Partner Abuse: Its Impact on Women’s Psychological Well Being

24 October 2020 / By Social Media

This Pandemic has been a testing time for many people, the overall state of well being has been increasingly been difficult to achieve in these testing times, however the situation has been even worse for women locked inside the four walls. They have experienced significant negative health aspects considering being in an abusive relationship or in general facing the spurt of frustration & aggression by their partners. During the first four phases of the COVID-19-related lockdown, Indian women filed more domestic violence complaints than recorded in a similar period in the last 10 years. But even this unusual spurt is only the tip of the iceberg as 86% of women who experience domestic violence do not seek help in India. (The Hindu,2020)

Intimate partner abuse can take different forms, could be physical, mental, emotional, social and financial. Regardless of its form, this controlling behavior can escalate over time and can become even worse. The abusive partner may use oppression systems already set in our society to assert his or her privileges against the other person. Physical abuse encompasses hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, burning, strangulation, damaging personal property, refusing medical care, and/or controlling medication, coercing a partner into substance abuse, use of weapons. Emotional abuse occurs when an intimate partner seeks to control his/her loved one by Name- calling, insulting, blaming the partner for everything, extreme jealousy, Intimidation, Shaming, humiliating, isolation, controlling what the partner does and where the partner goes, stalking. Sexual abuse is not about sex. It is about power and includes any sexual behavior performed without a partner’s consent, Forcing a partner to have sex with other people (human trafficking), Pursuing sexual activity when the victim is not fully conscious or is afraid to say no, hurting partner physically during sex, coercing partner to have sex without protection / sabotaging birth control. Technological abuse includes the use of technology to control and stalk a partner, it is more common among teenagers who use technology and social media, though happen in all ages,  hacking into a partner’s email and personal accounts, using tracking devices in a partner’s cell phone to monitor their location, phone calls, and messages, monitoring interactions via social media, demanding to know partner’s passwords. Financial abuse entails any behavior that maintains power and control over finances constitutes financial abuse; causing a partner to lose their job through direct and indirect means, such as: Inflicting physical harm or injury that would prevent the person from attending work, harassing partner at their workplace, controlling financial assets and effectively putting partner on an allowance, damaging a partner’s credit score.

The mental health consequences of intimate partner abuse have been well documented, with PTSD and depression as the most commonly identified disorders. It has also been associated with other psychiatric problems like heightened anxiety levels, phobias, suicide, alcohol, drug abuse. Some women also experience sleep disturbances including insomnia. Domestic violence has a very devastating effect on the psychological functioning of female survivors of gender based violence. Survivors with distressing psychological functioning mostly report problems like hypertension, lack of concentration, lack of interest, have poor self- concept, low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, reduced resilience and quality of life, there is a total burn-out, depression, sleep problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. A person's ability to fulfill a number of key functions and activities, including the ability to learn.
the ability to feel, express, and manage a range of positive and negative emotions is completely vanished.

Though, the statistics are alarming and thought-provoking, there hasn't been any concrete steps or measures taken with respect to curbing this issue. About 86% of women who experienced violence never sought help, and 77% of the victims did not even mention the incident(s) to anyone. The statistics shows that women who were subjected to both physical and sexual violence seek help relatively more than those who suffer from only one form of abuse (The Hindu, 2020). The National Commission for Women (NCW), which is the government body that receives complaints of domestic violence from all parts of the country has recorded more than twofold rise in gender-based violence during this ongoing lockdown. The NCW has now launched a WhatsApp number 7217735372 too. (shethepeople,2020).

NCW chief Rekha Sharma said,“Domestic violence cases have doubled than what it was before the lockdown. The cases of domestic violence are high in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Punjab.” Sharma believes the reason behind this sudden surge is that the men are stuck at home and they are taking out their frustration on women and as they refuse to share the responsibility of domestic chores. Women cannot go out and share their grief either. She also indicated that most of the complaints are coming via email as people are scared of going to the police. (shethepeople,2020)

There is a need to recognize and acknowledge the severe turmoil women of our country are going through with a multidimensional lens. While it requires tremendous courage and effort to come out of an abusive relationship, it's important to understand that everyone has a right to
safety and live their life according to their own terms.


REFERENCES

  1. Domestic violence complaints at a 10-year high during COVID-19 lockdown. Retrieved from: https://www.thehindu.com/data/data-domestic-violence-complaints-at-a-10-year-high-during-covid-19-lockdown/article31885001.ece
  2. Malik, Najma. (2018). Domestic violence and psychological well-being of survivor women in Punjab, Pakistan. Journal of Psychology & Clinical Psychiatry. 9. 10.15406/jpcpy.2018.09.00519.
  3. Mechanic, M. B., Weaver, T. L., & Resick, P. A. (2008). Mental health consequences of intimate partner abuse: a multidimensional assessment of four different forms of abuse. Violence against women, 14(6), 634–654. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2967430/
  4. Renner LM, Hartley CC. Psychological Well-Being Among Women Who Experienced Intimate Partner Violence and Received Civil Legal Services. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. May 2018. Retrieved from: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0886260518777552
  5. Types of Abuse. Retrieved from: https://www.womenagainstabuse.org/education-resources/learn-about-abuse/types-of-domestic-violence
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