Crushed Dreams

As a little child, all she wanted was to go to school with her older brother, but she was sent to another school. Later she realised that it was the cheaper one.

As a ten yr old, she was told to come straight home from school and help out her mother.. while her brother got to play with his friends.

As a teenager, she was told to dream within ‘limits’. To just hope that she gets married quickly and does not remain a burden on her parents.

As a college going student, all she remembers is lots of people coming to ‘see’ her…

As a bride, all she remembers is her parents telling her to not let them down, to be a good bahu and not cause her in-laws any reason to complain..

As a wife, all she remembers is the violence, both mental and physical and not being able to even tell anybody.. she had no friends of her own, she had no money of her own.. her parents did not want trouble, her siblings did not want her to rock the boat… Did she have any choice but to go back to her marital home and live her life .. crushed dreams and all.. just the way she had been trained to do so from the time she was born..


I keep wondering, what it is that makes it so difficult for women trapped in unhappy relationships. with or without domestic violence, to step out.

What makes them victims?

Why do they find it so difficult to walk out, even when they are educated and financially independent?

All I can blame is their upbringing.. the fact that they have never been allowed to speak up, that they have been drilled not to expect too much, that they have been told that once married off, that they cease to be their parent’s responsibility.. They have been told that their duty lies in their marital homes.. and that if they violate any of these ‘rules’, they can certainly not expect any support from any quarter.. This is her ‘fate’!

Even educated, independent women, find it difficult to stand up for themselves, for the fear that they will lose all ‘respect’ and support from society, forgetting the fact that they never had it in the first place..

It breaks my heart when I hear of accounts of women trapped in marriages like this..Read more at IHM’s and Gunmeen’s. Β All I know, that I can do, is make sure that my daughter knows that she is never helpless, and she has to stand up against injustice and that we will always be there for her. She is never alone! If every parent did this – don’t you think it would make a difference, eventually.

39 thoughts on “Crushed Dreams

  1. All I know, that I can do, is make sure that my daughter knows that she is never helpless, and she has to stand up against injustice and that we will always be there for her. She is never alone! If every parent did this – don’t you think it would make a difference, eventually.
    so, so proud of you Smitha!

    Thank you so much Abhi, It makes me feel so helpless.. I wish I could do more, you know..

    yes! THIS is exactly what our daughters need.
    They need to know that they count.That they are equal. That no matter what they will always have a home and parents and loved ones to come to.

    Exactly – we are this confident – because our parents have given us that confidence. They have told us that they are there for us.. If we just reverse conditions.. which is the reality for a lot of women in India – it’s horrible.. Women who are told from the time they are born – that their life is somewhere else, their parent’s home is just a ‘temporary residence’… Can we blame them for becoming victims.. they are being trained to be victims.. I am not justifying it – just trying to understand why women take it lying down – even when they could stand up for themselves..

    In the first part of the post you have so simply and so heartbreakingly laid bare all that goes into the ‘conditioning’ of a woman in India.

    Abhi, I have seen so many girls like this when I was growing up. And I always found it sad that parents could do it. I guess, the fact that I realised the injustice was because, my parents used to comment about it and ensure that I understood that being a woman was not a disadvantage. So I was lucky to be born where I was…

    Even in recent times, I have come across women who have been asked to have abortions because they were carrying female foetuses and she goes ahead with it – she does not see the issue with it at all…Breaks my heart..

    Loved this post Smitha.
    ((hugs)))Proud to know you.

    Thank you Abhi, coming from you – means a lot πŸ™‚

    • yes Gunmeen’s post about her friend is so sad 😦

      I wish there was something we could do…anything 😦

      I know! I wish I could do more.. One thing I am sure is that I want to work with NGOs for the girl child and domestic violence when I get back to India.. Not sure how much of a difference I can make – but, I definitely want to do what I can.. My mother used to explain all this to her maids who used to treat her daughter badly.. And it did make a difference..

