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A mother writes a letter to her son, on what it feels to be sexually abused, and how to be a man, who knows how to love and respect women.
#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.)
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I was 5 years old when I was sexually abused for the first time. Oddly, I remember every detail of that afternoon. The room, the bed, the light blue walls and the ancient, long-nosed fan, the dull squeaks of which have kept playing in my head over and over again for so many afternoons after that. Three faces stare at me as I lie on the bed, skirt up, panties down and my heart beating like a drum. I do not cry. I do not resist. I am afraid to move, afraid to speak, afraid to close my eyes. And I watch those faces. The faces that are not strangers. The faces I know so well, faces that visit my family every weekend, play with me, and bring me chocolates. And they are the people who you have met, spoken to, and shook hands with.
Fast forward to age 12. Cycling back home used to be the most dreadful part of my school days. Everyday I would see a man waiting in the corner of a lonesome street. As soon as he saw me, he would unzip himself and expose his private part. With an ugly grin on his face he would stare at me waiting to catch my reaction. I wanted to scream. I wanted to slap him. But all I could do was work my legs harder on the pedals.
Like million of other girls going to college, I have been touched and groped inside buses. I have been told to wear decent clothes so that I don’t invite ‘trouble’. I have been told to stay back home after dark. I have been told how much to speak, how much to want, how much to dream. I have been told over and over again that I not a boy. I have been told to compromise. Yet, like every other girl I constantly dream. Of love, of friends, of dancing, of short skirts, of being unafraid.
I always wanted a daughter. So that I could give her everything that I, as a girl, had to sacrifice. But when I had you, I knew it was for a reason. So that through you I could give all those women out there an opportunity to reconsider their opinion about a man. That he is not an enemy. That he is a trustworthy friend, a companion, and a protector. That he knows how to love. That he respects her for who she is. Won’t you help me and all the other women out there dream again?
Cover image via Shutterstock
Sowmya Vidyadhar is a freelance copyeditor and works for International magazines and publishing companies, editing
I am so glad that this story deals with very important safety issues. Enough of the silence on these painful topics. Because such criminals roam free in homes, bearing benign titles that belie the malignant disease they carry -the power and pain they wield over little children causes them endless suffering from psychological trauma!!! Many a time, all for want of an avenue to be heard and their complaint addressed. Its time to empower our children and adults with our alertness and our voices of support that they may not feel weak or alone in a moment of such tragedy!!
Thank you for reading. Just like you said, it is so important to listen to our children and empower them through our strength and experiences. 🙂
Reading this reminded me of a similar incident many years ago when I met a man walking in a deserted street with his fly open and his privies sticking out. I recognized him as an employee of a veterinary shop close to where I lived. When he saw the fear in my eyes he grinned and then let out an awkward laugh. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me and luckily my lungs cooperated. That image stayed with me for many months. Its only last year in my Psychology class that I learned of a sexual disorder called Exhibitionism. What you described is an everyday occurrence in many households in our communities, the effects of which are borne in silence by the victims. We certainly need to talk about these things boldly and openly, to listen to our children when they try to bring such inicidences to our attention, we also need to pay closer attention to them so that we can intervene in a timely manner. Thank you so much for writing about this. It is well written and empowering. Our children need to be made aware that most perpetrators of child sexual abuse are people they know so that they can be more alert.
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