Is it possible to find Closure in the aftermath of Domestic Violence? Nalini Priyadarshini explores.
Home is sanctuary where a person feels relaxed and safe. But alas, it is not true for everyone, especially for women and children. In fact, domestic violence is the biggest killer of women. When 82% of victims of intimate partner violence are women, something is not quite right. Women are being killed for the simple fact of being women. However, violence is not just perpetuated against them by their partners but also family members. Last year alone, 58%of an annual total of 87,000 global female homicides were committed by either partner or family member according to a UN report. Let’s not forget that most of these killings took place after a continuing pattern of prolonged violence and not suddenly, out of blue.
Prof Elizabeth Yardley, a criminologist at Birmingham City University, said domestic homicide did not come of the blue: “Perpetrators don’t ‘lose it’ and victims don’t ‘provoke’ it.
Honour killing, sorcery and witchcraft are other major reasons of female homicide by those known to her. Unfortunately, women are often accomplice if not outright killers in such cases. These might seem as a result of a trigger but the roots of such a tragedy lies in the attitude of objectifying women aspart of a man’s possessions. When they find a woman undermining their authority or overstep the line of propriety sanctioned by society they consider it their birth right to correct her often by violent means even if it means her death.In fact, she is often made an example to terrify others to keep them in line.
Not only in India but in most places, the cultural and family normalizes male violence against women. Most girls are conditioned to take it in their stride. Even when women seek protection, the community or criminal justice system often fails them. This vicious circle of violence perpetuate as every year, thousands of children are exposed to domestic violence at home even if they are not victims themselves. It has a powerful and profound impact on their lives. These kids watch one parent violently assaulting another as well as hear the disconcerting sounds of violence or see telltale signs.
“Me and my brother are afraid,” says an eight-year-old girl who resides in a violent home in Mumbai. “Our parents fight constantly and we fear they might separate. Though they fight behind closed doors and think we don’t know what’s going on, but we do.”
It is no longer a secret that the people who witness domestic violence in their childhood are more likely to be affected by violence as adults – either as victims or offenders. The question that keeps nagging is whether it’s possible to break this vicious circle and find closure. Though it might seem insurmountable, it is possible to move on and find closure.
Closure is a personal journey that can look different for different survivors. It is not possible to tie all ends neatly, not immediately at least. Healing is an on–going process and some days susceptibility to old patterns seems imminent. Closure involves a series of choices that one makes, every day. It includes choosing who one wants to be and how one wants to be perceived or treated and includes trying different approaches and shunning those that makes one vulnerable. However, witnessing the strength of other survivors is one thing that always helps. When women share their stories with others who had been through similar things and discover the kind of strength that can come out of it, healing begins. Helping those in similar predicament often strengthen their resolve. It also provides them clarity of vision why they chose to be survivors rather than victims.
Closure doesn’t mean forgiving the perpetrator or forgetting what happened. It’s natural to feel an array of emotions ranging from debilitating grief, depression to raging anger. Blaming oneself or those who didn’t do enough to extricate one from the situation just won’t help. Introspection and standing firm on one’s decision every single day means one is ready to move on into a safer and healthier future. Be it altruism, time, space or just some confidence boosting self-talk and self-love, it’s important that a survivor finds what works for her.
Objectification of women goes back centuries and has its roots in all major religions of the world. Men have always perceived women as their possession and despite adapting to changing world order, not men are ready to accept them as independent individuals. Changing attitudes takes time and effort. Misogyny is so deep rooted in traditions that it can’t be wished away overnight. What starts with education must be taken forward with legislation and criminal justice system to ensure homes become safe for women and children.
Nalini Priyadarshni is a feminist, poet, writer, editor, translator, educationist and an environmentalist, though not necessarily in that order, who has authored Doppelganger in My House and co-authored Lines Across Oceans with late D. Russel Micnhimer. Her writings have appeared in numerous literary journals, podcasts and international anthologies including but not limited to The Madras Courier, Ugly Writers, The Open Road Review, Your One Phone Call, In Between Hangovers, Asian Signature, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Counter Currents, Art Hut and Silence Between Notes (2019). She has edited several poetry collections including but not limited to Contemporary Major Indian Women Poets (2016), English Section of Resonating Strings (2015). Her poems and views on poetry and life have been featured on AIR (All India Radio) and FM radio. Nominated for the Best of The Net 2017, she lives in Ludhiana, India.