"Once, she bit my face so hard that I had to take medical treatment. On another occasion, she hit me on the head with a plate for which I had to again go to the doctor. That's when I decided that I couldn't continue letting this happen. I took a medical certificate from the doctor and went to the police station to file a complaint. But the policemen just laughed at me."
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, and at times even men, 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, and 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.
I am thirty three years old, an electrical engineer by profession. I got married in August 2010. I met my wife through a mutual acquaintance who arranged the match for us. I knew her for a brief period of 2 months before we got married.
The abuse started right after marriage.
She would get very upset over small things. For example, if I came late from work, she'd become very abusive. She'd call me repeatedly over phone and even throw things around. If I told her that I wasn't in the mood to go out, she would get very angry.
My parents expired before we got married and I have a brother who is deaf, dumb, and mentally challenged. He's 29 years old. I'd revealed this before marriage and had made it clear that he would live with me.
However, after we got married, my wife began to resent this.
She would hit him and use abusive language. I eventually had to put him in an ashram because of this.
I suspected that she had psychiatric problems. I took her to the doctor and he prescribed some medicines. But she took them only for a short time and refused to take them again and discontinued the counseling sessions.
We also went in for marriage counseling and it seemed to help for a while but soon, things went back to where they were. She thought that I was having an affair with my colleague though this wasn't the case.
She would come to my office and shout at me in front of everyone. She also hit me in front of my colleagues and used abusive language against the woman with whom she suspected I was having an affair. My colleagues tried to convince her that nothing was going on and that I wasn't cheating on her but she wouldn't listen.
She tried to make my employers sack me.
She'd do things like hide my clothes and shoes to prevent me from going to office. I had to quit my job because it was becoming unbearable for me to work there after all that she had done.
My wife had worked in three BPO companies previously but she could never keep a job. She'd always quit within 10-15 days of joining.
I didn't know what to do. I spoke to my paternal uncle who lives in Odisha about it. He tried talking to her parents to see if they could intervene but they did nothing. I also spoke to her siblings to convince them that she needs medical help and that they should take her back and treat her.
But whatever we said, they didn't budge.
When things used to get bad, I'd leave home and stay with my friend for 2-3 days. One of these times, my wife tried to commit suicide by swallowing a lot of medicines at once.
My neighbour became aware of what was happening and he called her father to explain the situation and convince him to take her back. Even when their daughter tried to kill herself, her parents just wouldn't come.
They gave us flimsy excuses like tickets were not available and I finally booked their tickets myself so they could come. They stayed with us for 10-15 days but simply left without informing me or doing anything about the situation.
When I filed for divorce after 1.5 years, she leveled domestic violence charges against me.
When she used to hit me, I used to defend myself, push her back so I wouldn't get hurt. But I didn't do anything else. Many a time, I'd just leave the house.
She made false allegations like I demanded dowry, hit her when she was pregnant; she said that I was trying to kill my daughter. She even alleged that my brother tried to molest her and so on.
Once, she bit my face so hard that I had to take medical treatment. On another occasion, she hit me on the head with a plate for which I had to again go to the doctor. That's when I decided that I couldn't continue letting this happen.
I took a medical certificate from the doctor and went to the police station to file a complaint. But the policemen just laughed at me and told me that this wasn't true and that a man can't possibly get beaten up by his wife.
She used to make frivolous complaints against me and my brother to the police. She has called the police about 50 times till date. We have a two-and-a-half year old daughter. She was too young then to understand what was going on but my wife used to abuse me in her presence as well.
My daughter now lives with her maternal grandparents in Assam as custody has been given to my wife. I did not contest it because I know that the law favours women when it comes to the custody of young children, especially girls.
I wanted to share my story because there is very little awareness about male victims of domestic violence. Most people assume that a man cannot suffer at the hands of a woman. This is not true. Domestic violence can happen to a man also and the laws should be made gender-neutral.
( *Name changed to protect privacy )
(This piece was first published on TNM on October 27, 2014.)