On August 20, 2008, a cultural media strategy against domestic violence was launched in India by Breakthrough (which is a global human rights organization) in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, UNIFEM, and the UN Trust Fund. It was named ‘Bell Bajao!’ (Hindi for ‘ring the bell’). It urged the people of India to intervene by ringing their doorbell if they overheard incidents of domestic violence taking place and to ask for simple questions- such as to borrow the phone or for a glass of water. This in turn would not only disrupt the flow of violence but also alert the abuser that others can hear him/her.
‘Bell Bajao’ won 23 awards at the Cannes 2010 Advertising Festival and several others including Silver at the London International Advertising Awards. In 2010, Breakthrough announced the launching of this successful campaign on a global scale to combat violence against women in Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States of America.
Cut to 2020. Global Pandemic. Lockdown. Travel restrictions. Stay at home order.
Domestic violence was already a pandemic long before COVID-19 taught us any better. It affects millions of women, men, and children of every race, religion, caste, creed, and status. Since people are now forced to stay at home in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, there has been an alarming rise in domestic violence; more frequent and severe. It is acting like an opportunistic detrimental truth that is flourishing under the pandemic. Now, with families in lockdown, hotlines are lighting up with abuse reports.
The anxiety and shame a person involved in an abusive relationship will experience can be life-altering. Denial and self-deception can run deep. In my higher understanding of how a functional relationship should operate there’s no fear, guilt or shame.
Jealousy is NOT love.
Jealousy, possessiveness, and secrecy are symptoms of a sick relationship. Many people actually overlook these red flags as a flattering way to express admiration, affection, and even loyalty. It’s not. It may not be particularly associated with direct physical abuse but attempting to isolate you from your family or friends, expressing jealousy over your conversations with others, telling you how to dress, calling you constantly to check where you are, trying to hurt you verbally time and again is not normal behavior.
Abuse is NOT love.
If you are used to those who are supposed to love you being violent to you, don’t be. Just writing about so much violence being inflicted on people in their own homes, makes me cringe.
It’s the culture. It’s just the way it is. Does it make it right? Nope, of course not. Is there anything that can be done about it? Very little. Unfortunately, it’s a double-edged sword because of the very thrill-seeking attitude many young people possess can lead them down the dangerous roads and into toxic relationships.
The abuser will seldom take accountability
The abusers are often too spineless to take the accountability of their actions. They almost never believe that their actions are their fault and will rely on the blame game. It’s always their mother’s fault, their father, their children, their ex.
This is why I feel it’s so important to teach children about accountability. If a child is abused, they must be helped to heal. We must also teach our children to take responsibility for their actions because we don’t want them to repeat this vicious cycle.
Just keep in mind that if you feel stuck in a relationship where you feel threatened, controlled, abused, hopeless, depressed, things will not get better with time. You must take action and leave. Put a plan in place. Then, for your own sake and especially the sake of your kids, see it through. Start talking. Start telling the police, charities, organizational leaders that you are in a violent situation. Get help. Find out if there’s a shelter near you and if you can stay there. See what the police are able to do.
I wish every person in this situation well. You can leave, you can escape, and you are worth it.
If it had been me things would have been simpler.
If it had been me I would have called the police.
If it had been me there would be no going back… ever.
Domestic Violence Resources
National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.