In Their Words - Domestic Violence Survivors

Saying no to Violence and Abuse

Pooja suffered abuse and violence at the hands of her husband and his family. Her fault: giving birth to a girl child. Her husband wanted a son. Fearing for the life of the girl child, Pooja’s parents came and took the child with them.

Three years later she gave birth to a boy. She hoped this would appease her husband. However, her husband now had a new reason to abuse her. He started demanding for dowry. Five years into marriage, Pooja was completely controlled by her husband. At his whims and fancy, he would drop Pooja and children at her parents and would not take them home for months.

While Pooja lived with her parents she came in contact with Maitri’s community project and joined the women’s group (Mahila Panchayat). This helped her come out of the isolation and interact with other women. She then opened up about her situation. When her husband came to pick her up again, Maitri stood with Pooja and got written consent from him and his family declaring that they will be responsible if any harm is caused to her. However, after some months of returning to with her husband he again turned violent and Pooja fled to her parent’s house.

Maitri helped her approach the Delhi Commission for Women. Pooja and her husband were counseled and her husband was given clear warning about violence and reminded of his responsibility as a husband and a father. This was a turning point for Pooja. Recently, Maitri did another follow up call with Pooja and found that she is doing well. Her husband has stopped being violent. He has even got a job and is able to take care of his family. All this was possible because Pooja was empowered and supported to say no to violence.


Dangerous Realization

“I grew up in an abusive household, and because of this I didn’t know what a normal relationship looked like. At 19, I thought that I had finally escaped my abusive past and met my Prince Charming. The first month seemed okay. It appeared to me that I was living in a bubble of happiness and I genuinely thought that he was a good person. Looking back now, I can see that there were warning signs as there were a few instances where he was short tempered & controlling. However I shook those off because of the high regard my friends had for him.

A few months into our marriage, things turned to violence. There was never an apology or any recognition of the abuse. We both just walked around as though it had never happened. Even worse, he always threatened me if I ever tried to talk to my friends or family about what I was going through. Over the years, abusive incidents that were emotional, physical and sexual in nature began to occur with greater frequency. Also, he did not allow me to continue my education or seek employment outside home. I found the entire experience incredibly dehumanizing.

The greatest blessing was being able to finally access my passport without his knowledge. This gave me the opportunity to escape after 6 years of waiting. I was finally free and reached out to Maitri for counseling & legal support. Since then I have rebuilt my life and I am proud of how far I have come and what I have achieved.

Domestic violence is a dangerous and complicated issue, and for this survivor was an everyday reality. It can be difficult to find support or even just talk about. This survivor was eventually able to flee and find the resources and support necessary to help rebuild one’s life after such a traumatizing experience.


Fighting the odds

Rekha (Name changed) met Sanjeev in May 2011 through a common friend. Later that year, Sanjeev asked for her hand in marriage.

Rekha got married to Sanjeev in April 2012. One year later, she gave birth to a baby boy. To this day she still remembers when she discovered that her husband had suddenly taken their child and hid him somewhere. Petrified by this sudden turn of events she made several desperate attempts to find her baby and even reach out to her husband’s family in hope of some reconciliation. Unfortunately, her husband had no intention to make amends and neither did his family make any efforts to contact her.

Rekha was overwhelmed with fear that her husband, who was a heavy drinker along with his sister may have caused great harm to the new born baby. On having such apprehensions Rekha reached out to police officials to investigate the matter on several occasions and other authorities to seek immediate help. To her dismay, she received relief from nowhere.

After failed attempts with the police, under the guidance of Maitri, Rekha filed a petition under Section 12 of the Protection of The Women From Domestic Violence Act 2005 in the District court for custody of an infant child (60 Days Old) who has been forcefully separated from the Mother. Since her husband and his family did not appear in court she was able to then file a writ petition (formal written order petition) before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court. The Court passed the order in favour of Rekha through which she gained custody of her baby. An order was also passed to file a case against all the accused persons; however the police did not take any due course of action.
The victory of Rekha represents a triumph for all mothers in such dire situations. Despite stark opposition from her husband and his family, she stood her ground with the help of her family and fought all odds to be reunited her newborn child.


Home is where the hurt is

Shweta got married on the 13th of March 2013. Contrary to traditional Indian culture, she singlehandedly bore all the wedding expenses. Before the wedding, Shweta and her family were given the impression by her husband and his family that he was a professional engineer, earning high wages each month. It was only later that Shweta came to know that her husband did not even pass the 10th grade and was working in a small company, earning a meager amount. At the time of the wedding Shweta had a fixed deposit of Rs. 50,000/- in her name. One week into the marriage, her husband and his family forced her to break the amount. When she refused, they threaten to throw her out the house. Shweta never imagined that her husband and his family would trap her in vicious cycle of mental torture and violence for her money. As the greed and abuse escalated she reached out to her parents for help. In spite of hearing this, Shweta’s parents did not come to her aid and asked her to try to settle the matter by herself. They clearly expressed that they did not want to get involved in the matter and that if she came back to her parental home they would not allow her in.

Few months on, still trying to heal her broken spirit, her husband threatened her by saying that if she would not satisfy him sexually every day he would resort to having extra marital relationships with other women. Each time she would refuse to give in to his needs, he would physically assault her. Shweta endured the abuse and often tried to reason with her husband peacefully. In response, he would shout, throw things and tear her clothes so violently that she strongly believed her life was in danger.

In November 2013, Shweta’s husband and his family threw her out of her matrimonial home. Following this event Shweta approached Maitri for legal guidance and was able to file a petition under Section 12 of the Protection of The Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, in the District court for a protection order. The Hon’ble Court passed the order in favour of Shweta and granted her protection.

Shweta’s experience tells a story of rejection and cruelty in the face of abuse but, above all, of human resilience to push through despite the odds.