Reclaiming self-love when LOVE proved to be darker – Anisha SinghOctober 11, 2017
They say “Everything is fair in love and war” but, is it?
I fell in love when I was in college. I had always had a thing for those anti-social type guys and eventually one of them became my first love. A guy who was antisocial and shared my love for reading. Not soon after our relationship we have had sex and for the naive teenager in me, it was a big deal. It was something that bound me
With this I handed him the reins to run my life.
After a while I moved in with him because in his own words he might stray if I was not close enough and I did not want him to stray. I was too young and too naive to realize that it was not at all my responsibility to stop him from straying.
I was in a relationship with a man who was manipulative and abusive. Four years in the relationship, the physical abuse stopped. But he made sure to remind me time and again, how big a favor it was that he had stopped hitting me. I had begun to believe his versions of the story. I had begun to believe that it was indeed a favor. It was not until two years ago when I was struggling to start a career and he became insanely jealous of me that I got a fleeting sense that may be I deserved better.
The problem with being born a girl in India is that you are brought up with the belief that as a woman it is your onus to nurture a relationship, it is your onus to keep your man loyal and loving.
If he is cheating and is abusive then it must have been your fault.
And I believed that for a long time. But when I started working and met new people, who would appreciate my work and my skills, I realized that I was more than just a live-in girlfriend. I was ‘Me’. I trained myself to not believe a word of what my ex-boyfriend would say and taught myself that my opinions mattered. I taught myself that the only responsibility I had, was to take care of myself and rest would follow.
I broke up with him and moved out. It was a difficult time. Often I would repeat to myself, day in and out, that I was amazing, that I deserve happiness, that I deserve to be treated right.
It is difficult for women in an abusive relationship or marriage to walk out. I know people who ask them, who have said to me “But you are a strong woman. How could you let him do all that to you?” I fumble for answers. I want to say that I was weak, but that will not be the complete truth. How do you explain that the society leads you to believe that since you are a woman you have to be ‘resilient’, ‘patient’, and ‘loving’ under all circumstance. That a woman has to suffer. To all the women out there in an abusive relationship, I want to say, it’s difficult but it’s not unachievable. I know what goes on in your head and heart. But you have to believe that you deserve better and walk out. If you want help, then ask for it. Be honest with yourself.
To people who are friends with a victim of such abuse or are a family member I want to say, don’t ask them redundant questions. Don’t say “But you are a strong woman”. Don’t rebuke them for not walking out till now. Help them understand that they are amazing and they deserve better. It will take time. It will take patience. But be there.
In my darkest hours, I sought some kindness but no one was there. Because I rarely told people what was happening with me. But one day I did, I told my best friend and she remained by my side. She made me believe in myself again. I told my brother, and he made me believe that I deserved better.
Here I am now – happier and at peace with myself. It takes time to be happy and confident again but it will all start once you walk out of that abusive relationship.