1/29/07

Why doesn’t she just leave?

Why doesn’t she, really?

This is probably the single most infuriating question I’ve been faced with, time and time again in my not too pleasant, tumultuous life. Every time I hear this question my right temple starts throbbing ceaselessly and I have to direct all my energy into quelling my sudden spurt of mindless rage.

People who ask this particularly irksome question are either dangerously clueless or horrifically callous or prone to making shallow generalizations; either way it is downright unacceptable. Verbal or emotional* or god forbid - physical abuse in a marriage or a relationship is not something to be pooh-poohed away with banal, ignorant statements pertaining to the woman being abused. These statements or questions can range from being exasperatingly foolish to blatantly offensive like the proverbial 'why doesn’t she just leave' to cleverly reworking the question as 'but why don’t you just kick him in the groin, god knows that’s what I would have done.' to passive aggressive schlop like 'Oh honey you deserve so much better. Why do you still go back to him? ' and it goes on and on, this misguided faux ‘care’ which these people seem to relentlessly drown their target in.

I personally believe that torchbearers of such rubbishy faux ‘care’ are insensate louts. They’re snarky and pathetically passive aggressive and their belittling statements do not stem from care or pity or even sympathy; it’s just their way of passing their unequivocal judgments on the woman because they are convinced that she must be either deranged or moronic or both. Ultimately they think that she is to be blamed for the abuse; because hidden within their ‘well meaning’ statements is a strong undercurrent of their belief that abuse in itself is an uncomplicated problem which can be easily and miraculously solved if the woman simply decides to walk away. In their minds the whole situation is romanticized, their thinking is almost unbelievably utopian; she walks away from her hulking, maniacal brute of a husband or a partner, and everything rights itself. Everything somehow becomes A-ok just as soon as she walks out that door.

Earth to faux ‘care’ givers. Really. Because I don’t know if your thoughts stem from incomprehension or resolute denial, but it’s about time that you wrapped your mind around the idea that maybe, just maybe in an abusive relationship the abusers are the one to blame. Now repeat after me: abusers cause abuse. Abusers are not hulking, aberrant sociopaths ready to fly off their handle at the slightest provocation. They are as normal as you or I; friendly, affable and more often than not, quite popular at work or with friends and such like. You cannot fit the abuser’s persona into a comfortable mould. He may be rich, poor, short, fat, tall, slim, soft spoken, whatever. But one thing remains certain. Abusers are exceedingly charming and amiable. They are scammers, because their charmingly affable behavior is only a persona and nothing else. So if you entertain nonsensical notions about how women are attracted to men who treat them like shit or worse, if you believe masochistic filth like ‘oh she went back to him because she likes being abused’ then realize that its because of apathetic people like you that abused women are not vociferous enough. Heck they don’t speak out at all, in most cases.

Nobody likes assholes. A woman does not walk into a relationship wanting to be with an asshole. In all probability, she was conned into having a relationship with the abuser by his charm, his demeanor and his undivided attention. She is but a fly in the web he spins around her; she is beleaguered by his unswerving devotion. She cannot believe that anyone could possibly love her so much and slowly she becomes enmeshed in his web of deceit. Always remember that the abuser is not a dim witted clod, he is clever in singling out his targets; like a seasoned hunter he preys on women who are shy, their self esteem is either low or non existent, they may also be vulnerable or insecure or all of the above. His conniving side slowly begins to appear and he starts interspersing praise for his partner along with ‘constructive’ criticism, sarcastic jabs, name-calling, passive aggressive behavior and acerbic comments directed at her ideas or appearance or both, making sure that he slowly (or abruptly) chips away at her self worth. He then starts to manipulate her other relationships, be it friends or family and he steadily begins isolating her from people who are supportive towards her (in his own abstruse mind he views such people as competition; to him they undermine his control. This can be linked to the obvious fact that abusers are usually intensely jealous and possessive, fueled by a fervent desire to control their partners), or she may look to them for emotional strength. Finally she is left alone and powerless. No family or friends to back her up, she is at his mercy; to manipulate, to control and to brainwash.

His behavior starts to worsen uncontrollably. He is prone to outbursts, often erratic and unforeseeable and it is this unpredictability which throws her off and makes her feel like a deer caught in the headlights. Time and again, the most minor occurrences will be enough to trigger off his violent temper. He would have by now fruitfully reworked her thinking and behavior so completely, that she will automatically hold herself responsible for all his outbursts. Her non-existent confidence plummets even further as he continues to berate her for every single one of his shortcomings. The abuser possesses a terrific aptitude for self - deception, he is convinced that he is NOT to blame for any of his actions and he will inexorably project all his faults onto his partner.

But the situation becomes a tad convoluted when the abuser does an absolute volte-face and becomes all snivel-ly, self chastising and very remorseful. This usually follows an especially brutal episode of violent, abusive behavior. And this is why the woman usually sinks into the mire of an abusive relationship and is confused or scammed into staying. Even if she does decide to finally break his stranglehold on her, he gauges her intentions and changes into his repentant, apologetic persona and usually makes lofty oaths that he will never hurt her again. And she wants to believe him. She wants him to be the man she first met; she does not recognize this person who petrifies her and his brainwashing is so efficient that she falls back into her usual cycle of self depreciation. After being effectively duped by his dramatics, she stays.

Finally, something switches inside her. She comprehends the fact that she must leave or else she’s putting her life (or at the very least, her sanity) in jeopardy. Abusers are so attuned to their victims’ behavior and emotional mood swings that they will sense this change instantly. And that’s when the intimidation will take a nasty turn. Often times this is when emotional abuse spins out of control and turns into dreadful psychological abuse. He will start threatening to kill her, her family and sometimes even her pets. He will impose his feudal (and rigid) outlook on women and marriage in general on her to often frightening proportions; so much so, that god forbid she dares to even look at another man. Even if she accidentally happens to glance at another man (whatever the situation may be) it will trigger off a vicious outburst which will usually culminate in filthy name calling or worse on his part. He will threaten to kidnap her and harass her (physically or sexually) if she has the temerity to even hint at leaving him. She becomes despondent, the gravity of her situation makes her sink into a quagmire of fear and depression and this is when she turns suicidal. To her, suicide takes on a silver lining; she looks upon it almost reverently. To her it spells freedom.

