Published: 09th October 2020
Why Indu Gopal's Project Kintsugi could be the support group that every domestic abuse survivor needs
We spoke to Indu Gopal, who runs Project Kintsugi, a support group for divorced women and domestic abuse survivors
What is the best way to mend a breakage or heal a scar? If we're talking pottery, the Japanese have mastered the art. Through Kintsugi, they pour a lacquer mixed with gold, silver or platinum through the cracks. What you get back is a better and prettier version of your old pot. The scar wouldn't have been erased, but it tells you a story and reminds you that it is not the end.
Indu Gopal is no potter. However, the word is quite close to her. Working as an HR professional from Chennai, she runs Project Kintsugi, a support group for divorced women and survivors of domestic abuse. "Project Kintsugi isn't about making the damage disappear, but it's about embracing the damage, creating something beautiful out of it and owning those scars," says Indu. Through this almost two-year-old initiative, Indu conducts support group meetings and helps survivors get in touch with therapists. They even have a Telegram group through which women can anonymously ask questions and seek guidance.
Indu says that the incidents that followed her divorce in 2018 were what led her to start this initiative. "My divorce was a long process. When I decided to go ahead with it, I remember not having anyone with a similar experience to handhold me through that. I did not know how to approach a lawyer and start a conversation with them. My family wanted me to go to a female lawyer, but I did not want to put a gender preference there," she says. "In that span, a few from my immediate circle knew what I was going through. Slowly, I was approached by women, who would ask me questions about the process. That was when I realised that there is no forum for them to address these concerns and get help. That was how it all began," says Indu.
So, one fine day, while on a bus from Chennai to Hyderabad, she started a random Instagram poll to ask people if they would be interested in a meetup. "I was surprised to see that around nine women turned up there," she says. That was Kintsugi's first meetup. Indu clarifies that she never professed that 'divorce is amazing', but instead wants to show the women out there that a divorce isn't the end of their life and that there's more to it. "It was difficult for me too for a while to look at the bigger picture and realise that my life doesn't stop here," she says.
Even though she is an empathetic listener who can relate to their problems, Indu isn't a qualified therapist. She also tells us how some of the stories that people share directly or online can trigger you. That was when she realised the need to have therapists to help people out. "So, I created a crowdsourced list of therapists and lawyers, whom they could approach," she says.
People often wonder if Indu has moved on from her past since she talks about it openly. "But that is just part of my story. Being open about it doesn't mean that I'm hung on to my past," she says. The story is Indu's wound, which she doesn't hide. Instead, she created something beautiful out of it.