"I wish my husband would've been here today with me", cried Seema Chaturvedi, a 62-year-old woman, living with her son and daughter-in-law. All my life, I've never had to depend on anyone for financial stability. I used to earn my living as a teacher and then a principal. After Shardul, my son's birth, I quit teaching and then Shrikant, my husband made it a point to always provide me with extra finances so that I didn't have to ask him every time. But now, after 4 years of his death things have changed so much; I have to ask my son for everything, everyday--from my medicines, fruits I should eat, essential items to other things I may need. As is I don’t like asking him everyday--I think he purposely gets things in very less quantity so that I have to ask him again and again and then he can get a chance to tell me that I got your this and this supplement last week only and now why do you want it again? I feel ashamed of requesting him to get me things every other day--sometimes I manage without them, but then there are days when I absolutely need them. For eg: I had been managing without my shoulder pain balm for almost a week, but now the pain was so much, that I had to ask him and then he got me a tiny tube which will only last me a week, and then again I will be begging him for the same.
And while getting me what I ask, I feel like my own son is abusing me by keeping a check on the things he is doing for me and by always bringing up the topic of death and property. He will keep telling me how he is insecure about his job and how if he loses it, he and his wife, will be forced to live on the streets since they do not even have a house in their name. Maybe it is nothing, but what if he is keeping me with him because he wants the house in which we stay on his name? My husband had left the house to me."
Seema continued in another session saying, "I am a widowed woman, anyone would think it would be easy to seize the property from me. Property is the only thing that I have of Shrikant, and I won't give it to anyone.
Kautaki, my daughter-in-law, scheduled me for this session and she tries to be so sweet and perfect but what about the shouting and quarrelling that I overhear all the time at night after I have gone to my room? She isn't that good after all then, right? I have seen many people and I am good at knowing who is innocent and who isn't. Kautaki doesn't seem innocent to me. She knows exactly how to make me feel vulnerable and how she wants to have babies but Shardul isn't ready, saying that he can’t afford it, and how she can understand my attachment to the house and the loneliness I feel. She will hit me on my pain points and then build an emotional tale from thereon. She literally forces me into a corner. But I can see through her manipulation. She wants the house to be transferred in either her name or her husband’s. I fear once I do that they will drive me out of the house since I am more of a burden on them, than anything. I don’t blame her too much but it pains me to see how my own son--my flesh and blood--has no value for me but just the house. I have been advised by most of my friends to not let the house go if I want to live respectfully.
Day in and day out, the trauma of knowing that you are unloved and unwanted is getting to me. Till the pandemic hadn’t happened, I had my friends and a few relatives as my support group, but now I can’t even meet them.
And on top of that the excuses both these husband and wife give me all the time--I have been asked to have milk twice a day by the doctor for my bones. But Kautaki tells me that given the corona scare, they are calling for milk only on alternate days...I would have supported her had she been genuine about it...but is she has milk to put in her hair and on her skin, she doesn’t have half a glass to spare for me...I find that cheating. I feel scared, vulnerable and worried...if the lockdown opens, I would want to go to my brother’s house for a few weeks, where I am loved and maybe have a heart to heart talk with him, without fearing that someone is eavesdropping on every call of mine.
Isn’t it emotionally abusing me? Am I overreacting?” said Seema to her tele-counsellor.
Domestic abuse does not only include visible, physical harm. As with Seema, making a person feel threatened, insecure, and emotionally harassing him/her also comes under the purview of domestic abuse. If you know of any citizen undergoing such a thing or you yourself are stressed with it, seek help.