Domestic Abuse

The neighbours were aghast. Rohit was shouting out profanities. "You bitch" he screamed as he pushed Sarita out of the door, "go and sleep with some men and earn money. I will not put up with you any mire." Equally pathetic was the sight of Sarita squirming and pleading, and ting to let back in. Non of the neighbours could believe that this midnight drama was taking place not in some slum, but in their posh upper-class locality, and with a young couple who are both software professionals and supposedly deeply in love with each other.

Sarita and Rohit (names changed) belonged to the same caste and region. They came from equally affluent families. Sarita was an ambitious girl and wanted to become a doctor, but her parents had forced her into taking up software course because they wanted her to marry early. The marriage seemed ideal- the handsome ambitious IT engineer, and the vivaciously, beautiful, well-mannered software programmer.

The honeymoon actually had lasted just a few weeks. Within no time Rohit started showing an ugly face. He began with sarcasm, graduated to ridicule, and then went on to physical abuse. Anything that Sarita did would anger Rohit. If she talked to his friends, he would accuse her of trying to seduce the, if she kept to herself, he would call her an "uncultured snob". Sarita just did not know what to do. Her parents had brought her up with the best values and culture, and had told her to love and respect her husband. The shock of Rohit's behaviour was so much that she just crumbled and gave in. She would beg and plead, accept all humiliation and accusations, and would hope that her attitude would make Rohit change and start loving her.

But that was not to be. Matters only became worse, until Rohit started pushing her out of the door, and the matter was exposed to the neighbours. Most neighbours characteristically kept away, but one decided that she should do something about it. She took Sarita to a counsellor.

The counsellor spent four sessions over three weeks just listening to Sarita. The young girl had so much to say, deeply chocked with distress and frustration, and with a sense of hopelessness. With each session Sarita started regaining her lost confidence and self-worth. The counsellor than made her list out her real qualities, both positive and negative (and kept correcting her whenever she said "...but Rohit says I am good at...) The counsellor encouraged Sarita to develop a few friends with whom she could confide and share on a day to day basis, and who would give her moral support. And finally the counsellor went on to give her training in Assertiveness. Sarita was taught neither to fight not to become submissive, but to stand up for her rights, look Rohit in the eye and show that she is not scared of him. She learnt how to give all her love to him when he was nice, and to insulate herself and be aloof when he was bad.

Rohit initially responded badly. He felt he was losing control, but found his tantrums were no longer having any effect on his wife. Slowly there was a perceptible change in him, and he in fact started accepting and respecting Sarita more for her firm stand. At this juncture Sarita encouraged him to meet the counsellor. Initially a little reticent, Rohit took some time to open up with the counsellor and relate about his childhood. It was found that Rohit had been brought up by a very strict and abusive father, and had imbibed some of those qualities. Over a period of time, he realized that he was not being fair to Sarita, and in the process, he was making life uncomfortable for both.

Today Rohit and Sarita are the proud parents of a lovely daughter, and a very loving couple. Recently they accosted the counsellor in a shopping mall, and were thoroughly embarrassed to face him.The counsellor could not help noticing that as they silently moved away, they had a blush on their cheeks, and were holding each other's hands tightly.

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