This is a story of a young woman who is trying to fight domestic abuse at home and is desperately looking out for help. Her problem is not a typical physical abuse case but an extreme case of mental and emotional trauma; what this means is that her bruises are not visible but her pain is much deeper.
Tara, a 21-year-old undergraduate student, walks into her classroom. She looks deeply disturbed and sits alone on one of the last row benches. She had decided a day before that she will discuss her problems with her friends. Though they all know about her situation very well, but Tara still wanted to talk her heart out, again. It was getting impossible for her to handle all this on her own.
Tara persuades one of her friends to miss a lecture so that she can talk with him. Her conversation with her friend, Rob, in the college café.
Tara: Thanks for missing this lecture to talk to me.
Rob: No problem. Tell me what is going on?
Tara: Just the same old story but now it is becoming unbearable for me.
Rob: Look Tara, you have to be strong. Handle it with a mature mind and everything will be fine..
Tara: I understand that Rob, but my situation is getting worse day by day. I cannot tolerate it anymore. It is very tough to be in such a place in life where everyone is giving you nothing, but pain, torture and abuse. I am not able to study properly, my health is deteriorating and all the time I feel as if my life is nothing but a dark room full of people who hate me. I am not saying that I don’t believe in a better future but how do I fight my present? I know I have to be strong and trust me I am giving my hundred percent in trying to fight this, but at times I feel helpless, alone and unloved. I feel no one cares about me.
Rob: Hmmm…Everyone goes through problems in life. You just have to brave and fight it. Don’t get over emotional about things and just fight through. Just be a little mature about things. I cannot tell you what to do or how to handle it.. You will have to learn it yourself. And one more thing. Stop sharing your story with everyone all the time. They laugh behind your back.
Tara: What?? Laugh behind my back. Why? I am not responsible for my situation so why should I be embarrassed talking about it. I have not created this situation, I was born in it. I feel homeless despite having a home, and alone despite having family and friends.
Rob: I get that but then what can anyone do about it. How is talking about it going to help you? You have to fight it bravely.
Tara: I know that Rob and I have fought this for many years. I share my problems with others not because I want everyone’s pity. I share because I am desperately looking for help. I don’t want to be that person who dies within because of all the pain, blames herself for her situation, and feels that she deserves such inhuman treatment. I don’t want to be that person. I want to get out of it. This is why I talk to people about it. I had no clue that people see that as a sign of weakness in me. I thought I was being brave by talking about it in open, and by not trying to cover my wounds. Should I just pretend to be fine so that everyone thinks I am normal?
Rob: Probably yes. Look, I am trying to help you here and we all feel sorry for you but please do not discuss your problems with everyone. There is no one in the world who does not face problems. Tom just went through a failed relationship, and Meera did not clear her exams You just have to suck it up and move on. Move on in life, Tara.
Tara: Hmmm..I am trying Rob. I am trying…..
No, Rob or Tara’s other friends are not insensitive people,but somehow, they fail to become her strength. They do not understand that Tara shares her problems as she wants their support. She wants her friends to empathize with her, and not sympathize with her situation. They do not understand that she is trying her best to fight it and all she expects from them is their patience, love, care and support.
So, next time if a domestic abuse victim asks for your support, do not ask her/him to be strong. Become their strength in every which way possible. Help them with their studies or take them out for a cup of coffee or just listen. The long-term effects of emotional abuse are devastating and can even affect the abused person for the rest of their lives. Do not let the burden of an abusive relationship push your friend or family member into an isolated corner. Reach out to them and take these three simple steps–
Listen – Support- Guide
Links for help:
Signs of emotional abuse in children: http://www.teach-through-love.com/emotional-abuse-signs.html
Signs of emotional abuse in adults: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence_abuse_types_signs_causes_effects.htm
Help line numbers ( India) – http://jagori.org/resources/helplines/
Help line ( International) – http://sweetmarie9619.wordpress.com/international-domestic-violence-links/
Excellent information pool on abuse. Must visit. http://thelaststraw.wordpress.com/