Relationship abuse can be defined as a forceful behavior that are used to maintain power and control over the former or current partner causing physical, sexual or psychological harm. Abuse can be emotional , financial, sexual ,physical and include threats , isolation, intimation. Anyone can be the victim of abuse regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age etc. It affects people of all socioeconomic background and education levels .Canadian study indicated abuse that 7% of women and 6% men were abused by their current or former partners but female victims of domestic violence sustain injury more in comparison with male victims. While some source suggest that gay and lesbian couples experience abuse at the same level as heterosexual couples . Emotional abuse can be more difficult to recognize than physical abuse. Common displays of psychological abuse include verbal assaults and derogatory comments , isolating a victim from his or her family. . According to the study conducted by WHO called multi- country study, in which data was collected from 10 countries from more than 24000 women on Intimate Partner Violence. Existing research suggests that difference types of violence often coexist such as physical violence is often accompanied by sexual violence and emotional abuse. Through this research, researcher are trying to identify causes for abuse that ranges from individual factors like young age, low level of education, harmful use of alcohol and drugs etc to relationship factors such as dissatisfaction in relationship, economic stress etc and community factors such as poverty and gender inequitable social norms.
National Intimate Partner and sexual violence survey conduced in which respondents who experience abuse told that common insults they heard by their partner were comments on their intelligence, financial status, and physical abuse. In the same survey it was concluded that homosexual and bisexual partner experience abuse at the same frequency as heterosexual people and in many cases higher than that of heterosexual couples. Psychologist Nancy B. Irwin told that victim becomes dependent on their abuser, their partner controls their time with family and friends as well as access to their money and other activities. All this develops strong hold on their partner. Gaslighting is a term often used by psychologist when they are talking about abusive relationships which means a form of psychological manipulation in which the person stealthly sows a seeds of doubt in a targeted person making them question their judgement produce other changes such as low self -esteem, low self - efficacy and also causes cognitive dissonance in the individual.Thus, the abused individual find impossible to function without their partner.
According to Patricia Pape, psychologis abuse starts in slow manner. The seeds of abuse takes time to deepen it's roots in any relationship.and soon after that one will feel trapped in situation where their entire habit are governed by the partner. This process starts in a very subtle and slow manner but with passage of time becomes a deadly poisons which thwarts any relationship. The abuser can be of any gender.
Some of the reasons identified as why abused individual can’t leave are as follows-:
1. Unhealthy behaviour becomes normal in society’s lens- One of the prominent reason the abused individual cannot leave because society view abusive behaviour as normal which makes the abused individual believe that whatever is happening to them is a part of a relationship and they have to bear with it. It becomes normal to the point they don’t even realize it they are being abused.
2. Low self-esteem - These people suffer from low self esteem issues due to constant emotional , physical and sexual abuse which ultimately leads development of self-doubt in their abilities
3. The cycle of Abuse- Soon after the abuse there comes a honey moon period where the abuser will try to make up to his/her partner and following it comes another form of abuse. This becomes a never ending cycle.
4. Its dangerous to leave – The constant threatened by the abuser gives a picture that it will be dangerous to leave.
5. Feeling personally responsible for behaviour- Perpetrator manipulates the words in such way that they believe its their fault that they are being hit or being sexually harassed.
Few of the experiences shared by people who were abused-:
Victim who shared her experience verbalized that her former partner was her co-worker and she feared that if she broke up with him it will create uncomfortable work environment. He made me dependent on him for daily needs like groceries and transportation. She also reported that her contact from her family and friends were cut off. Thus, having no resource for her to get help.
Another victim spoke about her abuse she told that she met a person three months back and had a instant bonding with this person. One night he got really mad at her and pushed her against a wall which got her scared but later he said sorry. She told that she thought everything will be better but it changed for the worse. One night when she refused for having sex, he raped me. Though with the help of family and support group she recovered.
Another experience shared was that they met first time when he moved next doors. We develop instant bonding. Life became pretty exciting with partying , drinking. she didn’t see it coming. The abuse first stated when they were out his friends and drinking. His ex- girlfriend came due to she got upset and left. He came to her and dragger her down from the car and punched her in head. She tend to her bruises. Next day, he came apologize and for time being everything got better. She became pregnant and in fit of rage he kicked her, punched her in stomach. Like earlier, he expressed sorrow of his actions and she forgave and soon after she got pregnant again with twins and they move near his parent but his abuse towards never stopped. It was a never ending vicious cycle she was trapped in. Thanks to support group she was able to get out of his clutches.
On talking with another person who experienced abuse in her life that she loved a person but after he changed suddenly. She reported that he became very controlling. Didn’t allow her to talk with friends or family . she felt trapped . he spat on her , hit her and called her names . she was also bedridden for 2 days and constantly told that it was her fault. She spent days crying and one day when she thought enough was enough , she left.
In addition to this women who are abused by their husbands are more at risk for HIV infection according to the study published in American Medical Association. In India alone from birth to motherhood many women are deprived of basic necessities of life. Violence becomes the source of this inequity faced by women in rural as well as urban areas. According to the survey, reported by NEWS18 27% of women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 in India. The reports of physical violence in rural is 29% whereas in urban areas is 23% . National Family Health Survey released by Union Ministry revealed that every third women India has faced domestic violence in some form of abuse. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 provided definition of domestic violence that is comprehensive and included all forms of physical , sexual , economic violence etc as well as threats of violence. Human Rights Watch in its November 2017 report found that in India sexual harassment victim faces significant barriers in obtaining justice and critical support services.
In a research which done to see the correlation between development of Post Traumatic Disorder and Domestic violence it was found that women who experience abuse are at high risk of developing PTSD. The extent , severity and type of abuse is associated with the severity of PTSD. The more threatening the abuse is , the more is the severity of PTSD.
In a research done by NCIB , in abusive relationship suicide risk is higher in women. In constrain of this there are researches which clearly shows that abusive relationship causes depression, trauma, emotional and behavioural problem in the individual Any form of abuse may hamper the normal form of individual. In case in couple with child, it is the children who suffer more not only it impacts their development but also leaves a permanent scar in their life.
Somebody said “ its not always loud or obvious ,the poison doesn’t always hit you like a gunshot. Sometimes , it seeps in quietly , slowly , sometimes , you don’t even know it was ever there until months after.”