Bruised and broken

If you are in an abusive relationship, take a stand and get out before inertia and helplessness
The recent breakdown of Rati Agnihotri’s marriage after a 30-year innings has led to a lot of speculation. She is a close friend, but I was afraid to call her. I was worried that it might not be what I was hoping it was — a spat blown out of proportion. I was afraid to hear that she was indeed subjected to violence and abuse. Sadly, my fears turned out to be true. She had been through 30 years of abuse and violence for the love of an only son. She hadn’t wanted him to grow up in a broken home. No little portion of her endurance lay in the hope that most women subjected to domestic violence harbour, that the trauma will magically melt away and the man they married and loved actually lives within the monsters that beat them violently.
I had met Rati 18 years ago on a flight back from New York. She never seemed to age through the years after that. Some years ago, she hosted a party to celebrate the launch of her son Tanuj into the movies. She looked radiant and was her usual ebullient self, greeting her guests warmly. Happiness does that, I had mused, looking at her youthful face. How deceptive looks can be. Now I know what a harrowing life of mental and physical abuse she has been living for three decades. I’ve known her all these years and never guessed even when she would make excuses not to come for birthdays and dinners: ‘I’m accident prone Nisha, I’ve hurt my ankle… I’ve hit my head on the door in the dark.”
What transpires in the minds of women like her, who live through years of such a tortured existence? Shame and a sense of failure — a stigma that society never fails to stamp upon them. The spunkiest of women become timid thinking, “What will people say?” Even parents very often take an ostrich-like stand, telling their daughters to “be patient to avoid conflict” because “all will be well in time.” Trust me, it will not. Habitual abusers are pathological offenders. Get out while you have the youth and energy to start over. Never mind what people say.
There is a syndrome known as the Stockholm Syndrome where the victim of abuse gets habituated to bondage and does not eventually want to get out of the situation. Even if this extreme condition is not the case, depression, helplessness, indecisiveness or financial dependence also create a sense of inertia and non-action seems the easier way. Indeed any determined action requires courage and conviction to face the consequences.
As we stand today, there is a grave need for awareness and self-reliance. And if the victim is brave enough to walk out on her abuser, her actions should be lauded and not frowned upon by those around her.
The author is a luxury consultant. Mail her at
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