Psychiatrist Dr Neha Bhave Salankar on domestic abuse, effect on mental health and more

Dr Neha Bhave Salankar | Sep 26, 2019 13:00

Dr Neha Bhave Salankar, MD in Psychiatry, in her column decodes 'selfie, various levels and how it affects one's self-esteem.
Dr Neha Bhave Salankar

Dr Neha Bhave Salankar is an MD in Psychiatry, who works as a Consultant Psychiatrist in Nagpur. Read what Neha has to say about the excessive usage of Internet by the millennials and the risks associated with it…

During my tenure as an intern in casualty, I had a chilling encounter. A distressed woman who was heavily pregnant came into the casualty, clutching her abdomen at 2 am, sobbing and dishevelled. She kept crying and repeatedly said, “My baby, my baby.” On questioning, she revealed her drunk husband had thrown her against the wall and then proceeded to kick her abdomen. That was my first close encounter with domestic violence.

How many of us have experienced or witnessed domestic abuse? Nearly everyone. It occurs across all socioeconomic strata, cultures, countries. Victims can range from Rihanna and Karishma Kapoor, to the maid who cleans your house.

United Nation defines domestic violence as, “Any act of gender based violence that results in physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.

The act doesn’t have to be overtly physical to be tantamount to abuse. It can include a denial of basic rights or simple pleasures. Emotional deprivation can include indifference or a lack of appreciation. Many women suffer from lack of cooperation or support, especially in face of opposition from extended family. Then comes intimidation and harassment, which can range from abusive language, threats of violence to actual physical aggression and even sexual abuse (unfortunately, marital rape is not even recognised by Indian law and hence goes unreported). Sadly, women often shoulder unfair blame and even criticism.

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As an outcome of abuse, women suffer from psychological as well as physical consequences. They can suffer from anxiety, depression, insomnia, anger outbursts often over children. They end up with low confidence, insecurity, feelings of shame or even guilt. Physically, they suffer from injuries as well as myriad psychosomatic physical complaints such as headache, body pain etc.

So why do women continue to stay in such toxic relationships? Sometimes the spouse (who has abused his/her partner) can be genuinely remorseful, apologising profusely or show best behaviour immediately following abuse. Their false promises (at times) lull the victim into false sense of security. Frequently, wives stay in an abusive marriage for the sake of children. Often females have poor support outside of husbands’ family and owing to financial dependence and lack of social sanction they remain stuck in a toxic relationship. Another reason is that females are commonly raised in an abusive family, which normalises their own abuse.

The only way out for the victim is to speak out or reach out for help. Confiding in a trustworthy person or your healthcare provider helps. Reporting to the local police or contacting women’s rights organisations (like Centre for Social Research and Vimochana) are also pathways to solutions. Remember, never let someone who doesn’t know your value tell you how much you are worth!

The ideas and information expressed are solely by the columnist and not by Nation Next.