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
The Hindu Marriage Act 1955, The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, Muslim Women (Protection of Right on Divorce) Act, 1986, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987. The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, The Immoral traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, The Medical termination of pregnancy Act, 1971, Female infanticide Prevention Act, 1870 and Pre-natal diagnostics techniques (Regulation and Prevention of misuse) Act, 1994. So there is a ray of hope for women in India.
That being said, according to the Central Health Ministry, every one in three women has faced some form of Domestic violence in India. The Hon’ble Bombay High Court, through its various legislations, has given an impetus to the use of counselling and mediation in Domestic violence cases. Moreover, it has also laid down guidelines, wherein it is stated that a victim woman must be informed of her right to choose her legal action and the remedies available in the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.
The factors that make victims susceptible to domestic violence are lack of proper education, faulty upbringing, and poverty, having a history of a violent streak in the family and witnessing it, low self-esteem, habitual male dominance and alcohol/drug abuse.
The red-flags which would possibly indicate that a person is a potential tyrant/abuser, is that, he/she displays extreme jealousy, aggression, has a very controlling attitude, goes by the saying- ‘my way or high way’, shrewd manipulation techniques, intimidation, threats and makes the victim feel guilty all the time. Nowadays, people barley manage to surmount their own hassles. Noticing their neighbor’s struggles with life, can be a far fetched affair. However, possible indications that their friend/neighbor or colleague is being subject to domestic violence is when they frequently absent themselves from work, suspicious injuries which they try best to conceal/explain, passive-aggressive behavior, general low-self-esteem, a change in their overall behavior, self-blame and isolation. The scenario of domestic violence can be quite destructive if it goes on unshackled. The emotional and physical consequences of prolonged and continued abuse can be quite extreme and even end in homicide. Timely intervention, counselling, mediation and extending support to the victim can go a long way.
Domestic violence can be arrested in its tracks and combatted by raising general social consciousness and awareness amongst both the potential oppressor as well as the potential victim. This can be achieved by building a healthy, nurturing and a positive environment at home and in school, providing equal economic opportunities, role models and a well-structured support system.
The important thing to bear in mind is that one should always trust your instincts and never suffer in silence, but should always confide in someone you can trust. There are a number of 24/7 available helplines and organisations, in case one is more comfortable talking to a qualified stranger. The saying “once an abuser- always an abuser”, is true 99% of the times. So it is important not to fall for recurring manipulative apologizes which are only followed by more abuse. Also, there is no wisdom is seeking revenge from the perpetrator. It is always better to detach oneself from the toxicity, walk away and focus on positivity and building a better future