As my mom wiped the blood on her nose, with yet another cotton ball I gathered the courage to yell back. He stood there with an air that made him seem like a winner in a boxing match. This was nothing new, we knew he would get violent even at the slightest inconvenience. More than we loved me, it was fear that forced us to stay.

This time it was because I had gone out for lunch with my friends and came home a little late. Being a 23-year-old journalist, this made no sense to me.

As the physical abuse continued, the slut-shaming began. “You are nothing but a whore who sleeps around. Suck all the d**** you can get your hands on.” I screamed as my body shuddered and felt gross. Hearing such slurs from a father was painful. As my teared-up eyes searched for my mom, yearning for some support. She glanced back, “that’s exactly what you are. Don’t make this a huge issue. If you don’t shut up, you will ruin your little brother’s life”.

Also Read: Domestic violence surges in India

According to authoritative South Asian parenting, body-shaming and slut-shaming are essential aspects to discipline children. This continues for years, giving enough time for the child to internalise the comments and believe they exist. Home, which should be a nurturing environment becomes a breeding ground for toxicity.

Virginia Woolf was not wrong in saying, “Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size”. Feeding-off powerless women and children at home boost the fragile male ego. Silence adds power, shattering anything that defies chauvinist rules.

The next day, I asked mom, “Why would you want to put up with a monster?”

She was forced to quit her job as an engineer as he did not want her to make her own money. She became financially dependent on him and this eventually led to power imbalance. Having a second child in her mid-30s made her rely on him entirely.

That’s when she responded, “Well, I don’t like it either. I have to put up with it just so I have a roof over my head and that you kids get a good education. I’m in this marriage just for the money.”

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