"The more that we choose not to talk about Domestic Violence, the more we shy away from the issue, the more we lose." - Russell Wilson.
Domestic violence is one of the most wicked offences that plague our society today. Violence in households against a partner, child or any other family member is known as domestic violence. It substantially transpires in an intimate space away from prying eyes, and it is often hard to recognise the victims. The niche of the household is considered a haven, but what about those who are unloved and unsafe there? The very thought of violence by a close family member is terrifying. Domestic violence can take many forms. It can be mental, physical, verbal, economic, social, sexual, or religious. The roots of such crimes are deeply entrenched in human society and often even accepted as a man's "right." The existence of domestic violence is apparent, but no one is prepared to talk about it. Worldwide the victims of domestic violence are primarily women.
In March 2020, when COVID-19 hit significant parts of the world, no one imagined that they would be living in their homes indefinitely. Home, where everyone wants to be, became like a jail. The unnotified lockdown and quarantine impacted lives considerably. Unemployment, total confinement, financial instability, and health problems affected many people psychologically and emotionally. Violence against women increased a considerable amount during the lockdown. The reports of domestic violence were the highest in 10 years. Children, too, became the victims of domestic abuse and were trapped with their abusers. It has been observed that the more time family members spend with each other, the more cases of domestic violence are reported.
The violence during lockdown increased to an unprecedented point because the harassers knew that their victims had nowhere to go. There is no respite for the oppressed, and this empowered the violators to take out their frustration.
Violence against Women: Oppression Since Ages
Women were the worst affected during the lockdown. The responsibility of children, husbands, elderly members fell on the women. Further, household responsibilities have always been carried out by women. Even working women have to juggle between work and home responsibilities. When the industries, offices, and schools closed, many women also lost their jobs. It devastated the social condition of women and left them at the mercy of the male members. School-going girls also suffered a setback during the lockdown as many of them dropped out of school. They also suffered mental and emotional trauma caused by domestic abuse. They also had to experience sexual violence by their family members as childrens' voices are easy to suppress. They had no one to complain to moreover they are afraid that the matter could get worse.
The intensity of violence also increased during the pandemic. Many cases were reported in which a husband suspected his wife of extramarital affairs and harassed her. In other cases, there were instances when husbands were having extramarital affairs. Due to lockdown, they could not meet their extramarital partner and hence, started flaunting their infidelity in front of their partners. The same was the case on the part of women too.
Violence against Men: The Dilemma of Masculinity
Although women are considered victims, it is not always the case. Many times, women also become abusers. They blackmail their partners by playing the victim card. If not physically, abuse can be mental and emotional too. There are very few cases reported on the part of men is because of shame. What would society think of a man abused by a woman? The question highlighted the "masculinity" of the men. The conception that a man is physically stronger and superior to women misleads society and creates prejudice that men cannot be abused by women. Even if men complained about the violence, authorities take it casually. In most cases, men choose the alternate path of suicide or abandoning their homes. In some instances, it was also noted that men were also sexually assaulted by women by force or threat. The most vulnerable are gays or bisexuals who are afraid of revealing their identities.
Although this issue is not taken seriously while discussing domestic violence but it prevails in society and there is a need to support men so that they can also get justice.
Abuse against Children & the Implication on their Future
When one remembers their childhood all the sweet memories come as a flashback, and the carefree, stress-free life makes us nostalgic. But what if one's childhood was distressed and abusive? Do memories of the horrific past fade away with time? The answer is NO. A child living in an abusive environment has adverse mental and psychological implications. They tend to become insecure, abusive, underconfident, and violent adults.
Children may face abuse at places, like schools, homes, by a relative, caretaker, or the tuition teacher. It is horrid thinking that children also suffer from sexual abuse. Moreover, children also bear emotional, verbal and psychological violence. During the COVID-19, conditions of the school-going children worsened as they were restrained in their homes and witnessed violence between their parents, guardians, or family members. They also experienced physical abuse as the frustrated adults took their anger out on them. Stress or the abusive environment during childhood gravitates them towards violent behaviour in their adolescence.
The easiest way out that every oppressed person thinks of is to end their life. But is it the way out? to end your life because of someone else's crime?
It is imperative to teach a lesson to the perpetrators. Additionally, it is essential to spread awareness amongst the families about domestic violence and the laws through which they can take action. Children need to be supported if they show unusual behaviour as it could be a sign that they are going through something. Non-governmental organisations should come into action to help the victims of domestic violence. Helplines and organisations working to combat domestic violence must be easily accessible. Authorities must not show biases based on gender while dealing with cases of domestic violence. There must not be any prejudice. Family members should also support each other and report violence.
Stringent laws should be implemented against such offences, and rehabilitation centres must be established to help the victims. Children facing domestic violence should be made aware of the help they can get. Further, they need special treatment and counselling because their future is at stake. Domestic violence cases should be dealt with great seriousness because if not, the audacity of the abuser increases. Global action needs to be taken in this regard. Countries from all around the world need to come together as they have done for other significant issues. Domestic violence, as seen during the lockdown, needs immediate attention as it has grave implications on the individual and the whole society.