When writer and entrepreneur Shasvathi Siva took to Instagram to share her experience after getting divorced in 2018, the barrage of positive responses she received highlighted the need for more people to talk openly about the otherwise taboo topic.
What started off as content under #DivorceIsNormal has now branched out into a divorce support group as well as an upcoming book by Siva. “When you speak about divorce, you’re constantly asked to brush it under the carpet,” she said, adding that she has even faced negative comments from people online and offline claiming that she’s encouraging divorce. But she remains steadfast in her goal to help people navigate this difficult period in their lives by providing information and a sense of community.
“In my support group, there are a lot of people who would rather remain anonymous because they’re too scared to associate themselves with something that has the word ‘divorce’ attached to it,” she said. But she feels that these groups play an important role as a support system for people who face challenges like social isolation due to their marriages falling apart. Emphasising on the importance of having access to people who’ve had similar life experiences, she remarked, “Knowing that you have people who talk about the same things, you also learn from each other’s journeys and histories, you get the help that you need. Only a community can make that possible.”
With the pandemic still raging, the support group has mostly moved online. But Siva hopes to expand her work to make it more accessible to people who don’t have resources like the internet. “For people who don’t have support in their families and their friends, the platform provides a safe, non-judgemental space to actually come to a group of strangers, talk about their lives, and take away something that is so valuable,” she said.
(Interviewed by Sherina Poyyail; video produced and edited by Nang Tanvi)