All over the world, one of the most common forms of violence against women is abuse by their husbands. It is often referred to as “wife-beating,” “battering,” “partner abuse,” “domestic violence” or, in a broader and technical sense, “gender-based violence.” In nearly 50 population-based surveys from all over the world, it has been found that 10% to over 50% of women report being hit or otherwise physically harmed by their husbands at some phase in their lives. It is understood that these data are under-reported.
Most surprisingly, in advanced countries like USA, a woman is beaten every 15 seconds! It is sad to note that many women live in constant fear of battering in a place where they should feel safe and secure – their own home. Who is responsible for this situation? What drives a man to be so cruel to the woman he is expected to love? What are the various ways to tackle this problem? Here are some issues related to wife-beating and ways to deal with it.
Unfortunately, many women feel that battering is acceptable, but only within limits. These limits are set by themselves and vary from individual to individual. However, if one man’s violence is less frequent than another’s, it doesn’t make him excusable. There is simply no such thing as “acceptable” battering.
Some women continue to tolerate battering throughout their lives and never tell anybody about it. Even those who resist often complain about it to family members, then to friends, and finally decide to take help from the police. The proportion of women who take extreme steps like going to the police or leaving their husbands is extremely small.
The reasons behind this include fear of retaliation, lack of other means of financial and social support, concern for children, emotional dependence, lack of help from family and friends, and hope that “he will change.” Shame is another cause for a woman not disclosing a battering. She thinks that there are only a few unfortunate people who live like this and it would be too embarrassing to tell this incidence to somebody. She also fears loss of respect among the family, especially from younger ones, or that family members and friends will make fun of her.
Despite the obstacles, many women eventually do leave their violent husbands – sooner or later. Younger women are more likely to leave sooner. But things are not as easy as they look. It reminds one of the story of Stephanie, whose husband Tim used to beat her very badly for many years. She explained, “Every time it happens, he says sorry, he will never do it again.” Her face etched with anxiety as she continued, “I keep thinking that this time he will change.” But Stephanie was wrong.
So she finally decided to leave Tim and lodged a complaint with the police against him. Tim simply denied the charges of wife-beating with such statements as, “she is excitable” and “she tends to overreact.” And the role of the police was negotiating between them rather than prosecuting Tim! Then came the pressure from parents, other family members and friends to negotiate and compromise. Stephanie thought, “Why should a woman compromise for a thing in which she is not at all guilty? In such an atmosphere how can a woman live a respectful life and feel safe and secure?”
Despite all the pressure, she finally decided to leave Tim and started her own independent life. Fortunately, they had no children. Stephanie was well educated; so she got a nice job. But what about millions of women living for the sake of their children or for other reasons with their husbands?
Most husbands, like Tim, do no accept the charges of battering. Men also take advantage of social norms. Once the marriage takes place parents of a daughter simply wash their hands off her. They are often reluctant to allow their daughters to return home for fear of social ostracism.
Even police authorities acknowledge that they try to settle such cases before lodging the complaint. Karen also faced a similar problem. She points out, “One often feels like running away from it all. But where does one go? The only place is your parents’ house, but they will also try to send you back.”
ILL- EFFECT ON CHILDREN
The conflict between the parents and wife-beating adversely affects their children’s mental growth and development. They often suffer from such emotional and behavioral problems as anxiety, depression, poor school performance, low self-esteem, disobedience, nightmares and various physical health complaints.
Such children are more likely to act aggressively during their childhood and adolescence.
In a study, it was found that children of battered women were more than twice as likely as other children to suffer from learning, emotional and behavioral problems.
Another study found that women who had been beaten were significantly more likely to have an infant death or pregnancy loss through abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth.
There are economic and social consequences of battering also. By sapping a woman’s energy, undermining her confidence, and compromising her health, battering deprives society of a woman’s full participation, which undermines the economic well-being of families. Women cannot contribute their labour or creative ideas fully if they are burdened with physical or psychological assault.
One study showed that women with histories of domestic violence were more likely to have spells of unemployment, to have a greater job-turnover, and to suffer more physical and mental health problems that could affect their job performance. Also, battering increases the use of medical and community resources and support, and adds the burden of extra cost of criminal justice, labour and employment to society.
