There is someone I know who fears for her life. There is someone else I know who has run away, changed her name and ceased communication with friends and loved ones in order to safeguard her new identity. There is someone I know who says, “my only regret on my deathbed will be that I never lived.” She is caged within the invisible bars of someone’s twisted definition of a marriage. There is someone I know with the saddest eyes because she has no strength left to hope. She gives in and plunges into a permanent abyss. Lighting a candle on the anniversary of Delhi’s gang-rape victim, keeping in mind every single victim of abuse all over the world, and those whose names and stories are buried with them, I feel an unnerving heaviness. It is extremely difficult for me to conceptualize the brutality of such acts- rape, honor killings, physical, emotional, and verbal abuse- without considering social, communal, and individual contingencies. I am also inclined to believe that the soulless depths of such acts are educed by dangerously unstable minds.
I don’t think we have to commence a done over right vs. wrong argument, I believe debasement and homicide can only be committed by a very sick person or group of people. Having said this, I neither undermine the influence of a twisted manist community, nor do I negate the societal pressures families face after what they feel is a ‘permanent defamation.’ But taking a life, any life, is an inhumane act. Subtracting vital, intangible parts of another’s’ being to fuel the constant fire of egomania that burns inside the abuser is demonic. The other thing that troubles me is when no analysis of the past is pursued in order to understand the present act. I would be very comfortable in assuming that acts of abuse- physical, sexual, verbal, mental, and emotional were commonplace in those households. I can hear the vulgar, disrespectful language spoken by the father, internalized by the mother who is now angry and emotionally scarred. She funnels this negative energy towards the children, and now fear and self-doubt encompasses their minds. As they grow older they may become spiteful towards their family and others, some close themselves off to the world, others rebel. All because their father needed a victim, he desperately needed to empower himself at the expense of another.
This man was once a child and showed abusive behavior growing up. He was a bully, he instigated fights, he found pleasure in watching others hurt. This child was part of a household and community and nobody spoke up against this very unstable behavior. Probably due to the fact that mental health is not taken seriously in many parts of the underdeveloped world, and is, globally, not dealt with effectively. In fact, not only it is not taken seriously, it is labeled shameful to even suggest it. For the most part, talking to a counselor or psychologist is taboo. Anger is mismanaged and misdirected because it has not been dealt with in a healthy way. This instilled anger along with trying to survive and provide for ones family in a poor, uneducated, third-world country, with a gradually developing economy, and interminable political drama, it is not surprising that these overworked, exhausted, angry individuals engage in hostile, animalistic behaviors towards the only entity he claims ‘control’ over; his family.
The topic of socialized medicine will be debated till the end of time, but what is desperately needed is the establishment of government sponsored mental health centers, especially in developing countries. Awareness of the importance of a healthy mind should be publicized through widespread media, social media, billboards, etc. A social initiative can be started with the help of local counselors and medical professionals to set up ‘suggested donation’ hours in their practice and pro-bono work afterhours and/or on weekends. A clinical internship incentive can be set-up for psychology students to oblige their own. Maybe Doctors Without Borders (MSF) may set up camp and provide humanitarian aid. The possibilities are endless and necessary. Most importantly, the responsibility of eliminating this disgraceful predicament lies with the family members and friends of those individuals who really need the help. Stop this abusive behavior when you see it in any way you can. The process will not be easy for the individual or the family, the process may be lengthy and those involved may feel embarrassed and exposed, but by helping the person who is in that volatile condition, you may help to actively save a life.