Domestic Violence

Recognising Abuse
What is Domestic Violence?
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
How SNEHA can Help

Recognising Abuse

Domestic violence has many forms of abuse including physical, emotional, sexual and financial. It could be perpetrated by either your partner or any of your family members (either your natal family or your matrimonial family). If you think some of the statements are applicable to your situation, you may be a survivor of violence.

  • Your partner / other family members physically hurt you by shoving, slapping, punching or kicking you, often using objects including whatever is found around the house.
  • Your partner / other family members tie you up, burn you, set fire to you, pull your hair, bang your head against a surface, throw things at you, and inflict cuts on you.
  • Your partner / other family members lock you in the house.
  • Your partner / other family members lock you out of the house during an argument.
  • Your partner and / or other family members cause you to fear them.
  • Your partner and / or other family members cause you to change your behaviour to avoid triggering an attack.
  • Your partner / other family members prevent you from going out of the house on your own.
  • Your partner and / or other family members isolate you andcut you off from family and friends.
  • Your partner / other family members have threatened to hurt you or people close to you.
  • Your partner / other family members threaten to harm or kill the children, or threaten to kidnap or get custody of the children.
  • Your partner / other family members use abusive language when talking to you, humiliate or insult you, call you names or make fun of you in a way that is designed to hurt you.
  • Your partner / other family members dictate how you should dress and look.
  • Your partner / other family members constantly criticise you, say you are useless and cannot cope without them.
  • Your partner / other family members continuously doubtyou and constantly suspect you of having affairs or being unfaithful.
  • Your partner is jealous, possessive and over-protective.
  • Your partner has forced sexual intercourse with you.
  • Your partner forces you to engage in sexual acts that you aren’t comfortable with.
  • Your partner / other family members control your money.
  • Your partner / other family members deprive you of money or do not give you enough money.
  • Your partner / other family members deprive you of money or do not give you enough money.
  • Your partner / other family members prevent you from taking up a job.
  • Your partner / other family members have taken away your gold and/or other gifts that you may have received at the time of your marriage.

(Adapted from Refuge, UK and Another Closet, Australia)

Domestic violence takes many different forms.#

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the most recognisable form of abuse. It includes a slap or a push, a black eye, cut lip, open wounds, or broken bones. Perpetrators often use physical force and their body to injure the woman, but many times they also use any other objects they can lay their hands on to inflict the violence. In the most extreme cases, it can result in death.

Physical abuse does not always leave visible marks or scars. Having your hair pulled or having food thrown at you is domestic violence too. Do not underestimate or ignore what is happening to you, because over time the violence usually gets worse.

Emotional Abuse

Many women experience domestic violence without ever being physically abused. Sometimes they’re not sure if what is happening to them is domestic violence. They worry that no-one will take them seriously if they talk about it.

If you change or adjust your behaviour because you are frightened of how your partner/other family members will react, you are being abused. Emotional abuse is an attack on your personality rather than your body. Verbal abuse (using abusive language, insults, put-downs, derision, etc.) constitutes emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can be just as harmful as physical abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Your partner should not use force or threaten you to have sex. He should not make you perform sexual acts that make you uncomfortable. He should not criticise your performance.

If he does any of the above, he is using sex to assert his authority and control over you.

Financial Abuse

One of the most powerful ways a man can control his partner is by using financial abuse.

There are many different forms of financial abuse, but it might include things like your partner taking your money; stopping you from working; placing all the bills or debts in your name; asking you for paise-to-paise accounts of your expenses; limiting the scope of what you can spend money on; giving you insufficient money for household and personal expenses; or monitoring how you spend money and other financial resources e.g. the telephone.

If you feel that your partner is limiting your financial independence, you are experiencing financial abuse.

#Adapted from Refuge, UK

All types of domestic violence are wrong and most are punishable by law.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005#

In 2005, the government of India passed a legislation on domestic violence called the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA). It is a civil law aimed at providing relief to millions of women including wives, live-in partners, mothers, daughters and sisters affected by violence in their homes.

The PWDVA includes actual or threatened abuse against women in their homes, including those of a physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic nature.Through the PWDVA, affected women are entitled to:

Protection

The magistrate can pass orders to stop the offender from aiding or committing violence within and outside the home, communicating with the woman, taking away her assets, and/or intimidating her family and those assisting her against the violence.

Residence

The woman cannot be evicted from the shared household.

Monetary Relief and Maintenance

The woman is entitled to maintenance, including loss of earnings, medical expenses, and damage to property.

Compensation

She can claim damages for mental and physical injuries.

Custody

The court can grant her temporary custody of children. Interim order/ex parte order. The court can pass an interim order to prevent violence before the final order. In the absence of the other party to the dispute, an Ex Parte order can be passed.

Legal Service

Women have the right to free legal services under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.

Punishment for such acts includes a jail sentence of up to one year and a 20,000 rupee fine. The new law also provides a share of the husband’s earnings and property to the victim, including medical costs.

1: Bell Bajao by Breakthrough; http://www.bellbajao.org/home/resources/the-law-pwdva/

How SNEHA can Help

If you are / someone you know is facing violence and a resident of Mumbai, you can get in touch with SNEHA by visiting us at various locations across the city (see the Contact Us page for details).

If you are not a resident of the city, you can email or call us for help.

SNEHA helps women facing domestic violence, sexual violence and sexual harassment, and children facing sexual abuse.

What help we offer:

  • In a crisis situation, we
    • Provide emotional support.
    • Assist you in filing a police complaint, connect you with the hospital/doctor in case you need medical help.
    • Connect you to immediate support services like a shelter.
  • We offer you Counselling services (no charges).
    • Individual counselling.
    • Couple counselling.
    • Family counselling.
    • Psycho-therapeutic services (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Relaxation Therapy).
  • We have two lawyers who provide legal counselling, help you prepare your court case, and network with the District Free Legal Aid Services for legal services relating to your case.
  • We assist you in filing Non-Cognisable Offences (NCs) or First Information Reports (F.I.R.s) at the police station.
  • We connect you with specialised services like psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, shelters, homes and hostels as per your needs.

Everyone has the right to live a life free of violence. No one should have to suffer. We can provide assistance and guide you, but, remember, it is only you who can help yourself.

SNEHA ensures confidentiality of the woman survivor of violence.