Speak Up, You!

She got married at 22. It was way too early, I felt, as did my parents. But there were others in the family who did a ha! at me. “That’s how it’s done!” “What are you still waiting for?” “She’s so much younger, and you’re still sitting around!” I shrugged it off, with a good for her. Today, 3 years later, when the news of her marriage falling apart came in, my first impulse at a ‘ha right back at ya’ was quickly crushed by the reason. He’d been beating her up for the major part of those 3 years.

On the face of it, he’d been the perfect guy for her. She’d dropped out of higher education because she’d landed herself a plush job. He was older and with a job good enough to support her in case she didn’t make it big for lack of proper qualifications. Also, it was a ‘love’ marriage of the old-fashioned kind. He’d seen her at work and had gone straight to the M-word and the parents, something that guys these days (or at least the ones I happen to come across) seem to shudder at the prospect of. Honourable, indeed! No ‘let’s have fun’, ‘let’s see where it goes’ kinda shenanigans. Perfect, yeah! And when, after the wedding, she decided to study further, he was right there, by her side. Supportive, too. Just what we all want. And how they all loved him for it. Little did anybody know of the real state of her paradise.

I’m in the dark where all the deets of all that transpired are concerned. But a few months ago, they moved to a new city, away from both their families. She found herself a really nice job and all seemed to be going well. Till she decided, about a week ago, that she’d had enough. She moved out and is filing for a divorce. Her company has given her a place to stay and security, lest he try to harm her in any way. He has given his landlord notice for vacating the house they lived in, making sure she has nowhere to go till she finds her own place.

But this is where she’s gone wrong, a second time. The first, was to not speak up at the first such instance. Now, she’s making it worse by not filing a report against him for domestic violence. From what I’ve gathered, her parents, too, feel it best not to ‘risk her safety and make it any more ugly’ by doing so. But wasn’t she unsafe enough anyway, living with a wife-beater? Didn’t all those bruises he gave her make it ugly enough already? Or that he had her stalked by a private detective (who was incompetent enough to get caught) as soon as she moved out of her house? That she can’t be seen alone with a guy, lest he try to imply that she moved out because she was having an affair, instead of the real reason? From what I hear, the case, as it stands at the moment, seems to be one where she has decided to leave him without any substantial cause, making her the culprit, not him, and allowing him to get away with what’s as good as murder! Now, I’m not one for revenge. But there are certain things you cannot let go.

I feel this now and I felt this a couple of years ago, when a friend’s boyfriend hit her. I was to pick her up on my way to work. When I was 10 minutes away, she called to tell me to carry on. She was at the hospital because she’d ‘slipped on the staircase’. When I offered to see her there, she said it was OK, he was there with her and she’d be fine. She didn’t turn up to work that day. Nor the next. I was worried, but didn’t suspect a thing. Till then, I didn’t really believe these things happened, because it had never happened to anybody I knew. It was unfathomable to me that a man could hit a woman. What kind of pathetic person does that, anyway! A week later, she told me the truth. They’d had an argument in the morning, and he’d hit her, making her fall and hit her head against the corner of the dining table. When he saw/realised what he had done, he picked her up and rushed her to the hospital. That was the first time. He apologised profusely, promised her it would never happen again and she took him back. Then, just before she told me, it happened again. He slapped her. Good on her, she hit him right back, before throwing him out of the house. They never spoke again. Then, she confided in one or two others. For some reason, none of us thought of reporting it anywhere. She was out of it and free. He wasn’t going to come near her ever again, even though he worked in the same building. He left the organisation soon after. Maybe it had something to do with the icy looks he got every time he walked past any of us. In hindsight, maybe he just got a better offer elsewhere and he could move on and torment another. And this is why we should’ve reported it somewhere.

Of course, we did what we thought was in our friend’s interest. But who knows how many more people will fall victim to his abusiveness? And this is why ‘she’ needs to report it too. Because, like The Mother says, if he can beat her, he’s capable of anything!

*Disclaimer: While I would’ve liked to reveal the identities of the men, the stories, with factual details, are for these two women to tell.

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