Actress, Jiah Khan committed suicide on Jun 3rd. After that there were a few speculations about why she committed suicide – failing career in the movie industry, inability to meet Rabia Khan’s expectations. A few days later her suicide note revealed the facts and stopped the guessing game.
The letter expresses her love for Suraj Pancholi. She has dreamed of a future with him, but he has betrayed her by going behind other women. She wrote about how she loved him and showered him with gifts but her love for him was never reciprocated. She wrote about the physical pain he caused her, the rapes, the physical abuse and finally the abortion. She could not imagine a world without him and could not bear to witness his unfaithfulness so she ended her life.
After I read her letter, I felt really sad for her; sad for loosing a meaningful life for a worthless person. It also made me ask the question, ‘Why did she choose to undergo such humiliation? Why couldn’t she just walk away from that relationship? Why didn’t she understand that physical abuse is different from love and that there no love when there is violence?’
A couple of weeks ago I read an interesting article in Femina about why women choose to stay in abusive relationships. For an outsider getting out of such relationship is as simple as walking out of the door, but for an insider it takes as much courage to stay in an abusive relationship as getting out.
Abuse is a disease that progresses in stages. It starts with requests – not wearing a particular dress, coming home after work and not going anywhere else because he cannot bear to be away from you even for a moment. These innocuous requests are followed by humiliation. He says you dress weird or you don’t look good or you are not so intelligent to do your own stuff, you need help and he maligns your family. Slanders from the person you loved, rip your soul apart piece by piece. As women withstand such behaviour, it progresses to physical abuse. They raise their hand for the simplest reasons. Abuse becomes a dose of medicine that has to be prescribed every day to keep you in track. The abused during this process starts shutting down from her partner, from her family and the whole world. There is an overwhelming sense of loneliness and desperation which leads her to take drastic measures.
An abusive relationship is not devoid of a few intimate magical moments. It is these moments that the victims hold on to, hoping that the abuser would change. Everything would get back to normal just like it was before, just like in the fairy tales. In the Indian scenario, it is much more complicated. What would your family think? What would your friends think if you walk away? There is stigma of being a single woman. If you have kids, then it is a point of no return, the kids’ need their father, no matter how much the mother has to suffer to be in that relationship.
The only medicine for this disease is to realize what constitutes a abuse. Women should understand that nothing justifies a rash or demeaning behaviour by your spouse/partner. Love blinds symptoms of psychological and physical abuse by providing excuses for such behaviour, maybe he is stressed out at work, and maybe you have done something wrong which deserves such harsh treatment. Love and abuse do not go together. Relationships should be built on mutual respect and love. Seek help, take relationship counselling sessions, take support of friends and family and curb the cancerous growth of abuse before it is too late.
RIP Jiah Khan