Domestic Violence and Personhood

Image of a woman stretching out her hand, palm open, to stop an abuser. Blog about domestic violence.

When you look up the meaning and etymology of the word “violence” on the internet, it shows, “… derived from ‘vis’ (force) and ‘latus,’ the past participle of the word ‘fero’ (to carry).” Taken in combination, the two words mean: ‘to carry force’ (toward something). We know that when applied, force can deform an object and put it out of shape – and sometimes, such deformities are irreversible. The aim of today’s blog is to debate about how this force, i.e., violence, shapes a human being, especially a woman.

Violence as Force: Some Thoughts on Personhood

It is not unknown that the world today is struggling with mental health issues. That is not to say that there were none in previous eras. Now, however, conversations around mental health have gained more ground, with the call for removal of the taboos related to these types of issues.

Violence can be of various forms, soft or hard. It can be verbal or physical. But every form of abuse which is violence leaves a scar. And with time, these scars might fade or intensify. In most cases, if devoid of a helpful environment, the scars deepen. They affect in various ways and change a person beyond the point of return.

For example, if one has had an abusive childhood, and then an abusive adult life, the person stands to lose their inner essence. For he or she or they start living in a constant limbo — one of panic or of anxiety. Living in constant anxiety affects the personality and decision-making capabilities. It sometimes makes people fickle-minded. The person might actually not be doing things out of malice, but it may start to look like there are negative intentions behind their actions.

To be true, society has been very hard on women for too long – and it continues to be the same. Hence, the consequences of violence have been twofold for the ‘second sex.’ First, by not being recognised as victims. Second, by being denied a voice through various methods of ‘conditioning.’ Therefore, many women still believe abuse to be normal and happily live a life facing it.

Some have never tried to find their voice—because they have been conditioned to such a level that even the notion of a voice for themselves feels like a sin to them: a sin committed against the patriarch of the house or the rules of society. As these women have internalised this behaviour, accepting it to be normal, they force what they’ve ‘learned’ upon the next generation. If the next generation attempts to voice against it, there is usually a clash.

However, some battle through this conditioning and learn to unlearn, understanding that abuse of various forms has been moulding and shifting their personalities. They understand that they have been subjected to things that hurt and betray their inner essence or set discord in their minds, mostly trying to present them as inferiors, or maybe less capable of being called a person. And they search out a remedy—a way back to their personhood, a way to finding and asserting their voices. A way to realise that they also matter and that they are equals.

Remedy can be in forms of solidarity groups or psychiatric counselling. Finding an encouraging environment is the best option, but these are very rare – so, cases pile up at the psychiatrist’s clinic. Not all doctors are supportive or trained enough to handle most of these cases and, in turn, are unable to help. But those that receive help can move forward in life and inflate into their lungs the freshness of the air. It is known that when you are depressed or afraid, you do not breathe properly; hence the oxygen supply to your body is decreased, making you feel fatigued. Once you can breathe again, you get back your senses and are able to live life in your own terms— to the fullest.

There is an urgent requirement that we stop demeaning ourselves and see ourselves as equal, deserving persons. Even though society should try to teach us otherwise. 

Amrita DasGupta is a SOAS Digital Ambassador and is currently PhD-ing in Gender Studies. You can find her with her cats on Instagram @minminloo_mommom.

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