If you still think that the situation is fairly simple and that all she has to do is simply ‘walk away’ then you’re a fuckwit. Think before you casually throw around the question 'Well, why doesn’t she just leave?'

Understand that her actions do not require justification, his actions do.

She is but a glorified pawn in his hands, a victim. And nothing else.

* I have spoken specifically about verbal, emotional and psychological abuse. I did not include physical abuse in this post only because physical abuse warrants a post in itself, and that's why I've put it on the back burner for now.

Addendum: I would also like to shine a spotlight on desi 'friends' of the victim (desi, of course) in particular, who convince the victim that her partner’s neurotic and borderline psychopathic behavior is proof of his 'love' and she should thank her lucky stars for being in a relationship with him. If you are one of those people, then I hope you hang yourself.

Thanks muchly.

Addendum II: Go here pronto and donate your old mobile phone (or phones) if you feel strongly about domestic violence. Go. Now.

[thanks nevermind]

69 comments:

kay said...

whoa...good one. i've often come across women in abusive relationships and find myself at a loss as to what to tell them though. in the past the most i've done is to put her up at home so distance can help her think, without offering my own judgement on the situation. counselling doesnt help, coz counsellers are often fuckwits thmselves. so what do you think should be a care provider/friend's course of action? and what about the victim herself? i've been a victim where emotional blackmail/threatening to commit suicide was the mode of abuse , and i had to devise a convoluted route to get out of it, which included telling his family , and mine , which ultimately proved succesful.

That Armchair Philosopher said...

Argh. Did my last comment come through? I'm beginning to feel blogger screwed up someplace..

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Kay: Dont undermine counseling. Oftentimes a woman realizes that *good* counseling is her only solace. Of course, as you must know...pseud counseling centers which serve as a shoddy front for peddling religious sentiments abound.

But my best advice to friends of the victim would be to give her unconditional support. Judging her, demanding justification from her, making her seem stupid to improve your (generic 'you' used here) self worth are complete no-no's IMO, atleast.

As for your other question, the victim has to come to terms with the fact that she MUST leave this man. She has to take that decision for herself (it sucks, but there is no other way) and she must realize that her decision will have consequences, dangerous ones. She musnt abruptly leave him if shes married to him or kids are involved, she should slowly start making herself more independent; financially, mentally and emotionally (this applies to women who are not married but are in relationships as well)and when shes finally ready and prepared to leave, she should make a run for it. And as a friend you must give her unconditional support through this arduous (and MOST dangerous) phase in her relationship.

@ TAP: Really? Where? I didnt see it!
:(

That Armchair Philosopher said...

@%$@@# Blogger.

Anyway, I was saying something on the lines of how women still manage to live up to their stereotypically (mis?)assigned roles of being the weaker sex. You would assume that with the proliferation of the entire womens rights and gender issues, they would be enlightened enough to know what sort of a relationship they're in. Hell, even know better than to get into one, rather than think about extreme steps like suicide. And I don't completely buy "their judgment getting clouded by the abuser" - if thats REALLY true, then perhaps the emotional construction of the _average_ human female needs a shaking up. Spreading information is one thing, but getting people to sink it into their brains is another. And that applies to both the luser-abuser and the victim.

I know of atleast a dozen women whose radars will immediately squawk when they meet those types who may or may not exude the effusively-charming-personality. And without exception, all of them will let forth a biting verbal barrage that works in most cases. Are not all women built equal, perhaps some more so than the others?

Maybe its the way they're brought up - a multitude of influences could affect their perceptions - stupid ass family or cultural "values" about men, the city they're from, the general nature of the men there, et al.

But, Um hello? Prevention vs cure? Why talk about she should slowly start making herself more independent; financially, mentally and emotionally AFTER you're in a relationship from hell? Shouldn't the aim here be to be all these things BEFORE you think about getting into one?

Incidentally. What is the known rate of abuse and related in non Indian cultures?

Might the stress in India on girls getting married ASAP, and perhaps not being given enough time to live independently of parental control, contribute to the lack of judgmental skills? You know, if you're the type of person who's in a club say 4 times a month and have met/demolished your share of loser men, worked your ass off paying for that car, and have a group of friends who all think the same way, aren't you in a better position than someone whose been reliant on her parents for everything, and then just transfers her needs to her mate?

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ TAP: Wow. did the entire post sail over your head? Anyway I dont have time to argue with every single point of yours (got class to run to) but I will answer this:

But, Um hello? Prevention vs cure? Why talk about she should slowly start making herself more independent; financially, mentally and emotionally AFTER you're in a relationship from hell? Shouldn't the aim here be to be all these things BEFORE you think about getting into one?

Talk about taking my words out of context! I answered a question! Get it? I answered.a.question. The question was: And what about the victim herself?

I dont know, maybe were not on the same page here, but nobodys a victim *before* they get into a relationship, right?

Doesnt 'victim' pertain to 'victim of abuse'? Was I really wrong in assuming that victim = enmeshed in the relationship? Really?

Anyway, class beckons.

I will address the rest of your comment when I return.

That Armchair Philosopher said...

haha, i just realized that my comment has way too many ?s after each sentence. unintentional, but anyway - point being you don't have to argue every point i make because of it.

perceptions differ. i'm pretty sure the post didn't quite sail over me, and i'm looking at the "victim" as being someone unprepared to handle a relationship like that. the qualities needed to come out of it don't magically appear imnsho. surely they're not inherent, because if they were, well - there wouldn't be a problem.

Yogi said...

