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A victim of sexual abuse by her own brother, the writer was shunned by her family. This is her story of forgiving and finding peace for her own self.
My name is Anita Goel and I am sharing my own #MeToo story. I am doing so in the hopes that it will raise and spread some awareness about the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse and all the other abuses prevalent in our society.
The victims keep suffering in secrecy as they are shamed by the very people who should support them. These are also the people who spread rumours about the victim’s sanity.
With my story, I hope I can give courage to the victims of any kind of abuse to come out and speak about it. I believe that they, too, deserve to live a happy, healthy and normal life. They don’t deserve living like they are made to believe they deserve.
My abuser was my elder brother, who is 11 years older than me. He abused me for several years and left me with a lifetime of clinical depression among several other issues.
I don’t know how many other brothers and relatives hide in plain sight and live respectfully under the society’s protection. The reason I am sharing my story is because I hope everyone who does read it will look deep inside themselves before, they judge anyone, my abuser included.
My sister’s role might seem a little too negative or it might seem like I am mad at her or she is worse than my family. However, that is not the case. When it comes to abuse, I have always been able to share it with a very few people and she happens to be the main person who knows the details.
I have tried to share my story with my family, but I never got the response I expected. And since I wasn’t as close to them, I didn’t take their response personally, either. After a few tries of telling them, I gave up. On the other hand, I wanted my sister to fully understand and see my point of view.
She may look like a villain, but in my experience, she is actually a very nice person. And I know that she is a much better person than most of my family members. In the end, it is all about the perspective and conditioning of the upbringing in our society and culture.
No one in my family supported me emotionally. I think this was because none of them was abused by my brother. And also, because due to their conditioning, they thought that the problem lies with me and my thinking. They think, I believe, that I am the one living in the past and not letting go of it. I am, according to them, the negative person not letting go of the past even though the sexual abuse stopped several years ago.
I am sharing my story for all the families like mine who care about the society more than they do about the victim or the courage the victim had to share their story.
Please, don’t try to shut the victim up or try to make them feel even worse. Don’t make them feel bad by pretending that their assault never happened. Most importantly, don’t force them to continue their relationship with their abuser like the abuser did nothing wrong.
The victim already, possibly has severe depression and lower self-esteem as a result of being violated several times and due to the threats of the abuser that no one will believe or support them. What this does is just make the victim’s life more hellish and shatters her already fragile self-esteem into pieces.
Also, don’t stop the victim from telling the love of her life about the abuse. This might delay the support she desperately needs and has never gotten before.
Initially, I was hesitant about sharing my story because I was thinking of my innocent family members back in India. The people may have modern appearances but are extremely backward and judgemental deep inside. I overcame the hesitation when I thought of another thing. The other thing being people thinking that I am sharing my story to gain sympathy or because I have a grudge against people.
I am saying this purely out of my personal experience but just because the things are not out there in the open, doesn’t mean that the society is pure and that they have the right to thrash and shun the victim’s family in public.
In my case, when I talk about the victim’s family, I mean, my demonic brother’s children, my other brothers, sister and their families. These people are just abiding by the societal norms and while doing that, they end up hurting the victim more, unintentionally and unknowingly. None of them ever touched me or looked at me inappropriately but I am still worried about them.
It took a lot of introspection to understand that I can’t change or control what people think or what they do. What I can do, is what I feel is the best for my integrity as woman and especially as a mom.
I take pride in living without pretences and appearances. However, if I can’t tell the real truth about myself because I fear the society, then there is something wrong with the society and I can’t change that either.
My truth eats me every day and I know I can’t keep running away from it. If not to myself, I definitely owe it to my daughter. For years, I suffered from it and even now I suffer. In spite of having a great father, I know my depression is not good for her at all. She is a teen and wants to know the real reason behind my crippling depression.
I share my story so that she knows that she is being raised by a strong, compassionate woman who survived it all and lived to tell the tale. My other intention is to close this chapter (the most painful one). While the people in the story might think and believe otherwise, I have forgiven them. (forgiven, not forgotten)
I was sexually abused by my older brother from as far back as I can remember. I was too little to remember exactly when it started but joining the dots, I can tell it started between 4 and 5 years of age. It ended exactly at the age of 11 years and 1 month, when my demonic brother got married. He never penetrated fully but did everything imaginable and unimaginable including oral sex and more.
