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Psychological abuse is designed to strip a person of all self esteem. It is mental violence that may or may not be accompanied by physical violence. It erodes self-esteem, isolates its victim and prevents actions to seek help. Psychological domestic abuse usually happens as a constant corrosive factor in a relationship rather than the easier to recognize physical violence, which occurs as distinct episodes with visible damage or actions of harm.

In a patriarchal culture, psychological abuse is rarely recognized as active harm being inflicted, but it is very damaging to the victim. Psychological abuse is almost always a part of domestic abuse, but less recognized and equally true is that where there is psychological abuse at home, it is domestic abuse as well. A person does not have to be hit to be abused.

Domestic Emotional abuse shows no signs of inury unlike physical abuse, but the impact on the victim can be devastating.
Domestic Emotional abuse shows no signs of inury unlike physical abuse, but the impact on the victim can be devastating.


"Do you want some tea?"
"You need to ask?"

***brings tea***
"Is this the time to drink tea?"

***makes tea, does not give***
"You can't even make tea for everyone?"


"Is it Diwali? Can't you switch lights off?"

***reverse isn't true***
"Please remember to switch lights off"
"So I forgot, you can't even do such a small thing yourself if you spot it?"


"I am used to eating staying hungry. At least feed the kid."

"Can't you cook anything better? I'm sick of eating this all the time."

"Why do I have to tell you what to cook? Can't you even manage that much on your own?"

"Cook one day, tell everyone about it for a month."

"House is always untidy. What do you spend your time on?"


"What do you need money for?"

"So what if you spend or work more at home? Do I do these comparisons?"

"Whatever you have is because of me, you ungrateful bitch."


"Anyone else in my place would have kicked you out long ago."

"If it weren't for the child, I'd have kicked you out long ago."


"Where are you going? Or is it too much to ask?"

"I'm not interested in the useless things you do."

"Why are you dressed like this?"

"You can't go now. You have to help me with this."


***taunts in front of other people***

"She's always eating."

"Any time I drink, I have to see her long face."

"Best wishes on your wedding. May your wife turn out to be better than mine."

"You're lucky. My wife is always spending my money and asking more."

"She doesn't understand all this."

"Can't go one day without embarrassing me."


***if you seek help***

"Go... tell the world how you are suffering. It is fashionable to complain."

"What will you do? Everyone will sympathize with you, but agree with me."

"Not even your father will take you back. Your actions are like that."

"Go approach who you want, but don't come back to this house."

"You won't last a day on your own."


More easily recognized forms include rage, blackmail and other intimidation. It is very common to have some "trigger subjects" that result in extreme rage and the victim is blamed for "starting it" knowing the reaction she gets. Such subjects usually are a reasonable expectation that the abuser does not want to agree to as a form of control over the victim. So extreme rages can happen over "I want to do a job" or "You need to contribute to household expenses." or "Going somewhere for a few days" or anything. Really.




Such talk is designed to keep a person defensive and unable to question the treatment they get. It is abuse. Seek help. Find someone to speak with. The reality being painted is one designed to make you see yourself as an inferior, undeserving person getting advantages you don't deserve, when the reality is usually the opposite.

Domestic mental abuse may not leave visible injuries, but it does result in other physical manifestations ranging from stress related ill health, psychological disorders, paranoia, sleeping or eating disorders and can be a risk factor for suicide. Apart from the obvious problem with it. It is unjust and hurtful.

It is likely you will recognize these words as some you hear often. To yourself, to others around you.... or you may recognize this as how you talk.

If you are a recipient of such talk, it is important to know that you are not responsible for the actions or speech of another. You have not caused this person to be nasty. They are nasty because they want to be nasty.

If you speak in such a manner, you are basically an abusive person, who I hope changes or meets an ugly end. Such conversation is often a part of "normal" home for many, who don't realize it is abuse to speak in such a manner. If you wish not to speak in such a manner, it is important to keep an eye on what you say. Counselling for anger management can help dramatically in achieving an ability to express yourself without declaring to the world that the only way you can be right is by being too much of a nuisance to engage with to disagree with your self declared claim.

