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Are you playing a victim’s role?

What stops pretty, successful women from walking out of an abusive relationship when they can have the world at their feet?

india Updated: Mar 06, 2011 01:06 IST
Shara Ashraf

Celebrity news website TMZ recently uploaded a recording of former American idol judge Paula Abdul’s frantic 911 call made on Valentine’s Day, while she was in her boyfriend’s car. The singer was repeatedly screaming, “Drop me off!” When officers approached Paula, she dismissed the whole episode saying it was a verbal dispute and refused to file a police report.

Actor Halle Berry was also once hit on her ear by her ex-boyfriend, whose name she never revealed. Madonna was also allegedly subjected to domestic violence by her ex-husband Sean Penn. Even singer Rihanna was reported to have suffered bruises on her face and bite marks on her arms after boyfriend Chris Brown assaulted her.

Closer home, we have seen TV actor Shweta Tiwari put up with verbal and physical abuse hurled on her by ex-husband Raja Chowdhury. It was after years of suffering that Tiwari finally mustered courage to seek divorce. Pakistani actor Veena Malik also shared on Big Boss 4 that her then boyfriend Mohammad Asif used to hit her so badly that she had scars all over her legs.

What makes these pretty, successful women put up with domestic abuse? What kills their self-esteem to the extent that they can’t walk out of a relationship that they know would lead them nowhere?

Stylist Sunanda Jamal (name changed on request) says, “I had got used to being insulted and abused by my ex-husband. He had mentally conditioned me into believing that I deserved to be treated like dirt. I had lost all my self-respect. And every time I thought I would leave him, I ended up feeling guilty.” It took Jamal seven years and consistent support from her mother and friends to get out of the abusive relationship.

“Such a situation arises when a woman often get used to playing the victim’s role. Her confidence is shattered to such an extent that she starts believing she cant survive without the man. Every time the guy says sorry, she believes him and soon it becomes impossible to walk out of the rut,” says psychologist Deepali Kapoor.

Senior consulting psychiatrist, Sandeep Vohra, says a lot of women go through an internal battle when they think of leaving an abusive partner because of a very high degree of emotional attachment. It happens more in the cases of women who have had an emotionally insecure childhood.

“Such women go on hoping that one day their partner would change. They also keep asking themselves if they have invested enough in the relationship,” says Dr Vohra.

How to put an end to a violent relationship
Move out: The first thing a woman must do is to move out of the house to save herself from further abuse

Change your mindset: Start believing that you can live on your own. “Ask yourself if you want to continue with the trauma for the rest of your life,” says psychologist Deepali Kapoor.

Seek counselling: It helps when you talk it out. “A counsellor can help you come out of the emotional chaos and guide you with the best course of action,” says psychiatrist Sandeep Vohra.

Avoid loneliness: Spend time with friends. “Loneliness will push you towards sadness and the chances of falling back into the trap will only increase,” says Dr Vohra.

Communicate less: If you communicate with the abuser, he might convince you that he is not wrong. “Talking to the guy will weaken your resolve to stay away from him,” says Dr Kapoor.