Domestic Violence/Abuse

"What kind of a mother are you," screamed a lady, "who can't even take care of a baby...sleeping all the time...kaamchor (lazy asshole)...keeping a babysitter, cook and maid...you can't even handle household chores or a husband, not to even speak of mothering a baby."

"Look, I will pay for your medication as and when I can, or else find a job to help support yourself", said a man. "I have to spend money on bills, my parents' treatments, as well as my personal expenses."

"You need to adhere strictly to your medication, Jyoti", warned a family doctor. "The way you are taking it, neither on time, nor everyday, can put you at risk. Please give your health the top priority – or else you will succumb to the virus and go into a second line which will then be more expensive than the present one you are taking now."

All these voices rang in my ears...screaming mother-in-law, irresponsible husband and concerned doctor. I was putting my life at risk. If there was something I had to do, then it was only I who could get things done - instead of depending on others, irrespective of the consequences or the result.

My Viral Load count was not so good with detectable levels and my CD4 count lingered between 300-400. I needed to fight back. I love life, and even if that meant I might lose some part of me, which I might or might not get back, what mattered now was to live. And LIVE I did - though I LOST something in return.

Looking back, I have NO REGRETS. I signed the divorce papers after I found that he was in love with someone else, planning and preparing to get me out of the way so as to marry the girl. Moreover I divorced him because I felt that he found spending money on my medication was of "no value" - I say this because despite the doctor's repeated advice, he failed to provide me with what I needed the most. And my life was at stake!! I went out in search of a job, that too outstation, leaving my child behind under the care of a babysitter, which resulted in my mother-in-law hating and verbally abusing me and my husband finding this an excuse to call off the marriage completely. No matter how hard I tried to save it, it was beyond repair.  Therefore to "gain" my life, I "lost" a home, family and my child.

6 years later:

  • Undetectable Viral Load
  • CD4 count between 600-700
  • Happily re-married to HIV-negative partner who provided a loving home and great in-laws

One thing void in my heart is my child - who is now all grown up - an 8-year-old intelligent boy. I doubt if he even remembers his "real" mother - but when the time comes, I will see him too.

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Judith Auerbach, Ph.D., is a public sociologist, independent science and policy consultant, and adjunct professor in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to helping women with HIV.

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