If you see such talk happening around you, you are in a position where with very little effort, you can disrupt the talk and show solidarity with the victim. Here are some idea on how you can prevent or fight domestic abuse around you.

It is possible for a person to be an abuser as well as abused. It is also possible for men to be abused, and it is a difficult area to understand, because accusations of women torturing men are more commonly used as psychological weapons against women to isolate them from sympathy. A good example is the highly strident "Men's Rights Activists", who are almost always found describing women as oppressors, while rarely seen seeking help for securing justice for any of the abundant men they believe to be "equally wronged by women". On the other hand men who actually suffer end up silent for fear of social shame. A reliable indicator to check for is if the claim of abuse an accusation or a description of suffering. Using accusations of mental violence as further psychological weapon against a victim is common. However, When using such accusations to vilify, the sense of the communication is one of aggressive dominance, dictated interpretations of reality, generalizations and  there is a distinct lack of any sense of helplessness, even when describing a situation where the "victim" is left with no choice. This goes for women who may use accusations against men too, though this is considerably rarer, specially if they are residing in a home owned by those they accuse.

The important thing is to remember that fixing guilt on any party is not useful, particularly when there are mutual accusations and a relationship history. It will also not help the victim for abusers to be able to claim a bias against them. The priority is for the abuse to end and space for talk to be created or distance so that the abuse cannot harm while a more proper resolution can be seeked.

The important thing is that all talk is a choice. A bully chooses to speak in a manner that hurts. Like any other abuse, no one "asks for" or "deserves" mental abuse either. No matter what.

Are there common phrases you hear that are not included in this post? Add them in comments. Let us help people learn to recognize unfair talk.

So a video went viral. Guardian had published a video shot by a tourist where a policeman (off camera) is bullying the local tribal women to dance and even doing a carrot and stick routine with one that wouldn't.

Here, watch it and puke.

IBNLive covers it as a big shocker. Absolutely scandalous. I suppose it would be, seeing as how we don't have a National media worth mentioning. The Metro media that gets called National media, because we have no label for them specifically (I could suggest some) is unable to see beyond its citified nose and altitude.

I am not even going to pretend that their concern was for human rights. This is a guaranteed seller. Almost unheard of tribe of naked women dancing on camera covered by foreign media like a sting operation.

This curiosity for the unknown.
I am only waiting for our moral police to explain how these people asked for it by dressing like that or rather, not dressing at all and begging for food from tourists.

Exploitation of the Jarawa is no new thing. The Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Regulation of 1956 explicitly prohibits any contact with them or commercial activity advertising them even. It isn't all that long, and worth a read. Do notice that it was already seen necessary in 1956.

The Jarawa have been protected from contact by a Supreme Court order, no less, because their culture and isolation has meant that they have low resistance to diseases like measles - earlier construction near their habitat and contacts since 1997 had led to outbreaks of measles in 2001 and 2006. Additionally, our wonderful nature of exploiting the gullible had led to smarter people initiating a landmark Public Interest Litigation which was heard in Port Blair and explicitly prohibited contact by unauthorized persons with the Jarawa.

Yet, the exploitation of the Jarawa is routine. Jarawas are found hanging around the roads begging from tourists. Their nudity adds an additional zing to the already forbidden exotic guaranteed "exclusively" to tourists. This is no secret.

These are the same guys we spent a few days sensationalizing about after the Tsunami in 2009. The Fate of the Jarawas us unknown, etc. Turns out they weathered it better than us civilized people.

In 2007, the Andaman and Nicobar authorities warned tour operators over Jarawa sightings because people were organizing them for money on the side.

If Indian media cared to look around at what was happening in the country, they could easily find this video I had shared last year in indignation, which is still in my bookmarks. I suppose I wasn't famous enough then.


This alone is an excellent reason to stop all tourism there. I cannot believe that in an instance of women's exploitation, my heart is bleeding for another issue, but here it is. Women turned into a perverted joke for cheap thrills.

I also wouldn't be surprised at all to find regular exploitation of women here by the only few allowed "authorized contact" with them, because I have absolutely zero faith in the capacity of our protectors to see women or indeed any people not powerful as human beings.

