Domestic abuse also known as Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence refers to a pattern of behaviour used by one person to gain and maintain power and control over another person in an intimate or family relationship. It can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, financial, and psychological abuse. Perpetrator indulges in activities that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.
Below are some of the common reasons for domestic abuse:
Need for power and control: It’s often driven by a desire to control and dominate the other. It’s also due to the patriarchal attitude of men to view women as the weaker sex
Relationship conflict: High levels of stress, conflict, or verbal disagreement in the relationship can trigger physical abuse
Baggage from the past: People who have experienced abuse in the past may be more likely to abuse others, or to be victims of abuse
Substance abuse: Substance abuse can contribute to domestic abuse, as it can impair judgment and increase the likelihood of violent or aggressive behaviour.
Mental health issues: Mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or personality disorders, can also contribute to domestic abuse
How Can Domestic Violence Affect Mental Health?
Domestic abuse can have serious and long-lasting effects on a person's mental health. It can cause a range of mental health issues, including:
Depression: Domestic abuse can cause depression, which is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of enjoyment in activities
Anxiety: Domestic abuse can cause anxiety, which is characterized by feelings of worry, fear, and unease
Trauma bonding: A form of unhealthy attachment style which causes the victim to stay attached to the abuser despite violent behaviour
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Domestic abuse can cause PTSD, which is a mental health condition that can develop after someone has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, and difficulty concentrating
Low self-esteem: Verbal abuse, crticism, gaslighting and so on can erode a person's self-esteem and make them feel worthless, helpless, or not good enough
Difficulty making decisions: Indecisiveness, difficulty in asserting or trusting oneself will be difficult as they are used to being controlled or manipulated by the abuser
Suicide: In an extreme case, the victim takes up their life by committing suicide. According to National Crime Records Bureau Report, the share of housewives in female suicides increased by 3.6 per cent from 22,372 in 2020 to 23,178 in 2021.
How to overcome domestic abuse?
Do not tolerate abuse
It's crucial to recognize the signs of emotional abuse in a relationship. Victims often make excuses for their abusive partners, and they might see it as fair treatment. Victims might believe they deserve it or tolerate it for love or the sake of their kids. Abuse of any kind, physical or emotional, must never be tolerated. Developing this understanding is crucial to stopping abuse.
Set some alone time
Social conditioning prevents women from having opinions from a young age. Most of them are unaware of their likes, dislikes wants and needs. It’s important to spend time alone to understand oneself without being influenced by the opinions of others and society.
Take action for yourself
Once you've identified emotional abuse in your relationship, it's time to take action. The best way to do it is by standing up for yourself. Start by pointing out the behaviours you don't like. Emotional abuser needs to set boundaries for themselves. Show them you're willing to stand up for yourself.
Become financially independent
Financial independence is key to enjoying other forms of independence. By earning your income and meeting your needs, you’ll not dependent on your spouse. Hence, you won’t tolerate abuse. Employment empowers, gives confidence and an opportunity to say goodbye to any kind of abusive behaviour. With financial freedom, you can live a peaceful life far away from the abuser.
Create an emotional safety net
Share your concerns and worries with trusted friends or family members. If you’re unable to find anyone, join a support group. By sharing in a safe and trusted space, you’ll feel heard, understood and supported. It will help you understand that you’re not alone.
Contact helplines for immediate support
Unresolved mental health issues such as depression, low self-esteem and the impacts of emotional abuse can affect your mental well-being. Manoshala offers psychological counselling via online and offline sessions. We have 98 experts+ from institutions like Harvard, NYU, and Berkeley who provide support for various conditions such as depression, emotional abuse, anxiety, PTSD and others. Book a free 15-minutes pre-screening call with us to discuss your requirement.
Manoshala offers creative therapies through art, music, drama and body movement. Our experts will help in channelising emotions in healthy ways through doodling, sketching, body tapping, lyrics writing, role-play activities, storytelling, etc.
It's important to understand that domestic abuse is never the victim's fault. No one deserves to be abused, and there is no excuse for abusive behaviour. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, it is important to seek help. Contact a domestic abuse centre for immediate support. By understanding our country’s skewed gender norms, societal expectations, therapy and social support, it’s possible to find hope and live life peacefully.
Written by Padmapriyadarshini