@megha

i think you should have elaborated more on the fear of the relationship rather than the suicidal part since then it might jsut look a tad dramatic at first glance even tho it is very true that in most circumstances it does lead to that

"She wants him to be the man she first met; she does not recognize this person who petrifies her and his brainwashing is so efficient that she falls back into her usual cycle of self depreciation. After being effectively duped by his dramatics, she stays."

the point i think you missed here or probably didnt elaborate on is the fear of letting go due to the schizophrenic change in character within small durations of time..i know there is a mention of it later, but i think this is the most important factor of the fear to leave..because reaction times to such behaviour changes is even more difficult, since most often it is completely unexpected patterns..

@TAP

running a relationship through your head,as far as i know is the usual practice, so i wouldnt deny your comment on the ability to differentiate, but being that good a judge of character, especially of a person who seems absolutely normal in all occasions for a period of time, just to instill faith and then change it to control..i think its asking a little too much of any woman..there may be numerous factors which help the ability to differentiate, but relationships do not always revolve around instinct, and most often instinct comes out of analysis of behaviour..so quite a vicious cycle :)

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@TAP:@%$@@# Blogger. Anyway, I was saying something on the lines of how women still manage to live up to their stereotypically (mis?)assigned roles of being the weaker sex. You would assume that with the proliferation of the entire womens rights and gender issues, they would be enlightened enough to know what sort of a relationship they're in. Hell, even know better than to get into one, rather than think about extreme steps like suicide.

Whoa really? Did the whole post just sail way over your head? What part of manipulation and fear mongering dont you understand? How does that translate into 'women live up to their stereotypically (mis?)assigned roles of being the weaker sex'. I am sorry to point this out but arent you demanding justification for her actions (exactly what I had highlighted in the post) rather than his? His actions completely slipped under your radar? Why do we have to go through the same yarn of victim blaming (which is what your doing btw)?

And I don't completely buy "their judgment getting clouded by the abuser" - if thats REALLY true, then perhaps the emotional construction of the _average_ human female needs a shaking up. Spreading information is one thing, but getting people to sink it into their brains is another. And that applies to both the luser-abuser and the victim. I know of atleast a dozen women whose radars will immediately squawk when they meet those types who may or may not exude the effusively-charming-personality.

Is this your exercise in insenstivity? If it is, then I must applaud you, you are doing a wonderful job.

Um,it is all very well and easy to pass judgements from the safety and security of your own comfortable existence.Will you atleast *try* to look at it from the abused woman's point of view? Can you atleast see what she is up against? It takes a great deal of resoluteness and energy to leave an abusive relationship. If you cannot sympathize with an abused woman, the least you can do is to NOT trivialize the gravity of her situation, her sanity or her emotional state.

Might the stress in India on girls getting married ASAP, and perhaps not being given enough time to live independently of parental control, contribute to the lack of judgmental skills? You know, if you're the type of person who's in a club say 4 times a month and have met/demolished your share of loser men, worked your ass off paying for that car, and have a group of friends who all think the same way, aren't you in a better position than someone whose been reliant on her parents for everything, and then just transfers her needs to her mate?

Can you NOT focus on the woman for once? Didnt it ever occour to you that you are.indulging.in.victim.bashing? It astouds me as to how your comment totally embodies the attitudes of the people who ask questions like "why doesnt she just leave" while they are totally unaware of the politics of abuse and violence in a relationship.

I am sorry but your comment reeks of blind moronism and utter disregard pertaining to the victim or of abuse in itself.

Anyway, I dont want to incite a comments war. You can take this as a reply to your comment and leave it at that.

No hard feelings, I hope.

After all, I must respect the fact that that is your perception, whatever my feelings on the issue may be.

@ Yogi: I wanted to, but the post was becoming uncontrollably long, so I had leave it out and hope that the people who read this blog will understand. *beam*

Aravind said...

Appreciate your efforts in pointing out this social and very prevalent evil. It is the same for rape victims as well, where society out do themselves in trying to sympathise with the rapists.

Again, the society (mostly Indian) has to be blamed for the abusers conduct, where a man is appreciated more for his manliness and how he can beat up someone.

How do you know so much about how the victims and their abusers behave?

Drops Of Jupiter said...

It's always too easy to blame the stupid, neurotic, pathetic, weak victim nay?

If the school bully beats up the school nerd and steals his lunch, someone is going to question it and possibly detain the bully. Do we actually tell the nerd that it's just his fault?

Why don't we go ahead and blame the blacks for being enslaved, chide the Red Indians for being cheated out of their land or scoff at the African children for getting their hands cut off? WHAT? THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE ALERT RIGHT?

This sort of apologist bullshit is only reserved for women. Now we have to be fucking mind readers to know that the guy we've been playing ball with for the past 10 years *might* just rape us or beat us one fine day?

I have one more question..To what extent can we keep our guard on? At a nightclub? Maybe.. At school? With friends? Brothers? Fathers? Bosses? Going by the logic that a woman alone is responsible for any abuse she is subjected to, is there anyone she can really trust?

p.s. Megha I'm really angry...

Kiran Vanganuru said...

Hey Megha,
Somewhere I am impelled to leave a comment on your blog.
I simply love the feverish energy with which you conduct your thought. Sometimes it make me wonder about what you feel deeply in your heart.

So often you find the so called "feminists" who try to occupy every role the male persona is upto.
Its good to see a blog trying to instill the feeling of "self" among women. The feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction is just as important to women as it is for a man. If only one can realize that he/she is the only one who can hurt himself/herself.

The female form is beautiful in its own right, thats what we love them for. A man is just as incomplete without a women. Nature has its own ways of tying the knots.

Keep Going...

That Armchair Philosopher said...

Haha, no hard feelings. Jeez, if that were the case, at the rate I'm going I'd probably be a statue in the middle of Trafalgar square..

