In India cases of domestic violence no longer elicits surprise. However, statistics suggest that it is girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 who experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence. Nearly 43 per cent of college-going women who are dating, experience violent and abusive dating behaviours, which points towards a couple of obvious caveats. First, this cannot be yet another problem that we sweep under the rug and second, we need to consider younger populations than ever before. If you think time will heal all wounds, several studies show that teenagers who have experienced violence are at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence. Most teens who have had such an experience tend to keep things to themselves, mostly out of fear of their partner finding out.
Recognising the need for young women to have a safe space where they can talk about their experiences as a result of being in an abusive relationship, Rajshekar Patil, a Bengaluru-based advertising creative, started a Snapchat account called ‘lovedoctordotin’. He was joined by Avani Parekh, who runs LoveDoctor and Nida Sherrif, who runs Chayn.
Why Snapchat? Because it is the only social media platform that does not keep any record of the sent messages giving the girls the confidence to ask for help, The account posts stories about relationship abuse everyday. Any Snapchat user can contact the account asking them questions about abuse or even report abuse. The user will then be directed to live counsellors at lovedoctor.in or to Chayn India or both, as per the need.
As of now, the group hasn’t been contacted yet. However, the team shared that several people are viewing their messages, which means that they are being able to spread their message across. They also plan to organise interactions in select colleges in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore on relationship abuse and relationships. “As long as they are viewing the guide, downloading it, bookmarking it to look at it later – We know we’re doing our job. We need students and teens to know that guides like this exist, and if they don’t already, we will build one for them. As long as they don’t feel alone, or like the task of reporting and getting out of it is too big for them handle. In our society, we tell young people not to take these things seriously, but they should,” Nida Sherrif told Buzzfeed.
Rajshekar Patil and his friends at Bloc & Enter Guerrilla Films made this YouTube PSA in order to promote their Snapchat account: