Monday, 11 June 2012

#Ask4Hope: Tweetathon on the relationship between mental health and violence against women

By Leela Khanna, Intern – Centre for Social Research
The recent tweethathon, a new initiative launched by Bell Bajao and I Stand for Safe Delhi, addressed the relationship between mental health and violence against women. The topic focused upon the effects of domestic violence on women’s mental and psychological health. This week’s tweetathon included contributions from clinical psychologist Prachi Vaish, who is the founder of offers free online counselling for people seeking therapy, including victims of domestic violence, from psychologists and experts. Vaish was a guest contributor for Bell Bajao and offered her expert insight on why some women choose abusive partners.

The tweetathon began with @Bell_Bajao asking the question why the “psychological effects of violence against women is rarely discussed,” to which @runjoo replied, “we still shy away from discussing ‘psychological’ as a whole, lot of stigma with anything psychological.” @HopeNetwork4U agreed with @runjoo, and added that “women are blamed if there is domestic trouble,” and also tweeted about a research conducted on 140 women found that “64 percent had a lifetime history of physical and/or sexual abuse.” @HopeNetwork4U’s tweet, which was written by Vaish, relates closely with her article on women choosing abusive partners. Vaish’s article argues that abusive victims often remain in abusive relationships because “they were made to feel, as children, that they are not valued; so they don’t matter.” Childhood neglect, parental abuse, and stigmas surrounding girl children, could result in women not feeling loved as adults and cause them to stay in abusive relationships.

The tweetathon then led into a discussion on other forms of abuse such as mental and psychological, which people often overlook when discussing domestic violence. @yomegh questioned, “how does one know is a friend is suffering from mental abuse?” @HopeNetwork4U answered by tweeting that emotional/psychological abuse is often more impactful than physical abuse, because the “woman doesn’t know she’s being abused.” She went on tweet later that common symptoms of mental abuse are chronic physical complaints, such as headaches and body aches.

@Isfsd_csr later tweeted that “not all women experiencing domestic violence were raised unloved. What are other reasons of women not leaving?” This led into a discussion of the numerous reasons why women choose to stay in abusive relations. @HopeNetwork4U suggested that abusers manipulated women by threatening to harm her kids if she left, @runjoo stated that some women may see the abuse as an “extreme form of love,” and @bell_bajao mentioned financial dependence as a reason why the victim doesn’t leave the abuser.

The conversation slowly came to an end with @nahi_chalega reiterating that “we tend to forget the forms that violence takes: open verbal becomes sophisticated sarcasm in so-called upper classes,” and @isfsd_csr tweeting that “a woman who has lost self confidence won’t approach help easily.”

This tweetathon was inspired by the lack of conversation present on the mental health of women suffering domestic violence. While domestic violence is often discussed in terms of the physical harm the victim experiences, many people forget that constant abuse, physical or verbal, may have significant mental impacts as well., founded by Vaish, is an organisation that provides counseling for women experiencing mental problems due to violence. Initiatives like bring about the conversation of mental health to the forefront, which is a key way of helping thousands of women suffering from abusive relationships.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this! I found the entire discussion stimulating and thought provoking. There were some excellent questions from the participants. Let's hope we do more in the future.