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A survivor of cyber sex abuse as a child can be traumatised so badly, that the effects can last forever … a hair raising personal story.
What is the one thing that would come to your mind if I asked you to think about your childhood? Would it be the smell of your grandmother’s cooking wafting in the home on a holiday, or the fighting for the last bite of mangoes with your cousins?
My childhood had all of this. The problem was that my childhood had more.
My childhood had two abusers, nude pictures, cyber sex abuse, and BDSM.
I still vividly recall the day my driver planted a kiss on my mouth. I had just gotten off the slide and he held me in his arms before kissing me. I was barely 8 and he would kiss me every single day as he picked me up from school and tell me that it was completely okay.
It was not just when he would pick me up but sometimes even when nobody was looking that he would squeeze my body really hard and plant kisses. I remember the day my mother sent him away because they found that he stole some money.
It took me years to realize that this was abuse.
I was in my eighth standard when I first discovered that a laptop has something that is called a ‘web-camera’. My friend dared me to take off my clothes in front of the camera in an online chat forum and little did I realize that it would be the day my life would change forever.
I was 14 when I stood naked in front of a computer. I was sweating a little and the whole experience of knowing that there was someone else watching my body was getting me excited and nervous at the same time.
Within a few seconds, I received a message from the stranger who was viewing my body. “Check your e-mail” the message read.
With the least expectation of what was to follow, I found an e-mail with three attachments and the subject line “I hope you enjoy these!”
Three completely naked pictures of me that he had managed to take screenshots of.
I stood there, tears rolling and completely blank. A part of me wanted to rush down to my mother and tell her everything but I stopped.
I only brought home prizes and glory from school. Never shame and humiliation.
So I swallowed my tears and asked him what he wanted.
What followed was 7 long months of cyber sex abuse.
It was battling between my dance classes and school homework in the morning and coming back home and waiting for darkness to fall in utter fear. It was taking more pictures of myself in whatever way he wished. Sometimes with just my naked legs or my dirty brown nipples as he liked to refer them to the barely 14 year old me.
He practised BDSM and liked to refer to me as his ‘slave’. He understood clearly that pushing me any further than my limits would mean that I would break and tell my parents and hence he kept me well within what 14 year old I could do.
Normalcy became coming back home to pictures of his private parts and hurting myself and taking pictures for him.
He would threaten me that if I did not follow these little instructions, the whole world would see my naked photographs.
At school, I was Ms. Goody Two Shoes and the thought of the world knowing that I had been naked in front of a stranger was enough for me to keep this abuse going.
I would stand in front of a monitor and beg and cry for him to let me go but he would keep threatening me with the pictures he had.
It took me 14 long months to tell my parents about this. Nobody talked to me or took me to a counsellor but they handled it in a way they saw fit and told me that criminals on the internet could not be easily found. Since I belonged to a more liberal household, I was left with a warning and no shaming and supervised computer access.
The worst part about being abused as a child is that you sometimes carry it into your adulthood. I can safely say that there still isn’t one day when I can peacefully sleep without a little sense of fear lurking in the pit of my stomach.
I have emotional trouble and issues maintaining my relationships because I seldom trust people and have a huge sense of boundary that I fiercely protect. I still deal with a lot of guilt because I believe that it was my perverse curiosity that made me stand in front of a monitor and strip.
I have tried about 6 therapists in my adult life and I find myself tongue tied whenever it comes to talking about this. I have never found the courage to tell this story in front of a group of people because I promised myself that I will tell this story only when it does not bring shame and tears to my eyes.
A few years into therapy, multiple doctors and countless treatments and endless conversations later, I can safely say that I am making progress.
But on some days, I am that little girl again. I find myself drawn to kids a lot and I am fiercely over-protective of them. I still walk around with my bag clutched to the side of my arms as though someone is out there to get me.
I can safely say that every tomorrow feels like the day I would be able to tell this story and maybe it won’t feel like mine anymore.
Image source: pixabay
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Nandhitha Hariharan is a writer with a love for anything that is pretty or covered
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