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Sexual violence doesn’t just bruise the body, it bruises the soul. Do not just bury your pain by distractions, treat them- care for your mental health, it’s just as precious as your body.
I was around 19 years of age at the time- a sophomore in college when I came across a girl a few years younger, who told me that she was raped as a child. Before I met her, I had only read about rapes in newspapers, and heard debates on the topic of rape. I remember I was 18 when the Nirbhaya incident happened, and had only been in Delhi for 6 months. Suddenly everyone close to me cautioned me and told me to be extra vigilant about my safety, as by that time Delhi had become the “rape capital” of India.
The girl told me about the brutality of her rape by one of her relatives, and how she and her family never pursued justice for her. As a consequence the perpetrator still lives freely, and perhaps the pedophile already had, or would violate more children. She was convinced that her violator would never get incriminated because of his power and position. I wasn’t told what his exact power and position were.
She told me her story under the strictest confidentiality. What I saw before me was a brave girl, although she was terrified on the inside. A girl who never received any psychological support after she was raped. A girl who buried her “shame”. A girl who once blamed God and later chose to forgive the same God who let it happen to her. A girl who considered herself “dirty” after she was raped and resorted to ritual cleansing, a girl who buried herself in books and studies to disengage herself from the atrocity that had happened to her.
The girl was raped as a child. I do not know the incidents which occurred leading to that event. When she confided in the person she trusted most, she was told to remain quiet– the story of many rape survivors. When she recounted to me the horrors committed on her, she showed a kind of nonchalance; she didn’t cry and she didn’t break down once. She even apologized to me for recounting her story to me.
I knew she was tormented by her past, even though she appeared “ok”. She harbored many phobias. After I knew her story, I came to understand the cause of her phobias. She was afraid of the dark, she was afraid of being alone in a room, she was afraid of the smoke of cigarettes and the smell of liquor. She had mentioned to me before that her violator was a chain smoker and an alcoholic.
I was both shocked and disturbed with what I had heard. I didn’t know what I should do, although clearly she needed someone to tell her that she needs help. I didn’t offer her any consolation or advice. I had none to offer. I had no idea how to even act after all that I heard. I couldn’t imagine what it must have felt like to be raped at that tender age and be hushed by her family to never let anyone know about it. But I had no idea what should have been done in a case like that. I didn’t know how to talk to her about seeking psychological support.
The girl who recounted me her story was just like any other girl of her age- peppy, jolly- having big dreams and ambitions to make it big somehow. But she was gravely disturbed on the inside. Her phobias would plague her everyday, and I witnessed them.
Sexual violence doesn’t just bruise the body, it bruises the soul. Do not just bury your pain by distractions, treat them- care for your mental health, it’s just as precious as your body. You might not receive the justice you deserve from the outside world, but you can do justice to your own self, by taking care better care of yourself. As you have reclaimed your body, work to reclaim your mind from the bygone horrors- seek professional psychological support.
Image source: shutterstock
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Research scholar with a passion for writing, music, art, cinema and animation.
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