Q&A with Kanchan Bhaskar, Author of Leaving: How I Set Myself Free from an Abusive Marriage
Q: Can you tell us more about your book?
A The book narrates my journey of metamorphosis from a victim of domestic abuse to an empowered survivor. It is a story of my arranged marriage to a deceptive social charmer who turned out to be a narcissist, alcoholic and a violent man. He kept me in his captivity under his power and control, tormenting me verbally, physically and emotionally. I had to free myself and protect my three children, but how? The law was not on my side, society shamed me and lawyers gave me no respite. I searched for a way to escape till I found it. It is a story of hope, desire, resilience, empowerment and transformation. My journey did not end after gaining freedom. I had to work towards achieving tranquility of mind and soul. Today I have transcended into a thriver, live life on my own terms and with purpose. I like to call myself a fighter and not just a survivor.
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: It was a calling. I was searching for my purpose in life. My children and my therapist persuaded me to share my compelling and endearing story with the victims who want to escape and the survivors who do not know how to take the next steps in life. “They need you. Become their advocate and help them get free just like you did. Share your tools and beliefs. Make it your purpose.” That was my true calling, my mission, and my way of giving back to the community. Thus, reaching out to people of domestic violence through my story of escape and transformation became my purpose.
Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: Flying planes in the infinite sky, amongst the clouds was my dream. A woman pilot was out of question in the late seventies. “Let me become an airhostess”, I thought. But that changed when I completed my Masters. Getting happily married to my prince charming, having a number of children, and nurturing them became my desire. I now work as a full time Human Resources professional.
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of writing your memoir, and how did you overcome it?
A: The most challenging aspect of writing my memoir was reliving the trauma and revisiting the pain. Writing about the abuse was extremely emotional and stressful. I took breaks to be in the wilderness to make some space in my heart and mind. Keeping razor sharp focus on my purpose kept me going.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is currently in an abusive relationship and looking to escape?
A: First and foremost, prioritize your safety. Speak-up will be my second advice. Tell your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors. Don’t be ashamed, it is not your fault. You are not the guilty party. Seek out resources and support systems such as hotlines, shelters, and counseling! Plan your escape, build a roadmap and commit to it. Remember that you are not alone, there are people and resources who can help and support you.
Q: How has writing this memoir and sharing your story affected your relationship with your children and other family members?
A: I have been always close to my children and immediate family. Maybe, the respect for me would have gone up a notch.
Q: What impact do you hope your book will have on readers who are survivors of domestic violence?
A: I hope and trust that my story will inspire and empower survivors of domestic violence to not be fearful of taking the next steps of living life whole heartedly. They may have forgotten how to live in freedom. They need to visualize it and make efforts to get there. They may have to work to regain their identity and dignity. Have belief in yourself. You have already moved a mountain, now only some rocks and pebbles are left to be moved.
Q: In addition to volunteering as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, what other ways do you plan to use your platform to raise awareness about this issue?
A: This is a pandemic which has spread across boundaries, ethnicities, genders and ages. There is a collaborative and integrated effort required to eradicate the disease. The survivors need to come out and share their experience. I plan to continue to lend a survivor’s voice to raise awareness in society about what happens behind closed doors. Society can play a major role in listening to the victims and providing them with direction to the resources available to them. The adolescents and youth need to be educated what partnership means and how children staying in violent environment lose themselves to vices or become socio paths or carry a big dent in their personalities. I also plan to work with organizations and charities that support survivors of domestic violence, and to help raise funds and resources for them.
Q: Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
A: I am a born optimist, which is a blessing. I like to take challenges and meet them. I am an ardent music lover as that keeps me connected to my soul. I am a voracious reader and a fun-loving person who likes to live life to the fullest. I am also a seeker on the path to spiritualism.