October 4, 2014

Say NO to Violence!

I am happy to make a paper presentation this month, on Counseling Women in Domestic Violence. The Department of psychology from St. Francis College for Women had invited for a “National Seminar on Counseling, Recent Trends and Initiatives.” The Organizers also encouraged us to present papers

Since I have been involved in working with women, responding to issues of violence. I decided to present a paper on this topic.  While I kept thinking all the time, a  lot of thoughts came in, and also transported me to my past, making me recall all those cases that were filed under the DVA (Domestic Violence Act 2005) wherein I was part of the whole process for filing the DV cases. 

Adding to my experience I had also facilitated a 6 months pilot programme on Violence against women at YWCA (Young Women Christian Association) in collaboration with MAKRO Foundation and COVA (Confederation of Voluntary Associations).

The study was a qualitative one, and the methodology used was the case studies that were documented from the pilot programme.  I looked into 25 case studies that spoke various types of violence faced by women.  All these women were semi-literate, from the slums of Hyderabad, in the age group of 25-45 years.

·        In understanding of case studies it was found that majority of women who suffered domestic violence had alcoholic husbands, alcohol was one of main factor for violence.

·     In 90% of the cases the victim was the women, the abuser was the man, which clearly shows the inequality of Male /female domination, and even preferences in society.

·     Women who took lot violence, had a very low self-concept, and had no esteem about themselves. They have even accepted violence as part of their marriage.

I could relate this to a very interesting study by Seligman (1975 cited in Myers, 1989) and others first observed ‘learned helplessness’ in experiments with animals and people. When animals were placed in an aversive situation where there was no escape they appeared to take on a sense of helplessness. Later when placed in an aversive situation which they could easily escape, they made no attempt to do so.

From these early experiments, it was suggested that if people perceived they had no control over aversive events they would see control of their situation as lying outside themselves. This perception would lead to general helpless behaviour.

In ‘The Battered Woman’, Walker (1979) argued that an abused woman will often become ‘paralysed’ as a result of learned helplessness. According to Walker, the woman comes to believe she has no control over her situation and consequently becomes submissive towards punishment and violence.

Nothing she does changes her situation so she thinks she is the problem and that she must change herself. She blames herself for not being able to change the situation and therefore suffers from low self-esteem and becomes anxious and depressed.

·    Women were also very strongly influenced by their societal norms and traditions; which was very evident by the way they have borne various forms of violence. Many women feared separation for the sake of children and security.

·      Emotional abuse was very high in all the case studies that were analyzed, and it left a lasting scar, to deal in a counseling session.

·         The impact of violence against women was very obvious on children, as they witnessed constant abuse by one partner over the other.
The prevalence of domestic violence in urban slums in our country is relatively high and confirms that domestic violence is a universal phenomenon. It also proves that there is a serious gender equation.

According to a latest report prepared by India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 2011 a crime has been recorded against women in every 3 minutes in India. Every 60 minutes, two women are raped in this country. Every 6 hours, a young married woman is found beaten to death, burnt or driven to suicide

As per National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics, in 2011, Hyderabad stood at third place after Delhi and Bangalore among the list of 52 cities in the country for recording maximum cases pertaining to violence against women (excluding Cyberabad data). But, if the crime figures from Cyberabad were also taken into account, the state capital would be in second position.

Abuse can have a serious impact on the way a person thinks and interacts with the world around them.   The chronic exposure to domestic violence—and the stress fear resulting from this exposure—can cause not only immediate physical injury, but also mental shifts that occur as the mind attempts to process trauma or protect the body.

Domestic violence affects one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors and can significantly impact one’s mental stability. Increased anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression symptoms are commonly observed among survivors of domestic violence.

Children can witness domestic violence in a variety of ways. All children witnessing domestic violence are being emotionally abused, and this is now recognized as 'significant harm.

For all women who are in abusive situations, it’s a wakeup call to claim your right to live with dignity and respect. 

Take Charge! 
You are not alone! 
Say NO to Violence ….

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