A Letter To My Son: This Happened To Me When I Was In College

Posted: December 31, 2015

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A mother writes a letter to her son, recounting the stories of sexual harassment she faced while young. She talks of the incident she was in a cab with 7 men.

#ShareYourStory is an initiative by Breakthrough to bring the conversation around sexual harassment into families; to get women talking about the harassment they have experienced with their family members, especially sons (or other boys and young men.)

Dearest Son,

How blessed are you. How very fortunate. Your birth itself deems you so as you have been born a boy. Strange words to hear from a woman? That too your own mother? But in light of what one has seen in life and everyday occurrences that are soon forgotten, you should be aware of the ‘Great Divide’ as I call it. The divide between the genders – man and woman. And it is you indeed that can create a change. A change so essential to the soul of humanity. I pray it begins with you and you take it forward, creating a ripple effect – the change being Respect for Women.

A cause I have always believed in, sadly as society has made it out to be a ‘çause’ which should never have been the case in the first place. Why do we not hear of ‘men’s issues and rights of men’ as frequently? My own experience has further strengthened this belief.

The time in my life when I did not have a care in the world and was happy jumping around in a park or reading books is indeed the most cherished memory of my childhood. I wanted nothing more in the world than to flip pages to transport myself to different places of the world. But the ugly face of the world that I saw in reality darkened my perspective on life and its beauty. From being eve teased to sexually assaulted, I experienced what is every woman’s nightmare.

One particular incident that stands out to me is during my college days (more than a decade ago) when the buses would be late on a few days and we would have to resign ourselves to take the call centre cabs which would drop us to the main city for a mere ten rupees. From thereon we would take an auto and reach our respective houses. On one such day when the cab stopped at the bus stop people were jostling to occupy a seat. As I sat down and the door slammed shut behind me, to my horror I noticed, 7 men in the vehicle with me and my friend standing by the bus stop, unable to have climbed into the vehicle in time. My heart ran cold and I froze. I was unable to find my voice to tell the driver to stop as he made his way onto the busy roads. Memories of the past flashed through my mind, the terror, the trauma, and I was silenced while screaming in my head.

Suddenly the cab picked up speed and took a detour into a forest lane. None of the men were even looking at me and I prayed vehemently for God to spare me. I prayed with every ounce of my being to not let history repeat itself and to allow me to survive this journey unscathed. As the lane came to a close the driver turned back onto the busy road, the attempt being at avoiding traffic which for me had meant otherwise. As the cab stopped at its usual stop, I jumped out and headed home. Upon reaching my room, the floodgates broke loose. I wailed like never before. I cried with relief and gratitude for not having been violated. I cried for my younger self who endured horrific abuse that tainted memories of my childhood. I cried for my future which would have never happened had I in a weak moment taken my own life. I cried for the world I live in where I could not feel safe during an activity as simple as commuting.

Years of assault and harassment conditioned me to always be wary of their physical presence, the clothes I wore every time I stepped out, using public transportation and being out of the house at certain hours. Every episode of that nature during my childhood embedded this thought further into my mind.

Why is it that one has the right to violate another? That in a moment, one’s life changes and the person they could have been alters forever? Who gave the right to these individuals to treat someone in a manner so harsh that their very soul carries such scars well into adulthood? Do you consider this fair?

For me it doesn’t matter what you grow up to be, all that matters is you treat people right. Treat women with respect and understand that your words and actions can change another; their perception about themselves and the direction of their life. For any woman who would bestow her concern, affection and friendship towards you, whether you wish to reciprocate or not, be respectful. Respect her for the words she utters and who she is. Respect her for the clothes she chooses to wear and the lifestyle she chooses to adopt. The freedom that comes to you naturally due to your birth right must be granted equally to her.

Be the kind of man a woman would take pride in – having you as her friend, brother, lover, husband or father. Be the man I wish I had in my life during the worst time possible. Be the change.

Cover image via Shutterstock

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1 Comment


  1. Beautifully written – caused a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat!!

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