Some recent issues of The New Times I have had the chance to read, have stories about domestic violence in one form or another.
A child hit seriously by his father, a wife beaten to death by husband - it is appalling to find that domestic violence is as prevalent here as anywhere else in the world.
Domestic violence or violence in the house is a universal phenomenon, and it is apparent that no country, race or community is free from it.
In India where the ancient culture projects women as divine powers or goddesses, women are abused in many ways in both rich and poor communities. Even in the US and the developed nations, women are not free from this ill.
Targets of domestic violence are the weaker members of the family, mostly women and children, and in some cases elderly people. Except in rare cases, men may be the victims and women perpetrators.
In any case, domestic violence leads not only to just some injuries. In extreme cases there can be permanent disability and even death. The result is broken homes or loveless matrimonial lives.
A woman fed up of the constant beating may divorce the husband or may just leave his home just like that. Even if they live together, there will be constant mental tension and no love lost between them.
Love and affection are like a thread - if broken, it cannot be mended, and if one tries to mend it, the knot will remain forever. Children are the innocent victims of such broken homes.
Domestic violence is basically the outcome of behavioural abnormality. Losing one’s temper is a sign of a weak mind. It takes very little or no provocation at all for such minds to lose their temper.
Such weak minded persons take out their frustrations, tensions and anxieties on the easier target available, and that is their wives and children.
These people are not able to face the challenges of the outside world very well, but become very “brave” in their homes.
In milder cases it may take the form of abusive language, but in severe cases they indulge in physical violence. Male ego is yet another underlying reason for domestic violence.
In olden times, men were considered to be superior to women. The thought still prevails in many traditional societies of the world even today.
Because of this, men regard themselves as superior and consider that they have a right to beat up their wives in supposed wrongs and indiscipline.
Even among modern educated families, very few men believe in gender equality. They cannot see their wives progress more than them. If this happens, then because of sheer jealousy they indulge in violence.
Apart from these weak minded individuals, there is another group of persons who are sadists. Sadism is a form of mental perversion where one gains satisfaction after inflicting injury to another person or seeing him or her suffer.
Now where would a sadist find somebody to torture easily for self-satisfaction? Simple; it is the wife and helpless children at home. One can easily put the blame of domestic violence on alcohol.
Many otherwise sober people lose their self control entirely under the influence of alcohol and indulge in undesirable violent conduct.
Those using other addictive substances like cannabis, etc. also show similar irregularities in their behaviour. These men can be seen regretting after the effect of addiction is over.
There may be cases of frank psychosis like maniac depressive psychosis or schizophrenia that indulge in violence at home due to their mental sickness, and may not realize what they are doing.
Violence committed may not be physical i.e. of deed, alone. It can be of words. If somebody is constantly abusing, shouting, and nagging when at home, it becomes a torture for other family members.
Again it is only the men who claim the dubious right do so; because for a woman to behave in similar manner would be reprimanded immediately.
Violence of thought is said to exist if a person thinks ill of someone and may think of harming him or her. In a household this refers to the people who think ill of their spouses, doubt their fidelity or are jealous of them.
These thoughts may take the form of physical violence any time. Whatever form of violence occurs, it makes the house a living hell for all members. Not only does it create mental torture, it also impairs the mental peace and working efficiency of all family members.
The individual inflicting violence also does not feel very easy after the act, because he knows that he is harming those very people whom he loves. Women facing domestic violence feel trapped. They usually do not report the matter to anyone or even the police for various reasons.
Harming the reputation of husband and family, losing security provided by the husband, causing distress to one’s parents, etc, are some of the various reasons why women avoid reporting violence inflicted on them by their spouses.
There are very few cases which come to light, and these can be said to be the tip of the iceberg. Domestic violence needs redress not only in individual cases but also in society as a whole.
Religious leaders, social workers and all wise people who have the potential to influence society should educate people extensively about the ills of domestic violence.
Men need to understand that though they are physically superior, women are equally important members of the house and need to be cherished and respected.
A man being the father is supposed to protect the child from all harm and should not be the one to harm them. A total change of attitude is what would ensure domestic peace instead of violence.
Those with short tempers should learn to tame their minds. They should be warned that their uncontrolled temper can land them into trouble any time.
Yoga and meditation are very useful for helping people to control their minds and actions better and in a more positive way.
Medical treatment would be useful for people suffering from mental pervasions and other psychiatric problems. De-addiction treatment and programmes would certainly help the people who indulge in violence under the influence of addictive substances.
If in spite of counseling and education somebody does not refrain from inflicting violence in the house, affected members should not hesitate to seek help from concerned authorities. After all it is a question of their own safety and welfare, and no longer of the abuser’s protection.