Community Counselling Domestic Violence

Legal Matters: Overcoming Powerlessness

Overcoming Powerlessness

Our legal experts answer your questions and provide legal advice.

I am 35 years old and have been married for the last 10 years. My husband abuses me both physically and mentally. We have 3 children and though he emotionally abuses them he reserves his physical abuse for me. I have not worked except for a short time as a kindergarten teacher which he put to a stop to. I have left the house once or twice but as I am not able to manage on my own I usually come back when he calls. The household expenses are managed by my mother-in-law from the rental income that she gets, no one sees his salary. I cannot tolerate this situation any more but have no idea how to protect myself or my finances.

Dear Reader,
Your situation requires you to be bold and strong and only if you are willing to face the situation head on are you going to see an improvement. The first step is to go in for couples counseling however if your husband is unwilling then there is legal recourse but it can be very difficult for a wife to take and your family and society may not support this.

You can approach the Police the next time he abuses you or with the help of a lawyer you can approach the Protection Officer in your district and he will help you file a criminal complaint with the Magistrate. You can ask for monetary relief, protection orders against your husband for yourself and your children and you can also seek custody of your children. If he fails to comply with these orders he can be imprisoned up to one year and fined up to Rs. 20,000.

His salary can also be attached to pay the amount that the Court orders. This kind of action requires you to be proactive. In case you are hesitant to do this on your own you could also approach a women’s group (service providers) who are registered with the govt. who could help you in your situation.

This is a very embarrassing situation that I find myself in but I am unable to take it any longer. My wife and I have been married for 4 years. My wife has a problem with anger management and abuses me both physically and mentally. All these years I have been making excuses to myself for her behavior but now I am starting to fear for my life. I cannot talk about my problem to anyone except as an occasional joke. When my wife is angry there is no controlling her, she is like a woman possessed. On the last occasion she broke my hand. I have warned her that if she does not control her temper I will complain to the police but she laughs it off. Is there anything that I can do? Does the Domestic Violence Act apply to battered husbands?

Dear Reader,
I presume that you are referring to the Prevention of Domestic Violence against Women Act. Unfortunately the Act protects only women and the cause of battered husbands is still considered a joke in our country. The statistics of battered husbands is mounting but I don’t expect that you will see any significant legislation in the near future.

However you have protection in the law under the Indian Penal Code where the causing of fracturing of a limb is called grievous hurt which has a maximum term of imprisonment of 7 years. You could file a police complaint and force them to take action against your wife as a little fear could force your wife to go in for counseling / psychiatric help which is what she actually needs. Another method would also be to threaten to get both sets of parents involved and let the world know of her behavior as social ridicule is also a good deterrent.

We have been married for 5 years now and have a two year old baby girl. I always knew that my husband had an explosive temper when he married me but the difference now is that it is always directed at me. Life is intolerable. He has serious anger management issues. His constant threat is to throw me out of our house which he inherited from his parents. I believe that I have an equal right to the house but since it is in his name can he throw me out whenever he wants?

Dear Reader,
Your husband cannot throw you out if you have a Court order against him. The law foreseeing a situation such as this has very clearly allowed you to seek what are called residence orders whereby you have the right to continue to stay in the house and you can seek a direction against your husband whereby he will have to remove himself from the house, even though he owns it.

You can also get an order restraining him from selling the house till a permanent solution is arrived at. These orders can be got by filing the appropriate petitions before the concerned magistrate under the Prevention of Domestic Violence against Women Act 2005. However, if you could ask someone who has some influence over your husband to get him to go to a Counselor, that would be the best solution.

I will inherit my parent’s house on their death and my husband is aware of this but continues to harass me to get it transferred into his name. Due to his behavior my parents believe that if they do so he will continue to harass me till I either transfer it to his name or sell it and the harassment will continue on some pretext or the other. I am also worried about the effect he is having on my children. He continually abuses me in front of them and is poisoning their minds against me. I need to know what my options are and how I can protect myself, my children and my parents.

Dear Reader,
First try to get him and yourself some counseling support and if he does not respond to it then this is the recourse available – You can get what is called a Protection Order under the Prevention of Domestic Violence against Women Act 2005 but to make it effective you will have to move to your parent’s residence so that in that way your parents will also be protected from his abuse.

For violations of these orders he can be put in prison which is a very effective way of restraining him. You can use the time apart to try and make him understand through the good offices of those who have some influence over him that he is the one who is going to suffer if he continues this kind of behavior.

Mrs. Anita T is an advocate and has been practicing in the Chennai High Court and the Lower Courts for the last 20 years.