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.)
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
A Powerful Man Sexually Abused Me At 18 And I Still Have Nightmares About It
An Open Letter To My Son: Work On Building Trust
#ShareYourStory Of Sexual Harassment: Let’s Get Men Involved!
A Letter To My Son: This Happened To Me When I Was In College
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