After his marriage, the sexual abuse finally stopped but the emotional abuse and blackmailing continued. It wasn’t a one- or two-time abuse, but I was violated at least once every single night and a number of times during the day as well. My brother somehow had full open access to me, thanks to my mom who believed that my brother would not do something like this to his own sister. I got enough courage to confront my parents at the age of 18 but they still refused to believe it. This, despite them knowing that he had a sexual history of underage sexual relations with my cousin sister. (I am not disclosing her name out of respect for her.)
You all must be wondering how I know about my sister. It came in the open after my demonic brother completely denied even touching me and called me crazy claiming that I was imagining things. He also swore on all Indian Gods about how innocent he was.
That’s when my dad said enough and that I was telling the truth and told me how my brother got my cousin pregnant and completely denied everything. He finally confessed and managed to blame my cousin sister. Since they were both the same age, I guess they shared the blame. After a quick abortion, my cousin was married off quickly.
And after that episode, I became the perfect target for my sex crazy brother. Since I was so little, I could be controlled easily, and I became his sex slave because my mother also trusted him blindly with me.
My father was always busy providing for the family and after telling us about my cousin sister, he asked my mother, “didn’t I tell you to be careful with him?” He asked her what she had been doing all this while when this was happening right under her nose.
That was when my mother gave a stupid excuse about how my demonic brother always told her that he loves me the most in the world and will not let any harm come to me. She also went on to say that she thought my cousin was another thing and he won’t do something like that to his own sister.
My mother was, and still is, a great mom when it comes to other matters. However, she was always blindsided by my brother. My brother’s birth finally brought some joy to her joyless life, thanks to the constant torture and beating by her MIL. She was verbally abused by other relatives too and once again; I blame the society and the way it functions. Other than being blindly attached to my brother, my mom never treated my differently than my brothers and never once did she hit me.
I used to run away from school since all I wanted to do was go home and sleep. This banned me from most of the schools in the area, but my mom was dead set on me getting an education and kept telling me how she suffered from the lack of it. Being illiterate, she was married off at the age of 14. And since my father was always busy with my work, my mom was subject to constant torture and harassment for not producing a son.
I have been depressed since as far back as I can remember. And I tried my best to give subtle signs to my mom and older sister. I am amazed at how they never caught the signs; especially my mom. How they never noticed I kept getting more and more withdrawn, or how frequently I asked to visit the ladies’ doctor or even how I constantly complained of it hurting while I walked. They failed to notice how I separated my legs while I walked or how I went to sleep the first thing when I came back home.
I was truly amazed (I was very afraid of my demonic brother and it took me years to finally speak about it. My dad used to be sick and my sister and other relatives were already advising them to get me married. I was left with no option since I wanted to tell them the reason why I didn’t want to get married.) when I finally confronted my brother, all I was looking for was him to come clean and accept what he did in front of our parents.
What I wanted was for him to apologise, then for me to get psychological counselling and make a good career. But what I got was nothing since my parents asked me to keep the matter to myself and for the sake of the society and forget it for once and all.
Dad did try to support me as much as possible and did try to delay my marriage. But due to the societal pressure he was also victimised, and I was married off. How I got married is another story but soon I realised that marrying my husband was the best decision of my life. He is a strong and compassionate human who can handle me with all my baggage without losing his calm and goodness.
Anyway, back to the story of my abuse, I wanted to tell my husband about it before the marriage. But I made the mistake of telling it to my sister first and being the perfect older sister, she never gave me the opportunity to not trust her.
However, when I did tell her about my abuse, her first reaction was to think that I enjoyed having sex with my brother and that was why I hadn’t told her sooner. I asked her how a child between the ages four and eleven could enjoy sex.
At which she responded by saying that my demonic brother was a kid then and didn’t really know what he was doing. Then she told me that she loved me the most and that no man would ever accept such a wife. I believe she said all this to keep our family name intact in the society.
For the first three and a half years of my married life, I kept the secret from my husband and my sister too did the same. But one day, I told him about my abuse thinking that he would hate me now. His reaction shocked me because he asked me why I had not told him sooner and that none of it was my fault.
