white black legal international law journal ISSN: 2581-8503

Peer-Reviewed Journal | Indexed at Manupatra, HeinOnline, Google Scholar & ROAD




Authored By: Khushi

Course: BA.LLB {First Year}

Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar


This paper explains the in-depth concept of Domestic Violence and its types highlighting the major consequences faced by the survivor and the perpetrators. The paper then discusses the legal framework of India which corresponds to the Domestic Violence Act,2005 and other provisions that deal with the act of domestic violence. Indian laws are said to have a soft corner towards women, the paper also talks about why there was need for such laws and how in today's approach some laws need to be gender neutral. Taking into account the center of everyone’s attention, the paper also targets the Depp v. Heard Case on the lining of the psychological concept of DARVO i.e., Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender. Which deals with the behavioral patterns of both the Victim and the Abuser. According to the report of WHO (2018), 1 in 3 women are subjected to physical and/ sexual violence by an intimate partner or non-partner sexual violence or both. It also states that women from the age of 15 to age of 50 experience violence or are victims of abuse at least once in their lifetime. The main dilemma of today's statistics is the comparison of statistics between men and women as victims and perpetrators, the paper discusses exactly that.

Key Words: Domestic Violence, Depp v. Heard, DARVO, Domestic Violence Act,2005, The Men Battered Syndrome.


Domestic Violence is the threat or exercise of psychological, physical or/and sexual abuse/harm to a person in a domestic environment. It is associated with all forms of injury against the physical and mental integrity of a person who has been a victim of exploitation of power in an intimate setting. Domestic Violence is not a single event but a rather complex series of a patterned abuse can include physical, sexual and psychological abuse. What makes domestic violence different from assault is the relationship of the perpetrator and the victim. The degree of closeness can refer to intimate partners, former partners, family members, spouses, friend acquaintances.  Despite the general neutral definition, Domestic Violence for the most part of history has been in compliance with gender specific violence based on the inequality of power between the sexes. Public attention to domestic violence was brought in the mid 1970’s and early 1980’s as one of the chief elements of feminist activism to overthrow the taboo of men’s violence on women is a private matter rather than a public one. Back then, Domestic violence was synonymously used with the men’s abuse of male power to control their female partners.

Over the time, Domestic violence was also used interchangeably with intimate partner abuse and intimate partner violence. Its first synonym was given by the Australian jurisdiction {commonwealth, Tasmania, Victoria} as family violence in order to broaden the horizon of domestic violence and including emotional and psychological abuse as well. Just like the coin’s other side, as soon as the concept of domestic violence which is/was often correctly misplaced? Maybe, maybe not- pronounced with and as wife beating, wife battering, sociologists Suzanne Steinmetz brought up the issue of “The Battered Man Syndrome” which means the man beating and abuse of men by their intimate partners. As soon as this article hit the media, it was a success with newspapers and was published in a plethora of magazines, papers etc. comparing the concept of violence from the narrative of both men and women. Male and female. This contributed as the seedling for gender symmetry which was proposed first in 1975 while interviewing the prevalence of domestic violence in American families.

Much as to evolution’s rise, with the current course of non-binary gender a better terminology and conceptualization is being considered to attract the inclusivity of each and everybody.

Legal Framework Of Domestic Violence In India

Domestic Violence is defined as an act which harms/injures /endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well being including mental and physical harms which leads to physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse. The domestic violence act also states that if a person harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person as to coerce her/ any other person to meet the unlawful demand for any dowry or valuable security is said to be Domestic Violence. This definition of domestic violence inculcates both mental and physical abuse in correspondence to sexual abuse as well. The scope of this definition has made thousands of women step out from the dirty mattress of their lives. The Domestic violence act, 2005 gives this definition to bring the equality among sexes to a par. However, the act had/has some loopholes and is quite often misused to detain innocent men at the whim of the woman. The major question which arises here is, if the statistics for women abused is more than manipulation of law done by them? With the uphill of the current discourse of gender symmetry, another question that is posed in front of us is, where should the male victim of abuse go? Are they protected by law?

Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was formulated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2005 and was enforced on October,26’2006. Before the Domestic Violence Act,2005 came into existence, A woman could file a complaint towards her husband/a relative of husband under S-498-A under the Indian penal code on the grounds of subjecting cruelty to her. Cruelty under this section is defined as any wilful conduct which is likely to drive the women to commit suicide or a severe injury or danger to life. It also includes harassment to coerce the woman to meet any unlawful demand of Dowry or any property or valuable security. This section was added in the Indian penal code in 1983, following a similar pattern in 1986, S-304(b) was introduced to serve the issue of Dowry deaths, according to this section the burden of proof transfers to the husband and his family. In 2013, the National Crime Records Bureau accounted for 8083 dowry deaths, Despite the Dowry Prohibition Act,1961 which punished the givers and takers of dowry, dowry deaths saw a consistent rise in India.

The arrival of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 also referred to as Domestic Violence Act,2005 was one of its kind in its time. The laws catered till now were criminal in nature, an introduction to a civil law giving the married women a right on shared household work as betterment of women in their marital homes.

The victims {woman} of domestic violence is also entitled to receive maintenance from the husband. Along with that it was held in Savita Bhanot v. V.D Bhanot, that the wife is entitled to maintenance even if the domestic violence has been committed prior to the act coming into force. 

With the growing revelations and cautiousness, it came into question if female perpetrators can be liable for abuse as per the domestic violence act? In the landmark judgement of Hiral P. Harsora Vs Kusum Narottam Dass Harsora[1] The court struck down the adult male from the s-2(f) as respondents of the act, clearing the mother-in-law (in that specific case) as the respondents. On this line the judgments of Sou Sandhya Manoj Wankhede Vs Manoj Bhimrao Wankhade and ors.[2] and Smt. Menakuru Renuka Vs Smt. Menakuru Mohan Reddy[3] The court expressed its intent to never exclude the female relatives of the husbands from their role as perpetrators.

The inclusion of both male and female perpetrators is a step towards gender symmetry but the law still does recognize male victims of abuse and offer them no protection. It is a topic of debate as to why men are not protected under law. To look deep into the topic let us consider the stance of men starting from the beginning of the feminist moment.

Prior to the 1930s, the condition of women in India was inferior as regards to men. Men held and somewhere still hold power over the financial independence of women. Taking a moment to clarify, by financial independence here is synonymous as their bread winner and their sense of superiority that comes with it. As for women, they go from one house to another with no assets in their name. In primitive India, along with rural areas of today’s India, marriage is still considered as the event and combination of two families rather than two individuals. The opinions of extended families or members of joint families. It's not only the men but the women of such families who also put a huge pressure on the new brides. The pressure could be in the form of bringing in dowry or giving birth to a son/ male child. The lack of literacy, lack of financial independence, lack of security are the major reasons for the bias of laws towards women i.e., to bring them at par with men. As women took upon their rights and law gave them equal rights after independence, the implementation of these laws was not up to the mark along with that the society and their systematic views do not change overnight. Women had autonomy over themselves but nowhere to go. A significant example of such a title is the fear of losing home. Once a woman is wed in India,

she goes to live with her husband and his home. The notion of living in a shared household came much later. In 2011, the national crime report bureau found that 50% of crimes in India were accounted for by cruelty under husband and relatives. These kinds of implications affect the formulation of laws and gender symmetry in interpretation of the law.  There is no denying that men are victims of abuse as well, the minors are protected under the POSCO act, however, adult males are not protected in case of abuse, however they can still contest divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty under section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955. Men are often scrutinised by the over shadowing patriarchy around them. The notions of Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (men does not feel pain) and the ruse of always being stone cold, not showing emotions and not addressing their emotions with healthy coping mechanisms restrain men from seeking help they need which leads to agonising torment and misery in males’ life. Now that men are coming forward about their abuse and supporting MeToo, there are petitions revolving around the inclusion of males in the Domestic Violence Act,2005 which currently holds women and children as their beneficiaries.

