Sexual and Gender-Based Violence – Moving Forward

I am a survivor of Sexual and Gender-Based violence, and a woman living in Jahangirpuri, in New Delhi. Well, right from my childhood, I had dreamt of becoming successful and have a happy life. I thought I would study, got married and lived my life to the fullest and I had thought I had every reason to anticipate a happy and stable life and relationship in my erstwhile marriage.

Well, I finally got married and immediately after 10 days of marriage, my husband started to beat and verbally abuse me over everything. It would give me immense pain but I used to think one day everything would be alright, but it did not happen. Violence was a regular part of my life. I was raped every day by my husband due to which I was emotionally torn and I wished to die every day. If I refused to involve physically, he would beat me and utter abusive words, listening to which I would feel disgusted being a woman. Even when I was pregnant, I was raped and I was not given food. The time when I needed love and care the most, at that time I was beaten on small things. Sometimes, I used to wonder if everything would be alright if I died. I was even afraid of my husband’s voice. I accepted that I am nothing but a loser and this is my fate. I lost my trust in others because everyone made fun of me after knowing my situation. I was hopeful that my parents would help me, but they also withdrew their support.

This situation lasted for about a year and for the whole duration of my pregnancy. My sister was with me throughout and supported me emotionally. But when she saw my condition drastically deteriorating, she suggested to seek professional help. Something she also believed in. She asked me to reach out to Umeed Ki Kiran clinic and told me all about it. I was skeptic at first thinking my husband would be informed or police will get involved but eventually I believed my sister as she herself availed services from the clinic. But still I was not sure whether to go there or not as it is not easy sharing a story like mine with other people. My self-esteem was hurt in every way with taunts of giving birth to a girl and me being useless.

I vividly remember when I was pregnant for the second time, I was kicked in the stomach for not making good food, as a result the baby died. I knew something was not right and I wanted to go to the hospital and requested my husband but even then he did not take me to the hospital. At that time, I felt some energy within me, went to the hospital myself, and got my treatment done. That day I was quiet but my soul was weeping, so I finally gathered courage and decided to go to Umeed Ki Kiran clinic. But going from my husband’s house to the clinic would not have been safe for me; it was safer to go there from my parent’s house, because from there I didn’t have to answer to my husband’s questions about where I had been.

At first I was a bit intimidated by the cleanliness of the building itself, but what I remembered most about the first visit, is that I was unable to describe my situation and my memory of the violence was blurry. I had to come again and that time, I was able to tell my story. I was in the triage room for my checkup after which I had to meet the counselor; sitting in the waiting room I wondered if the counselor would really understand my feelings and not make fun of it. But the counselor made me feel so comfortable and informed me that my information will be kept confidential. The counselor talked with me in such a nice way that I shared everything I had inside me. I felt relieved after taking counseling session. During the session, the Counselor told me that they also help in a vocational training course as well. I was enrolled in a beautician course by the Social worker. I continued with my counseling sessions. It didn’t solve my problems, it didn’t make the violence stop right away, but it did a lot to help me resolve them myself, one step at a time.

All I want to share is that the change did not happen overnight; it took me two years to come out of this. While I was learning the beautician course where the UKK Social Worker enlisted me, my financial situation was not good. I earned money from doing Make-Up and Mehndi in marriages and small functions, but I was happy because there I could laugh wholeheartedly. Sometimes I would also take my daughter with me. Little by little my confidence grew, and I became more independent. Now I have my own flat, a stable job and my relationship with my parents and family has improved a lot. To any sister going through what I have gone through, and who remain hesitant to share their story and seek help, I would say: This battle is not about home or husband but your self-respect and dignity that you have lost, but can get back. Who says that life is impossible without a man, I say that living with a man who does not give you respect, crushes your self-esteem under his feet every day with verbal and physical abuse, it is impossible to live with this kind of man. Umeed Ki Kiran clinic will not solve this situation for you, you will solve it for yourself which is the ultimate goal of counseling sessions. But Umeed Ki Kiran clinic will be by your side all the way on this journey of a thousand steps, especially for the first step, which is often the most difficult to make.