For the first time in my life, someone else wanted to understand me and wanted me to know that I wasn’t the one to be blamed. By this time, I had tried to kill myself once before telling him about the abuse. I was almost a living corpse by then, but I knew I had to get stronger and better for my husband.
So, I started picking myself up slowly and started becoming spiritual. I was on a high dosage of sleeping pills, but I managed to meditate and heal myself in such a way that I completely got rid of my sleeping pill addiction.
Fast forwarding to 2006, when I had my daughter, I started having nightmares about my abuse and these were becoming more real and vivid by the day. I had no support from my family back in India, as usual. And my doctor also said that due to chronic abuse, my brain chemistry was changed forever and that I needed meds for my entire life.
I am sharing my story in the hopes of gaining some relief. I owe it to my daughter and all the other daughters and innocent kids out there.
Anyway, moving on to 2015 when my eldest niece got engaged, I told my demonic brother that I won’t be able to attend because my daughter had school. But then his wife called and was like, no you have to come. So, I asked my husband if I should be going. He said it was completely up to me.
Meanwhile, I was also seeing a psychiatrist every three to four months and in all my years of treatment, I never told him about my abuse. But in October 2015, I told him about the abuse and how I didn’t want to go to the wedding. I could see he was shocked, despite being a doctor, and appreciated my husband for coming in for every appointment and making sure I was fine.
My doctor believed that I shouldn’t go and when I told my sister about this, she got mad at me and yelled at me for having told an outsider. Basically, not just her but also my sisters-in-law all felt that I should forget everything and move and go for the wedding. I didn’t go and that did strain the
I should have broken off with my sister and my family on my own, so that is kind of my fault but that is for some other time. Meanwhile, what I didn’t know is that in early November 2015, my youngest brother was diagnosed with colon cancer.
At this point of time, my sister was under a lot of pressure and was unhappy that I didn’t attend the wedding. That’s when she said I was such a negative person and how I must be cursing everyone all the time and how it might have led to someone getting cancer.
I told her that I cursed no one and asked her who got cancer, she denied this vehemently. But I was certain that the oldest one got it, so I asked all my sisters-in-law who said nothing.
I think by then, mine was an image of this crazy, feeble person who can’t deal with stress of any sort. Eventually, it was my youngest brother who told me that he had cancer and that he was the one who had forbidden everyone to tell me about his cancer.
I was furious thinking that they believed I would curse my youngest brother, I loved him the most among all my siblings! That was the last straw for me.
Till then none of my nieces and nephews knew of my abuse. When I told them about it, I also told them that I couldn’t take the kind of treatment I got from my other family members who told me what a horrible burden on earth I was.
That’s when my demonic brother’s son said that if I made this public, he would kill himself. I told him I wouldn’t but that I would need an apology of some sort from his parents and my sister.
My sister did nothing intentionally but a lot of hurtful things were said, and I was told that my nephew’s life was more precious than the closure I needed.
This incident was three years ago, and I have been waiting for closure since then. I think I will keep waiting. But I am sure my nephew tried his best to no avail.
All my family has done is, cut all contact with me and block me. I have made my intentions of going public very clear to my nephew. And I believe he will do no self-harm since I keep telling him the value of human life.
I am not a 100% sure if I will get the closure, I seek by sharing my story but I am hoping that my story will save an innocent girl by making her parents more aware. More often than not, it is the people we trust the most who break our trust and ruin our lives.
Had I not met my husband, I would have been a living corpse and since my sister was responsible for introducing me to him, I am grateful to her. I hope that all the sisters out there learn from my story that the victim needs to be supported and not the perpetrator, that the abuser is never right, no matter what.
I will always love my sister and my family, and I hope that one day my demonic elder brother will know that the truth needed to come out and be told regardless of how I would be perceived.
Sorry for having the taken the story from I don’t know where to a completely different place but
I am writing this in one go, so forgive me for all rambling that I may have gone in.
Picture credits: Pexels
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Instead of seeking vengeance after horrific crimes, the public should push for faster and better judicial resolutions. That is the best tribute we can pay to the victims.
Trigger Warning: This deals with rape, violence against women and police brutality, and may be triggering for survivors.
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