Gender-based violence and abuse leaves mental scars, as well as physical ones, that need healing, says Poorvi Mehrotra.
Violence, force, silence and lack of self-worth are suffocating. While it takes a lot of courage to take the initial step to break-free, it is vital that we take charge of our own lives and the situations that affect us.
Recognising the impact of abuse on our mental health
The current pandemic has not been easy on any of us but even before this, we have often been faced with mental lockdowns, forced to put on a brave face despite it all. We do not talk enough about the havoc that violence, family disharmony, or the apathy of loved ones to our needs can sew in our mental health. Gender-based violence is deeply rooted in the lives of women and often ignored amongst men, posing a serious threat to the mental health of all.
In my experience of working with young people and adolescents suffering abuse. It is not just the current traumas that need to be redressed. Most often centuries of deep rooted patriarchy and a lack of self identity passed down matrilineal lines comes into play. Many women feel powerless leading to an acceptance of some preordained destiny. Some of my encounters with young people push me to question, if what we see in our immediate environment, is what we grow up thinking is right?
Do we consciously look for people as role models or do we accept those closest, and learn to believe what they say and do is right? Our daily interactions are like a mirror to society, often we want to take control but many times we are pushed to not speak up. All this confusion, leads us away from our power, shying away until it all boils up as anxiety, stress, depression, abuse, silence, suicide.
Do we speak up?
It is not easy for a person dealing with abuse, nor the people around them, to be constantly in a fix. The constant questions of whether to endure or speak out? To accept or to rebel? To fight or to give up? This is a reality which we all face in our daily lives and in society.
While we may continue to bear the violence inflicted upon us, finding fault in ourselves, covering the mistakes and abuses of others, with justifications of culture, tradition and whatever else, we must listen to our inner voice to do what we feel is right. To take a step towards healing our mental scars, once we do that, there is no looking back.