Independence Day is one of the most celebrated and enthusiastic days of India. The aura of independence still shines in our eyes whenever we see our national flag, hear a patriotic song or watch a heart touching movie based on our country. No doubt, we have come a long way from where we started, the progress we made is highly commendable considering the struggles our country went through.
But talking about freedom, is it really there? Are women of our country actually free to pursue their dreams and live a life of their own? Well, lawfully speaking women are equally free, but practically freedom seems just a mere thing on paper. This year, we won’t highlight the cases where women have been victimized but we would feature victorious stories of women who overcame their fears and lived their own moment of independence.
We present you the first story of our campaign #mystoryofindependence. This is a story of Ranjna Gopal who fought the evil of domestic violence and won like a true warrior.
This is my story of independence, it’s a story lived by many but rarely spoken about. It is the story of domestic violence; it’s one of society’s taboo subjects involving hushed whispers and a lot of ”It couldn’t happen to me“
I’m proud to say the moment I gained my independence was the day I mopped the blood from my lip, looked in the mirror at the bruised and battered face and decided “No More”
I remember the date 21/03/2011 because it was my birthday, which meant yet another alcohol-fuelled beating.
I’m not telling my story for sympathy or for people to exclaim “how awful” It’s so others in my position realise that however long they have been abused or hurt you can leave you can take the step regardless of many weeks months or years you have stayed because domestic violence does not discriminate based on race gender or sexuality.
So exactly how does a Grade A student become involved in an abusive relationship? I could blame my childhood, but no my parents were great. Growing up in London as an Indian child was no picnic in the park, racism was rife and there was no respite from name calling which often escalated into physical violence.
As I grew up I began to rebel and question everything like any normal teen does. I had some very dark episodes where I didn’t want to do anything and would self-harm. Years later I found out I had undiagnosed depression but let’s go back now to how I ended up in a relationship that almost destroyed me.
I left home at 19, after leaving home I got a job, a place to live, I worked hard and played harder. Fun times for me, on one occasion I met up with friends after work and that was how he came into my life. A normal guy who seemed to be absolutely smitten by me, everything he said was so sweet so caring. “Babe I will pick you up from work, you don’t need makeup you’re so beautiful” Slowly he took over every part of my life from what I wore to what I ate. It went on like this for a few months and suddenly I found out I was pregnant the care now became claustrophobic, “Stop working, you need to rest “etc. The first beating came when I was six months pregnant because I hadn’t answered the phone. I was asleep at the time
I left once in this 13-year relationship and somehow I believed his pleas and promises to seek help for the violence. During this time I also gave birth to five beautiful children who are my world. Finally, in 2011 I used every resource available police, courts domestic violence helplines and 21/03/2011 is the very last time he beat me. The months that followed were terrifying but this time I stood strong. It’s been seven years now and I’m doing things I would have never dreamed possible.
I have raised my children alone, am working, I went back to university and am just finishing my HND in Environmental studies. I have a poetry page on Instagram which I’m very proud of, I had to stop writing because he would say I was showing off my intelligence. Life has not been easy people always ask “Why did you stay if it was that bad? “ Well, to be honest, I survived I learned to gauge his moods and try not to upset him, I don’t want anyone to ever feel the loneliness and shame I felt as domestic violence victim so If by telling my story I can change one person’s life then my work here is done