Friday, October 30, 2009

Violence - A Virulent Cancer in our Society

Many blogs have waxed eloquent during the Domestic Violence Awareness month. These posts have been written with a lot of feeling and treat this serious problem with a lot of sensitivity and objectivity.

Instances of domestic violence can be gory and one can empathise with the victims living through hell every day of their life.

Activism and retaliation is widely advocated as a means of regaining some sanity in life and a means to lead, hopefully, a normal life. The moot question here is how many would actually take the desperate step of moving out. It may seem so very logical for a distant bystander but does this hold true for the victim and thereby hangs a tale of all silent sufferers.

This phenomenon that has assumed gigantic proportions in our modern day society (not just Indian but I can say for many countries around the world). Psychological counselling is touted as one possible solution but in reality and unfortunately this has very negative connotations here. Further, this sort of help is not easily accessible and it does not come cheap either.

Domestic violence should not be seen only in a physical dimension. It can be mental torture and emotional violence too. Many a time a sense of terror pervades the atmosphere along with physical violence. Unfortunately, violence finds an outlet only against our near-n-dear ones and those weaker than us.

If we look around carefully, there is plenty of repressed violence in us. We seem to be "Highly Inflammable" and ignite at the slightest provocation. Just a small divert - Have you seen the road rage that boils over in the event of a minor collision or the savagery displayed following some minor altercation in a Mumbai local train. Those who give in to such outbursts are not always the "poor" or "lower strata" as we pompously would like to say. They seem economically prosperous, well educated and seemingly very normal. Many others would just bottle up and bang the person who opens the door in the evening.

This build-up in us is the result of so many frustrations that we face in daily life, the stress that we generate and absorb, the struggle to be successful, the battle to survive, the violence that we absorb from sources "stronger" than us sometime for long years of our life and in many cases from childhood, the problems of addictions and its negative impact on family relationships.

This may seem over-simplified (believe me this is not a justification) but the fact is we keep on accumulating garbage over the years till an outlet is found. Usually, this outlet is in the form of violence and abuse in the safe confines of our own homes.

So, what is the solution and how do we go about spreading it on? Is there a standardised answer? Will public shame or punishment help or only aggravate? ........there are so many questions and I am afraid not many have a straight answer.

This is just looking at the perpetrator of violence. It is scary to think about the victims. The unending mystery is why do these victims continue to absorb their daily dose of abuse? I shudder as I try to imagine their life but just cannot fathom their compulsions.

I always believe that our education has only made us literates and never has it taught us about life and how to handle its many ups and downs. We have low EQs and are emotionally and spiritually bankrupt.

Till we are at peace within ourselves, no amount of external help or social activism can help. Social activism may stop one type of incidents but give rise to far more dangerous alternatives. Anything that is achieved out of compulsion or fear could ricochet back with deadly effect.

So what do we do????.....


BK Chowla said...

I don't think it has any quick fix solution nor it has anything to do with either the status or the education of those involved.
It is a state of mind when one is disturbed over may be economically,physically or emotionally.

Anrosh said...

why DV. As you say the problem is with the abuser and the victim faces the consequences.

How many times the abuser feel that he is the one who needs help?

When the daughter-in-law first steps inside the son's parents house they say - "forget about your parents. this is your house".then in the 2nd hour you have to be in the kitchen and do all the work.

and then the 2nd day, the mother-in-law's friends come home and they say, " ab toh bahu aayi, abhi toh aaram hi aaram hai'

years ago in my neighborhood i saw this maharastrian ma-in-law who used to yell and shout at her daughter in-law while her daughters sat and ate, and so did her sons.

And inspite of all that daughter-inlaw will wake up at 4.30 in the morning and make breakfast and lunch for 7 people including herself before leaving for work at 8.

The husband did not tell a was an arranged marriage.
in love marriage, too the things are not equally good - sudddenly the parents tell the son" tum toh jo marje meh aya kiya" and the son suddenly feels pressured to obey his parents.

social conditioning is key, dv of any kind is not going to reduce.

AS for the US it is a totally differrent story.

some people also feel that in order to feel powerful, others have to be abused- I have seen this as a common denominator everywhere when it comes to power. don't u think/

Vinod_Sharma said...

I think you have made a very important point: we cannot look at DV in isolation. It is but one part of the malaise that is the result of the failure of our education to improve our EQ.

With so much of violence all around us, particularly on 24/7 TV, movies, real life etc, it is not easy to have peace within ourselves...

Krishnan said...

"We have low EQs and are emotionally and spiritually bankrupt". Sadly I have to agree with you on this one.

Indian Home Maker said...

You know Mavin, all of us face some stress, but we all don't become violent. I think it's also to do with attitudes of the perpetrator and the knowledge that they can get away with it - or that they are even justified.

Family and society even today does not see DV as wrong. I know more than one educated victims, one is a doctor, so education and self reliance also has little to do with it.
Our society and TV and older movies have shown (and reinforced) that sometimes violence can be used to make people better and to teach a lesson. But like you, I am not sure if public shame would do much, so many abusers and victims are ashamed and hide the DV from public eye. They feel that the violence is not really wrong.

You are right, 'The unending mystery is why do these victims continue to absorb their daily dose of abuse? I shudder as I try to imagine their life but just cannot fathom their compulsions.' I think one of the reasons could be they don't think they are being abused, they think they deserve the beatings and that such things happen in all families... and of course they are conditioned from childhood into believing that they can never walk out of a marriage. Even the abuser knows that.

To me it seems the only hope is to get away from a situation that causes mental and physical trauma, even injuries and death. If someone dear to me was in such a situation, I wouldn't want them to waste their life - and it has been seen that DV does not stop (I know of sixty years plus victims), and there is no love, respect and concern in such relationships... there is no real relationship left once DV starts.

I feel even if there was some hope, what kind of relationship would it be?! The threat might always loom, and the victim will live in fear? If victims start walking out, within a few generations we will see the attitudes changing. DV can cripple the psyche - but walking out might revive confidence and hope in the victim.

Mavin said...


We see highly educated and economically well-off people resort to DV as we see some of the poorest.

Why does this pan across all strata in society and across the world. There has to be some factor. Extreme stress can also be continued abuse since childhood which manifests in later life in a diff form.

Re: Victims walking out....see and Western nation where divorce is not seen as a stigma and still you will see horrific incidents of DV and the victims bear it. Not all of them walk out and not all of them are dysfunctional NRI families.

There has to be something lacking in their lives which saps their confidence to walk out and re-establish themselves.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Mavin... There has to be something lacking in their lives which saps their confidence to walk out and re-establish themselves... :(

That is perhaps why even a poor domestic helper might bring her daughter back while a doctor might be forced by her family to live with DV.

Happy Kitten said...

Does extreme stress occur in only the male species?

And why does the male species dont take out this stress on someone else, say his co-worker, his boss? The answer is that he cannot since they will react too...
DV occurs only since the victim allows it to happen and most of the times the victim is powerless to resist.

And if a female (mother, sister etc) can control her emotions then even a male ought to be taught to control his emotions and find an alternate means to vent his stress...

let us not justify this any further...