You know - I would _love_ to argue this out with you - because I really feel there are certain points which you're losing sight of. And one thing I realize is that debates in the comments section of a blog are hardly conducive to a satisfactory resolution :)

That Armchair Philosopher said...

Incidentally - do you have a gtalk/IM address? I'm effimeral at gmail.

Zee said...

people are just scared of letting go....even in relationships, it's so difficult to break up just becoz u're scared of it changing your life.and you let the other person emotionally destroy u. it's very sad but true. in a marriage, it must be even tougher to let go....esp if there are years invested and children invested. i just so wish though that people would have the strength and support to be able to walk out of people who treat them like shit...and i wish even more that people would get back at people who do this to them

Jay Sun said...

Very well written...with a clear focus on what the reality actually is...:)

Vikram H said...

hey Megha, great post!....i too hate all these cliched and superficial advisor friends who tend to presume that they're just too damn intelligent! :)

but, arent we just presuming that women are always the weaker sex helpless at their spouse's hands??
Don't women play mind games with the men too, driving them mad?? Don't they do everything, other than physical abuse, to men??

Urban Bourbon Ninja said...

Hmmm ... i think being a man means that i'm hardwired to not totally understand your posts.

But i will say one thing. While i agree that its his actions that need justification, and not hers. But ``why doesn't she just leave,'' isn't such a bad question. Its over-over-simplified, yes, and overlooks the amount of courage need to `just leave'. But in any abusive relationship, that essentially what the victim has to do : Leave.

I understand also the emotional/social (yes, there are social) spider-web that stop her from leaving. Which is why if you look at NGOs that work with abused women, the first thing they do is to physically remove the woman from the situation, where its easier for her to make the decision to leave.

And its not about man/woman. Every person has a choice. Every person must fight his/her own inner battles. In any situation, not just an abusive relationship, standing up is a step that the `victim' must take. We're all going to be in such a situation sometime (well, i personally wont let my wife beat me up ...kidding). The Why of the women being in this situation is irrelevant, really.

The `how' is irrelevant too. Once you decide you want something, you'll figure out a way. I'm not saying its easy at all, dont get me wrong.

Because when it comes down to it, man or woman, you are responsible for yourself.

Sudha said...

completely agree. I don't know if its a desi thing, but we seem to almost always blame the woman for anything she has to face. just like saying that u r eve-teased because U wear "provocative" clothing.

You know, if you're the type of person who's in a club say 4 times a month and have met/demolished your share of loser men, worked your ass off paying for that car, and have a group of friends who all think the same way, aren't you in a better position than ...

TAP: someone like Aishwarya Rai, who did all of the above and much much more had to face domestic abuse. food for thought?

Revealed said...

A lot of it is accurate. But I don't think the scorn unleashed on the hapless "faux care givers" as you call them is warranted. It's like saying when someone tells you their mum passed away, you shouldn't say you're sorry, because that's inane. Some times inane's all you've got. And sometimes, someone asking you why you don't walk away makes a world of difference.

Silvara said...

Great post :) I think that in desi community it's that mentality that we have been brought up with (perhaps more than others maybe) that marriage is a lifetime thing. Isn't there that saying - "A woman goes to her sasural (uhh in-laws/home after marriage) house in a doli and only leaves it in an arthi" or something like that. As in it really is a matter of life and death there. So a woman leaving her home due to abuse is more scandalous than the actual abuse itself. More often that not they are made to go back to keep up the good family honour thing. I don't know how prevalent this would be but as UBNinja said there is a complex web of emotional/social ties that keeps the victim bound to her abuser and situation and it does take a huge amount of courage and strategy to get out.

McGermy said...

When there is a war going on here, it is as if someone sends out a bat0signal to me.. only the signal isn't that of a bat, but a jolly roger. But hey ho.. here I am.

I'm not great at serious comments (and I am better when i speak about these issues) but I'll give it an honest shot.

The biggest gulf here, punkster, is between those who say "why can't she get out" and those who say " it isn't as easy as you say". In reality, those who say "why can't she get out" say it not because they blame the victim (atleast most). To them, it is the simplest and most logical choice, because they are oblivious to the amount of psychological battering an abused person takes, like our TAP here. Although it would sound like a stupid comment to make, it comes more out of not knowing what the stakes are, rather than from stupidity.

P.S : I'm giving it my best shot at trying to stay neutral and see if both sides understand what I'm trying to say here. And that's about it. I give up already.

Oh and the new blogger sucks donkey balls.

Drops Of Jupiter said...

@ Tap,

You would assume that with the proliferation of the entire womens rights and gender issues, they would be enlightened enough to know what sort of a relationship they're in. Hell, even know better than to get into one, rather than think about extreme steps like suicide.

Oh tsk tsk women are so stupid aren't they? I wonder why she doesn't see sense, especially when the man is coming at her with a knife or a bat or a shoe. She must be soooo thick. I mean, if she packed her bags and left, he's totally gonna respect that. Why, he is gonna open the door for her, right?

I know of atleast a dozen women whose radars will immediately squawk when they meet those types who may or may not exude the effusively-charming-personality. And without exception, all of them will let forth a biting verbal barrage that works in most cases.

News flash. Those radars were honed with experience.

Why talk about she should slowly start making herself more independent; financially, mentally and emotionally AFTER you're in a relationship from hell?Shouldn't the aim here be to be all these things BEFORE you think about getting into one?

So you're saying that a girl who lives with her family or attends university for instance is a fucking moron if she gets into a relationship. The second she finds a guy, she should move out, graduate or hit the lottery eh? How is independence or lack thereof an excuse for abuse?

Might the stress in India on girls getting married ASAP, and perhaps not being given enough time to live independently of parental control, contribute to the lack of judgmental skills? You know, if you're the type of person who's in a club say 4 times a month and have met/demolished your share of loser men, worked your ass off paying for that car, and have a group of friends who all think the same way, aren't you in a better position than someone whose been reliant on her parents for everything, and then just transfers her needs to her mate?

