Gender Based Violence –

A survivor’s Story of 40 over years!

Interviewed by: Sis. Pathma Krishnan, Regional Coordinator, EI - Asia & Pacific Region

For the past 40 years I have been in a very violent and volatile relationship with my husband. He has abused me physically, verbally and mentally I have tried committing suicide, but the thought of my young children then stopped me from doing so. I have very minimal conversation now and I live with my sons. I was very worried that my sons may become like him, but I thank God all turned out well although I can see some anger issues with my eldest and he is working on it well now with counseling.

I come from a middle-class family, educated and lovely parents. At that time when I was twenty years old there was a proposal marriage and the families agreed and I got married. Every parent wants the best for their child but somehow or rather it did not work out that way for me. My husband had very severe anger issues, small non-issues will be issues for him; he will physically hit me, push my head to the wall, abuse me and beat the hell out of me. I tried running away, but without a job, home was far away and no money, how far can I go? He used to control everything. He also refused to let me work or babysit for some pocket money. I was totally depended on him.

By then I had two lovely children, boys and I thought it will be different. I woke up wee hours in the morning, got breakfast ready for my husband, fed the children, cooked afternoon meals for all, got children ready for school, kept the house clean, did the laundry. You name it and I have done it daily. I cannot fall sick, even if I am sick, I must do all the work. He will ask me ‘what the hell are you doing at home all day’…lazing around. I go to work and you can’t even do simple things that I tell you to.

There was no help, small issues will trigger him off. If the children watch television or if they are not keen on eating dinner, he will shout at them. Initially it was shouting at the kids and then even the kids got beaten by him if they were naughty or did not do well in school or broke a plate or a toy. My husband will take it out on me. At that time, I did not know who to tell, who to go to for help. So, I suffered silently, took the beatings and stayed on to care for my children. They were my life and if I left who will care for them. Let me tell you, my husband was not a womanizer or a drunk, he was in a professional job admired by many.

I realized my husband was a control freak. I really do not know what to say, to the whole world outside the home he was a good guy, caring, charitable, good father and husband who cared for his children. But to his wife, he often sneered at her that she is stupid, does not know anything, does not want to learn, no contribution from me, useless and not worth living. The sad part was, after every physical abuse, the next morning he will say sorry. I could not understand it at all. My siblings were all so far away, at that time there was no telephone and even if I managed to call someone, he will stand next to me to listen to the conversation with my mother and sisters even until now. He does not allow me to have my own cell phone and listens to my conversations. I have tried being my own person, but he still controls me.

My sons are grown and doing very well professionally, and they have warned him several times of the abuse and told me so many times to leave him. So why when I can leave him, I am not? I do not know, maybe he is seventy something now and I feel pity for him. I know you and others will think I am silly; my daughters-in-law thinks I am. I am not sure if my husband has mental issues; he will not go to the doctor to check or take medication. He even argues and quarrels with my sons, but they put him in his place, but he still tries. They are grown-up men with their own families, but he still wants to control them.

I survived 40 something years with so much of mental torture, abuse physically, scarred for life for any kind of emotional attachment. People think that only uneducated, alcoholics or drug users abuse their spouse; but this man was educated, holding a good career, well known among his friends and is so abusive even until today. Unfortunately, I am married to him and I could not leave then due to circumstances and now it is too late. This is my true story, but I like to advise all women out there, do not be like me. The moment you are abused physically, please tell someone or get help. Now things are very different from 40 years ago. You have befrienders, counselors to help you, place of worship you can find comfort and help. Please do not think you are failing your family, or something is wrong with you, GET HELP! Otherwise this kind of abuse will not stop. I wanted to keep the family together and I paid a heavy price, but you do not have to. You can get a job and you can move on. Please tell someone! If not your family, tell your friend or friends or someone you are close too. Be alive and do not be alive and dead like me!

Why is it important to stop gender-based Violence?

Gender-based violence is so rampant globally. UN in their work on gender-based violence have also said prevention should start early in life by educating and working with young boys and girls promoting respectful relationships and gender equality. UN also noted that while “public policies and interventions are often overlooked at this stage of life; it is critical time when values and norms around gender equality are forged”.

UN Women, in partnership with the World Associations of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) has developed a global non-formal education curriculum to engage young people in efforts to prevent and end violence against girls and women. A first of its kind, “Voices against Violence” is a co-educational curriculum designed for various age groups ranging from 5 to 25 years. It provides young people with tools and expertise to understand the root causes of violence, and to learn about where to access support if violence is experienced.

Recently in 2019, UN came out with the following ‘Ending School-related Gender-Based Violence: a series of thematic briefs in PDF. It is highly recommended that all member organizations of Education International, educators, education personnel use the above for prevention and to end gender-based violence in their schools and in the homes of those who are abused. We must put a STOP to all kinds of gender-based violence in schools, homes and in any other place.

Otherwise the survivor’s story maybe be a non-survivor the next time; they can be our sister, our brother, our friend, our teacher, our colleague, our neighbors or us!