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“I am no longer a victim”, says Kochi woman who rebuilds life fighting abusive marriage

Sheela Parameswaran. Photo By: Manikandan Poickadan.

Fighting an abusive marriage and building a life of one’s own is not an easy task for a woman who doesn’t have a job or education to secure employment. Sheeja Parameswaran, of Kochi in Kerala, is one such woman who boldly stood against her abusive marriage, unable to bear both physical and mental torture in silence.

Though life hasn’t been a cakewalk for her, she is proud that her decision to stand up has given her a peaceful life along with her two children for the last 15 years.

Sheeja, who was born into a poor family, shares with “Open Digest” how she started her life after deciding to protest against the abusive marriage. Sheeja, who hailed from Elamakkara in Ernakulam, had only studied up to the tenth standard. At the tender age of 19, she got married to a person with whom she was in love, believing that her life would change for the better. “Things changed after my first delivery. He started abusing me, and fights became a daily routine,” said Sheeja, who is now 43-year-old.

“He started beating me after coming home drunk. I suffered all the torture in silence for my children. Soon his family members also started targeting me. I didn’t have the courage to protest because I knew it was hard to get a job. But as the situation became much worse, I openly told him that I couldn’t tolerate him anymore and decided to legally fight him,” Sheeja said.

Sheeja Parameshwaran with Advocate Sandhya Raju

Her decision to stand on her own feet and be independent paid off when she finally secured a job as a clerk at the office of Advocate Sandhya Raju. “The job gave me the opportunity to learn about the laws that have been framed in our country to protect the rights of women. I realized that I have an equal claim as my husband and no one could easily throw me out of the house. For the last 15 years, I have had no contact with my husband. I am a single mother who is bringing up my two children, one studying in the tenth standard and the other pursuing graduation respectively,” she said adding that she was still fighting the case as her husband hasn’t legally divorced her.

“I will continue my legal fight. I want to show my children that women are not just tools at the hands of men. We have rights and should have the courage to raise our voices against domestic abuse and violence,” she said.

Sheeja feels that she truly realized her potential to become independent when she decided to get a job. “I am no longer a victim of my circumstances. I feel more confident and self-reliant. I want to tell those women who are suffering from domestic abuse in silence that they should become independent and self-reliant by finding a source of income. If you start earning, you will have the confidence to think independently. My life has taught me this big lesson,” Sheeja added.

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