That might well be true. Independence comes with better judgement (at least I'd think it did) but what about those who can't afford to be independent? You're not gonna sit there on your pedestal and tell me "Gurl, you don't have no crib, so yo husband's gotta beatcha", are you?

Raindrop said...

I've always wondered why women stay in abusive relationships, and I can finally think of a few reasons, most involving behavior that's hard-wired as a result of the way human society has evolved.
The alarming rate of abuse in relationships warrants an evolutionary explanation rather than a deviant behavior explanation. "The US Department of Justice pegs the number of spouses (mostly women) threatened with a deadly weapon at almost 2 million annually. Domestic violence erupts in one half of all American homes at least once a year."


1.Women have a greater stake in staying in a relationship where children are involved. Women play a larger, more important role in childcare, and historically, women were either pregnant or involved in the care of infants for MOST of their reproductive lives. They needed their men around to ensure their survival, and the survival of their children.

2. In times of warfare when women needed male protection, it might have made more sense to stay with an abusive partner who offered protection to shared offspring, and protection against outside men.

3. Historically, an abused woman had very little legal recourse. Her options were either to take the abuse, or fend for herself and in all likelihood end up starving.

The evolutionary psychologists Wilson and Daly found that young reproductive-age women are 10 times more likely to be abused than women past reproductive age.

They suggest that violence might have something to do with male control over female sexuality in order to deter infidelity.

It's easy enough to tell a woman that her reasons for staying in an abusive relationship are all largely irrelevant in this day and age. It's hard-wired behavior, and a few decades of 'equality' aren't going to change that. I'll quote my favorite example of the diabetes gene that originally enabled survival during times of famine. You can't tell a diabetic to stop being diabetic because we don't have famines anymore.

that girl in pink said...

hey megha!

passionate post, as always. :) and while i understand your indignance, i do want a write a line in support of the why-doesn't-she-just-leave sayers.

thing is, most times, that question comes from concern and a feeling of helplessness. a person outside of the actual relationship will never fully understand what's going on there. and the view of the outsider is almost always dispassionate and logical, a luxury not afforded to the victim or the victimiser.

you see someone stuck in a vicious situation, you know the guy isn't going to change and you realise the only thing left to do is for the victim to get the hell out. hence the question, why doesn't she just leave?!

it's really hard to understand a situation you've never experienced yourself. it was only till a couple of my really close friends went through emotionally battering relationships that i realised why you can't just up and leave.

in that scenario, the "why doesn't she leave" question may be immature, uneducated and highly annoying. but it's definitely not unconcerned or patronising.

the thing is, everbody doesn't everything about everything. so maybe a little patience and understanding are in order. from both sides.

Nath said...

Caution: Megha, this comment may or may not cause your blood temperature to rise by several degrees. Probably the former. Nonetheless, it seems logical to me.

This is actually an aside; it is not specific to the subject of abusive relationships (a subject I know nothing about, and won't offer an opinion on).

I've seen a lot of opinions (not in this thread, but elsewhere on the intarwebs) incorrectly dismissed as 'blaming the victim'. This happens in discussions about self defence, fire safety, disease prevention etc. etc. The fact is, blame is largely irrelevant. Even when one someone else is morally responsible for a crisis, there are often measures that the would-be victim could take to prevent or mitigate it.

I'll put this in terms of self-defence. I have a right to walk alone and intoxicated down a dark alley with twenty dollar bills hanging out of my pockets. If I was mugged in these circumstances, the mugger is the only one morally responsible.

In this example, would it be fair to blame me for being mugged? I would say, clearly not. However, there is nothing wrong with pointing out that there were several ways I could have made it less probable. This is not blaming the victim. This is learning from others' (real or hypothetical) mistakes.

I don't know whether this applies to the abuse problem; I can get into the mindset of neither the abuser nor the abusee. Nonetheless, I bring it up because people are occasionally accused of blaming the victim when they are doing nothing of the sort; this is a pet peeve of mine.

Urban Bourbon Ninja said...

Which brings me to my next observation :

''You must be really fun on a date.''

So how about the next time we're within a radius of 853 km of each other ? :)

Anonymous said...

a mega yawn...

Revealed said...

@nath: Well put

Vincent said...

When you're within a 853km radius of UBN, you'll call me first, right?
No.. don't answer that! :)

Vincent said...

I'm no expert in relationships(or anything else) but this post reminds me of the time when Apple accidentally shipped a small number of 5G iPods with a virus that affects windows systems.

Apple's PR issues a snarky apology.

So far we have seen less than 25 reports concerning this problem. The iPod nano, iPod shuffle and Mac OS X are not affected, and all Video iPods now shipping are virus free. As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it.

Apple resorts to bad mouthing windows conveniently forgetting the fact that the majority of iPod owners are windows users.

Here's the thing. Apple fucked up but decided to place the blame on Microsoft Windows instead of taking ownership for an oversight in the iPod's quality checks.

which brings me to

That Armchair Philosopher,

You know, if you're the type of person who's in a club say 4 times a month and have met/demolished your share of loser men, worked your ass off paying for that car, and have a group of friends who all think the same way, aren't you in a better position than someone whose been reliant on her parents for everything, and then just transfers her needs to her mate?

Ah, by that rationale, I guess it would be alright then if McDonalds said "We understand our burgers gave you food poisoning but if you had worked your ass off in the gym and kept your body in shape, your immune system would have been stronger and you'd be in a better position."

Anonymous said...

Nice post!
Dint know a couple of things :)

Do the abusers fit into a 'particular' profile? Just wondering if a gal can *see it coming...

Aravind said...

@Nath:You are joking aren't you? Either that or you haven't read the post completely.

Put it this way, when you are drunk and walk through alleyways with cash then you are not a victim you are just stupid.

The thing about abuse at home is that the perp is not some unknown guy on the street, it is the one who she lives with. Look up data about child rapes and rapes in general, more often than not the rapist is someone known to the victim.

