The moment we talk about domestic violence in a marriage, we imagine a victim with a bruised face. Yes, that’s physical abuse, which is culpable domestic violence, but there are many other forms of abuse, including emotional abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, and financial abuse. These terms might sound new to some because we don’t talk about them much. Why don’t we talk about it? Because we’ve been ingrained to believe that these are part and parcel of married life.
Recently, the Allahabad High Court dissolved a marriage on the grounds of mental cruelty, observing that “not allowing the partner to have sex for a long period without substantial reason” amounts to mental cruelty. A bench consisting of Justice Suneet Kumar and Justice Rajendra Kumar IV was hearing a petition filed by a husband challenging a family court’s order dismissing his divorce petition. Do we discuss such cases, though? Seldom, maybe, but society at large expects couples to make their marriage work by hook or by crook.
Types Of Domestic Violence
The truth is that domestic violence and cruelty need not necessarily be physical. The abuser might hurt the survivor without even laying a finger on them. They can abuse the survivor verbally, sexually, emotionally, and financially, and that is equally cruel as being beaten black and blue! While physical abuse might leave scars for the world to see, other forms of violence leave scars that are invisible to the world but excruciating to the receiver. Here’s a look at the types of domestic violence apart from physical abuse.
In a country that hasn’t criminalised sexual abuse in marriage, opening up about sexual abuse is the need of the hour. We are taught to believe that it’s the duty of a woman, especially to fulfil her partner’s sexual desires whenever he needs it. Marriage, unfortunately, in our country entitles one partner to have sex with the other whenever they want. Consent is sadly an alien concept in marriage. That being said, withholding sex and intimacy from the other partner without any considerable reason or just to punish the other partner also falls under sexual abuse.
The abuser might not physically hit the survivor, but they might hit them with unpleasant and hurtful words. As the saying goes, words are indeed more powerful than swords! The abuser might think that they aren’t abusing but just scolding or yelling at the survivor, but do they think from the victim’s end? How long can the survivor withstand name-calling, derogatory words, and constant complaints about themselves or their family? Won’t it be hurtful for the receiver to constantly be taunted with hurtful words? How is it fair to expect that person to stay in such a relationship?
Unfortunately, this is a form of violence many are unaware of. When one partner is highly dominating and controlling, orders the other partner uses guilt-tripping to get things done, gaslights the other partner, punishes by withholding affection or finances, or giving the silent treatment, isolating the partner from their friends and family, threatening them, judging, shaming, name-calling, blaming, and hurting them, not providing privacy, disrespecting consent and boundaries, and creating a scenario where the survivor feels like walking on eggshells around the abuser, everything comes under emotional abuse.
It is mandatory that partners provide each other with emotional support and warmth. By not talking to the victim, avoiding them, and withholding love, the abuser is making the survivor feel insecure and lonely in a relationship. Though this might be a common scenario in many households, emotional abuse is as detrimental as any other form of domestic violence.
When the earning partner is not providing financial independence to the dependent partner and every time they have to plead or beg the abuser to access money, even for basic needs or to help their family members, that’s financial violence. If one partner holds the power to make all their financial decisions by themselves, that’s financial violence too. If both partners are earning but one of them claims the other’s entire income, leaving them dependent, that’s also financial violence.
It’s easy for society to say, “It’ll be all right if you have a child,” “You should adjust and compromise in a relationship,” or “Men will be men,” etc., but no, nobody should have to endure any form of abuse in the hopes of things becoming better with time just because society says so. One form of violence is no less hurtful than the other. Why should anyone ever be obligated to silently suffer in an irreparable marriage? If it’s not working out, it’s always best to call it quits because everyone deserves to be happy regardless of regressive social norms that say otherwise.
Photo credit: The Hindu
Views expressed by the author are their own
Suggested Reading: ‘Till Death Do Us Part’: Is It Right To Label Marriages As Lifetime Commitment?