And these guys are not powerful. Coconuts are enough as an official gift to them.

Here. This video is much better at representing them than the ones above. Notice how this isn't an Indian production.

Remember them as innocent people living in what we have long lost for ourselves. Love them and respect them, and show that you are capable of it.


Twitter is well appreciated for the unprecedented freedom of interaction it provides, while at the same time allowing for security. Also, being directly able to hear candid talk of public figures, being able to engage them with questions is something that had been difficult for most people with questions or curiosity. Celebrity accounts interacting with fans brings them and their thoughts within reach.

However, there is a dark side to this as well. Normally all interactions between tweeps are public and a private message can only be sent to someone following you. These private messages are accessible only to the sender and receiver, and while they are great for exchanging confidential information or conversation, it is possible to abuse the access they provide when they are used for illegal purposes.

Sexual harassment in India is illegal. The description of sexual harassment includes obscene language and outraging modesty. Actor Kamaal R Khan of Big Boss disrepute has been known to send abusive messages to his followers for a long time. Recently some of his victims appealed to me for assistance, and I am presenting here screenshots they sent me of the Direct Messages they have received from this man.

The Person in account being a celebrity account has led to any protests they made to not make much of a dent in either his reputation. His account is not suspended either. The messages being made in crude Hindi are likely not understood by Twitter support and this person continues to abuse people who follow him at will.

Here are some screenshots.


If, like me, you think these actions are illegal, please do the following:

  • Block the account @kamaalrkhan
  • Follow the account @support. This allows you to send direct messages and complain about the obscene messages sent from this account.
  • If you have received such messages, please upload screenshots and post a link in the comments. Also send a link to @support
  • Write to the Cyber Crime Cell to file a complaint about his actions. cybercell.mumbai@mahapolice.gov.in
  • Feel free to use the link to this post to describe what he has been doing if you don't wish to or don't feel able to describe the issue clearly.
  • If you have been a fan of Kamaal R Khan, please consider forwarding this to your followers too, for anyone who may have followed and suffered from your recommendations.
  • If you are a lawyer and wish to help these people find justice, please get in touch and I can connect you with them.


Some observations that I have seen with power and people in any group.

  1. Attention is power. If you forget this, you can't understand the rest of this page.
  2. Everybody wants power. Including those who say "I don't care". It is an instinct, not a multiple choice question. Without this, you wouldn't have a survival instinct, you wouldn't have any logic left to your actions. Whether you actually have power, or how you choose to get it, or how do you define having power to yourself may vary.
  3. There is a hierarchy of power in any group. No matter if it is leaderless. No matter if it is a country with a visible leader, or a couple who respects each other, or a group of friends of similar profile. There is no such thing as two people with equal power.
  4. Power is a fluid thing. It keeps shifting from person to person. In a hierarchy that is clearly defined, or institutionalized, it shifts less easily, less noticeably. In informal situations where there is no conscious understanding of  a leader, it shifts rapidly.
  5. Two kinds of power wars happen. The first is to gain power, by challenging someone more powerful, the other is to retain power, to suppress someone who might become more powerful. In essence they are the same, only depends on where you stand. They are happening all the time. You can't escape this, because the survival instinct demands that you do all you can to remain powerful or grow in power. Denying instinct is futile. It will still manifest unnoticed by the denier, but increasingly obvious to observers.
  6. Because a person in power gets challenged by those who want power, we all have an automatic hesitation to be noticed as powerful. We may not understand the reluctance, but we do voice it tentatively, when we make modesty a virtue, or refuse to lead for fear of attack.
  7. Resisting a bid for power itself transfers some power to the bid. Attention is power. Attention of one in power is more potent than attention of one who is not.
  8. There are several power hierarchies in operation simultaneously. They are contextual. You may have power over your boss in some aspect of work because of your expertise, but your boss has power over you as well when it comes to your job or authority over it.