      I think here in the virtual world we can keep talking about that maybe someone somewhere will change ..maybe someone will think twice…maybe your words will give courage to someone somewhere Smitha….

      Or atleast it might make some parents realise that their support is so important to their daughter..

      Thank you so much for your words! Hugs to you too! I was feeling quite low when I wrote this – but your words make me feel better – that there a lot of us who think the same way and that may be in the next generation, things will get much better..

  2. The first part was depressing.

    QI, I have seen it happening.. And it is indeed depressing.. We had neighbours who did all this and more 😦

    If all parents thought like you, life would be very different. I hope that more and more people change their way of thinking.

    I hope so too..
    Quirky Indian

  3. U r absolutely rt .. its all in the upbringing. This concept of ‘Paraya Dhan’ which is fed into young minds and also the parents telling their daughter to keep up the family’s honour leaves her torn b/w the 2 extremes and unfortunately she chooses to suffer herself than letting down the family – that’s what they presume.

    Yes, you are right.. she sacrifices herself to save the ‘honour’ of her family! And a woman brought up in such circumstances – will find it difficult to stand up for herself ..

    Women need to stand up n fight else such morons will just increase in number.
    How can they even respect a man who just does not respect the female sex?

    I agree! Any man who does not respect women – certainly does not deserve any respect..

  4. Hard hitting… unfortunate but true…

    Walking out in our culture is still to be understood…

    Dont mistakes happen… dont we rectify…
    Exactly.. I am not advocating divorces – but the fact that they have no option.. sadly ,but to swallow whatever comes their way..

    but when it comes to marriages… we somehow seem to be reluctant to rectify the mistakes…

    Yes, and sadly the onus for ‘maintaining the relationship’ always falls on the woman – especially in such cases where the women are not allowed to have a voice…

    • Sometimes divorce is the only way out .. problem is ppl r still scared how the society will accept them .. To hell with the society .. they will speak anyways. There are people who just can’t mind their own business and if not this, they wil find other things to talk abt people. I know of a lady who is being harassed by the husband but the bastard does not agree to give her a divorce and is walking around pointing fingers at her instead 😦 The lady is just nt walking out 😦

      Yes, Swaram, divorce is still a huge thing in our society.. I do know of people who are divorced and have even re-married – but its not always an easy option to go for..

      And that husband that you talked about – I just wish !! Pointing fingers at her – poor thing.. I wish she had the courage to walk out..

      • We are getting there… !! slowly (really slowly)

        Yes, and I think things will change.. even if it is slowly..

        Now atleast we have a Bell bajao campaign !!!!!

        however I think its only a TV ad and nothing more… 😦
        I think every little helps.. A TV ad brings the reality to every living room – and I think it will have some effect.. Atleast some people will react…

  5. All I know, that I can do, is make sure that my daughter knows that she is never helpless, and she has to stand up against injustice and that we will always be there for her. She is never alone! If every parent did this – don’t you think it would make a difference, eventually.

    Smitha this would make all the difference.

    I certainly hope so.. I hope parents realise that a girl is no curse and all she really needs is support from her parents..

    The first part is heartbreakingly true, we see it all around us. Loved this post too, I think even writing about this makes a difference.

    Yes, IHM, Sadly it is true in so many households.. even today.. The son gets every liberty , every privilege and the girl is almost a second class citizen..

    (The one about education system here was another recent one I loved.)

    Thank you, IHM, coming from you – it’s HUGE πŸ™‚

  6. ****All I know, that I can do, is make sure that my daughter knows that she is never helpless, and she has to stand up against injustice and that we will always be there for her. She is never alone! If every parent did this – don’t you think it would make a difference, eventually.****
    WONDERFUL SMITHA,this is what as a mother we should teach our kids.Hugs to the wonderful and strong mom and pohi is very lucky to get u as her mom.Hugs to the little darlings πŸ™‚

    Yes, we really need them to know that they are never alone and that they do not need to be in a bad relationship, that they have support from us.. Yes, hugs to all our little darlings.. May they never be in a situation like this!

