Domestic Abuse

I will happily admit I am an Opraholic. In the years of watching Oprah she always does episodes on domestic abuse. I remember where a man had video taped the abuse of his wife. I don’t remember the details or the name of the victim – but I remember her tears, and the visuals of her husband hitting her and verbally abusing her. I can vividly remember her face and his and in a matter of seconds I am nauseous, angry and frustrated.

I felt the same way when I read this article . Why do we hear this so often? Brutal murders of wives by their husbands. What disturbed me even further was that the family was completely shocked that this happened. In no way or form do I pass any blame on the family – but I feel that as a community our awareness of domestic abuse is so limited that we wouldn’t even be able to recognize the signs if they were in front of us.

Where does the solution start? At the Gurdwara? At the family level? How do provide resources not only to victims but their families as well?


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24 Responses to “Domestic Abuse”

  1. Again it depends on the conscious level of the abuser and victim. We do agree that because of whatever past or present reason when a person who is inflicting abuse doesn’t get to communicate what they are trying to say they use violence as their tool. But to some extend it is the fault of person getting abused to take that abuse too. What mental level does it take for people involved on either side to come to such an extend? What can we do about it? Raise kids who feel empowered and would rather live by themselves than be in such an unhealthy relationship. The solution lies within our own reach, off course collective consciousness is important but it all starts with individual level.

  2. Again it depends on the conscious level of the abuser and victim. We do agree that because of whatever past or present reason when a person who is inflicting abuse doesnt get to communicate what they are trying to say they use violence as their tool. But to some extend it is the fault of person getting abused to take that abuse too. What mental level does it take for people involved on either side to come to such an extend? What can we do about it? Raise kids who feel empowered and would rather live by themselves than be in such an unhealthy relationship. The solution lies within our own reach, off course collective consciousness is important but it all starts with individual level.

  3. idiot says:

    Harikiran's comment above is so poignient. What mental state does it take for people to inflict / suffer domestic violence!

    I think the solution is very much to do with empowering youngsters with the mental and physical strength that they need to live as individuals be it in marriages / relationships or alone. Women need to be valued and need to be taught to value themselves. That stupid cosmetics compamy slogan 'because I'm worth it' is stupid when applied to the concept that cosmetics give a woman value but it's a good thing for women to learn and to accept intertly.

    Guru Nanak has valued praised the woman. Guru Gobind Singh has informed us, neither suffer nor inflict suffering.

    So how dare a man lift his hand to a woman and how dare she accept it.

  4. idiot says:

    Harikiran’s comment above is so poignient. What mental state does it take for people to inflict / suffer domestic violence!

    I think the solution is very much to do with empowering youngsters with the mental and physical strength that they need to live as individuals be it in marriages / relationships or alone. Women need to be valued and need to be taught to value themselves. That stupid cosmetics compamy slogan ‘because I’m worth it’ is stupid when applied to the concept that cosmetics give a woman value but it’s a good thing for women to learn and to accept intertly.

    Guru Nanak has valued praised the woman. Guru Gobind Singh has informed us, neither suffer nor inflict suffering.

    So how dare a man lift his hand to a woman and how dare she accept it.

  5. idiot says:

    The thing about looking to others for help in these circumstances is a non-starter. Especially in Indian communities. There are people out there who write about this sort of thing, who boast about how inappropriate this is but when someone comes to them for help – they run away with their tale between their legs for fear of how they will be viewed by 'their' community. There's no such thing as community anymore. It's all a farce.

    re: the gurdwara's intervening – I think it would ba a good thing if gurdwara committees could sort their own problems out – forget about sorting other's problems.

    If women want to be accepted on their terms then they will have to fight for it. If women want to be respected then they will have to respect themselves and demand it. Forget about looking to others… there is no prince charming out there – and if there is don't forget he's a bloke!

  6. idiot says:

    The thing about looking to others for help in these circumstances is a non-starter. Especially in Indian communities. There are people out there who write about this sort of thing, who boast about how inappropriate this is but when someone comes to them for help – they run away with their tale between their legs for fear of how they will be viewed by ‘their’ community. There’s no such thing as community anymore. It’s all a farce.

    re: the gurdwara’s intervening – I think it would ba a good thing if gurdwara committees could sort their own problems out – forget about sorting other’s problems.

    If women want to be accepted on their terms then they will have to fight for it. If women want to be respected then they will have to respect themselves and demand it. Forget about looking to others… there is no prince charming out there – and if there is don’t forget he’s a bloke!

  7. idiot says:

    ps. I'm sorry for the above rant. It's a subject that is very close to my own heart. It's something that enrages me to a degree that nothing else can.

    on a positive note – for women who are unable to stand up for themselves – there are voluntary groups out there that are gov't subsidised who offer legal help and other advice. In West London UK there is the famous Black Sisters group.

