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In the 32 years of my life, I have learnt only one thing – nobody will come to your rescue. It is only you who can change your situation.
Trigger Warning: This post contains details of child sexual abuse that might be triggering to survivors.
The woman you become in the future depends on the men you’ve met in the past. Strong, confident, (sometimes) arrogant, distrustful of men, or a feminist – whoever I am today, it is because of the men who were a part of my life and past.
Let me start from the beginning – when I was just a few years old. I don’t remember my exact age, but I think I was in nursery. There was a boy in our neighbourhood – the only son of one of my mother’s friends.
As there were no other kids in the vicinity, we used to play together. At what point did those children’s games turn into dirty games, I don’t remember. The only memory I have of that age is him touching me inappropriately on my private parts.
It would happen all the time when we were playing alone at my house or his. It was an army colony. Our fathers used to be at work till evening. Meanwhile, our mothers would be busy for hours filling dinking water from the only community tap in the area. After they filled the water, our mothers would gossip and talk for hours, giving him time to explore my body – that of a few years old child.
I was too young to understand what was happening but old enough to know that it was not the right thing to do to such a small kid. He would threaten to beat me if I told anyone. This boy was only three or four years older than I was.
I would pray day and night to God to transfer my father to another city. And while it did happen, it was too late. We stayed there for over four years, after which we moved to Mumbai. That city was the only place where no one abused me. These were the two years of my life when I was happy.
Then we moved to Delhi since my father was transferred to Kashmir and he thought my brother and I needed a stable life. My brother, mother and I moved to Delhi. Since our father served in the Indian Army, he came home only for a few months a year, on leave. For six years, we stayed on rent and again, those six years brought back the memories from my past.
We changed many rooms (those matchbox-sized rooms can never be called homes) in those six years. One of our landlords (a dirty old man) and his son (several years older than me) could not resist the manly urge to touch the private parts of a growing girl.
I used to hate that old man and his son (I still do). The stinking old man would grab me tightly in his arms and rub his sharp beard on my cheeks. Sometimes, it happened in front of my mother and brother. Nobody stopped that pervert.
When I would be alone at home, his son would hold me tightly and touch and kiss me without my permission. It was just a two-room apartment, and we lived in one of them. There was no wall between the rooms, so I didn’t even have any place to hide myself.
I grew distant and irritated with everyone during that period of my life. Unfortunately, during those six years of staying on rent, the major part was spent in that ugly house.
I had many friends in school, but I don’t know why I could never tell anyone about this. Maybe because my friends were kids too and just like me, incapable of doing anything.
After I passed the eighth standard, we shifted to my grandparents’ house. From then till I got married, I stayed there. While I was sad to leave my school friends, I was grateful to get rid of that pervert dad and son duo.
I shifted to my paternal grandparents’ house with the hope that I finally was in a haven. At that time, there were about ten of us in that house, including me, my brother, mom, grandparents, sister, and some unmarried uncles and aunts.
I thought who would dare touch me now with so many people to protect me. But I was wrong. Perverts will always find a place and time to do what they wish to do.
Once again, I was touched inappropriately by men – my grandfather’s friend and male relatives and even a guy from my tuition. All this happened in the safe haven. I won’t even talk about the strangers in the outside world waiting for the opportunity to grope girls in crowded buses and markets.
Memories of travelling in the Blueline buses in Delhi still haunt me. I grew up accepting that all men are the same and we need to keep ourselves out of their reach to be protected.
When I was a teenager, one day, I gathered some courage and complained about my dada’s friend to my mom. (This man tried to touch me, in a drunken state on the festival of Holi). To my disbelief, she shrugged off the matter and said, ‘Don’t worry. He just came once and won’t come again.’ Since that day, I stopped sharing such things with anyone.
Some of you might say, sometimes, relatives touch us without bad intentions and I agree. However, doesn’t a teenage girl have the right to be asked for consent before touching her body?
I used to hate every man on this earth, until I fell in love with a guy (my first love), when I was 18. His voice, behaviour, intellectual nature, and calm manner attracted me to him. We were friends for the first few months, and when he proposed to me, I said yes.
I was too innocent to understand that a guy can fake love to fulfil his physical needs. He didn’t take even a couple of months to express his needs and told me that he wanted to be physically intimate with me. I said no several times, but he started to blackmail me emotionally, saying I don’t trust him.
One day, after a lot of his persuasion and my love for him, I said yes. From that day till the day we separated, it was just a physical relationship from his end.
Whenever I tried to break that relationship, his emotional drama stopped me. After six years of this, he married a girl of his parents’ choice (from same caste). He didn’t even have the guts to tell me about it and broke our six year long relationship without giving me any reason.
It took me a long time to get out of that heartbreak. I got a job, and I made myself busy with work and friends. After regaining my composure, I fell in love once again. I thought it would be different this time, but it was the same tale. After wasting five years, we went our separate ways.
Reason? Because he was insecure and could not handle my independent nature. He wanted me to agree to all of his demands and requests without having a life of my own.
However, heartbreak didn’t affect me much this time. While I didn’t lose hope, I wasn’t ready for a temporary relationship. I was more confident now and enjoyed my own company for several months. In fact, I even went on solo trips and engaged a lot with my friends and family.
I hid all the dark memories of my past in a box and locked it completely. Even the memory of my sister’s then boyfriend (now husband) trying to kiss me was locked away. I told my mother and sister about it. After a few days of a breakup, they patched up and my mother didn’t say anything. She still doesn’t talk about it but does ask me to visit my sister.
Due to all my ugly experiences, I distrust most men but I still don’t hate them all. I found my life partner two years ago and we got married last year. And I am blessed to have such an understanding and caring man in my life. Today, when I think about my life, I regret nothing because I never did anything wrong to anyone.
I have neither forgotten my past nor have forgiven those men, but I consider those phases as lessons. Those men, unknowingly, helped me become the woman I am today – self-dependent and self-sufficient. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me. Now, I know when to say ‘no’ and how to deal with the wrong guys.
In these 32 years of my life, I have learnt only one thing – nobody will come to your rescue. It is only you who can change your situation. Not even your parents and god can help you, only you are capable of doing that.
Today, I believe in myself more than I believe my parents, spouse, siblings, friends, and anyone else. Because it was only I who suffered from all this and still stood strong.
I request all parents to listen to their kids when they talk about such experiences. Not everyone is brave enough to handle these situations. They need your love, trust, and support.
Picture credits: Photo by Masha Raymers from Pexels
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