    Always i feel women don’t take any decision by themselves,when in the parents house has to listen to the parents,then after marriage listen to in-laws and husband and later listen to the kids.Women are brought up that way,that they don’t know what is hiding in them,what they can do?

    Yes, you are right.. When girls are never given the opportunity to be independent.. They can’t really take a stand even when faced with abuse..

    The post of gunmeen was just an example of what a educated Men can do to a equally educated wife,i feel it is more in the educated society which is not noticed.Sick people.

    Yes, it is so shocking, isn’t it? Educated couple and yet in that same age old situation.. I can’t understand how that so called educated man can behave like that.. That just goes to show that informal education and upbringing can have a much stronger hold formal education and social awareness..

    Very well written smitha,it has moved me.
    Thank you so much, Saritha , for saying that πŸ™‚

  7. I personally know somebody who is going through an abusive marriage. I n my freinds have been repeatedly telling her to do something about it. Go to a counsellor with her hubby if that doesn’t work out then think of separating.

    She says she would have if

    – They didn’t have the kid whose future would jeopardised (I tell her as is he isn’t seeing good things in life)
    – Her parents supported her.

    So sad! The saddest part is that her parents are not supporting her.. I find that so heart breaking.

    I used to convince her a lot but have now given up because I know that for whatsoever reasons she doesn’t want to come out of the relationship. The justifications that she gives aren’t conquerable (as per me) but she just doesn’t want to move out. May be it is because she knows that she doesn’t have the strength to raise her son alone.

    Dunno what! but yes the whole situation is pathetic & makes us feel helpless.

    I can imagine how helpless you must be feeling.. Seeing her condition and not being able to help in any way.. Knowing that nothing you can say will make any difference..

    And you know, her child is going to be deeply affected by the state of her marriage. Parent’s unhappiness is so very easily caught on by a child – it’s scary. It might be much better for him to be in a single, but happy parent family than in a complete , but totally unhappy family.. I wish she would re-think her situation..

  8. Dhiren, I understand that your post reflects many noble thoughts. THe initial words were touching and so true. HOwever, I disagree that if a woman does not speak up, it is in her bringing up. One cannot generalise. The last words in your post are beautiful and well meaning.

    Mampi, it is Smitha not Dhiren πŸ™‚ One more person who is getting confused by the similar look – I have to go change my template now πŸ™‚

    yes, we cannot generalise.. There are so many contributory factors.. But I do think that upbringing has a lot to do with it…

  9. sorry Smitha,
    Your two blogs are so similar-yours and dhiren’s that i was mistaken,
    this clarification-lest dhiren gets ideas… he already is having and i m setting him right.

    No probs – they are very similar πŸ™‚ LOL at ‘i m setting him right.’

  10. This is one puzzle I am not able to solve. Why the hell does a financially stable woman find it so hard to walk out of a relationship?

    I guess it is a complex combination of upbringing and societal pressure.. It puzzles and bugs me too.. Wish it changes..

  11. Depressing story. And there are enough of them out there. Time things changed. But, we often tend to forget that there are men too who are suffering in abusive and worse marriages…and the number is only increasing.

    Abuse towards anybody is bad. The reason we do not focus much on men is because, even with rising statistics it is nowhere close to the women’s abuse stats. Also, men traditionally have the upper hand in the Indian Society. Women have been getting a raw deal for centuries.. And if you see, women are the single biggest discriminated-against community, in almost every society…

  12. Awesome Post Smithus! πŸ™‚

    Thank you Pixie!

    I agree with what you’ve said… parents and upbringing are the key factors…

    Without a solid support system, its difficult to actually get out of an abusive relationship…
    Absolutely.. It is much more difficult for a girl who has never been independent in the true sense of the word, to take such a drastic step.

    But, we women too need to be stronger and take a stronger stance… a silent prayer that we will not be taken for granted, we will stand up for our dignity and rights!