Icas said...

still carryin on the fight i see :) good i says.

As for the post, cudnt agree with u more.

anonymouse said...

Hmmm, IMO, leaving the relationship is the important thing.

I do say "Why don't you quit?" often, but that's to people working in lousy jobs. No, that does not mean you should just up and quit *NOW*, it does mean that you need to start looking for a new job if your current one isn't good enough.

I can say it because I am a neutral third party, and not emotionally or financially involved in that relationship.

The same rule has applied to the times I have advised people in relationships (only when asked to help out though). First try to communicate, and then if that doesn't help, walk out. It doesn't mean it will be easy, it just means that it needs to be done.

If I understand what TAP's thesis, the claim is that women need to be financially and emotionally independent before going into a relationship (or while in one). I don't see this as a judgement call, just a perfectly valid claim.

Megha's claim is that breaking a relationship is hard. I din't notice TAP claiming anything different. TAP's claim is that it is easier (somewhat) to walk out of a relationship if you know how to get financially stable afterwards.

mcgermy, sometimes it isn't that we don't know the gulf, it's just that we can also see the price being paid by not crossing it.

Also see the dollar auction:
http://www.heretical.com/pound/dollar.html

anonymouse said...

Oh, and in continuation of the previous point, let me quote, "Shall we play a game?"

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086567/

Nath said...

Aravind:
The thing about abuse at home is that the perp is not some unknown guy on the street, it is the one who she lives with.

Are you familiar with the concept of 'analogy'? Besides, as I said in my earlier post:
I don't know whether this applies to the abuse problem; I can get into the mindset of neither the abuser nor the abusee.

Vincent:
Ah, by that rationale, I guess it would be alright then if McDonalds said "We understand our burgers gave you food poisoning but if you had worked your ass off in the gym and kept your body in shape, your immune system would have been stronger and you'd be in a better position."

It read to me like TAP was blaming society for pressuring ladies to marry young, rather than blaming the ladies themselves. I don't think your McDonalds analogy really applies to that situation.

Anonymous said...

Nicely written Punk. Oversimplification certainly does nobody any good. Your blog doesn't let me comment pa, my last one has disappered somewhere. Bah!

- Primalsoup

Raindrop said...

Vincent, I agree with Nath, your analogy doesn't really apply.

TAP, It would be interesting to see abuse statistics on working vs. stay-at-home partners. I'm speculating, but I'd imagine there's no significant difference. Also,it would seem that abuse is as common in the US as it is in India.

Here's an interesting link on
why women stay.

Brown Magic said...

I'm with the urban bourbon ninja - you are responsible for yourself.

It isn't so much that I disagree with the crux of your argument. Having seen abusive elationships up close, I know why women stay and how hard it is to leave, and the damage to a person's psyche that is done over the years by emotional abuse - but "just leaving" really is the only way out.

The abuser won't change (not without some major therapy and even then, who knows? those patterns of behaviour are inculcated a long time back) and therefore your life with the abuser won't change. Just in case this labels me anti-women (been lurking a while - "misogynist" get thrown about with abandon :)) of course the abuser is at fault/wrong/has issues aplenty and should be accountable, but seeing as legal recourse is limited and the first concern is the abusee's emotional and physical safety- leaving, somehow, overcoming great difficulty and leaving- is the only option.

See - Painting the women a hapless victim is troublesome, because then it sets her up as someone needing someone else to save her. As a woman and a feminist I find that, well, offensive. i've always been a sisters doing it for themselves" kind of feminist.

People (Men, women) prey on each other, esp. the weak. My feminism instructs me that the only way to not be a victim is to not be a victim. And when you come acrosss women in abusive situations, help them empower themselves to not be the victim. The easiest and best way to do this is to make yourself available (good point about abusers cutting off their victims from friends and family and making them entirely reliant on them) to be the one they call when they rustle up the strength to ask for help. then you help get them the hell out.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Brown magic:


See - Painting the women a hapless victim is troublesome, because then it sets her up as someone needing someone else to save her. As a woman and a feminist I find that, well, offensive. i've always been a sisters doing it for themselves" kind of feminist.


I dont know if you are referring to this post, but if you are, then understand that painting the 'women as hapless victims' as you so put it was clearly not my intention or the crux of the post at all. My post was specifically designed to shine a spotlight on the abuser's manipulation, control tactics and clever personality switches. I mean, anyone can get involved with a potential abuser (because they are con artists in their essentia), it has nothing to do with "being a hapless victim" or "weak" or whatever!

Its as simple as that, really.

If you scroll up and look at one of my replies to a previous commenter you will see that I have specifically mentioned that the only way out is for the WOMAN to make a decision to leave this man and act on it pronto. That is the ONLY way out.

Brown Magic said...

" She is but a glorified pawn in his hands, a victim. And nothing else."

that is what i was referring to. to be clear, i am not disagreeing with your stance at all - but with your semantics.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Brown magic : Fair enough.

I blame it on 7 cups of coffee
(really) and a hangover (while I was typing out this post)

*beam*

Vincent said...

your analogy doesn't really apply

I guess I've been insensitive. Allow me to rephrase that, please.

I think the people that say

"You were raped/iPod gave you a virus/Burgers gave you salmonella/You're a helpless victim of physical abuse because you were wearing a revealing dress/you were running windows/you're weak/you're an uneducated traditional Indian girl."

should be slaughtered.

I would condone their genocide.

anonymouse said...

Whoa. I say "You are running Windows" fairly often. Especially when asked about security systems.

At this point in time, securing Windows is far more difficult than securing other operating systems. Also, the final responsibility for securing a computer lies with the administrator. If said admin is incompetent, then they deserve what they get.

Note that this does not apply to victims of abuse, because the ABUSER has the choice of not behaving that way. There is a difference in being a victim of abuse, and stupid.

As a society, we hold members of the society to a higher standard than non-members. Social ostracism works precisely because of the power of the community and the relative weakness of the individual.

