A Drag of Justice – An Attempt at Understanding the Dilemma of Counseling a Survivor of Violence

We see cases of violence against women every day. Every day we sit with them, listen to the problems they face and ask them what the solution is that they seek. Some want to separate from cruel husbands, others from vengeful in-laws, some want money to run the house and feed their children, others want to be able to leave the house for a job. Some want the daily beatings to stop, others just want some peace of mind.

Asha (name changed) was one such woman who came to us for help. Having met with an accident that caused her to lose an arm soon after marriage, Asha was relegated to the realms of neglect ever since. With children to take care of and household chores to do, Asha struggled with the increasing burden of work and physical harassment that escalated by her husband and in-laws. All she wanted was to live separately from her in-laws with her husband and children in a room of her own. This was the solution she sought to her problem. After multiple attempts at counseling failed with the husband refusing to show up at our office, our counselors helped Asha file a case in court and a lawyer was engaged. After a two year long journey, Asha got what she wanted with court ruling in her favour, ordering her husband to stay separately with her and their children in a rented accommodation. Does this ruling change the husband’s behavior? Do the in-laws stop harassing the woman? Does Asha have access to her husband’s income to run the house now? Can she leave the house to look for a job that suits her? One court ruling is often not enough to bring order to our lives and the journey towards peace and stability continues.

This is the counselor’s dilemma. The counselor’s duty is to show the survivor different avenues available to her from which the survivor must choose which option works best for her. There are any number of options available from looking for alternate financial support in terms of a permanent income, availing skills that would enable her to get a job, to choosing to separate from the husband and starting a new life. Choice of the survivor becomes the case in point which the counselor must respect and advise accordingly. This choice though is a reflection of both the conditioning of the survivor since childhood and society’s own dictations of what a woman must do and be.

What kind of justice then can these women seek? The kind that lets them be without too many questions to answer, too many labels to heave.