    Definitely! Things will change only when we become stronger… and stand up against injustice.. Only when we women gain the courage to take a stronger stance.

  13. 😦 😦 😦

    hard hitting……………. smithus………. change is happening but at a very slow pace…

    I know, OG 😦 Everytime I hear of a case like this.. it breaks my heart..

  14. I hate to hear such stories 😦 Simply hate it! I have known families that actually followed this! And then after the food is cooked.. the men of the family had as much as they liked… if food is not enough.. women went hungry 😐 😐

    Oh that is so so common, Meenu! It is unbelievably common!

    And there is this stupid tradition that a “wife” eats only in her husband’s plate after he has had his food..( whatever he has left over and all) I dunno if its common or not.. but its pretty common in “iyer” households.. have seen my aunt ( dads sister) and dads “bhabhi” do it.. luckily.. my mom never did that.. 😐 😐

    That is one more thing which so irritates me.. What I think is that it all started ages ago, when food was scarce and since the men were ‘earning’ – they were given the first choice. It is sad that it is still continued..

    Feeling depressed 😦 😦
    Oh ! Hugs to you!!! Don’t be depressed, please!

    There was this friend of mine… she was nearly 6 years older than me.. she got married when she was 21 and was preggie by the time she was 22. She had once confessed that her husband forced her to have sex even when she was 3 months gone.. even though she didnt wanna.. When I asked her to confront him or may be discuss with her parents.. she said that they knew.. n hence brought her home.. but he still came to her maternal home.. and took her out in the name of “sight seeing” and forced her to do it 😦

    I hate brutes!! burr!

    That is even worse!!! 😦 Can’t believe that people like this exist!

  15. Booohooooo !! I dont want to get married !!! Im sure I would be the one at the receiving end !!! With this tongue and attitude, I dont think I would survive πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    Don’t worry, Vimmuuu – we will put up a ‘Save Vimmuuu’ page in that case πŸ™‚ How is the bride search going, btw πŸ™‚

  16. Of course, upbringing has a lot to do with it but society also plays a major role…Lots of parents don’t let their daughters become better adjusted because they are worried about what people will say…They don’t have the guts to stand up for their daughters…

    ‘Lots of parents don’t let their daughters become better adjusted because they are worried about what people will say…They don’t have the guts to stand up for their daughters…’ True, Bones.. I find it so sad that parents are more worried about their ‘reputations’ than their daughter’s happiness…

  17. ‘All I know, that I can do, is make sure that my daughter knows that she is never helpless, and she has to stand up against injustice and that we will always be there for her. She is never alone! If every parent did this – don’t you think it would make a difference, eventually.’

    I love these lines, Smitha. Only parents like you can do something for the daughters to stand-up and fight or come out, if their life is in jeopardy.

    Am sure that there are plenty of parents like me – sadly there are even more who are not 😦 I do wish people started to give their daughters the confidence to face the world…instead of bringing them up to accept anything and everything that is thrown at them- without a whimper..

    I read both IHM and gunmeen’s post too. Everyone is scared of the tongue of the society.
    Yes, it is just appalling that parents are more worried about the ‘the tongue of the society’ than their daughter’s happiness.. Sad state, isn’t it?

    You have covered all the points , nothing is left for us to write in the ‘comments’ column. Beautiful post, Smitha. I say wholeheartedly that I am very lucky to know you, Smitha. God bless you.
    Thank you so much! You have made my day πŸ™‚

    • These tongues are jealous and when you carve your own niche these tongues move on to another. These tongues just want fodder, because they have nothing else WORTHWHILE for themselves to do.

      I totally agree, Anrosh!

  18. May be you can have your ideas shared with NASSCOM Womens Leadership Forums, and they will formulate good solution for coming generations.

