Violence against women awareness month


As part of this initiative, I want to speak about the story of someone I used to be close to. I grew up with her, thought she was the coolest ever. She was always wonderful to my sister and I and we loved to hang out together every summer. When she got married, I was 18 and I thought she was one of the most beautiful brides I had ever seen. She went off to the US of A with her Prince Charming, the kannadiga version of the fairy tale, off to her fairy tale life, or so I thought.

Her mother-in-law had some problems with the fairy tale, it turned out. Having lost her husband at a young age, she bitterly resented her daughter-in-law's 'happy married life'. Every time she went out to visit them, she managed to inject a dose of venom into their married life. The one time I visited while the mother-in-law was also staying with them I saw some amazingly bitter fights between the MIl and DIL, instigated by the MIL over imagined slights and'misdemeanors' by the DIL who was too nice or mild-mannered to tell her where to get off.

Over the years I saw this girl, who had always been reserved but talkative with me turn more and more taciturn. Soon, she was almost monosyllabic when we spoke. She would sometimes call my sister, who had moved to the US, to chat but odd silences would hang in the air even as she stayed on the other end of the line. It took a long time for my sister and I to realise that possibly she was clinically depressed.

The MIL eventually wangled a green card and moved to the US to stay with her. Things took a turn for the worse. Every time the son went off on a business trip, the MIL would accompany him so she could 'enjoy' herself, instead of the DIL who had been 'handed this on a silver platter'. The DIL anyway was scared to leave her kids with this woman because she knew the MIL would do her best to inject posion against her into their minds. Quarrels would be instigated between husband and wife, and fuelled by the MIL. The MIL didn't hesitate to suggest that the son leave his wife and throw her out, and live happily ever after with her and the grandchildren, even after the son and his wife had been married 15 years and more.

The final straw came when one day, mother and son ganged up on her, had a furious showdown about nothing at all, and eventually jointly beat her up. Finally, she said enough was enough. Living in the US had given her some smarts, and she called 911. The cops arrived. That's when the husband realised he was going to be in deep trouble. He and his mom begged her to not reveal anything to the cops and that they would never repeat such behaviour. She agreed, for the sake of the kids.

They are still together. The MIL is still with them, and still doing her best to cause trouble. She still seems to be clinically depressed, having little to say most of the time. She comes to life occasionally, when she is out with her kids and other family, sans MIL. She's still loyal to her husband, never speaks badly of him. All the information I have above came second-hand. The only thing that may have changed is the lack of physical abuse.

I don't understand how women do this to other women time after time. Why they feel they have this degree of ownership on their sons or brothers; or why those sons and brothers don't have brains or spines of their own. I don't understand the reasons that make the women go back to their abusive husbands. Abuse is abuse, physical or mental. I think women become victims of the 'for our children' argument and the abusers always know this and use it against them.

It's easy for those of us who have never faced abuse to say it, but at the end of the day, one has to think of what one is teaching one's children, by forgiving abuse. Are we teaching them about love and forgiveness or that it's okay to accept abuse to stay in a relationship? I'm just glad she knew enough to call 911 at some point. I wish there was a 911 for emotional abuse.

Follow the month of awareness on this blog. Raise awareness. Raise hope!

Comments

Sue said…
Any idea of what her husband's take is on all this? It's a very sad story.
bird's eye view said…
He takes the path of least resistance - he was right there during all the fights between his wife and MIL, never intervened; he joined his mom in raising hands on her...
the mad momma said…
oh my God... this is so terrible :(
karmickids said…
This is so terrible and so very true. Happens all around us. Thank you for this lovely post.
chandni said…
heart breaking. Really.
adayinlifeofmom said…
I read this story and comments, it is heartbreaking...

More sad is the behavior of her husband, who joined his mom in beating the woman... MIL - what a crazy lady..if her husband died young, was it because of DIL...wicked woman.. if she wanted to keep her son to herself- why did she agreed to marry him off (I am assuming it was arranged marriage)....

I am so sorry... Is the DIL still in US and emotionally tortured by MIL? if she wants she can contact counselors(not police) and may be they would be able to help her out in stopping emotional torture as well....

My best wishes are with her (DIL)...
vawawareness said…
This is very sad indeed... And the husband's stand makes it even more tragic. Hope the wife gets support and courage to get out of this.

Thanks for this great post.
Hip Grandma said…
It suits men to become mamma's boys and to remain silent even when he knows that his mother is the trouble maker. I can understand the plight of the wife. She has never been advised or encouraged to stand up for herself and it is no wonder that she prefers to suffer in silence. result?? Clinical depression of course. Under the circumstances she need to be more socially interactive even if only to unburden her woes.
bird's eye view said…
MM - yes..and when I think of the person she used to be, it's all the more heartbreaking!

Kiran - welcome. Hope it helps someone else in a similar situation out there.

Chandni - so true...:(

Adayinthelifemom - yes, she's still in the US...after that 911 incident, I think things have marginally improved. I think she wouldn't be open to counselors; even we have only heard the story second-hand, so it's not something she feels comfortable sharing with anyone. She has two kids as well, so spmewhere she may feel it'll have a negative impact on them if their dad is hauled up, even in conversation.

Her MIL is really unbalanced, according to me - how can anyone be jealous of their DIL for 'enjoying life with my son'? Sounds vaguely Oedipal from her side. I remember once when I was visiting, the DIL wanted to buy a $ 5 purse, and she asked me to say it was a gift so MIL wouldn't take her to task for it...

Hipgrandma - you're so right, the mamma's boy syndrome is such a convenient tack to take. I wish she could be more social, I think she wants to try but she's unable to emerge from her shell except once in a while, with the kids
dipali said…
Such a tragic waste of a life. I wonder if her life will ever improve:(
Shreya said…
I really do want to feel awful for your friend. It is obvious that she is going through hell every single day. But, she has a way out. When she called 911, she shouldn't have lied to them. Why try and spare the idiot husband and the bitchy MIL "for the sake of the kids"?! That has to be the most ridiculous and most convenient excuse in the book.

Yes, yes, I know some of you will jump at this and come up with all kinds of "it is not so simple", "she is clinically depressed", "she wanted to give them another chance" kind of things.. but nothing seems to have changed. If she really cared about her kids, "for the kids sake" she would move out.

This is just to tragic and ridiculously sad.
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