Heartbroken and abused, at least 60 seek help every day

Nina C George, DH News Service, Feb 14 2018, 19:17 IST
Discord patterns in Bengaluru. DH Illustration: Prakash S
Facebook and WhatsApp are aggravating relationship problems in a big way, say counsellors

Parihar Vanitha Sahayani, the family helpline run by the police, and the Family Counselling Centre get about 60 calls a day from women in distress. The helpine and the centre function from the Police Commissioner's Office on Infantry Road (Bhagvan Mahaveera Road). Calls related to marital disharmony, domestic violence, pre-marital and extra-marital affairs and live-in relationships top the list. And fuelled by social media, the numbers have been growing.

Some of the trouble is caused by excessive engagement with social media. The complaints had come down in 2017, but are rising alarmingly this year, counsellors say.

Officials manning the helpline say most cases involve men and women between 21 and 35 years.

"Marital discord arises when one of the spouses spends a lot of time on the phones and social media. Many cases of extra-marital affairs and violence in live-in relationships have their root in social media these days," says Rani Shetty of Parihar Vanitha Sahayani. Cases from affluent families outnumber those from middle class ones: incompatibility, salary disparity, and superiority complex are frequent problems.

Women and young girls who get into relationships online are particularly vulnerable, says Saraswathi B S, senior counsellor at Vanitha Sahayani. When things go wrong, the man threatens to circulate private pictures on social media. Some of the women develop suicidal tendencies, fearing social stigma, she says.

Facebook is Cupid

The couple meet on Facebook and exchange pictures. Things change when they meet in person. They continue in the relationship but the love is short-lived and the man starts distancing himself. He refuses to marry her and later threatens to upload pictures and videos of their intimate moments.

Unmarried and pregnant

The couple starts living together. They are, for all practical purposes, man and wife, but with no legally registered marriage. The woman gets pregnant and the man refuses to marry her. He forces her into abortion. He insists on sex the same night, after threatening to put out her nude pictures.

Single on FB, married otherwise

A woman puts up her status on Facebook as a widow and starts a relationship with a man who puts up his status as a divorcee. They start chatting on Facebook and graduate to living in and have a baby. The man or the woman are actually in a marriage and have children. This leads to complications and abuse.

Forbidden connections

Man in an affluent household engages in a relationship with a maid or acquaintance afterhis wife leaves for work. This goes on for months, till the wife gets suspicious. She checkshis phone and digs out CCTV footage. The relationship is confirmed. The wife, also froman affluent family, initially complains but later wants the case closed. She says the children'sinterest is priority.

In-laws want money

The in-laws don't allow the wife to sleep with the husband or interact with him till the dowryis settled. The woman is beaten up and locked in a room.

Be careful on social media

Don't base your judgments on pictures. Don't believe everything you read in online statuses. Define clear-cut boundaries in live-in relationships. Talk to friends and family when in distress. Don't allow shooting of intimate photos and videos.

Numbers of callers
2015: 1,220
2016: 1,192
2017: 1,252

Hit back

In one instance, an abused wife chased her husband around the house and battered him with a rolling pin. He ran up to the terrace and hid there.

Need help?

Call Vanitha Sahayani (helpline for women ) on 080 22943225 or police control room on 100.
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