    I don’t know much about this.. will find out.. Thanks for the suggestion any ways πŸ™‚

  19. I like the title for this post. You are right, its all in the upbringing.
    I feel very upset when I read about domestic violence etc. I too follow IHM’s blog πŸ™‚

    I know.. It is such a sad state of things..

  20. why why why….. nobody were able to explain why they are sticking up even there is no respect for them… as you said the upbringing is poor… you have to give up your self-respect to earn the respect from society.. *SIGH*

    I know, Kanagu – sadly, girls are not brought up that way.. They are brought saying that they will get ‘respect’ if they are good obedient daughter-in-laws and wives who do not raise their voice, who accept everything… Confidence, and self worth are alien subjects for a lot of Indian women.

  21. “What makes them victims?”

    The short answer– the abusive person makes them a victim.

    Everyone asks, “oh, why does she stay?” But no one asks, “why doesn’t he stop abusing her?” No one wants to confront the person who is actually committing the atrocity.

    The reason people do not ask is, probably, the first step is for the woman to come out and accept that something is wrong.. Clearly the abuser has issues- nobody disputes that. Yes, no one wants to confront the person committing the atrocity.. I think it is also because in a lot of cases, the abused persons themselves defend the abuser…under pressure of course..

    Longer answer– when we say the word “upbringing” it is not the best word, because it implies that it is just the parents who “bring up” a child. Upbringing includes all of society and all interactions a person has, including with their friends (which you might be a part of), their family (which you might be a part of), their society (which YOU ARE a part of).


    Let’s start thinking of answers about how WE can help change this reality for not only those experiencing this right now, and not only for our own children, but every person we come across. What direct, and HIDDEN messages are we giving those around us.

    (As a person working in the field of domestic violence for almost 10 years, I have a lot to say about this, but will end it here. If anyone wants to converse more, feel free to visit my site.)

    Thanks, Smitha, for writing on such a pressing topic.

    I will be hopping over to your site.. Mine was a very amateur effort to write about this topic.. I certainly look forward to reading your veiws..

    • But victims sometimes do not realise they are victims in certain cases. But some surrender in becoming victims after being cordoned! And Parents have the uppermost hand in a society like India, sanctioned by other members of the society. I have noticed that parents who stand up for their children and have secure, understanding and nurturing relationships with their children and especially the girl child, they become confident human beings.

      I agree totally, Anrosh, Sometimes victimes do not even realise that they are victims.. Sometimes, they think that they ‘deserve’ it.. It is not all that clear cut, sadly..

  22. because it takes courage to get out !
    it takes courage to hear that you are selfish, because you want your dreams to come true.
    it takes courage to stand up for oneself, when the rest of the society talks down on oneself.
    it takes courage to break the oppressive law, to follow your own laws
    and it takes oneself the courage to treat herself as a human being first, when everybody treats like her animal.

    …and when all said and done you pave the path…than everybody wants you back and then they will say ‘how courageous you are’ !

    Absolutely! Nothing I can add to that! ‘and when all said and done you pave the path…than everybody wants you back and then they will say ‘how courageous you are’ !’

  23. Not only parents, the mindset of every individual in the country has to change. Men should no longer expect that only wife needs to cook, if shes working late they better help out. One thing i don’t understand is, why does the female always needs to compromise to save a marriage?

  24. Well-written, sad, upsetting and infuriating. But slowly, bit by bit, person by person, I am confident that things will change for the better. They have to. Otherwise none of our wonderful technological and other achievements count for anything. Keep writing!

    Yes, you are right, things will change, slowly but surely.. bit by bit..

    Welcome here, Kamini

  25. Why do women put up with abuse

    Is it because they have nowhere to go-but then we see so many financially capable, well-educated women being abused to death.

    Is it because they want their children to grow up in a socially acceptable marriage-no matter how ugly and abusive it is.

    No I think it’s just because they are trained to do that.

    As you said, the first step would be to teach our daughters-they don’t have to do that!

    Yes, until girls are ‘trained’ that they should not take all this, that they have all the support they need, thiings will remain as is..

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