When Roof Over Head is a Compromise

10 Nov

When Roof Over Head is a Compromise


They had been married for four months now they were visiting des to attend her brother’s wedding. She was to stay behind for a month with her in-laws and then go back on a later date while he went back to US of A in two weeks. Her tickets and passport were with her MIL and the four weeks had become four months, he never called even once but he regularly spoke to his parents living in the same house. There was no communication between them, she shuttled between her natal home and in-laws’ place. She went on rickshaw to her parents’ every morning and came back in the evening. Her father would have preferred her dead than see her everyday at his door. The four months turned in to eight months and she had no way of getting back to her husband who she had no communication with. She goes to local NGO asks around and threatens 498A only then she gets her passport back. She flies to the US of A, he receives her at the airport everything is water under the bridges takes her to the apartment they shared before they went to India and never shows up again. With no rent money past two months and no rations this beautiful creature is reduced to 90lb bag of bone. Next step is women’s shelter, finding a job (job market was still okay in 2006) she files divorce but has no way of proving his income as he never brought home any papers all she knew was the name of the employer. Court summons him to produce tax documents and she presents bills from what her parents gave her and spent on her wedding and she walks out of that marriage with that, no alimony, no spousal support. He had a house in his name before his marriage and that remained with him along with everything else that her.

Two years after their so called love marriage they go abroad, physical abuse has already made inroads into the already troubled marriage. After an year of extreme physical, emotional, financial  abuse and isolation she calls 911, he is arrested and she stands there on the street with her suitcase. Though her name is on the rent deed but the lease ends in less than forty days, she is on dependent visa, has no money as he cancels both debit and credit card as soon as he comes out on bail (posted by his employer) in few hours. As she steps into women’s shelter she asks herself is this the right choice to be living off the charity than to stay in that marital hell where she at least had a roof over her head?

What is the cost of roof over one’s head is a very pertinent question for someone living in an abusive marriage. Women often trade personal safety and dignity in lieu of roof over their head because women outside the homes are deemed sitting ducks for character assassination and vulnerable to all sorts of bad things. The hype of home and its safety is so over worked for women and the bad world outside is so demonized that most women prefer the known devil than the unknown. In the absence of an alternative roof over the head women are forced to make so called compromises not out of love and respect but out of lack of alternatives and fear of loss of home. Without safe alternatives women will remain vulnerable to abuse. With a sizable population like ours it is near impossible to provide save shelters in every nook and corner of the country so it becomes more important we make homes safer for women, children, aged and disabled people. It is time we as neighbors, friends and relatives challenge and incident of domestic abuse we witness around us.

8 Responses to “When Roof Over Head is a Compromise”

  1. Alexandra Madhavan November 12, 2013 at p11 #

    “most women prefer the known devil than the unknown.“ – so true. But in those abusive situations, being free is better than being imprisoned.

    @Alexandra Madhavan,
    Imprisoned do not even have peaceful dreams but it takes a women 8-9 attempts before she can break free from her abuser.


  2. Sex And The Indian Citiese November 11, 2013 at p11 #

    I always wish parents spend money on educating daughters and in marriage in stead of sending on tons of gold, clothes and extravagant dining , help her with down payment for a flat or a piece of land. And let her be independent.
    In India you can survive in city like Bangalore with 5 K a month in a PG or so and an educated girl can get a job within few days . In worst case scenario a reasonably educated girl will need 10-20 K to start life on her own . Parents are fine to spend lakhs if not crores for weddings but have no money ( or inclination) to support them when they move out of marriage .
    If you will encourage daughters your daughter in laws will also want independent and then as a society we will collapse . Make them stay , make them adjust ..thats what we need

    I am glad in the US women had the option to move out and take shelter.


    • girlsguidetosurvival November 11, 2013 at p11 #

      The idea of making daughters self reliant is the ideal but interpersonal violence will still be a problem unless it is directly challenged and the abuser is called upon and abused is not shamed. These were highly educated and employed women who took chances of coming abroad with their partners.
      If they were in des their exit from marriages would have been very difficult because families attach honor and shame with every marriage and prevent women from walking out. Unless “izzat ka tokara” is not taken of women’s head women will suffer in bad marriages.


  3. psharmarao November 11, 2013 at p11 #

    This is the sad truth many marriages continue only because the girl has nowhere else to go, no financial and social support. do waqt ki roti aaur “ghar” hone ki bahut badi keemat .


    • girlsguidetosurvival November 11, 2013 at p11 #

      You are right everything comes and rests on “do waqt ki roti aur sar pe chhat” for women irrespective of caste and religion; class only matters where woman is financially and socially independent, either in the lowest strata or the upper.


    • Sherry January 4, 2014 at p01 #

      I had a fight with my husband and he asked me to go back to my home. I wanted to walk out, I tried to, he didn’t let me. Later, I quietly stayed back and didn’t try to leave because I realized I actually have nowhere to go and I did not want to go to my parents home. I am living under the same roof with him out of compromise and no other options. I consoled myself saying such fights happen and you shouldn’t take it to heart.

      Later, he said he asked me to leave only out of anger. But he did not apologize either. For the sake of my self respect, I really wanted to leave his house at least for some days, but where would I go. I so badly wished that I had a house of my own, a property in my own name. In the future also, it is very doubtful that I will be able to buy my own flat as I do not earn a lot. I want to have that power wherein I can tell him, leave my house right now! I pray the winds change directions and he becomes dependent on me.

      Welcome to GGTS, a safe space.
      Yes, women have no where to go so they stay in abusive household. Choicelessness is no choice at all. ACTION CONQUERS FEAR. Start with the small fears you have and then you can deal with bigger fears. A room of your own, a place to call all yours is we all strive for when the dream of our home, our place falls flat on the face.
      The biggest issue is not taking ownership of the home we live in and giving away that ownership. The day a man says its my home get out, the relationship is already on the rocks. He needs to be confronted on that moment coz’ even by law it is home of the conjugal pair not one spouse. If you are in India you can learn about your rights in a marital home here http://wcd.nic.in/wdvact.pdf, if you are in anyother country please let DG know we’ll find resources for you to be informed and feel empowered.


      Please share this message of hope with anyone who may benefit.
      Desi Girl


  4. Huzaifa Pandit November 11, 2013 at p11 #

    At our last meeting
    I had an odd feeling:
    Were you altered
    in appearance?
    Or was it just another
    foolish fantasy
    Of mine?
    Did your inattentive glance
    Betray that I
    had been replaced
    in your attentions?
    Or was it just
    Shy hesitancy?
    Have I been evicted
    From your house?
    Are the doors no longer
    Open to me?
    What do I care for your
    ‘exalted standing’
    in society?
    What shall I do
    With meaningless totems
    Of your prosperity?
    Much good they may do you

    sigh! the risks of a foreign dream –


    • girlsguidetosurvival November 11, 2013 at p11 #

      You missed the point these were no risks of a foreign dream they are pretty desi. The point here was to draw attention to lack of alternatives to roof over head keeps women tied to dysfunctional and abusive hearth. In the so called foreign they had the option of DV shelter so they could walk away from abuse in des there exists none so the longevity of the marriages are celebrated.
      The poem is good. Keep writing.
      Desi Girl


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