This discussion is necessary because it comes at a time when Men's Rights' Activists are arguing more fervently than ever that existing laws are biased towards women.

Adhyayan Sumans revelations Not gender of the abuser but the abuse that mattersPTI Photo
Features Relationships Friday, April 29, 2016 - 17:00

Just when it started to seem like the Kangana Ranaut-Hrithik Roshan controversy couldn’t drag any further, the “Queen” star’s ex-boyfriend and actor Adhyayan Suman dropped several bombs in an interview given to DNA recently.

From chilling allegations of verbal, physical and mental abuse against Kangana to stating that she “practiced black-magic”, Adhyayan said that it was his “last interview on her” and asked not to be linked to her “ever again”.

Speaking about the abuse minutely, this is some of what he told the paper.

“The physical violence had become so frequent in my relationship with her that any other guy would have hit her back. But I couldn’t. Every time I was hit, I wanted to retaliate but my hands would just stop. I was scared as hell. I would cry to my PR every single night...

Every time she had to put her point across she would get physically abusive. She dominated me to a level where I couldn’t make a decision for myself. My parents would feel very embarrassed and yet my mom, seeing my mental state, would go and beg Kangana asking her to patch up with me after every fight...

Kangana had this amazing knack of manipulating my emotions and drawing me back. She took me to this tarot reader Sunita Menon who said we were meant to be together and that gave me confidence and strength to work at the relationship, even though I was going through shit. I hadn’t told my parents about this. If my father ever knew that she hit me, I can’t imagine his reaction."

While Adhyayan has opened up about his relationship seven long years after the couple parted ways, it is not the first time that he has mentioned the alleged abuse he had to suffer at the hands of Kangana. In the past too, he has described her as someone "who only knows how to use and abuse". 

It is difficult to know for sure whether Adhyayan's claims regarding Kangana are true or not. But his interview has put the spotlight on an issue which, though relevant, often simply misses the discussion table or is brushed aside as a one-time incident — the abusive girlfriend/female partner as opposed to the very common narrative of the abusive male partner.

While working against all abuse is important, this discussion is also necessary because it comes at a time when Men's Rights' Activists (MRAs) are arguing more fervently than ever that existing laws are biased towards women and violence against men goes unnoticed or under-reported. Not talking about it, on the other hand, strengthens MRA arguments that use anecdotal examples of abusive women partners to castigate the entire infrastructure of law designed to prevent violence against women.

In an article for Vice, titled “How I Found the Strength to End My Relationship with an Abusive Girlfriend”, Conor Creighton described his girlfriend, who he called Sara in the piece, thus:

“Not only did Sara shout at me in the sleep, she stole from me—booze, cigarettes, money, bicycles, clothes, whatever. She stole from my neighbors, too. I was constantly returning plants that she'd taken from their windowsills. She would hit me with little slaps that got harder and harder as we got drunker. One time, I remember she hit me so hard across the ear that for three days everything anyone said to me sounded like it was coming from the bottom of a mine shaft. I once left her in the bar after a fight and went home only for her to follow me back and rain stones at the window. When I still wouldn't get out of bed to let her in, she took off her boots, one by one, and fired them through the panes. When Sara wanted attention, she got it.”

Of the several articles/listicles available on the internet doling out plenty of advice on how-to-deal-with-abusive-girlfriends or when-to-know-you-are-in-an-abusive-relationship, is “10 Signs Your Girlfriend or Wife is an Emotional Bully”.

Published on a website called A Shrink for Men, the author, Dr Tara, writes, “Most men don’t want to admit that they’re in an abusive relationship. They describe the relationship and their girlfriend/wife using other terms like crazy, emotional, controlling, bossy, domineering, constant conflict, or volatile.”

This could perhaps be one of the reasons why such relationships are not reported or heard of as often.

Speaking about people with abusive partners and why they choose to stick around, Craig Malkin, a clinical psychologist at Harvard Medical School, told TIME, “They convince themselves if they approach the person differently, maybe they won’t be abused. The person being abused is focused on the positive and waiting for the next positive. There’s a psychological effect like gambling: the moments of tenderness and intimacy are unpredictable, but they are so intense and fulfilling that the victim winds up staying in the hopes that a moment like that will happen again.”

Abusive relationships don't necessarily mean physical abuse. Michael J Formica writes in Psychology Today, “Well, it's not always about being slapped around. Abusive relationships come in all forms along with physical abuse - social abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse (we are not referring here to molestation), financial abuse, etc. Abuse is about a dynamic of extremes, domination and submission. It is about giving and withholding, also in the extreme.”

When it comes to abuse and violence, the gender of the abuser or abused does not matter. They are first and foremost abusive relationships and it is left for individuals involved in it to decide what they will accept and what they will not, whether to take action or seek help. 

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