Disclaimer: This interview discusses domestic, emotional, and alcohol abuse in addressing mainstream mentality, yeh abuse shabuse kya hai?
Affiliated with The Sabeen Mahmud Foundation, Dr. Humair Yusuf is a Counselling Psychologist and Psychotherapist. Alongside his private practice in Karachi, he is a Visiting Faculty member at the Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts at the Institute of Business Administration, where he teaches cognitive psychology and cross-cultural psychology.
Co-Founder and Director of DASTAK Foundation, Hira Amjad is an activist working to eradicate gender-based violence (GBV) since 2014. She specializes in development and has worked extensively with women across Pakistan, including those residing in various districts of former war-torn Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Her nationwide campaign to counter GBV, DASTAK, can be credited for reaching out to millions via social media and grassroots-level activities.
What Is The Average Pakistani Woman’s View On Abuse?
Pakistani women or masses across the board are not at all sensitised on the prevalence of emotional, psychological, and financial abuse. Unless it is physically manifested in the form of bruises, it is brushed under the rug. There is a clear dearth of information and essential services in this regard. Hence, women need to be sensitised to acknowledge how all these things fall under the ambit of domestic abuse.
If it isn’t physical, it isn’t abuse. This is the generally accepted notion among Pakistani masses.Hira Amjad, Dastak Foundation
The aforementioned revelation begs the question, what is emotional abuse? In answering so, our discussion with Dr. Yusuf becomes crucial.
Emotional Abuse Is Often Labelled A “Loose Term.” What Would You Define It As?
It is any kind of behaviour that makes a person feel bad about themselves. It makes them feel inadequate, worthless, defective, impacts their self-esteem and distorts their sense of self. It could be threatening, humiliating, or critical behavior.
When Do We Know It’s Emotional Abuse?
Signs involve feeling trapped, helpless, worthless, unworthy of love, conditionally loved, letting people take advantage of you, not standing up for yourself, letting people treat you badly, and continuing to sometimes defend the abuser or the perpetrator of the abuse.
Now that we’ve grasped the gist of emotional abuse, we’ll revert back to Hira’s deconstruction of domestic abuse.
Why Are Victims Reluctant To Report Abuse?
There are a couple of things that prevent women from coming forward and reporting domestic violence. Lack of information or a realisation of their rights and this widely-held stereotype that husbands are to be worshipped. Discrimination against girl children and subscription to stereotypical gender roles within households/schools etc. also normalise or legitimise violence against women (VAW). Family honour, lack of awareness, distrust in the essential service providers, a painfully slow dispensation of justice, among many other factors further prevent domestic abuse reporting.
Where Can Victims Seek Refuge? And What Is The Estimated Relapse Rate: Returning To Abusive Husbands?
Victims always have inhibitions when reaching out to shelter homes in Pakistan. However, with the provision of better services, such inhibitions could be resolved. The chances of relapse are high because of our country’s socio-cultural dynamics and having children or financial support also plays an integral role vis-à-vis reconciliation with abusive husbands.
Who Do You Find Most Culpable Of Committing Abuse? Is it Fair To Assume Abusers Are Close To The Victim (spouse, father etc.) And Have An Alcohol Or Drug Problem?
When it comes to domestic violence, yes. However, the dynamics of Pakistan are such that the role of the extended family is often instrumental vis-à-vis instigation of violence. Drugs and alcohol exacerbate VAW (violence against women), but the triggers are more complex than just these two identifiers.
What Is The Relapse Rate?
Now, most people who are abusing or are dependent on alcohol or any sort of substance for that matter are using it as a sort of coping strategy, a way to cope with stress, distress, anxiety – any kind of emotional distress, so the key to rehab is to develop an alternative and effective coping strategy and that takes time and relapse is very common. Depending on the studies you look at, most people will relapse multiple times but that doesn’t mean that eventually, they won’t be able to develop sufficient coping strategies that they don’t need to resort to alcohol to cope.
As our interview elapses, you can safeguard a sustainable supply of emotional abuse intel or therapy through the following resources:
For Lahore-based readers, here is a guide to therapists in Lahore. Meanwhile, virtual audiences, irrespective of their locality can access the following: Inner balance online therapy, Taskeen, Dimaghi damsel, Mental health and self care, and Dimaaghi_sehat
While it is true that the aforementioned resources and the interview itself cannot answer every abuse-related query, it does attempt to raise abuse awareness. As such, it can be inferred that abuse is not monolithic: its variants are diverse, with some involving social victimising and others involving self-victimising.