We may not always realise how often we take things for granted. Things like, freedom, respect and dignity for instance, that forms the foundation of any healthy relationship. It is sad that every day, hundreds of women all over the world grapple with domestic abuse day after day, year after year, relentlessly fighting their lonely battles, sometimes, even paying for it with their lives.
A few days back I heard about a close relative who is struggling to break free from an abusive relationship. I was in for a shock when I came to know how bad her situation is and the way the entire thing is taking a toll on her. My initial response was to reach out to her and reassure her that things would improve and that she should not feel she is helpless. I promised to find out ways and means to help her knowing that it wasn’t an easy task, given that we don’t live in the same city. To be honest, I haven’t had a moment when I’m not thinking of something to say to her to give her hope.
While I’ve been helping her, I’m also wondering what is it about women like her that they tend to fall victims to such abuse? Why do they continue to suffer psychologically, mentally and physically for days, months and years on end? Why does it take long years of suffering before they can even think of leaving these abusive men? Why is it that they keep hoping for a miracle? Frankly, I have no answers.
In my quest to help her with real-life stories of women who braved the odds, I began looking up resources. Among the many stories, is Lalthanzami’s inspiring story of courage and determination and how she, not only fought her own battle, but inspired other victims to stand on their feet too. It is an empowering story, coming from the North-East of the country, where I thought women face less prejudice than those in the other parts of the country.
The journey from abuse to empowerment is a long, lonely and difficult one. Women who find themselves on that road, may not often find that support within the family. But, the irony is that they alone can help themselves. It is they, who must discover the strength and courage to safely move away from an abuser. And yet, even as we help and support them in their efforts to regain confidence and control over their own story and situation, at a time when it might be the most difficult thing to do, we must remember it is their battle.
At the end of the day, it is their life, and they should be making their own decisions. By deciding for them, we take away their power and confidence, leaving them helpless and dependent. So, no matter how helpless they are, no matter how easy it feels for us to do so, we should never be doing it for them. What would you do?