The Vulnerability of Divorce


This article is published as anonymous at the request for the writer due to the personal nature of the content. 

Divorce. A word that should be terrifying for every couple. A choice you have to split apart from your “permanent partner” at any second. But what if you didn’t have a choice. Would that be scarier? 

July 31st, 2022 is when I’m writing this, but most importantly, when I’m stuck in a difficult situation in which I can not control. If you’re wondering, no I’m not married; rather I’m a product of a relationship consisting of psychological abuse and torment. 

In June, my father said that we were moving to India. His intentions weren’t clear, leaving me and my family confused. My mom knew something was up, so she immediately said that she wasn’t going to move, and that he could go but he would have to leave us in America. This is the moment in which my father took the opportunity to coerce my mom into moving to India, saying that he won’t financially support us if we don’t move. With this, we packed our bags and got on the flight. 

On June 27th, my mom was faced with a life changing decision. She had been sent proof of my father attempting to arrange a second marriage for himself, likely the reason why we moved to India in the first place. Like any normal person, she immediately wanted a divorce. 

But despite the intensity of the situation, it didn’t happen. Even after years of being disrespected, mentally abused, and ignored in her relationship, she still decided to stay with the man who hurts her the most. 

As a daughter, it’s hard to watch my mom go through the pain she’s going through. I don’t understand the decisions she makes, and I can’t help but wonder why she doesn’t get a divorce. The mental abuse my father perpetrates doesn’t just affect my mom, it also affects me and my siblings. I’m frustrated as to why she can’t make that one decision which can change all our lives for the better. 

But as a writer, I’m writing to share her story which is similar to the stories of so many other south asian women. I’m writing this to let my mom know that I do understand, but I do not agree. The decisions my mom makes aren’t made on her own, they are made from the social normalities and expectations from the society she lived in. 

Culture is a beautiful thing, and trust me, I love my culture. But there are times where culture is outdated, and it’s not appropriate to follow those practices anymore because the world is changing. After my mom found out about my dad’s attempt to marry a second woman, my newly-wed aunt somehow found out as well. I’ve mentioned before that at this moment, my mom wanted a divorce, and wanted to be separated from my dad at least physically for a while. The feelings that my mom was feeling at that moment were 100% valid, no one would comply with any of this. My newly-wed aunt walked into the room where me and mom were in. My mom was talking to her relatives, telling them that she wanted to get a divorce. My aunt heard this and started lecturing her. She began telling my mom that she can’t cry and that she’s scaring the children. 

A note: my father has done more to scare me in my life than my mom can do with crying, but it’s convenient how all the blame falls on the victim, right? 

My aunt, who by the way is from my fathers side, proceeded to make my mom feel like shit by telling her that my dad probably didn’t do anything, and even if he did, to give him a second chance. Then my dad’s side’s uncle opened his mouth, and nothing but bullshit came out. For a family so conservative, I wonder why they have a history of abusing, cheating, and leaving their wives without a dime in their hand. 

But that’s the problem with this outdated culture, no one cares if the man in a relationship is wrong. If the woman makes a decision resulting from the actions of what her husband did to her, in everyone’s eyes she’s the one to be looked at shamefully. My uncle and aunt made this clear by telling her that she was overreacting, and having a nasty and unreasonable attitude with her. Looking from my mom’s point of view, I can see why she’s having a hard time leaving my father. People with this type of mentality surround her, and scare her. Most importantly, because of them, she’s trapped in this mindset. If she leaves my dad, she knows that everyone will blame it on her, especially if we endure a financial crisis after the separation. 

My mom is correct, this culture is harsh and cruel. People will probably say what she thinks they will say if we undergo a situation like that. There are many people with that outdated mentality, especially around me and my family. Yes, the majority of people especially in the U.S don’t think like that, but when you’re surrounded by individuals who constantly remind you of danger, it’s only human to be scared. 

