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The story of Priya, a survivor of child sexual abuse – this is a story of abuse, rape and violation, but also a story of strength and inspiration.
It took her three decades to break her silence and share her story with the world. Three decades of mind-numbing silence would have been a torture in itself. I salute Priya’s courage, a child sexual abuse and gang rape survivor. I will not belittle her by calling her a victim. She is a survivor, and a tough one at that. Priya’s story is one that needs to be told and re-told until India starts behaving and these sexual crimes are a thing of the past.
She was just three years old when she lost her mother. Most would feel that losing a mother is the worst that could happen to a child. But, life had planned a different strategy for young Priya. She was repeatedly sexually abused by her own father at an age when she was way to young to even understand what was happening to her. Priya was an innocent toddler who grew up to believe that sleeping only in inner-wears was a norm and there was nothing abnormal about her father touching her in inappropriate places in the middle of the night. Begging the father, Mr Stanley Jason Arvind, to sleep with clothes on didn’t help either. Any requests of the kind were met with a threatening to pack her off to a boarding school. Imagine the shock and horror she must have gone through when truth started unfolding itself to her. I can’t begin to even think what that little girl must have felt.
Priya was violated at such a young age and that is something that could scar a person for life. But, she is no ordinary person. She was finally sent to a boarding school when she started being vocal about Mr Stanley Jason’s violent nature, to some relatives. She took charge of her life and moved out of home where she was abused every night. It must have taken immense courage to take that first step towards a better life. She was only a class X student that time. I couldn’t even help myself to a cup of tea when I was that age. Priya, on the other end was taking a step towards an independent and abuse-free life. This new life came at the cost of zero pocket money, which meant that she had no money to even buy sanitary napkins. If she was lucky, a relative would visit and hand over a little cash, which she used for nothing else but this most basic necessity. Life was tough, but the survival instincts prevailed and Priya sailed through school and college, and alongside she started working in event management companies for financially supporting herself.
It wasn’t easy, but Priya made ends meet. Her only support was her friend and confidante, Sirisha Vanketraman who lent her money and gave her shelter in her own home during vacations. Priya continued working and studying (she was pursuing MBA now) side by side. She then came in touch with her classmate and one of Sirisha’s friends, Raju. Raju was friendly and always called Priya, his sister. And then one day, on the pretext of offering her a new assignment with an event management company, Raju and his friends gang-raped Priya in a car, on a deserted road. She was violated once again.
Priya tried to put up a fight, and during the commotion her phone accidentally dialled Sirisha, who was on her speed dial. When Sirisha called Raju threatening to inform the cops, Raju handed Priya her clothes and let her go. Raju knew about Priya’s turbulent past and thought it was okay to let her re-live it as it had already happened once. Priya, once again bounced back into darkness and didn’t leave her room for days together. A few weeks later, Raju met with an accident and didn’t survive to rape another woman. Maybe that’s God’s way of giving justice, as almighty knew it would takes ages to even file an FIR in India, let alone the case moving to court and Priya getting justice.
A note from Priya herself : “If PM Modi reads my story, he may do more – building shelters, rehabilitation of rape victims, fast-track cases and create more stringent laws. Yes, I voted for Narendra Modi. I also pay my taxes.”
Priya’s story doesn’t end here. The survivor that she is, she completed her MBA, started working full time and right now she’s doing a great job at an event management firm. She still fears being alone in the vicinity of men though and confesses that there were instances when she didn’t recruit a man as this fear reigned supreme. That is something that’ll take some psychological help to get rid of, or maybe the presence of a right man in her life who could show her that men could be darlings too.
Recently, Priya approached my friend and writer Sreemoyee Piu Kundu to tell her story to the world. It’s another big step that she has taken in this battle of survival and I hope bringing it out in the open would give Priya some closure. I salute the undying spirit of this brave woman, and my support in written word, or otherwise will always be with her.
Here’s to strong women – may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them!
Image of a sad lady via Shutterstock
A software engineer, a realist, and a cribber by the day. A chef, a writer,
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