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!