  8. idiot says:

    ps. I’m sorry for the above rant. It’s a subject that is very close to my own heart. It’s something that enrages me to a degree that nothing else can.

    on a positive note – for women who are unable to stand up for themselves – there are voluntary groups out there that are gov’t subsidised who offer legal help and other advice. In West London UK there is the famous Black Sisters group.

  9. Camille says:

    idiot, I think that while your comments make sense, the gurdwara SHOULD play a role in helping women move from dangerous situations, and if not the gurdwara, then community committees.

    Example: When I was a tween, a woman had been beaten within an inch of death by her husband. She was an immigrant (brought on a spouse visa) with two young children, and she sought sanctuary in the gurdwara. While women silently raised money for her and tried to convince their husbands to let her stay in their homes, many men, including men on the gurdwara committee, did not want to "rock the boat" and "get involved in a domestic dispute." After three days of staying at the gurdwara, the granthis + gurdwara committee kicked her out. Where was she going to stay? Here was someone who had taken action but had no shelter, no money, no livelihood, was terrified of being deported (while her native-born children would be turned over to her husband), and had significant language access challenges.

    I think there's got to be a better way, and I think it may have to be women in the sangat who take the lead. We've talked about this a bit before, and I mentioned the idea of an "underground railroad" or "sanctuary movement" within Punjabi Sikh communities. More importantly, I think we need to really take a look at community conventional wisdom. How many of us know women in bad situations? I expect it's quite a few. Often we're told to stay out of it, that it is a private matter, that some people are just raised that way, etc. I think that Sikh women, joined by Sikh men who realize that this kind of behavior is destructive and wrong, should get together and start thinking about ways we could pool community resources to provide sanctuary and advocacy for our sisters in perilous situations.

  10. Camille says:

    idiot, I think that while your comments make sense, the gurdwara SHOULD play a role in helping women move from dangerous situations, and if not the gurdwara, then community committees.

    Example: When I was a tween, a woman had been beaten within an inch of death by her husband. She was an immigrant (brought on a spouse visa) with two young children, and she sought sanctuary in the gurdwara. While women silently raised money for her and tried to convince their husbands to let her stay in their homes, many men, including men on the gurdwara committee, did not want to “rock the boat” and “get involved in a domestic dispute.” After three days of staying at the gurdwara, the granthis + gurdwara committee kicked her out. Where was she going to stay? Here was someone who had taken action but had no shelter, no money, no livelihood, was terrified of being deported (while her native-born children would be turned over to her husband), and had significant language access challenges.

    I think there’s got to be a better way, and I think it may have to be women in the sangat who take the lead. We’ve talked about this a bit before, and I mentioned the idea of an “underground railroad” or “sanctuary movement” within Punjabi Sikh communities. More importantly, I think we need to really take a look at community conventional wisdom. How many of us know women in bad situations? I expect it’s quite a few. Often we’re told to stay out of it, that it is a private matter, that some people are just raised that way, etc. I think that Sikh women, joined by Sikh men who realize that this kind of behavior is destructive and wrong, should get together and start thinking about ways we could pool community resources to provide sanctuary and advocacy for our sisters in perilous situations.

  11. Example: When I was a tween, a woman had been beaten within an inch of death by her husband. She was an immigrant (brought on a spouse visa) with two young children, and she sought sanctuary in the gurdwara. While women silently raised money for her and tried to convince their husbands to let her stay in their homes, many men, including men on the gurdwara committee, did not want to “rock the boat” and “get involved in a domestic dispute.” After three days of staying at the gurdwara, the granthis + gurdwara committee kicked her out. Where was she going to stay? Here was someone who had taken action but had no shelter, no money, no livelihood, was terrified of being deported (while her native-born children would be turned over to her husband), and had significant language access challenges.

    That is unbelievable. What happened to her?

  12. Example: When I was a tween, a woman had been beaten within an inch of death by her husband. She was an immigrant (brought on a spouse visa) with two young children, and she sought sanctuary in the gurdwara. While women silently raised money for her and tried to convince their husbands to let her stay in their homes, many men, including men on the gurdwara committee, did not want to rock the boat and get involved in a domestic dispute. After three days of staying at the gurdwara, the granthis + gurdwara committee kicked her out. Where was she going to stay? Here was someone who had taken action but had no shelter, no money, no livelihood, was terrified of being deported (while her native-born children would be turned over to her husband), and had significant language access challenges.

    That is unbelievable. What happened to her?

  13. idiot says:

    camille

    Your views are admirable – and idealistic. I agree with your ideals. I just can't see them coming into fruition. I hope they will one day. I really do.