The budding support for men’s rights against abuse gained massive support with the Depp vs. Heard case. Johnny Depp V. Amber heard case was a roller coaster of emotions for a lot of people. Depp sued Heard over an op-ed in Washington Post (2018) where Heard describes herself as a survivor of domestic violence. The celebrity case gained a lot of fans following with the trial being live on YouTube, millions of people were invested in the decision of the case. Just to bring in it light, the case very swiftly moved from being a defamation trial to a trial of domestic and sexual abuse. Who abused who? This was the question everywhere. As facts of the case, Heard also filed a Restraining order against Depp after a messy divorce from him and going with 7million dollars of settlement. Now, Depp sued Heard claiming Defamation from the op-ed done back in 2018, which cost him some acting roles including his role as Caribbean Pirate. Heard nowhere in her statement mentioned Depp in her statement and Depp’s whole case was built on implication of defamation. Johnny and Amber's 18-month relationship went through a turmoil of ups and downs. The major turn off of Johnny’s suit was the age gap between the couple. It was reported that Depp was 48 and Heard was 25 when they began dating. The question of Amber abusing Heard is highly unlikely referring to the power imbalance between the two. But the revelations during the hearing were as vague as a non-cited article. Johnny’s lawyers repeatedly used Amber’s mental health as a weapon against her, which raises the red flag of how a person suffering with PTSD and borderline Bipolar

Order is in a position to abuse a man twenty-three years older than him. If anything, a person with mental health disorders, is the most vulnerable to abuse, both mentally and sexually. The lawyers using such manipulation to win the public opinion is just tacky and borderline dangerous to everybody who suffers from mental health issues and could easily be framed as the source of the preparators wrath. Is this what we represent with our justice systems? Moving a little back in time, in April 2018, same year as Amber’s op-ed, a tabloid, The sun, called Depp as wife-Beater. Depp also sued the tabloid for libel, but he lost this suit. The catch here is that Johnny Depp is already a wife beater in the eyes of law. What we as a community failed to understand was that Amber Heard may be guilty of abuse or not, Depp was guilty of the same. Who abused Who? Maybe both of them. Maybe Amber. But Depp did. Depp won the defamation trial with 10 million dollars, while amber was awarded 2 million dollars. While it feels that a huge part of Amber's story is missing and she could be smart to appeal the decision. What makes this case important is the emerging concept of DARVO.

Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim And Offender

Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender, often known as DARVO was a concept developed by De. Jennifer Freyd in 1997 to describe how preparators react when confronted with allegations from their violence. It is when a perpetrator denies his act of violence and in reverse poses as the true victim claiming “that the abuse was a threat to reputation or was a vengeful act synonymously used as crazy lady” while pushing the actual victim to the deep end of being the perpetrator. As followed by the tweets of Dr. Nicole Bedera @NBedera, psychologists look for a certain set of patterns while identifying the victim and induced victimization of the preparator itself. During an elaborate series of tweets she came to conclusion with the basic difference in the tendencies of the perpetrator and the victim. It was observed that the perpetrators are prone to use violence to control their victims while victims are to defend their actions. The victims are quick to take accountability and minimize their injuries while the perpetrators are to exaggerate their account of injuries and take the minutest of the blame. Taking into consideration the hysteria and confusion of the victim, the perpetrators often try to attack the victims credibility and establish themselves as true victims. The victim often tries to defend the perpetrator and justify their actions taking responsibility for each and every moment that could have led to the abuse. The perpetrators on the other hand

manipulates the situation according to their narrative, and make believe the act of abuse was in self-defence, or they were lured into the pretence of violence. The perpetrators are more likely to have recorded the hysteria of the victim after the act of abuse, to have a keepsake of the evidence with the emotional turmoil of the victim. Most victims when they come forward are not believed and often become an altruistic version of abusers while the people around them find them to victim- blame. Many women do not believe other women as they come forward with their experiences of the abuse, the major reason of which is, it is easier to accept the carefully hand drafted calculations than to consider the flashes of abuse by the victim. Women amongst themselves often find themselves comparing their experiences as a survivor to other survivors, posing the question, who is the real survivor? 

It is observed that the majority of women who have a relationship with the perpetrator come to their defence, resonating with them in the act of their own abuse. Many women in India defend their abusers thinking it is normal for the abuse to happen if they do not come at par with the shiny expectations of their perpetrators. What makes it dangerous is, how many cases of Domestic abuse go unreported just because women it is normal for their partner to hit them.

Is DARVO Different From Gaslighting.?.

Gaslighting means leading a person to believe that they have no credibility. The victim is led to believe in the shared reality of the perpetrators, with counters like, “that did not happen”, you are making that up”.

