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Walking towards hope

R Sriram Srinivas, who has multiple disabilities—mental retardation and spastic diplegia—takes a breather during his yoga session at home. P Settu, his yoga therapist, who has been teaching Sriram two years now, says that Sriram used to be inattentive and restless, but now follows instructions well and has mellowed down significantly.  



Images and text by Naveen P M

Walking towards hope (2/9)

M Vanitha, Sriram's teacher, helps Sriram wear his dance apparel before the start of the 'World Differently Abled Day Cultural Programme' at Don Guanella Special School in Chennai. Due to Sriram's condition, simple tasks such as putting on clothes can become a chore and he often ends up needing some assistance. 


Walking towards hope (3/9)

Sriram rides his bicycle—fitted with a custom-made backrest—flanked by special education teacher, G V Arumugam. Arumugam has known Sriram for 15 years and was initially hired to teach him basic reading and writing skills. On Sriram's parents' request, he started to assist Sriram in walking and then taught him how to ride a bicycle so he could improve his muscle tone. 

Read Sriram's story here


Walking towards hope (4/9)

R Devi helps Sriram read a clock at Sai Sri Ram Training Centre. Sriram has difficulty reading and writing even basic words, and has a hard time grasping universal concepts such as time, date, and money. Devi is Sriram's favorite teacher. Sai Sri Ram Training Centre has eight students with special needs, two teachers, and a domestic help. The school functions from 10 am to 3 pm and keeps the students busy with a plethora of activities such as coloring, computer games, and yoga.


Walking towards hope (5/9)

M R Karthik, physical trainer, subjects Sriram to one of the many "balancing exercises" to improve his balance and correct his "scissor gait". Karthik has been training Sriram for the last two years. "In the beginning, Sriram could hardly stand for a minute on his own and displayed a lot of traits commonly seen in persons with Intellectual Disability (ID), such as lack of eye contact, droning, drooling...," says Karthik.

Read Sriram's story here


Walking towards hope (6/9)

Sriram and his classmates from Sai Sri Ram Training Centre perform to a medley of Bollywood songs at the 'World Differently Abled Day Cultural Programme' held in Don Guanella Special School, Chennai. P Dharani Kumar, a professional choreographer, composed the dance moves for this performance. He visits the school every weekend to teach dance to these students. "Sriram usually has trouble recollecting and executing my dance moves but he stepped his game up through some spontaneous moves," he said. 

Read Sriram's story here

Walking towards hope (7/9)

Sriram is ecstatic after receiving a silver medal for the Standing Long Jump event. His driver, D Alvin (right), and Sriram's mother, R Vanitha, gather around to congratulate him, at the Special Olympics Sports Meet held on YMCA Grounds, Chennai. Sriram shares a special bond with Alvin and the two can often be seen engaging in healthy banter. 


Walking towards hope (8/9)

Sriram does a lap of backstroke at The League Club, Chennai. His parents introduced him to swimming at the age of seven after a doctor suggested hydropathy as treatment. Sriram has been training under U Sathish Kumar, swim coach for children with special needs, for one year now. Sriram won four gold medals in as many events at two swim meets for para-athletes held last year in Tamil Nadu.


Walking towards hope (9/9)

Dr J Paul Devasagayam, Area Director, Special Olympics Bharat, Tamil Nadu, reviews Sriram Srinivas's progress with his mother, R Vanitha, during one of their monthly meetings at his 100-square-foot office in Purasawalkam, Chennai.


What is intimate partner violence?

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is preventable public health problem that affects millions of women around the globe
By Dr Vranda M N

WHO (2010) defines intimate partner violence (IPV) as behavior within an intimate relationship that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including acts of physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviors. Intimate partner violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or are in an intimate relationship. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.  

Violence against women is a serious public health concern. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) report in India reveals that one third of women aged between 15-49 years experience physical violence and 1 in 10 have experienced sexual violence. Moreover, married women are more likely to experience physical or sexual violence by husbands than anyone else. One in six married women has experienced emotional violence by their husband, states the report.

Women who are subjected to IPV suffer from both acute and chronic mental health problems, including high rate of depression, anxiety, dissociation, somatoform disorder, cognitive impairments, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.

IPV is also a significant risk factor for suicidal behavior among women. Often for women affected by IPV, getting out of an abusive or violent relationship is not so easy. Many women fear that if they leave, their partner will try to find them and harm them. They also worry about losing custody of their children. Hoping for a change in their spouse's behavior women often get trapped in a cycle of violence.  

Both physical and mental health professionals can play an important role in identifying women who are experiencing IPV through screening and offer appropriate psychosocial intervention.  An effective and comprehensive psychological intervention should focus on the following:

  • Behavioral domain, which includes increasing safety of the client.
  • Cognitive interventions, which address the client beliefs about the causation of the abuse, perceptions, cognitive schema, self-esteem, expectations, self-efficacy and attributions.
  • Psychological interventions, which focus on handling client anxiety, depression, trauma and other aspects of distress.

Apart from this, assessment in the area social supports is also important in safety planning. This includes offering information about crisis centers, shelter homes, legal aid and police referral should also be a part of comprehensive treatment plan.

Dr Vranda M N is an assistant professor at psychiatric social work (PSW) department in NIMHANS. She and her team run a special clinic – AWAKE for women with intimate partner violence - at NIMHANS Center for Wellbeing (NCWB). For further information, please call 080 2668 5948.

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