    I concure re: the community's view of things like this being a 'private matter'. I don't know anyone who is physically abused but if I did – I wouldn't hestitate to offer advice and help if needed. Members of my family have always said not to comment on other people's business – but this is why women in such situations feel isolated, because they feel that there is no one around to listen. (needless to say I don't comply with my family's wishes when it comes to this issue)

    Most educated women living in western communities have networks of female friends whereby women gain moral support and advice as and when problems arise. I think that this is a really useful mechanism of support on a small scale.

    I'm going to sound sexist now and I realise that this shouldn't be the way however from observation I can say that men often don't offer the right help or advice because they don't fully understand issues that women face. I would love it if they did – but they don't. And on this note – how many Gurdwara comittees do you know that are run by women?

    There are a few people. A few mahapurakh who have offered women in this position support in terms of social inclusion and legal aid (no strings attached). I can vouch for this at a personal level – so there's no contesting it as far as I'm concerned. I commend this but this kind of support is limited.

    Often within punjabi communities it is WOMEN!! who look down on women who choose to leave an abusive marriage. Believe it or not. There is so much that needs to change in these communities. And I can't see it happenning (sadly) this is why many young educated women move away from such 'communities'

    sorry for the essay – but I think that this is a subject that is more than worthy of expansion.

  14. idiot says:

    camille

    Your views are admirable – and idealistic. I agree with your ideals. I just can’t see them coming into fruition. I hope they will one day. I really do.

    I concure re: the community’s view of things like this being a ‘private matter’. I don’t know anyone who is physically abused but if I did – I wouldn’t hestitate to offer advice and help if needed. Members of my family have always said not to comment on other people’s business – but this is why women in such situations feel isolated, because they feel that there is no one around to listen. (needless to say I don’t comply with my family’s wishes when it comes to this issue)

    Most educated women living in western communities have networks of female friends whereby women gain moral support and advice as and when problems arise. I think that this is a really useful mechanism of support on a small scale.

    I’m going to sound sexist now and I realise that this shouldn’t be the way however from observation I can say that men often don’t offer the right help or advice because they don’t fully understand issues that women face. I would love it if they did – but they don’t. And on this note – how many Gurdwara comittees do you know that are run by women?

    There are a few people. A few mahapurakh who have offered women in this position support in terms of social inclusion and legal aid (no strings attached). I can vouch for this at a personal level – so there’s no contesting it as far as I’m concerned. I commend this but this kind of support is limited.

    Often within punjabi communities it is WOMEN!! who look down on women who choose to leave an abusive marriage. Believe it or not. There is so much that needs to change in these communities. And I can’t see it happenning (sadly) this is why many young educated women move away from such ‘communities’

    sorry for the essay – but I think that this is a subject that is more than worthy of expansion.

  15. idiot says:

    In terms of women helping themselves – I think it is so so important for women to understand the importance of financial independance in a marriage. It's so important for women to bve active in the world of work. Education is so vital to everyon but certainly to women.

    Education and financial independance not only empower the woman in the home but also offer personal empowerment and a voice in the world.

  16. idiot says:

    In terms of women helping themselves – I think it is so so important for women to understand the importance of financial independance in a marriage. It’s so important for women to bve active in the world of work. Education is so vital to everyon but certainly to women.

    Education and financial independance not only empower the woman in the home but also offer personal empowerment and a voice in the world.

  17. Reema says:

    it may have to be women in the sangat who take the lead.

    Camille,

    I wholeheartedly agree. I think the 'underground railroad' you're talking about is a great idea and already exists at an informal level (women who know other women need help find a way to do/get what's needed). It just needs to be formalized for women who don't have anyone (or don't know where) to turn to.

    Idiot ji, I think this is completely feasible. There are women in leadership positions within gurdwara committees (even if they're not the majority, 1 president and 2 officers come to mind immediately in only the 2 gurdwaras that I'm familiar with).

    The idea of respecting the privacy of domestic matters by leaving them under the rug is a problem, but not insurmountable.

    Since I know one of the women well, I'll run the idea by her, gauge her reaction, and get back to you…

  18. Reema says:

    it may have to be women in the sangat who take the lead.

    Camille,

    I wholeheartedly agree. I think the ‘underground railroad’ you’re talking about is a great idea and already exists at an informal level (women who know other women need help find a way to do/get what’s needed). It just needs to be formalized for women who don’t have anyone (or don’t know where) to turn to.

    Idiot ji, I think this is completely feasible. There are women in leadership positions within gurdwara committees (even if they’re not the majority, 1 president and 2 officers come to mind immediately in only the 2 gurdwaras that I’m familiar with).

