As a young American woman, it was exciting to be involved in a relationship with a foreign post-university student. Bhinda was from India and was attending University in the city where I lived, working on his Master's. He was charming, handsome and educated. The relationship seemed like a fairy tale, but that fantasy soon came to an end when the abuse started.
Looking back, I should have known that he was capable of abusing me. He was very controlling right from the beginning, calling me at all hours of the day and sitting outside of my job every evening to 'make sure I got home alright.' What he was really doing was stalking me.
Not long after we started dating, I was slapped for the first time. We went to a movie with several of his friends and ran into an acquaintance of mine. To keep things short, I went over to the acquaintance alone, said a fast 'hello,' then rejoined Bhinda and his group. I could tell from the look on his face that he was angry, but did not know the reason. When we got to his apartment later, without his friends, he began to scream at me, telling me I had no manners and had humiliated him by not introducing my acquaintance with him or his friends. When I started to explain, his hand came up and slapped my cheek with such force that I stumbled against a cabinet. Shocked and stinging from the slap, I made my way to the washroom to splash some cold water on the redness his hand left.
When I emerged from the bathroom, shaky and disturbed, Bhinda was there to apologize. He seemed very remorseful and promised that this would never happen again. I went home and woke the next morning to flowers at my door.
It would be a dream story if I could say now that the first slap was the last, but this was no dream ' it was a nightmare. For several months I endured the cycle of slap, apology, flowers. Each time he hit me, Bhinda's apology seemed so sincere that I could not help but to believe him. He eventually convinced me to move into his apartment. I imagined this was because he loved me, but the truth was he was trying to control me.
After moving in, the abuse took a serious turn. One night during winter, I was on the phone with my mother when Bhinda entered the apartment. I quickly ended the phone call because Bhinda looked angry. He asked me over and over if I had been complaining to my mom about being hit. I tried to explain that it was just a simple conversation, but he was unconvinced. The argument escalated until he began to beat me with his fists. When his fists became tired he used his feet. I was bruised and bleeding from being dragged around the apartment by my hair. After some time, even his feet became tired and he picked up a billiard stick, beating about the torso and head with it until he was exhausted. The neighbors must have heard my cries, because they called the police.
An ambulance came to take me to the hospital and Bhinda ran out the back door to escape. The police were looking for him, and eventually found him three days later. He was taken to jail and I was released from the hospital. On the days I was to testify against him to the courts, Bhinda's brother came from Toronto and kidnapped me. I was held in several locations for six weeks until Bhinda was released from jail. At that point, Bhinda joined his brother and they both took me to a city which was far from my home.
His brother went back home to Canada, leaving me in a motel room with Bhinda as my captor. For six months I was kept away from my city so that I could not testify. His family was sending him thousands of dollars every month so that he could live and eat, but he only fed me corn from a can. He told me repeatedly that when his case was settled, I could leave. After 6 months he pled guilty to a much lesser charge than what he was originally charged, and I thought I would be free. This was not the case; Bhinda was planning to move to a new state and was going to take me with him. I ran out of the motel room after hearing this, dressed in nothing but a T-shirt and small shorts. My legs could barely carry me from the months of no exercise, but I managed to get to a post office where a man called the police.
When the police took my statement they returned to the motel room to arrest Bhinda, but he was gone. Months later I learned that he escaped back to India. I am grateful that he is away from me, but I do wish he had gone to jail for what he did.
I look back now and I am in shock that this could happen to me. I am an educated American woman, and Bhinda was an educated man from India with a fortunate socio-economic situation. It is only a myth that lack of education and resources are factors in domestic violence, I am living proof of that. It is important to tell this story so that women in India can become aware that they are not alone, and that help is available. As women, we are not second-class citizens to be abused by people who should care for us, we are vital members of society who deserve respect and caring.