On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries. 1 in 4 women have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. With statistics this high you'd think that you would be mentally prepared to come across someone who's been through this kind of thing before. That could not be more wrong because I remember that day I heard my aunt on the phone. I was a nosy 3rd grader who saw her favorite person’s name on the landline and picked it up only to hear “No I swear I don’t think I can do this anymore. If you don’t do something I’ll kill myself” I remember that it was 2:30 pm, and that day I went to a family friend's house but this time I saw my mom with her friend crying on the couch agonizing over the fact that her baby sister had lost her desire to live.
As of today, my Aunt has been fighting an 8-year custody battle to ensure the safety of her son. She has taken care of his education, and well-being all on her own. Sometimes while I think about this whole situation I wonder why I never said anything. I soon realized that it was the fact that I didn’t know what was wrong. Let me precise, I didn't know what consent was. I wasn't aware of the concept that allows a man or woman to clearly address what they are and aren't comfortable with. I’d see him. He’d squeeze her wrist when she said something she wasn't supposed to. As if she was some horse and her wrists were the reigns. The physical, mental, and verbal abuse that my aunt went through is something that I can never imagine myself surviving. There are some things that I can handle. I’m a dancer. I know how to suck it up and deal with pain but domestic abuse is a pain beyond words. Moreover, it affects more than just the victim. Through her hardships, I began asking the important questions. Is consent sexy? No, lingerie is sexy. Consent is a basic human right. A woman should be able to say No at any given time and expect that the other person will respect it. Consent is far beyond a legal term. It is not a boxed check or something to just get out of the way. Consent IS the way.
I can without a doubt say that my aunt is the reason I joined Ladki Love. I may be too young to help her but with this organization, I can help women who have been through the same things. My aunt is one of the most positive influences in my life but I can’t help thinking how much easier her life would be if she knew that she was allowed to say NO. My aunt is a sister, a daughter, a mother, niece, and a best friend but above all my aunt is a fighter. She is the same fighter that lives in the heart of the millions of women that Ladki Love hopes to help one day. I can’t wait to see the change they bring when we do.
Post written by guest writer Neeharika Chenna