Hopefully, you are not the victim battering. How to handle your husband if he beats you more or less frequently? In case you face such unwanted situations, some remedial measures are suggested here that might help you. When your husband beats you for the first time, take it very seriously.
If you kept quiet, it will happen again and again. So it is better to take all possible measures during the first episode of battering.
First of all, clearly point out to him that he is actually doing wrong and it will undoubtedly have an adverse impact on your relationship and the upbringing of your children. Men are more likely than women to be victimized by a stranger or casual acquaintance.
On the other hand, women are more likely than men to be victimized by family members or spouses. The fact that women are often emotionally involved and financially dependent upon those who batter them has pronounced implications on how they handle battering.
Men are generally poor mind-readers. They are generally not as sensitive and emotional as women are. So, be straight and talk openly about what hurts you. Men, by nature, are direct and don’t understand hints. Remember, men evolved by hunting animals and fighting enemies, not trying to understand them or be sensitive to their emotions. Thus, by nature, they are hard and tough. Various useful tips to tackle the problem of battering are listed below:
# If husband is angry, do not argue or fight with him. At the same time, do not fear from inside because fear will show your weakness, which would give your husband an opportunity to dominate you further. For instance, if you have broken some household item, politely say sorry or change the topic in order to divert his mind and talk in a friendly mood. Make him understand that you are not so weak and you are tolerating his anger for the sake of the family and respect the relationship; otherwise there would be plenty of problems and difficulties in your lives.
He may feel sorry after that. Tell him that the time once gone will never come back; so you both should enjoy life happily without unnecessary quarrels and arguments. Tell him in such a way that he understands the issues clearly and realizes their importance.
# Be open with your husband and avoid doing things which he doesn’t like. Do not try to raise arguments and fights. With a humble and polite approach, you can easily win the situation, which is otherwise going against you. Even if you have to tolerate his unnecessary arguments and anger, there is no harm in doing so on certain occasions.
After all, marriage is a mutual understanding, but make sure that you are not submitting too often and it is not one-sided. Getting respect and recognition is, to a large extent, in your hands. Perhaps, someday, he will also adjust to your temperament. Take care of his meals and try not to give him chance to fight. Be an ideal homemaker.
It is very easy to make your husband happy; give him delicious food, take care of his health, prepare lunch in time and send him to office in a good mood. When he comes back from his office, offer him a cup of tea or coffee with a smiling face, discuss what happened throughout the day, wear attractive clothing and keep yourself looking good with make-up.
# If your husband is abusive and still beating you even after trying all the tricks, ask him about his problem and why he is doing so. Try to find the cause and analyze the situation, and see whether the problem of battering can be tackled. Convince him that battering didn’t improve the family life in a single home; by battering, nobody can discipline his wife.
If a husband constantly batters, things only get worse, which include breaking the relationship, slapping back, insult in society, extramarital relationships, etc. Finally, ask him to remain calm, without anger for a few days and see the difference in the family atmosphere.
# Sometimes, some husbands abuse and beat up their wives in front of friends and family members. In this situation, try to curb your anger and do not reply back or fight; otherwise; it will create a scene. Later on, you can talk it over with your husband.
To avoid these situations, be extra careful and tactful, crack some jokes, and project yourself as a pleasant personality. Try to divert the subject or say something in such a way that the atmosphere is not ruined. This will reflect your wisdom and capacity to handle difficult situations diplomatically.
# Keep a good friends’ circle, make good relations with neighbors, family members and relatives so that they can intervene if you are in a difficult situation through battering or otherwise. If your husband is short-tempered, help him to control his anger by suggesting that he practice yoga and meditation.
# Education is a must for every woman, as it increases her self-confidence and sense of financial independence from her husband. Moreover, education broadens her mind and increases its capacity to handle difficult situations besides helping her in bringing up the children.
# Be empowered with knowledge of the laws. Make your husband aware that you know all the laws related to woman abuse so that he does not take you as being ignorant (of course, not in a threatening way!).
With this, your husband will think twice before battering.
Consult a lawyer if things go out of your hand so that you can face the situation bravely. Give your husband a final chance by reminding him that a relationship once broken cannot be built back. If he is not in a mood to compromise, then be confident to teach him a good lesson. Set an example before society so that no husband takes wife battering for granted.
In anticipation for your happily married life, final words of advice: “A wise woman is one who keeps her husband under control and, at the same time, remains in his control.”