"I was once thrashed so badly that I couldn't believe it myself. It was like watching a movie. When I cry after a beating, my children console me. But I still believe my husband loves me. I will never walk out on him."
In a country where domestic violence in all its forms- physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse- is rampant, a significant population of married women often find themselves at the receiving end.
One common question that often seems to arise out of such discussions is why victims/survivors don't quit such abusive relationships. The answers are many and complex, and perhaps there is no straight answer.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, annd we bring to you a series of personal accounts of survivors of domestic violence who speak about their experiences and how they chose to react. This is the second story in the series "I clung on".
I am thirty-two years old. I hold a PhD in the Sciences. I'm on a long break from employment because my eldest son, who is 8, is autistic and I need to be home to take care of him. My younger son is 2 years old.
I met my husband at a relative's house. He liked me and wanted to marry me.
I wasn't particularly attracted to him but my parents were looking for alliances for me around that time, so I thought why not?
We knew each other for about 14 months before we got married. We lived in two different cities but we would chat over phone a lot.
The signs were there even before we got married.
One day, my mother and I were waiting at a bus-stop when he came towards us and started abusing me loudly in full public view. I still don't know why he was so angry that day.
Maybe it was because he had just worked a night shift and was exhausted.
Though I have experienced domestic violence- verbal and physical- I believe my husband is essentially a very caring person.
He doesn't drink or smoke. He's a man of clean habits. I feel he doesn't know how to channelize his anger and frustration and he ends up taking it out on me.
My mother was worried about his behaviour but we were engaged by then and she was more concerned about the social stigma that would follow if we were to call off the wedding.
I was also willing to forgive him for whatever he did because he apologized a lot after it happened. I'm a very spiritual person and I believe God intended me to be with him, that we were destined to be together.
But if I had been in my mother's position, I think I would have convinced my child somehow not to go ahead with this marriage.
When I became pregnant, we visited my mother-in-law. While in her house, she washed everyone's clothes but set mine alone aside.
My husband asked her why she was doing this. She became angry and started abusing me very badly. She used very filthy language and said things like her son married me out of pity and nothing else.
Then she started abusing my parents. I lost my cool and went and held her neck, asking her to stop. I regretted my actions deeply- whatever it was, I shouldn't have done it. I apologized to her as well as my husband a lot.
He was very understanding about it, saying his mother had really overstepped the line. But just between the two of us, there was violence happening.
He would shout at me, twist my arm, slap me. It would start off as an argument about something, he would lose his temper and resort to hitting me. I developed some ear problems because of this and had to get medical help.
He once thrashed me so badly that I couldn't believe I was in this situation. It was like watching a movie. How they show women getting beaten up.
I had an elective C-sec, so my husband knew when I was going to deliver our child. But he came two hours later with my mother-in-law.
This was a guy who used to brush my teeth, feed me when I used to have morning sickness. I couldn't understand why he was being so aloof.
My mother-in-law didn't allow me to see my baby for six hours. When I demanded to see my child, she said I was agonizing over my newborn son's separation from me without thinking about how I'd separated her son from her.
My husband did nothing.
My father fell sick because of all the tension and had to be hospitalized. My mother had to run from my room to his room to take care of both of us. My husband just left.
When we came back home from the hospital, we had a conversation about money which became heated. My husband held my neck as if to strangle me and when my mum protested saying I'd just delivered a child, he shot back saying I'd done the same to his mother and I deserved what I got.
My cousin, a doctor, knows about our situation; we had to go to him a couple of times when I fainted because of the beatings.
My mother obviously knows. My father knows but doesn't talk about it. I haven't spoken about it to anyone else.
In my opinion, all men are the same. They have a certain boundary line that you cannot cross- if you do, they will become violent.
I have thought of getting a divorce in the past but not any more. Marriage is a sacred institution, more so when there are children involved. Divorce is not a solution.
My children know that my husband hits me. My older son cannot speak because he is autistic but he comes and wipes away my tears when I am crying after a beating.
My strategy now is to avoid confrontations and keep away from provoking him in any way.
It's been a year or so since he last hit me. I know many women who are in the same situation. One of my friends called me up at midnight and said she wanted to kill herself because of marital problems. I counseled her not to take a hasty decision.
There is no point arguing.
To a certain extent, all men are fools; there is no sense in arguing with a fool, is there?
Despite all these tensions, I believe my husband truly loves me. He rushes to fulfill every wish of mine. He got me a diamond ring just because I mentioned it casually in conversation that I wanted one. If I want ice-cream at 11 pm, he will try and get it for me. He even helps me out with house-work when I am too tired to do it all by myself.
I will never leave him.
(*Name changed to protect privacy)
(This piece was first published on TNM on October 19, 2014.)