5 practical ways to help a domestic abuse victim (before it’s too late)

Violence. Domestic Violence.

There is a video circulating online where a man smacks his wife on head. Hard. There are in a public bus. She’s wearing an abaya, while holding on to a yellow bag for comfort, perseverance and sanity. The man has a shalwar kurta and taqiya on, with a long beard and chauvinism on his face. 4 seconds into the video, he smacks the woman hard on the back of her head, and brushes off his namaz ki topi in disgust. The woman quickly looks around to see who else has witnessed her mistreatment, while fixing her disheveled head cover.

I am shocked. Angry. Disgusted. Clenching my teeth until they hurt.

I can write another 500 words condemning this act and hypocrisy within, but will that really help this woman? Or other women like her? More often than not, such victims do not have access to education, funds, options and opportunities to do much about their situation, so accept it as a way of life. This leads to internalised misogyny, among many other vices, and needs awareness. Everyone, men, women and children, should know that raising a hand is NEVER okay, and they can exercise their rights to protect themselves.
Unfortunately, many victims are unable to access forums that can help them. They struggle to even face the situation and instead choose to look away. Pretend it never happened. Which is why you and I need to step up, and a lend a helping hand.

1) Keep an eye out for signs of abuse in your orbit. From your recently married friend who’s last seen on WhatsApp dates back to 17 days to your house help, who has a bruise and an unconvincing explanation about how it got there.2) Instead of offering money, try to empower a victim with a life skill. Vocational training.

3) Don’t force them to leave their abusive relationship if they aren’t ready. Remember, you are just there to help. It’s their journey and decisions. After spending a few hours with you, they have to go back to the same place and people where they were abused.

4) Be aware of legitimate women’s shelters around you. I know of very few, like Panah, White Ribbon, Aurat Foundation, etc. Let the victim know of his/her options and possibilities, so they can make an informed decision.

5) If there are children involved, be extra vigilant. There is a fine line between abuse and discipline; when a child sees and experiences abuse, it is likely that s/he will either inflict it when in power or cower in the face of it when weak.

It breaks my heart every time I see something like this, and wish there was something more that I could do. If my blog or I can be of any assistance to such an organisation and cause, please reach out to me. I pledge my complete cooperation. I am with you in the struggle. All the way.

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