    The idea of respecting the privacy of domestic matters by leaving them under the rug is a problem, but not insurmountable.

    Since I know one of the women well, I’ll run the idea by her, gauge her reaction, and get back to you…

  19. Reema says:

    Dear idiot,

    You're right, women do condemn other women. But by blaming those who condemn others, we do nothing to help them break out of that cycle of thought. Like many things we think, we're often not conscious of the source of our ideas. Let's not condemn each other but learn from each other.

    We need to re-educate ourselves and unlearn a lot of what we learn growing up. This takes time and a lot of reflection… luxuries that most women today don't have.

    Financial independence is important, but easier said than done. Not everyone has a choice in the matter. And many women choose to support their families full-time, a choice which also has to be respected.

  20. Reema says:

    Dear idiot,

    You’re right, women do condemn other women. But by blaming those who condemn others, we do nothing to help them break out of that cycle of thought. Like many things we think, we’re often not conscious of the source of our ideas. Let’s not condemn each other but learn from each other.

    We need to re-educate ourselves and unlearn a lot of what we learn growing up. This takes time and a lot of reflection… luxuries that most women today don’t have.

    Financial independence is important, but easier said than done. Not everyone has a choice in the matter. And many women choose to support their families full-time, a choice which also has to be respected.

  21. Camille says:

    That is unbelievable. What happened to her?

    DJDP, I don't know, sadly. I asked my mother, but I remember her quickly changing the subject. I think she ultimately ended up being deported back to India, but I couldn't say for sure.

    idiot, I think you're right that it couldn't happen today, but maybe it could happen tomorrow. I think it helps that we have growing generations of very empowered Sikh women (both DBD and ABD), and with their financial/educational independence and autonomy also comes the capacity to stand up for what is good or right.

    Reema, I do sympathize with the lack of female leadership/representation within different sangats (and certainly at the national level — there are very few Sikh women in decision-making/leadership roles with perhaps the exception of Ensaaf, which was co-founded by a Sikhni). I think formalization will be a good thing. I think the fact that we have women pursuing careers in Social Welfare and Public Health is also a good thing when it comes to addressing violence in the home.

  22. Camille says:

    That is unbelievable. What happened to her?

    DJDP, I don’t know, sadly. I asked my mother, but I remember her quickly changing the subject. I think she ultimately ended up being deported back to India, but I couldn’t say for sure.

    idiot, I think you’re right that it couldn’t happen today, but maybe it could happen tomorrow. I think it helps that we have growing generations of very empowered Sikh women (both DBD and ABD), and with their financial/educational independence and autonomy also comes the capacity to stand up for what is good or right.

    Reema, I do sympathize with the lack of female leadership/representation within different sangats (and certainly at the national level — there are very few Sikh women in decision-making/leadership roles with perhaps the exception of Ensaaf, which was co-founded by a Sikhni). I think formalization will be a good thing. I think the fact that we have women pursuing careers in Social Welfare and Public Health is also a good thing when it comes to addressing violence in the home.

  23. idiot says:

    reema

    I don't 'condemn' women who condemn other women. I was pointing out a fact of todays society. I would ba glad to see a change in attitude and I would be glad to extend a hand of friendship to those who do change their attitude – but I'm not going to pretend to accept this practice graciously.

    In terms of financial independance. For women who 'choose' to support their families full time. Of course it's their choice and of course I resepct their decision – equally they must respect women who choose to work sadly, often they don't. I think you'll find that there are women out there who have the 'care' attitude forced on them.

    re: the feasibility of Gurdwara intervention and female management of Gurdwara committees, i'm sceptical but accept that it may be feasible one day.

    The railroad thing frustrates me. Whilst I think it's a practical method for some cases – I'm annoyed that women have to go 'underground' and hide from their offenders. I wish they could just fight back! I wish women would learn their strength!

  24. idiot says:

    reema

    I don’t ‘condemn’ women who condemn other women. I was pointing out a fact of todays society. I would ba glad to see a change in attitude and I would be glad to extend a hand of friendship to those who do change their attitude – but I’m not going to pretend to accept this practice graciously.

    In terms of financial independance. For women who ‘choose’ to support their families full time. Of course it’s their choice and of course I resepct their decision – equally they must respect women who choose to work sadly, often they don’t. I think you’ll find that there are women out there who have the ‘care’ attitude forced on them.

    re: the feasibility of Gurdwara intervention and female management of Gurdwara committees, i’m sceptical but accept that it may be feasible one day.

    The railroad thing frustrates me. Whilst I think it’s a practical method for some cases – I’m annoyed that women have to go ‘underground’ and hide from their offenders. I wish they could just fight back! I wish women would learn their strength!

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