October is the Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and pretty much every heart wrenching, and very touching post I have read so far, is about violence against adult women, by their husbands and in-laws. The posts by IHM, Smitha and Solilo are the ones I would recommend for reading. Abuse of women, is the most obvious kind of thing that comes to mind, when we talk of domestic violence today, a wife being beaten, harassed and even marital rape. Personally, I have very little experience with this kind of violence, strange but true, I have no friends, who are harassed, except the usual tug of war, all Indian women have with in-laws, none of my maids were abused at home, fortunately both had rather loving husbands. I have only heard incidents about people who are known to someone, who know someone I know, or through the media. I would want however to stress on a different kind of domestic violence which is very prevalent in India, but very very little attention is paid to it, and in more ways than one it is a lot worse than wife beating.
It is violence, and aggression against children in homes. It happens more commonly than we are ready to accept or even acknowledge, but the situation is scarier than most of us can fathom. Bad childhood, is a very simple and general term used to describe this situation, and push it under the carpet, in a land where parents are treated like Gods, no matter how they are. When its a woman being abused, there is a possibility of her receiving support from her parental home, but a child has no where to hide and nowhere to run, from his own parents. Nowhere at all. Imagine a five year old being beaten mercilessly by his own parents in the confines of his own home, which should be his sanctuary, the place where he should feel the most loved and safe. Where does this child go looking for help, how does he even know he should get out, and how will he survive if he does? When I saw this video on IHM's post, the first thought that came to my mind is, would the man have done the same thing had the abuser been abusing his child instead of his wife? How commonly do we see parents hitting, and verbally abusing children publicly, and how often are we shocked by it, the way we are with violence against women? Rarely ever, then who would even bother with what happens behind closed doors. A child is too shamed and scared, and knows too little to understand that what is being done to him is wrong, unjust. And a child who grows up in such an environment is unlikely to realise it either, because of conditioning.
Image Courtsey - http://abdoukili.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/children-faced-with-parental-and-social-abuse/
Its a myth that such abuse lies only in the lower strata of the society, it exists everywhere. I have bonded with many a blog friend, simply because we share a common history of childhood abuse, and somehow that has turned us into similar people in some ways. Two of my closest friends from the blog world, have faced abuse all through their childhood, and we can talk to each other openly, without feeling any guilt, like we can't with anyone else. The gory details are never put up on the blog, or discussed openly and people who have been fortunate enough to have nice parents, cannot really understand, what can possibly justify a person bad-mouthing her own parents. You have to live it, to know the pain, to understand what cannot be explained in words. These are people who are well educated themselves and belong to affluent, educated families. At five where could we have escaped? From our own parents? When I had finally had enough, and realised that I could be loved and appreciated, and left my parental home for good and married the DH, a relative I had newly acquired, questioned me about my actions, told me that people are abused much worse, even sexually by their parents, what then, have I to complain about? It is tough enough to take a stance, but then to be questioned, and to need to defend yourself for having escaped abuse is not easy either.
And even then we are never completely free of our parents, while a spouse can possibly be replaced, parents cannot. And we do tend to keep turning back, hoping for something that never really existed, longing for something we never really had. And I cannot help but wonder why, do we keep going back to the people who wronged us, and who will never accept that they have done so. And I finally found an answer to that in an article Solilo pointed out to me, which finally gave words to my vague beliefs. It says
Research on early attachment, both in humans and in nonhuman primates, shows that we are hard-wired for bonding — even to those who aren’t very nice to us.
No wonder then that even the abused children and spouses continue to be affectionate towards the abuser. An abused child is unable to completely cut ties off with the parents without either feeling guilty, or being made to feel as such by people, such is our social conditioning. A wronged child feels guilty to even say aloud, what he knows and feels is wrong.
There are people who feel that physically intimidating children is an important tool for disciplining them. The very line of thought is outrageous. How can violence, and physical aggression be used against a child? I know of girls being beaten black and blue by leather belts, for wearing clothes the parents considered inappropriate, boys who were not fed for days, because they failed an exam, children being beaten, till their tears dry up and they hiccup for hours, because they said something in the presence of outsiders that they should not have. Why is the Indian society NOT outraged by these acts of domestic violence, why do children have no rights in our country? Many developed countries, explain their rights to children, have strict rules against verbal or physical abuse of children, India is far away from even acknowledging the existence of this issue. No one raises a voice, or thinks its even slightly out of place, if parents are abusive. It is time we started nipping the problem in the bud, if we wish to eliminate domestic violence entirely.
While not even for a moment can I say domestic violence against women is any less atrocious, but its violence against children that I think causes much deeper harm, and leads to creating an unhappy, unstable, prone to violence, self-respect lacking or a human deficient in many other ways. Scars in the heart and mind which never heal, which never leave.
Stop Violence Against Children. They Are People In Their Own Right.
An old post, very relevant to this topic, is what I dug up, and am linking here, for anyone who wishes to read.