Hence, violence done by someone who is/was considered to be a member of that society must be judged differently to violence done by someone who isn't a member of that society. We do have different metrics for punishment for actions violating the current social ethic, based on the intent of the person committing the error.

We need to punish the right people, because in a civilised society, might does not make right.

Punishing victims of abuse does not make sense, because they either did not have a choice in dealing with the abuse, or because their current condition is punishment enough. Large portions of society however, do just that and punish the victim because the victim is weaker (in terms of power, social contacts, money, physical strength, whatever) in the eyes of society.

Nath said...

Vincent said:
I think the people that say
"You were raped/iPod gave you a virus/Burgers gave you salmonella/You're a helpless victim of physical abuse because you were wearing a revealing dress/you were running windows/you're weak/you're an uneducated traditional Indian girl."
should be slaughtered.


OK, your objection here is clearer. However, causality is a good deal more complicated than blame. Some people have come to come to the conclusion that the whole concept of causality is basically broken. I don't want to type out a full-blown philosophical rant about causality, but suffice it to say that I have yet to hear a satisfactory definition of the word.

Anyway, I could say that you got a computer virus because you have a computer, or because your grandparents met, or because your ancestors survived the last ice age. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm blaming [you|your grandparents|your ancestors].

So, to fix your statement:

Vincent ought to have said:
I think the people that say
"[You were raped|iPod gave you a virus|Burgers gave you salmonella|You're a helpless victim of physical abuse] because [you were wearing a revealing dress|you were running windows|you're weak|you're an uneducated traditional Indian girl], and therefore [you|Microsoft|you|you] are to blame."
should be slaughtered.


Yeah, I'm still not to keen on the slaughter thing, per se, but that's better.

(Also, why is the weak, uneducated, traditional Indian girl in a revealing dress in your example running Windows? Someone please give her a Linux CD.)

Vaithi said...

Validation is important for the victim.
People do it differently, many of us don't use the right words or phrases, its a very painful situation where often the listener is in a freak situation. So punkster, I don't agree with you that people who say something to the victim are *all* fuckwits.

@nath, arvind: Can't compare $bills handing out of your undies and getting mugged in dark alleys to being abused by a person whom you emotionally relate(d) to. Anyways, a male *victim* never gets told that it was his fault, ever! So there is a huge point to be considered in what the punkster has written about.

Vincent said...

anon,

Windows is vulnerable. I agree. I mouth obscenities at Windows when it begins to act up. But thats not the point here. If you don't know what I am talking about, please read my previous comment.

Apple delivered a virus to customers who paid $250 for their iPod and first thing they do in their press release is blame customers for running Windows.

You send your customer a virus and then ridicule him for running Windows??

That is WRONG.

Shifting the blame to the victim is wrong.

phew.

The End.

Abhinav said...

Great post..good graphics..keep up the nice work.

Anonymous said...

Nice post on divorce...The narration says, how involved u .Did u ever in to such suituations?
Suraj

McGermy said...

Suraj.... I know pirates aren't that good at grammar but seriously, I do wonder how you managed to get on the internet. I really do. Somehow, I really believe you belong in a museum that disproves darwinism. One question for you ...

hw is it dat u mnge to lve dis lng? BIRDSEYEPOTATOROFL!!!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
That Armchair Philosopher said...

bwahahahahahahahahaha.

(I seriously wish I had more time to respond considering this discussion is raging as nicely as ever..)

But people - abuse et al being analogized to the MICROSOFT WINDOWS/iPod debates? :))))) ROFLMAO.

Its times like these you know the world is just running as smoothly as ever.

@Suraj - two words for you. Grow Up. Really.

Anonymous said...

Then why doesn't the woman just leave the relationship!

Raindrop said...

Excellent question, anon! I wonder why no one has thought of that yet! (Hint: See title of blog post. Then proceed to actually read post.)

Ramya said...

Okay...this is going to be a long comment so bear with me...

I had a few close friends who were involved in emotionally abusive relationships. And I would try and 'counsel' them, suggest they walk away and even tried suggesting how they could do it easily. And they never did. And while I tried being patient and understanding with them, I'd be raging inside my head 'Why doesn't she leave that bastard!! If it were me...'

I wasn't blaming the victim here at all. There were reasons why I was saying that.
1. As an outside observer, I couldn't get all the dynamics and complexities involved in their relationship. So it's easy enough for me to say that.
2. As a friend who genuinely cares but cant seem to make a difference, I felt very helpless and frustrated.

I'm mentioning all this just to say that to all the people who say 'Why doesnt she just leave', they arent all fuckwits. They do care and do want to help but dont know how. Their actions might not be right but their intention certainly is.

I've been on both sides - a friend to someone who was in an abusive relationship and the victim of abuse myself.

And as a victim, I totally concur with your post. The abuser in my case was from a well-educated family, an excellent educational background (BITS Pilani, IIM) and was frequent in 'intellectual circles' (quizzers, small time writers and the like). And when I met him, he was charming, intelligent and fun.

I'd fit into the profile TAP mentioned - my parents are fairly liberal, I've been staying away from home since I was 17, I have wonderful friends who think like I do and yeah, I do go clubbing atleast 4 times in a month...:). I was studying when the abuse happened so I wasnt even financially dependent on him.

So there are really no 'standard profiles' of the abuser or the victim. I'd have thought that seeing friends in abusive relationships, having supportive family and friends and a good education would have ensured that I wouldnt be a victim but I was.

So with all this, why didnt I leave? Beacause, after every instance of abuse, there would be what felt like genuine heartfelt apologies an declarations of love et al...and you cant help hoping that it would all get back to how it was before the shit started.

And during all this time, I had friends asking me 'Why dont you leave?'. And I didnt know why either. But I knew this was the only way they knew of showing that they were concerned and trying to help.

