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OP-ED: Just a slap?

  • Published at 02:35 pm July 25th, 2020
Violence against women
Representational photo: Bigstock

No, you should not have to put up with abuse

“That one slap reminded me of all those unfair things that I let go and kept moving on from” -- the Indian film Thappad (where the line is from) is about a married woman whose husband slaps her once, which leads her to seek divorce from him.

I am not married yet, even then, I could relate to the storyline, to her plight and agony, to all those prejudices that society holds against women. For starters, her lawyer herself was surprised knowing that “the one slap” was her reason for filing divorce.

The lawyer, an educated woman with a successful career, also thought it to be unreasonable to want a divorce over “just a slap.” Because society has made the option of “divorce/separation” so messy and complicated that women prefer losing their dignity to themselves than fight the unfair social prejudices.

Then again, these women are a part of society who remain quiet, and advise others to do the same, which triggers the unfair social prejudices to go on for long.

The whole time I was watching the movie, I felt anxiety. My hands and feet were cold, and I was having trouble breathing. It reminded me of those horrible days when I was in a verbally and physically abusive relationship.

And it went on for four months of torture. Do you know why it went on for four months? Because everybody around me told me that “it was just a push to the wall,” that “he was mentally ill,” that “love is beyond all these,” that, “if I don’t accept him, who will?"

And you know what he kept telling me? “You can make me better. Please don’t leave me. It will never happen again.”

Oh, but it did happen again.

And he had his excuses ready. By the time I understood that he wasn’t merely a psychologically ill person, but a very toxic and abusive person, and that he was never going to go see a psychologist or take real help, that he never meant those apologies, that his only conscious or subconscious plan was to take it out on me and then force me/blackmail me emotionally, four months had passed.

So, when I watched this movie trying to convey the message that, even “just a slap” is not to be taken lightly, I understood the reason behind it. Maybe people never experiencing violence, mostly men, will not agree with the message and will advocate for another chance for that abusive person.

But, no. No abuser deserves another chance. In fact, many women have given abusers second chances. When he abused me verbally for the first time, I should’ve left him. We let it happen to us. Because we were told by our parents, siblings, friends, that women are more tolerant because of having maternal instincts.

Because we were expected to be soft and sweet, we were expected to hold the family together, to work a marriage/relationship out, alone, because “men will be men” -- a quote which justifies and validates all those unfair behaviours and abuses.

I was surprised when I saw a woman proudly saying how her husband never abused her physically. What is there to be proud of about this? This should be normal, not something to be proud of. And unfair things are not just behaviours.

Unfair is to ask the female partner to leave her career after having a baby, unfair is to be dependent on her to work 24/7 in the house, unfair is to never be thankful to her for doing most of the work, in some cases, all the household work. Unfair is to feel superior about being the only earning member of the family while, in a lot of cases, being the person who previously forced her to leave the job market to look after the so-called family.

So, do not wait for things to turn into abuse. Do not settle for someone not worthy of your values, because that is unfair. And one day, the slap will remind you of all these unfair things that you let go and moved past, and you will regret it.

Run away before “just a slap.” Because you deserve better, girl.

Sanjida Alam Ria is a freelance contributor.

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