Domestic Violence is Cruelty upon Women- Journey From Being a Victim to Survivor

My experience of domestic violence

When the world is talking about flying cars and 3D communication, 30% of women in the world are inflicted with violence that doesn’t come from outside their known circle of people but from inside their houses. Are you a victim of Domestic Violence? This question remains unanswered by many women as they still don’t know what Domestic Violence means. They are not aware of the kind of violence accepted as Domestic Violence because they believe that only physical abuse is Domestic Violence. It can’t be denied that Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is the most prevalent form of Domestic Violence but we are not aware of the other forms of this cruelty that has seeped deep into this male-dominant society and is causing menace in the lives of many women. Here is an instance from the life of a woman who has suffered Domestic Violence silently for more than one and half decades all because she never knew what she was bearing amounted to Domestic Violence.

What is Domestic Violence?
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On 20th February 2007, she entered into an arranged marriage and started living in a joint family with her parents-in-law and brother-in-law’s family. There were many instances of Domestic Violence right after she entered her married life but she was not even aware of it. She was interrupted by her husband when her mother called and asked to attend to other matters in the middle of the phone call. Her parents were conservative too and would call her once a week lest she should crave them. She never knew this was the violence of her Fundamental Right, the Right to Live with Human Dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

She was asked to participate in non-consensual sex in the name of being the property of her husband as he considered it as his right over her body. This was sexual abuse. Under, The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005; “sexual abuse” includes any conduct of a sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of a woman.

She was not given any money to carry out day-to-day expenses which included purchasing clothes, sanitary napkins, and transportation costs. According to her husband and parents-in-law, these costs should be borne by her parents and not them. She was not aware that this is “economic abuse” under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 which states– prohibition or restriction to continued access to resources or facilities which the aggrieved person is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the domestic relationship including access to the shared household.

Again the gifts that came from her parents’ house were compared by her mother-in-law with the gifts her elder sister-in-law received from her parents. This made her believe that it was the insufficient gifts from her parents that had placed her in such a situation where she was made to cook three to four meals a day every day without any help from her mother-in-law or sister-in-law. This was again mental and physical torture.

After giving birth to a baby girl on 24 January 2011, she gave birth to a second baby girl on 6 July 2012 and this came as a big blow. Immediately she was asked to be ready to have a third child which her sister-in-law said would definitely be a boy. During her second pregnancy, she came to know that her husband went to a call girl to satisfy his physical needs and that the call girl blackmailed him to give her ₹6000/- else she would make his doings public. As if it was not enough, she was asked to start preparing food for the entire family as soon as she recovered.

This woman gave up and when she went to her mother’s house to rest along with her new-born, while the first daughter was still with her mother who was taking care of the little girl from the day that woman was hospitalized to deliver, she refused to go back to her in-laws’ place. There were family meetings and things were sorted in two and a half months. This woman started living separately with her husband and two daughters in a rented apartment before they shifted to an ownership flat within one year. Now, her husband got the chance to physically, verbally, sexually, and financially abuse her even more than before. This woman believed it was her bad karma and she had no other option but to bear it all silently.

From 20 February 2007 to 22 April 2021, this woman has seen it all. She was forced to leave her matrimonial house on 22 April 2021 because she questioned her father-in-law to stop his son from having multiple affairs with various maids who had worked at their house which she came to know through various pictures discovered on his phone on 20 April 2021. She was beaten, and her daughters were not considered members of the family as they were no sons. After all, this woman failed to provide any male heir to their family when she conceived in December 2020 and decided to abort the child and go for tubal ligation too. This one woman was responsible for crushing their dreams of having a male grandchild, a good dowry, and the desire of their son to go on with his illicit affairs. What can a weak and vulnerable woman do rather can go to her parent’s house and be quiet for it is always the fault of a woman! This meek and subservient woman is me and I decided not to be quiet anymore.

Picture of Sneha Goel in Guwahati, Assam
The picture was taken on 5 March 2021 (a day before, 4 March 2021, my husband beat me up mercilessly and tried to strangulate me)

On 23 April 2021, I registered an FIR against my husband and parents-in-law under 498(A). On 26 April 2021, I came to know through my elder daughter that my husband used to do dirty talk over the phone with a maid in front of her. Later, my younger daughter opened up saying that she was molested by him and this has happened in many instances which I learned eventually. I was aware of the fact that he used to watch her bathing and stare at her. All these started after the lockdown in the Corona period when the school was also shut. I registered one more FIR on 4th May 2021 against my husband for molesting my younger daughter. It was the most difficult decision of all because the life of my daughter was at stake but I knew that something higher was at stake too and that was her safety if he was allowed to stay in the same shared household that the court would allow me to stay in under the Right to Property. It was now that I got to know that my Fundamental Rights were violated in the name of marriage and the instances which come under Domestic Violence.

The journey to date has been challenging— dealing with societal pressure, depression, aftereffects of trauma in children, and financial difficulties. The visits to Police Stations, FIRs, and counter FIRs; court dates and preparing petitions with the lawyers. But I have decided not to give up. Along the way, I found many people, some who put me down in the name of Marwari society, a few who thought could manipulate my decision, and one or two who even tried to take advantage of my situation. Because a woman is financially very weak especially when she has been a housewife all her life. Thank God I have very good and kind-hearted people around me. My parents, sister, and brother are helping me emotionally and financially.  My cousins, most of my relatives, two of my neighbors, few of my friends; never stopped supporting me emotionally. They all made my difficult time bearable and gave me strength whenever I was in need. Also, my daughters are the reason why I am fighting this battle. Their so-called father has refused to take their financial responsibility and this made me think, “They have no one in this whole wide world to call their own except me.”

I wrote this article to tell you that nothing is easy— neither tolerating nor fighting back. But fighting back gives you strength and dignity which tolerating never gives. I am no longer a Domestic Violence Victim, I am now a Domestic Violence Survivor.


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