It took me over a month and the onset of physical abuse (it was verbal, emotional till then - very bad language, threats of suicide, calling up me parents etc) before I decided to walk off. And this was in a situation when I had very supportive family and friends, financial independence and everything else going for me.

And even then, since we were staying on the same campus, he would stalk me and try to talk with me etc. It was only when, one day, he broke open the door to my room to talk to me, that I went and complained to the authorities.

Finally, I think the 'abuser' is usually a coward. He does it because he knows he will not be hurt in the process. The day the authorities warned him that he would be debarred from the insti if he even attempted to contact me or my family, he didnt have the guts to even look at me.

So well...Megha, I'm sorry about hijacking your commentspace like this without even making any substantial point but I just wanted to share my experiences...

Anonymous said...

Hey when some says against u,u ppl target his grammar?Any problem?.Rather u guys explain wats wrong with his language and correct him.or jus take his points and answer him.Not everyone has same opinion.

anonymouse said...

Ramya, you made a fairly substantial point.

I am sorry that you suffered through an abusive relationship, hopefully you won't have to deal with such crap down the road.

I would say that being outside the relationship lets you see the wood without being distracted by the trees. The subtle dynamics which distract the victim are simply not visible to the external observer.

As for the people who you are saying don't know how to help, it usually is the situation that they can't. Staying in that relationship is a decision made by the abusee, and those of us who care about such things also tend to be the same people who respect those decisions.

Until the victim decides to help herself (or himself, as the case may be), third parties cannot get involved. Something about horses, water and drinking.

anonymouse said...

Anonymouse at 11:14, we are tired of telling people how to write. Communication skills are something you learn in school.

Funnily, the people with bad grammar also tend to be the ones making personal attacks, rather than useful points worth answering.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Ramya: Thank you so much for sharing your story here and you DID make a substantial point and you DID not hijack my commentspace (heh). You are always welcome here.
And this, esp:

So with all this, why didnt I leave? Beacause, after every instance of abuse, there would be what felt like genuine heartfelt apologies an declarations of love et al...and you cant help hoping that it would all get back to how it was before the shit started.

hits home.

I know exactly how that feels.

:(

anonymouse said...

I know exactly how that feels.

Bad personal experience?

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Anonymouse: Yes.

anonymouse said...

Hopefully, you are free of it. If not, /me offers a virtual shoulder for support.

hedonistic hobo said...

you make the woman sound like she has no agency whatsoever. a lot of women admittedly do not have the social support to be able to walk away from an abusive relationship but someone like an aishwarya rai who allowed herself to be physically abused by a salman khan and is now busily marrying trees deserves absolutely no sympathy. and honestly you'd do women kind a but more justice by not painting them as hapless victims all the time. a lot of women are the choices they make and not the choices they are forced to make.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Hobo: I dont choose to paint women as 'hapless' victims all the time. In extreme situations (like relationship abuse or rape or domestic violence) if they are being manipulated or beaten or treated like shit or all of the above then yes, they are victims. Shit happens and it blows beyond your control. It is as simple as that really. Abusive situations are complicated and more often than not, it is the woman who gets the short end of the stick. This does not translate into women being 'weak' or 'stupid' or whatever.

I was a victim of an abusive relationship. I still have scars on my body as a result of that relationship and I do recognise the fact that I was.a.victim. I was manipulated, threatened, abused, everything. So am I supposed to feel insulted that I was a victim?

Either way, I kinda think that this argument will go nowhere. So I'll stop here. And no hard feelings, I hope.

ABCDlaw said...

Hi there, I came to your blog through a link and really found this post fascinating. As a person who has in the past thought "why doesn't she leave" it really made an impact. Thanks for the insight. I've led a sheltered life in terms of physical abuse, the only "experience" I have with it are Law and Order: SVU episodes and Lifetime movies. This post really made me re-evaluate my perceptions. Do you mind if I link to it in my next post?

Lost said...

Hi,

When I read this post, I realized that you must have gone through some/lot of these experiences yourself to so accurately depict what happens even today in several parts of the world. I have seen some of my married friends go through such abuse, but fortunately it was not life-long and those relationships terminated in divorces. In one case, the woman started wearing long sleeves to work to hide the scars on her arms that her husband (who is a software engineer) regularly "gave" her. I know of a couple more cases where guys who have graduated from IITs (which are premier engg institutes in India) have indulged in the same behavior.

I have therefore concluded that secular education does not really impart true culture or character to a person. A person may be highly educated but may have a screwed up sense of what morality is all about. In fact, a lot of educated men and women nowadays have great disrespect for their own parents, elders, and people of the opposite gender. They claim to know more than anyone else because they have big degrees.

The essential problem is that our education system as well as media does not focus on the cultivation of basic human values. As a result, what we see in our homes and society is a reflection of the uncultured state of our mind. And that in turn is reflected at the macroscopic level i.e. at the national level.

The ancient Indian sastras say that a country where men do not respect women is destined for ruin!! I guess we are all headed there .. :(.

Sorry, for the long post .. all I can say (at the expense of philosophizing) is that we undergo certain experiences to become aware of what others are going through and do something for them!! So hopefully, through your blog, you can raise awareness about how humans should behave.

md said...

I just read some of the other comments .. and I did my undergrad from BITS Pilani :(. Sigh.

And I erroneously posted previously as "lost", whereas I am "md" :). That's what happens when you don't use blogger for a while. You are not sure about your login.

Sorry Megha!!

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ md: Hee. Dont sweat it.

:)

@ Anonymouse: Thank you. *beam*

Anonymous said...

Great...i dunno how u did it but u have clearly visualized/translated teh vicious circle so vividly (and i am sure u are not a victim to describe it so vividly). i am one such victim and while reading this post was actually taken aback by ur insights into such a complex relationship. But as u rightly stated "why doesn't she leave" doesn't happen..at least for me it has not happened...coz of my only lovely child!!! but it was really good to see that ppl out there do understand the victims viewpoint...thanx for such a thoughtful insightful post