Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Day 3: Parting Guidance from a Psychotherapist

Domestic abuse

Before I left the hostel I stayed in, I happened to meet a retired psychotherapist at the lounge where I was chatting with a bunch of girls who've been traveling. I asked about his work and he said he worked with violent men who had abused or assaulted their partners or ex-partners.
He mentioned that according to a CDC study his work led to men not going back to violence 75% of the time. That is, if a man court ordered to do this 3 to 6 month long program, stayed in it, he did not go back to violence 75% of the time. The ones who went back typically belonged in 2 categories:
1. the ones who had been extremely violent before the program, and
2. the ones who binge drank (> 5 beers, or 5 shots of hard alcohol at one time)
Since this was a bunch of young girls, he asked: "So, do you know who to stay away from?". "Who?" "Men with control issues and men who drink too much". I asked for clarification about how young girls would identify control issues and the girls offered a lot of tips: the guys who want you to dress a certain way, or know exactly where you'd been and who you spoke to, the ones who force you to do things you don't enjoy. Also, the ones who make you feel crazy because you felt and shared the concern that something wasn't right about his behaviour. The psychotherapist also mentioned that when girls had controlling parents, they were more vulnerable to get into such relationships because they didn't catch the red flags quickly, since that behaviour was normal for them.
(I had asked too many questions at this point and I had to assure him that I was in the best of relationships and my husband was kind, caring and very supportive and that I was *super* lucky to have that. I told him, convincingly, that I'd like our young girls at Pudiyador and beyond to know what they must watch out for, and that domestic abuse was sadly still rampant in my part of the world - In India, 57% boys and 53% girls think wife beating is justified)
He then told me that the best thing to do for a person in an abusive relationship was to
1. stay in touch with her and
2. encourage her to stay in touch with her other close friends and family
Controlling men typically try to isolate their partner and not have them enjoy relationships with other close friends and kin. He said that even if the girl in an abusive relationship isn't ready to move out of the relationship at this point, she will need the support structure of friends and family if she ever decides to move out.

This conversation with a holidaying retired psychotherapist, at the hostel lounge, completely unrelated to the summit I was attending, ended my 3 days in Washington DC for the ‪#‎StateOfWomen‬ and ‪#‎Gender360Summit‬.

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