The Pitfalls is a series that I have been working on, based on some of the common scenarios I have seen in my work over the last many years. Some of them have left me very angry and frustrated. The line between immense frustration and intense anger is so fine, you nearly always miss it and feel terrible afterwards. With this series, if a few become more aware, it would go a long way in making me feel a bit more hopeful
Common scenario #1: Educated, confident young woman. Hangs out with friends, enjoys healthy social life and is out to make a mark in the world. Parents introduce her to this nice young man. They meet, get along all right, families like each other. They start corresponding after the guy heads back to Aus/US/UK/whereever he lives and a few months later they tie the knot.
Young woman happily moves to her new husband’s city/country. They have discussed this and plan for her to take a few months to “settle” down and then look for work.
A few months go by, the new bride is happy to explore the city, make friends and while she doesn’t find work straightaway, there is no need for panic.
She joins a gym, goes to afternoon catch-ups with friends and gets her nails done, her hair done regularly. A few more months later, she is now applying madly for work but it is not really clicking. Her previous experience is not really counted. Husband tells her to aim lower, she applies for junior roles.
Husband is also getting cranky, he was sure she would get work soon and all those new friends, the lunches. Do you really need to get your nails done every 3 weeks? And seriously, how often can you catch up with the same people- they have nothing better to do?? And the gym is $15 a week and you went only once last month!!
She finds a job, its not what she wanted or hoped for….more junior that what she was doing back home. But she takes it, you have to make your way up in a new country.
The job is full-on, leaving really early in the morning, to take the train all the way. In the evening by the time you get home, it’s late. She rushes dinner prep, gets organised for the next day. Then there is washing, cleaning and al that stuff.
The work too is drudge, not very challenging. She doesn’t meet her friends much any more. The pay is not great either and it hardly covers the travel and food. The weekends are mostly shopping, catching up with common friends of her husband.
And one day she complains…..”I thought it would be differnet, I cannot believe I left a great life and came for this!”
Husband gets really angry….”I cannot believe how spoilt you are!! Do you know how many girls are not even allowed to work?? And I don’t mind left overs or take-out!! What the hell is wrong with you!”
And so it goes…..the arguements come more frequently, there is a few broken dishes, doors slammed and lots of frustrated tears….finally there is a raised hand.
I have heard and seen this too many times to count….. And the anger/frustration line is not the one the perpetrator or victim have hit. It’s me- the social worker….
The frustration that a young, educated woman does not realise she can be strong. She needs to be aware and she needs to be informed.
So many of these young women work- some in pretty low paying jobs, but they work. And NONE have a bank account in their name- NONE. The day they decide to walk out, their joint accounts get wiped clean and cards blocked. Almost all are additional card holders on their partner’s cards.
But all are co-applicants on loans that their husbands have taken. Husband can leave them with debts they are not aware of.
Many are sole applicants on rental applications. In one case the male partner trashed the rental property and sicced the wife with the clean up bill.
Many cases, the women have not learnt to drive or don’t have access to a car.
Some don’t know where their passports and other documents and certificates are.
“My husband takes care of everything” is something you hear so often!!
They sign documents put in front of them, without checking- one woman signed off a whole range of things and then later told me, her husband just gave her the signature pages to sign on, did not show her the rest of the documents at all……when I asked her why she did not question the need to sign 16 pages….she said “he asked me as I was making chappattis and I was so distracted”