Jiah Khan a Preventable Tragedy: Teachable Moment Lost to TRP
DG has been away from GGTS for quite some time to break her hiatus she had other plans but lately desi media acrobatics on a death forced her to change plans. From last few days desi electronic and print media is having an all out expose on Jiah Khan’s suicide. It is not one of a kind suicide everyday numerous young women and men end their lives due to personal and not so personal reasons. Just because this young woman was an actress, a public figure her death has been made into public spectacle as TRP launchpad. It is a shame that a young life lost has given media an opportunity to sensationalize her death and titillate the imaginations of sexually starved nation all to make money.
Everyday countless jilted lovers, hopeless professionals, trapped individuals and clinically depressed people commit suicide. Jiah Khan’s suicide could have been a teachable moment that is not only missed but is turned into money minting spectacle. The early discourse began with how she was depressed due to stagnating career graph and then the discourse changed to newly found evidence a six-page letter her mother gave to the investigating of officers. Since this letter became available to media it has been circulated via electronic media at high pace.
Some electronic versions of reputed newspapers did not even proofread the headlines just in a hurry to make it big, what a shame (the correction is made on 06/12/2013 you can google to see the initial error). Yet others have published this letter to rake moolah from every word written by the departed. As the case is progressing more facts are coming forth and everyday a new story is minted about the intimate relationship of the departed. A privately lived life all of a sudden becomes a public property to be stripped and judged by threadbare analyses by media and the readers alike. The comments left by readers are appalling they match in shamelessness with impunity to the contents of news feature. DG agree with justice Katju on his views about the current breed of journalists who have no foundation in the basics of history, socio-political, cultural or economic s of the nation state forget about the journalistic ethics. They learn one knew word san its usage and keep repeating it like a parakeet be it “living in relationship or differently abled” long after the proponents of the same have moved forward leaving behind these incomplete constructs.
What could have been a teachable moment is lost in the fray of a statement made by a leading pulp fiction writer, DG is yet to read the actual article where she makes this statement. Following the statement the media goes haywire in digging dirt about the father of the named accused in the case. This was a moment when a discussion about generational cycle of violence could have been initiated to explain how patterns of intimate relationships of parents become models of intimate relationships for their children.
Generational Cycle of Violence
The happenings in the lives of significant adults in our lives are not only teaching moments but their lives are like residential school for learning about relationships. Poor role models do not exonerate children of their irresponsible behavior as the consequences are theirs’ to bear. A son of an abuser (here it is in context to heterosexual relationships, it is equally applicable to couples of other sexual orientations too) learns abusing is a normal part of relationship whereas his daughter learns it is tolerable to put up with an abuser. One child is taught how to become an abuser and yet the other is taught learned helplessness. DG is aware some of you will be eager to point out that a daughter of an abusive father can also become an abuser where as his son can chose to refrain from intimate partner violence or any kind of violence. A discussion on differential implications of abusive upbringing demand another post that will follow in future. Right now DG takes this opportunity to talk about relationship patterns. Do our intimate relationships resemble those in our birth families? If our relationships resemble those we grew up with it assures us of their normalcy and makes us confident “I survived my family I can handle this too.” This explains why it is difficult to walk out of an abusive relationship at an earlier time than a time when life and death is in question.
Sings of an Abuser
Abusers do not fall from skies they are bred here amongst us by not challenging their misdemeanors but by rewarding their bad behaviors; boys will be boys; what do you expect from young people etc. This was a moment when personal responsibility of the abuser should have been discussed but no that is one thing we desis don’t do. Abusers can be traced quickly and too often if you just put down those rose colored bollywood gogles and the basket of folk wisdom that confuses abusive behavior with love.
Private Lives Public Shame
This was an opportune moment to move the discussion from misogyny in the community to the realm of intimate relationships. Some bloggers and one news feature wrote about how a relationship gone sour is not worth it (though this newspaper could not refrain from the greed of sensationalizing the message by making it a photo feature about the departed) but that does not make sense to anyone going through abuse you have to enumerate how to get out because in their head they know it is not worth it. After nine days appears this trash of an article on why actresses get abused. DG has raised this point elsewhere how any accessible shrink with a practice becomes an expert on what ails women and the society.
When and where did we failed in telling our young women that an intimate relationship is not an end of all? We fail every day we failed today when we refused to challenge the sensationalize of the departed’s intimate relationship by the media. When an intimate act that goes wrong is used to stigmatize and problematise the victim it only encourages abusers.
The way this young woman’s intimate life is now dissected will only discourage other women to report intimate partner abuse. DG usually says, “your lived life is yours until you are alive once you shut your eyes for good it is for others to spice their mundane lives with it.” The burden of secret this young woman carried to grave is no longer a secret somewhere deep within she wanted it to be made known to the world how she suffered at the hands of an intimate partner. Why was death the only way she thought was her way out of this misery? Why didn’t she have the courage to say it aloud to significant others in her life. What could have been a private pain is now a public shame for the family left behind. The use of words “shame” in this context is made with careful consideration because that is what media and the consumers of media are portraying it to be instead of facts.
Can an Abused Trust Her Family?
It is evident that the mother of the departed had confronted her about the abusive nature of her intimate relationship and asked her to end it. But why didn’t she, when she had such a supportive parent? We all know our birth families and we also know what they approve of and what remains unmentionable. The abortion that is so much talked about today was she in position to talk to her mother about it? Most parents are aware their children are sexually active but would prefer to remain oblivious to the truth that only harms the young. Greater number of young women are trapped in abusive relationships because they had sex for all the wrong reasons in first place also they grew up to believe sex is sinister and getting pregnant was a death sentence. Though the departed was an actress and a public figure but these stricture still hold good in the realm of families. We try to pull together an image we are expected to uphold by our loved ones thus the guilt of failing is very high. Only if we could teach our young break ups are tough but are survivable.
What her mother could have done differently to save the life that is now lost? Once you initiate a dialogue about abusive and addictive relationship the fear of being over indulgent other in an adult’s life emerges in our mind. Parents and families ought to be there for the abused but they also need skills to respectfully intervene and make sure there loved one get the help and support they need. Take ques from this hyperlink about how to talk to an abused.
Why Wait So Long?
Every time people ask why didn’t she leave at the first slap, why did she wait so long? DG is not amused because they do not know that abusers groom the abused over a period of time. Abuse in intimate relationships is not an overnight development, it is systematic and sneaky. When first act of violation takes place the abused is shell shocked, ashamed and in disbelief it is then then abuser pulls out the first trick from their bag; by second incident abused is sure it won’t happen again but when it happens a little more self confidence is eroded and by third time most of the self confidence is gone and they feel helpless, trapped and not knowing how to stop the abuse or if getting out is an option.
When are we going to learn to say NO in relationships and when are we going to take responsibility for our feelings?
Most of all when are we going to be adults in a relationship and learn how to break up gracefully?
DG can go on and on this topic because she survived a nightmare. When she reported abuse and her abuser was to face the legal consequences he challenged her on the notion of love, how she could give upon him and do this to him (make it public where he was to face the consequences for his actions). Not only desi people made her feel guilty about reporting abuse but her abuser too tried to play on the guilt card. All through this she had never lost sight of the fact that if she was born, she had a purpose and it was definitely not to be abused and die being abused. Her saving grace was what her kid brother taught her:
“I love you that is true but the fact is in order to love you I have to stay sane and alive. I have every legal and God-given right to protect me no matter how much I love you or you love me.”
Learn about abuse and abusers and save your life or that of another person.
All tools, posts and comments on this blog for anyone to learn from for free copyrights apply for usage though. If you still want personal opinion be willing to pay for DG’s time and services. Please do not email her unless she has given you the permission to do so.