Certain moments in life are more important than others. These are moments of impact that shake you out of normalcy, making you see how every person you pass has a life just as vivid and complex as your own. They make you wonder how many people suffer in silence.

My moment of impact was more dramatic than I could have ever imagined it to be. Although life is under no special obligation to give me what I expect, it had been particularly hard on me the past few days. I had lost my sister to a careless and unsafe abortion, for which I was being framed as the culprit. While my family mourned, I was stuck in a jail cell for a crime I did not commit. It was then that Gauri, the Inspector on duty started coughing blood and soon fainted. Her subordinates, clueless and frightened, let me help as we rushed Gauri to the hospital. On examination we found her abdomen bruised, black and blue. This woman, fighting against crimes on the public every day was a victim of one such crime herself. Her husband, unemployed, ignorant, and with a sense of false masculinity took out all his anger and frustration on her and beat her up. Perhaps it made him feel like more of a man. The physical brutality was such that Gauri had lost a large amount of blood and had to undergo surgery to recover from the blows her body had taken.

This protector of the law was being emotionally and physically violated by a man and his fragile, underfed ego. A part of me felt nauseated, and the rest of me tried to feel Gauri’s pain. Trying to understand why she never spoke up about it wasn’t easy because there is never just one reason. Imagine talking about the harshest reality of your life, and have people paint you the culprit. They make excuses on behalf of the oppressor. You try to get away from the man that violates you, and people label you as a loose woman. Incapable of making your marriage work. It is never easy for victims of domestic violence to speak up against their partners, and the blame lies on the society and its habit of victim-blaming.

Now every time I am in a room full of people, I wonder what story of pain the person standing next to me is keeping to themselves.