Some ways in which existing hierarchies are supported

There are also several ways in which a hierarchy is supported by people because it works to their advantage. Seen in more permanent ways in an institutionalized situation, it also happens spontaneously. Some ways are:

  1. Accepting the power commanded in the moment by willingly being attentive. This happens as a natural part of communication. Most people do it. Those who resist this are generally avoided unless necessary.
  2. Allowing someone the leadership of the group based on expertise, trust or disinterest in subject.
  3. Rallying behind someone to add power to that person in order to achieve a larger goal of interest to you.

Some ways in which power is granted:

  1. Formally - by conferring authority
  2. Agreeing or accepting
  3. Recommending

Some ways in which power is challenged:

  1. Dissent
  2. Direct challenge
  3. Interruption and redirection of attention.

Some reasons why change in power is desired:

  1. Desire to influence happenings in a different or more advantageous way
  2. Loss of trust in one in power
  3. The one in power harming those with less power.

I don't think these have been listed out quite like that by anyone. There are endless ways and reasons. The examples are more to help you learn to recognize, so that you can spot it happening in the wild, so to say.

They are based on my observations of groups. They can be verified by observing groups, but not everyone has the skills to diagnose interactions, so for the purposes of this article, I ask you to trust these as valid till you can think these out or verify for yourself. Generally speaking, anyone capable of reading this does have enough life experience to analyze the statements for validity given some time to think, remember instances and deliberate.

This understanding of power will form the basis of a few articles on subjects ranging from abuse to child rights to politics. Will list them here as I write them. If the article was written as clearly as I see these flows, you'll probably write the articles in the comments on your own 😀


This article is second in a part of a three article series on Eve Teasing by Fazal Ahmad. The first part outlined the description and impact of eve teasing.

This civil wrong is other than a mere breach of contract or breach of trust. This wrong is redressible by an action for unliquidated damages.

Eve teasing is a civil wrong. The eve teaser causes injury to the plaintiff which in turn affects her both physically and mentally. It is an unlawful infringement on the victim's privacy and person. She is tortured in the process. It also hampers her peace and happiness. It, in other words, curtails her right to enjoy her life and be happy.Eve teasing is neither a breach of contract nor a breach of trust. It is an encroachment on a woman's right and her dignity.

Eve teasing is an unexpected incident. There is no question of a contract in it. Thus, its remedy is unliquidated damages which are to be decided by the courts according to the gravity of the injury caused. The courts can also provide a remedy in the form of injunction and detention also. This would force the eve teasers to at least think thrice before they indulge in such Torts and its basic guiding principle of ibi Jus Ubi Remedia i.e. where there is a violation of a legal right, there has to be some relief, compensation and remedy for the victim.

This part is very important for many reasons.

Firstly, it gives relief to the victim as she can recover the loss caused to her.

Secondly, it gives the victim immense satisfaction to see the eve teaser punished and admonished. She develops a sense of satisfaction, happiness and regains her confidence and self esteem.

Thirdly, it gives a strict warning to the eve teasers so that they do not indulge in this heinous practice. It, thus , strongly condemns the practice of eve teasing.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court In Vishakha V. State Of Rajasthan AIR 1997 SC 3011 has set out the guideline for the Woman working at the work places.

This case saw the formulation of the sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention) bill drafted by the National Commission for Women. It provides for some stern measures to curb the menace of sexual harassment of women at work place.

The bill which defines sexual harassment which includes any act of verbal or gestural sexual advances , sexually explicit or derogatory remarks or statements, unwelcome sexually determined behaviour such as avoidable physical contact and advances, touching, patting, whistling, pinching, whistling, staring, sexually slanting and obscene jokes, suggestive remarks, compromising invitation, use of pornographic material, demand for sexual favours, threats, innuendoes, physical assault and molestation.

Staring and simple comments on the physical appearance of your female colleagues can land you behind bars for as many as five years and with a fine of Rs.20 000.

With the enactment of this act , there has been certainly a decrease in the number of sexual harassment. This act has proved itself to be a strong weapon in the hands of women to prevent sexual harassment and combat it.

In my opinion this case law helped a lot to the woman who was sexually assaulted or eve teased in offices and other places.

To find out about Eve Teasing under Criminal Law in India, read on...

~ Fazal Ahmad

Follow him on Twitter @fzlsammy