Examples are frequent taunts and banning access to family and friends

Changes in the worldview of women who are more empowered and independent now, low level of tolerance among couples, high stress levels, family pressures and not spending enough time together are some of the reasons for marital discord in today's society, family counsellors say.

Shailaja Prasad, a family counsellor who works with Mahila Dakshata Samithi, feels that swift changes in work life trigger problems between couples. “There might be ego problems between a couple for the simple reason that the wife may also be earning. If she is earning more, the problems may be even more,” she says.

Rise in cases

Pointing out that people are no longer patient [in nurturing their relationship] and tend to jump to conclusions at the drop of a hat, Ms. Prasad says she has seen a considerable rise in the number of domestic violence cases against women.

“Going by the number of cases that we get at Mahila Dakshata Samithi, domestic violence also includes emotional and social abuse. Passing sarcastic comments against the spouse, taunting her frequently and not allowing her to meet her family and friends also amounts to violence.

“Of every 10 cases we get for counselling, at least seven pertain to domestic violence,” she says.

This is common both among the lower income group and the well-heeled as well.

“While the number of physical attacks may be less frequent among the elite class, emotional and social abuse is found to more among them,” she says.

‘You never know'

Anisha Shah, Professor of Clinical Psychology at NIMHANS, says there is a big rise in the number of people who seek help from trained counsellors.

“This is unlike what used to happen 10 years ago,” she says. “We often see couples whose conduct in front of others, including their children, does not give a clue about problems in their relationship,” she adds.

Efforts

Dr. Shah, who has authored an article, “Violence and Abuse in Therapy with Couples: Guidelines and Concerns of a Therapist -cum-Trainer,” says psychologists are making more efforts to identify factors associated with domestic violence.

Impacts mental health

“Spousal domestic violence, with violence directed towards women, is found to frequently [cause] emotional disturbance in women and has short-term as well as long-term consequences on their mental health,” she says.

“When couples realise there are problems between them, they should learn better ways of handling the [situation].

“They should seek help instead of taking steps such as avoiding each other or becoming violent,” Dr. Shah advises.