Gaslighting is the part of the Deny and Attack phase of DARVO. In this phase, the perpetrator sometimes outright, sometimes subtly denies his act of violence and tries to shift the allegations into air by making believe the victim, what they are encountering is a hoax. The Attack phase is when the preparator attacks the credibility of the person while also pressuring the victim. The attack might also be in the phase of violent outbursts towards the victim.

The latter phase of Reverse Victim and Offender is the sneaky shift of blame of abuse from the perpetrator to the victim. The behavioural patterns of both victims and perpetrators have been discussed above. Just to clarify, the victim and perpetrators have no genders. The concept is gender neutral and we by all means respect and stand in solidarity with male survivors as well and we preach closure for them and seek all the help they need. There is no intention of leaving the other half behind.

The concept of DARVO, is built around a questionnaire which helps professionals clear out the ambiguity of the allegations posed by the participants in the relationship. DARVO came out in context with the MeToo movement and was surfaced by many to look into the concept. It was on the line of events when Amber Heard gave her op-ed. The truth in the case is known by no one but Depp and Heard. The ugly parts of the relationship are held by them and not the public opinion. But the force by Depp’s fans declared him the victim. It might or might not have influenced the jury’s decision. Was Depp’s lawyers’ approach public posturing? Yes. Did the public most likely influence the decision? Also, yes. The juries give decisions on the emotional approach of a person. It is easier to influence a person with minimal to no degree of training of law and human patterns, while judges and lawyers root the false victimizing from the round end, the emotional intelligence sometimes take a majority party in the given ruling.

Types And Consequences Of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence, is the act of violence intending physical, psychological, and sexual abuse in a Domestic setting. (Setting describes the relation of closeness with the perpetrator). [1]

In consistency with the definition, the types of abuse/ domestic abuse/ domestic violence are as follows:

Physical abuse and violence: Physical abuse attributes to the physical injuries on the victim’s body, often the injuries are a result of excessive violent behaviour which includes slapping, kicking, thrashing leading to both external and internal bleeding and injuries. The extent of physical injuries can be short term and long term. The long-term injuries may include permanent damage to organ/body parts. A continuous physical abuse or prolonged abuse can also lead to amnesic memory of a person, which is caused by immense stress (both physical and mental). It is observed that most women conceal physical wounds and are less likely to report it, which again can be a consequence of pressure from the perpetrator. The perpetrators have a nook to diffuse trauma and make or conceal facts to divert the result of their behaviour through DARVO.

Sexual abuse and violence:  Sexual abuse is a sub associate with physical abuse. sexual abuse means any unwanted and unwilful sexual activity (rape) (can also be associated with marital rape) (note: marital rape is not criminalized in India, but is a ground for divorce).

In Indian law, sexual offence is described in Section 375-377 of the Indian penal code. It is defined as any unwanted sexual activity whether on the physical, intellect or mental degree of consciousness which leads to suppression of will of the victim by invading personal space where victim feels coerced or manipulated and which involves infliction of pain. A severe consequence of sexual abuse is Reproductive health, unnatural (read: forced) sexual intercourse (read: abuse) and frequent physical abuse can put a toll on the reproductive health of the women. There can be complications during menstruation and conceiving a child. Along with that, victims of abuse are more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, most common of which are chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhoea and HIV/AIDS (viral STI’s). psychosomatic complaints i.e complaints concerning mind and body are also common in victims of sexual abuse.

Psychological abuse and Emotional abuse: psychological and emotional abuse is abuse of power. The perpetrator tries to control the free will of the victim subjecting them to isolation, incapacitation, exhaustion leading to disability, humiliation[2]. It can be done in the form of denying food, financial assets, and social isolation. The victim in most cases has minimal to no form of interaction outside of the perpetrators sight. Victims of psychological and emotional abuse struggle with low self-esteem, low confidence, social anxiety, depression and suicide.
Social and economic abuse:  Social and economic abuse are a branch of psychological abuse. They deal with social and financial isolation which leaves the woman with no means to escape the abuser. Social and economic abuse is more common in rural India, where women hold next to no assets on her name, and are completely immobile in this aspect. The restrain of social interaction and refrain of financial autonomy restricts the victim from their perpetrators home. It is observed that children living in an atmosphere of Domestic violence, or children who are victims of abuse at a young age, are more vulnerable to abuse in their relationships. Different counties have set up numerous helplines to make it easier for victims to inform the respective authorities to help them out of such a situation. In India, child helpline no, is 1098 and 24/7 helpline no. for victims and survivors of sexual assault is 8793088814

A detailed analysis of medical literature on domestic violence has been attached for your reference.

