(Names changed to protect identities)
When Preeti, my close friend, came to see me, there was a haunted look in her eyes. To me, she resembled a frightened doe. When I asked her what the matter was, she held my hand tightly and narrated her story that involved her and her ex-boyfriend, Amit.
Preeti and Amit were classmates at university. Preeti came from a middle-class family and was quite pretty to look at. But she thought that Amit was out of her league. He was tall and handsome, and came from an extremely well-off family.
Surprisingly, it was Amit who proposed first. He wrote Preeti a charming love letter which was poetic in its eloquence. Preeti’s resistance soon broke and she accepted his proposal. Soon after graduating university, the couple rented a home and started to live together.
It began with words
It took her six months to discover his true nature. His initial sweetness gradually gave away to taunts.
“My family is rich,” he said one day, “Yours is not up to our standard.”
This soon turned into emotional abuse and name-calling.
“You idiot! Your mom has not taught you how to cook properly,” he said, after she had cooked a meal after returning home from work at 9 PM.
While Preeti got a corporate job right after university, Amit decided to pursue an MBA. Since it was a distance-learning institution, he wasn’t obliged to attend class. Yet, it was Preeti who did all the cooking, cleaning, and other household work, and bore all the household expenses.
Related reading: What is abuse in a relationship?
Then the beatings
It didn’t take long for Amit to turn physically abusive. When Preeti objected to one of his female classmates calling him too frequently, he kicked her and she fell to the ground. Then he slapped her as she tried to get up.
The situation worsened every day. Amit started to raise his hand on Preeti at the slightest excuse. Once, during a fight, he put a pillow over her face, trying to smother her. Preeti folded her hands and begged for her life; it was then that he let her go. This incident was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
It was at that point that she came to me. I decided to help her escape. We spent days planning.
One day, when Amit wasn’t home, Preeti called me. We quickly packed a few of her necessary belongings and came away with me to my hostel. She left a message on his phone saying that she was leaving him.
Related reading: When I decided to walk towards freedom after facing abuse
I will never let you go…
Amit wasn’t ready to let her go. He soon found out about our hostel and met the warden, asking her to release Preeti to him. The warden, to whom I had told the truth, refused. Amit then went to her workplace. Wherever he went, he engaged in slut-shaming.
“She lived with me without marriage,” he told everyone, “Now she left me – I think for someone else. She has a bad character.”
He took recourse to lies. “I paid for everything. Now she has to return my money.”
Preeti was mentally upset and cried in private, but she was not one to be easily cowed down. I took her to the police station and we lodged an NOC (non-cognisable offence).
Related reading: How does the abuser operate in an abusive relationship?
The help of the police
Preeti called Amit and said that she wanted to give him money. When she went to meet him, two policemen accompanied her. When Amit opened the door, the policemen accosted him and warned him to stay away from Preeti. They also helped her recover some of her remaining belongings from the house.
Today, Preeti has put her past behind her. She lives with her parents and has a great job, and her experiences have taught her to choose her company carefully.
I admire my friend for not giving in to oppression and standing up for herself.