TW: Domestic violence

“Apa would get drunk and hit Ama and my brothers.  Ama has asthma and she gets attacks under stress. I used to cry a lot and was constantly worried. I was sent to a central school away from home for high school. There I missed Ama and worried about her every day. I was 19 when I started getting attacks and was diagnosed with asthma too. My board exams didn’t go well and I ended up back at home. Apa was the same. He would hit her even when she was sick. I knew I needed to do something to help my family. Years of grief and worry built up, and I wanted things to change. We were scared but my brothers and I joined forces to try and convince Apa to give up drinking. My brothers were the only people I could share my griefs with. They helped me emotionally and financially, and I needed their help once more. We sat Apa down and started to tell him everything we hadn’t said for years. We told him that he was the only one who could make this family happy. That he should give up drinking. He shouted that we weren’t letting him do what made him happy. Then my acho gave him an ultimatum – it was either giving up alcohol or giving up his children. Acho listed all the ways in which he’d hurt us. When we saw Apa soften, we realised that until that moment he had never thought about our troubles. He had just been living his life. He cried for the whole day after that. Something about him had changed.

 

Support for women is scarce in villages. People there think that men have full rights over their wives. Some women, like my mother, are illiterate and don’t know to seek help. If there’d been more awareness or a place to reach out to, maybe our lives would have been different. As children of a household with domestic violence, I think we carry a big responsibility to intervene or get help. For years, my brothers and I were scared of getting our mother to leave or our father to change. It took years of torment and a whole lot of courage to get here. But now that we are here, we have the family we always longed for. A family where no one is a threat to another. So please, seek help. Do what you need to do to get to a better life.”

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