Author: Lynn Barkley Burnett, MD, EdD, JD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP,

Publication: Medscape, emedicine.medscape.com

Link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qAbId21rUnR1EbTbvWa7ZEVFTg7C6wtt/view?usp=sharing


The following data has been complied through the website of women aid federation,

It is observed that, one in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner (UN Women, 2021). Fewer than 40% of the women who experience violence seek help of any sort (UN Women, 2015). 42% of women who experience intimate partner violence report an injury as a consequence of this violence (WHO, 2013).

Femicide:  Everyday 137 women are killed by a member of their family (UN Women, 2019). 63% were killed in their own homes. 55% were killed by a partner or ex (of the resolved cases).  (Women’s Aid Femicide Watch 2022)

Sexual Violence: There were 1,104 disclosures of sexual abuse made to the Women’s Aid services in 2021, including 411 disclosures of rape (Women’s Aid, 2021).

Twenty five percent of victims of sexual violence in 2020 were female, with females under 18 years of age reporting the most sexual crime that year (CSO, 2021).

As for men, the statistics for men, the majority of them go unreported, primarily because of lack of support but during the survey of National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) in 2010, it was observed that, nearly 1 in 59 men (1.7%) have been raped in their lifetime survey. 1 in 7 men (14.0%) have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. 1 in 19 women (5.7%) have been stalked during their lifetime.

Lastly, the following report has been downloaded for the National Crime Report Bureau of India, it explains the current status of crime against women in India, and also states the no. of cases which resulted out to be false.


The paper gives an insight to the history and present scenario of Domestic violence, giving a sense of understanding as to why the law is the way it is. The paper discusses the stance of male victims and their position in the society, the statistics of men as victims of abuse are not readily available which only directs that most cases of domestic violence where males the victim and survivors go unreported. The cases of Domestic violence are increasing day by day, even after enactment of laws, the perpetrators continue to exert power and victims continue being on the receiving end. It is important to know that there is no gender of perpetrators or victims. As evolution goes by, the status quo resembles to equalize, while the generational abuse of women puts them in a survival priority, we in no way intend to not believe men. Believing women does not mean not believing men. We people of the nation stand in solidarity with all the victims. The Depp vs Heard case, touches on a lot more than just a defamation case, the author tries to bring a different angle towards the case and opens up the concept of DARVO, which today is an evasive way to sneak out of being the perpetrator and crossing the thin line of the victim. We as a community need to believe people when they speak up about their experience with abuse, the consequences of abuse suppress many of victims and those who speak are on a fight and flight mode, confrontation never comes easy, so standing with them, listening to them and getting them the help, they need is the bare minimum, we all should comply too. The paper lastly, compares the statistics of cases reported and cases dismissed because of identified malice. Law can have loopholes, but the interpretation of misuse, not only reduces the credibility but also makes the real victim difficult to access. The law makers need to move forward with gender symmetry while keeping in mind the effective implementation of the same. A correct and non-biased investigation, regulating the dismissal of complaints and many more to ensure the reporting of domestic abuse. 


Palgrave Studies in Victims and Victimology ISBN 978-3-030-27499-3 ISBN 978-3-030-27500-6 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-27500-
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ICCT Research Paper May 2020 DOI: 10.19165/2020.1.03 ISSN: 2468-0486 Swiping Right: The Allure of Hyper Masculinity and Cryptofascism for Men Who Join the Proud Boys Author: Samantha Kutner
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As Depp v Heard resumes, so does the trial by social media; Warring accusations of violence and cruelty and high standard for defamation make the trial a muddled affair. Date: May 15, 2022 From: The Guardian (London, England) Publisher: Guardian News & Media Document Type: Article
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Amber Heard's mental health issues should not be used as a weapon; The message coming from the courtroom in the Depp v Heard trial is that the mentally ill cannot be believed or trusted. Date: May 15, 2022 From: The Telegraph Online Publisher: Telegraph Group Ltd. Document Type: Article Length: 861 words
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