The Gift of Fear


Have you been in an abusive relationship? I hope and pray that you never get into one.

I was reading  about Gavin de Becker’s ‘The Gift of Fear:survival signals that protect us from violence.’ It is about trusting the intuition, rather than any technology, to protect you from violence.

Violence can be of several types- physical, mental, psychological, emotional….the victim is abused because the perpetrator believes very strongly that ‘ you have been asking for it due to your behaviour/ choices/ resistance etc..’

All blame is shifted onto the victim. The perpetrator believes that , after all, he or she is the master of your life , is it not?

Abusers adduce to themselves the power of God-

-they will decide how you think,

-what you think about,

-what you dress in,

-what job you do,

-to whom you speak,

-in which manner you speak,

-whether you have the choice of saying NO,

-whether your life belongs to them (due to what they consider as their ownership papers- marriage or engagement  or commitment)

-whether you have any right to have sanity and breathe fresh air…

Actually, to that man or woman- you have nothing of the above choices. They will control. End of discussion. Why? Because…well because you are the cause of all their suffering. Oh yeah! Had you been an ideal man/ woman/ lover/ wife/ fiancée/ mother/ Godzilla… It would not happened, you see? So you deserve to be punished by all means available- legally, financially, psychologically, physically, emotionally…

Do children matter in this rampage? Not at all. They are collateral damage- they deserve it too because they are siding with the victim, aren’t they? What is the use of  by products,  that are of no use to the  original argument, eh?

Have they not heard of the words ‘moving on?’ When both human beings detest each other, what is the point of hanging on together?


And that is why you have  dead beat dads, abusers, psychopaths, sociopaths, criminals, honour killers ,  and their ilk. The degree of crime is different but the underlying philosophy is the same. “You deserve to be punished for daring to do something that is not accepted in their code of living.”

I will not deign it to call as a code of honour- that will be belittling the word itself.

Quote from the book: ‘ For men like this, rejection is a threat to the identity, the persona, to the entire self, and in this sense their crimes could be called murder in defence of the self.’

De Becker forewarns- ‘ Like every creature, you can know when you are in the presence of danger. You have the gift of a brilliant internal guardian that stands ready to warn you of hazards and guide you through risky situations.’


Women across ages, have felt the trap closing around them so often, and still chosen to ignore it . They have for ages, suffered  terribly due to that stupidity. Suffocated and degraded into apologising for what they were.Told continuously that they were not good enough/ woman enough/ this enough/ that enough/  and drained of everything beautiful and dignified in this world. See, it was all the victim’s fault.

Later, victims have fled when intuition asked them to. The safety cannot be expressed in words.Even from within the safe arms of all those who loved them, within their strong forts, armed by their own true strength, they have been battling evil.

An evil which believes that no one has a right to run away, to escape to hope for a new life. ‘Ha! You thought you can get away easily , did you? Without all those humiliations that I was storing up for you day by day? I shall drag you through years of degradation, and subject you to the totality of all that was rotting within me. I will make you wish that you had remained under my control- because the act of escaping has made you deserve a punishment more harsh than  your rebellious subservience.’ See, it is all  the victim’s fault.


I am working on the translation( from Malayalam to English) of a taut psychological Novella that will  go to print in a matter of months.

The protagonist is a victim who turns herself into a perpetrator. It is a deeply disturbing transformation- wherein I have found my fingers trembling as I translated her thoughts, her vengeance, her fury. Try as I might to distance myself from the emotions every time I edit it, I find myself staring at that disturbing chasm of churning human emotions.

Suddenly, I do not know whom to pity- the heroine or the others. In one way, she has turned the tables by destroying everything. Medea she is, and justifiably so, in her perspective.

“Violence is a process, a chain in which the violent outcome is only one link,” explains de Becker. There are four sub components-

1. Justification- the person makes a judgement that they have been intentionally wronged

2. Alternatives- violence seems the only way forward to seek redress or justice

3. Consequences- they decide they can live with the outcome

4. Ability- they have confidence in their ability to use their brains or body or cunning or money to achieve their aims.


I think of William Faulkner’s disturbing classic short story,  ‘That evening sun go down.’ If ever there was a story to highlight  the theory of Gavin de Becker, it had been that. The doomed Nancy, I shall never forget. Ironically, the victim who had ignored her intuition  to her peril, in another great classic, Oliver Twist, had been named Nancy too.

All of which gives me a sense of destiny. At this point of my life, I was supposed to do this translation, read this book, and even type this note. To literally speak out against abuse of every kind.

For freedom, for independence, for dignity.





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