Humans tend to avoid danger, many people don’t like taking risks. Even if it’s a low risk, my mom never wants to be financially unstable, even if it means that she can’t separate with my father. This fear isn’t irrational, it comes from experience. 

In the early 2000’s, my eldest brother was born. A few months after his birth, my father had vanished for five months. This left my mom taking care of a new-born baby without any financial stability. 

My mom struggled to provide for herself and her baby. She told me how she was surviving off of government assistance and coupons. It was hard for her, and it was especially hard because of the people around her. 

My mom’s immediate family started to blame her for my dad vanishing, saying that she’s the one who probably did something wrong. It was clear my dad wasn’t going to come back, and although he’s the one who committed the sin, my mom was punished for it. 

At this time, my mom got another proposal from the son of a family who was helping her out. The son was financially stable and wanted to take care of my mom and my brother. My mom told one of her family members about it, and this is when culture comes into play again. The family member told her that an adoptive father will never take care of her son as well as a biological father would. 

Note: My older brother isn’t fond of my father, so ultimately, my mom staying with my dad didn’t do anything good for our family. He was not very present in any of our lives as he would work excessively. 

The same family member previously said that my mom wouldn’t get any proposals, and that there are hundreds of girls waiting to get married. But when my mom got a proposal without even trying, they tried to make up another excuse. Excuses are made to protect the family’s pride. Getting divorced shouldn’t be an option because having a second marriage as a woman  is “shameful.” People will talk, and ultimately the woman’s family will lose its “respect.” It’s shameful to me that my culture encourages people to risk their child’s wellbeing just so they won’t lose any “respect.” 

The discouraging messages sent by my mom’s family instilled fear in her. She thought she couldn’t trust anyone. 

Around the time of the new proposal, my mom also filed a child support case against my father. My mom was going to receive the money, but my father told my mom that he would come back if she dropped the case. Anxious from the thoughts put into her head, my mom dropped the case. 

So you see, my mom was going to receive financial stability and was still going to have a good father for her child. Her main worries were going to fade, but she still chose to go back because of the fear pushed into her mind. 

Today, her situation is similar. She was put into a difficult situation, and because of the toxic cultural ideas put into her head, she again decided to stay. 

But I’ve realized, it’s not because my mom is irrational or unreasonable. In fact, it’s not her fault at all. The fault of my mom and my siblings’ suffering goes to the people who pressured my mom into staying in an abusive relationship, very well knowing what would happen to our family. 

Like how my mom thinks there will be no one to support her after separation, there will be no one to support her in the relationship. The people who are helping us whenever our dad runs away will give up, saying that my mom had a chance to leave him. And the toxic cultural people who tell her to stay in the relationship won’t even attempt to help her, saying that she should sacrifice more. 

A popular comment people make to my mom: “Saabar Kaaro”= Do Sacrifice. But the question is why should SHE sacrifice? What will she get from it?

My mom has only been exposed to this fear which prioritizes the man in the relationship, the fear of what will happen if she leaves him. She’s never been exposed to the fear of what will happen if she didn’t leave him, something which will prioritize herself. This outdated culture values men over women. No one cares what a woman is feeling or going through because it is her job to suffer for her kids and her relationship. It is her job to keep on running back to her abusive partner. And if she doesn’t, then I guess it was all her fault. 

Vulnerability. Being exposed to hurt and pain. Whether it was in 2000 or 2022, whenever the topic of divorce was brought up, my mom was faced with a difficult decision. One in which she consulted others about, and after her consultation, decided that it wasn’t a “smart” choice. This is because during her consultation, no one was there for her. No one comforted her and thought about what was better for her. This made her even more vulnerable to the topic of divorce, thinking that there was no way she could do such a thing. 

There are so many factors as to why people are stuck in a relationship, but my mom and my siblings are trapped by a broken mentality.

This article is published as anonymous at the request for the writer due to the personal nature of the content. 

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