Centre for Social Research runs Crisis Management Centres in different parts of Delhi that act as a space for survivors of violence to seek psycho-social counseling and paralegal support. Over the past two years, over 600 cases, specifically of Domestic Violence, have been counseled at these centres. In a bid to break the silence around this issue, we are sharing some of the stories of these survivors.
This is the story of Parveen (name changed), a Delhi-based woman from an affluent family married for over two decades to a business man Dev (name changed). It is a perception commonly seen that incidences of domestic violence are a purely lower class phenomena wherein the uneducated, poverty stricken man beats his wife as he knows no better and must be set right. This case proved that not only does domestic violence exist irrespective of one’s socio-economic background but also that it takes longer for the woman facing violence to accept, acknowledge, and finally seek ways to raise her voice and step out of abusive relationships and families due to the silence around this issue particular to her class.
Parveen faced domestic violence in all its various manifestations from physical to economical to verbal and emotional to sexual violence, and the whole cycle began in the very beginning of her marriage during her honeymoon. It began with Parveen being subjected to all kinds of medical and tantric extrapolations by her family in order to conceive children given that the society we live in considers a woman as not complete in herself until she attains motherhood. After 13 years of psychological torture, she gave birth to twins. Despite the violence not ending even after her children were born, Parveen could not leave her abusive partner for how could a mother of two even consider leaving her husband on whom she is socially dependent if not financially as society still cannot accept single or divorced women who face an enormous amount of social stigma.
Parveen decided to take action only after her husband took her children away from her by force and filed a divorce case against her with false charges of adultery and put his property in his mother-in-law’s name so Parveen could not be given a share of it. She filed a police complaint but was afraid of not getting her due as Dev had contacts in high places. When Parveen reached out to Centre for Social Research she was inconsolable and grief stricken. Her decades long struggle had taken a toll on her and she turned to our Counsellors for support to give her the much needed strength to carry on her fight for justice. The Counsellor provided her with psychological support so she could regain her self esteem battered blow by blow over the years, and put her in touch with a legal expert to see that her court case was being taken in the right direction. The shattered Parveen now has the support of the entire team while she had earlier considered herself alone.
The length of the time of her suffering made her fragile and she draws strength from the team at Centre for Social Research that stands unshakeable besides her. “I will bring up my daughter to be strong”, she says, “not weak like me. She will stand up for herself and never succumb to the whims and fancies of any man”. Today’s women are different, she says, they don’t lower their eyes and submit to whatever anybody says or does. They question, they reason, and they act on their own terms. I want to be like them and my daughter someday will too.