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Dear Survivor, Your Scars Are Your Abuser’s Fault, Not Yours!

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Reject those ‘honorable’ codes forced upon you by the culture that refuses to see you, honour you, value you, and support you.

Trigger Warning: This contains discussion of gender based violence, and may be triggering for survivors.

Dear Survivor,
I should not begin by asking how you are feeling. Honestly, I cannot imagine the pain you have been through no matter how hard I try. But I do believe that we have a solidarity, a shared experience.

After all, this mankind has been unfair to us women in different yet very similar ways. So, even though I cannot fathom your pain, I am with you. I will hear your words and will work tirelessly to understand your silences.

It’s hard, very hard

I am not going to lie. Surviving is going to be tough. While a few will lend you the emotional support you need, many won’t be able to, or be willing to.

Sitting by yourself will immediately bring back the haunting memories of your violated body and spirit. Anger and pain will drench your soul in seconds. You would want to punch a hole in the wall behind you or scream till your lungs die out.

I have been there! Screaming into an abyss, talking to myself; because that’s the only person I could trust.

But this will pass, even if slowly

But believe me when I say, life gets better. It won’t ever erase what happened to you but why to erase it at all? Haven’t women been ceaselessly told to hide, expunge, nullify every little thing they do? Haven’t society and family brought us up to uphold a man’s ideals? Haven’t we been taught the tenets of sacrifice, honour, and morality only to keep us tied to a place like cattle with no mobility? Why should we hide or forget the scars that shows how men behave?

Wear your wounds like an armor. Let them remind you that nothing could destruct your indomitable spirit and you will rise no matter how much this world tells you to just perish. I have got one too. On my lower back. Burnt by a man who could not take a no. I tried to hide it like something shameful. But I don’t anymore.

Those marks—visible or not, are symbol of a man’s heinousness, not ours! Let’s heal them with patience, together.

You are stronger than you realise

You still have the power, the value that you had before the violence you endured. What happened was not your fault!

Kamla Bhasin once said on the show Satyamev Jayate, “who tells the society to put their honor in our vaginas?” I mean, think of it. Why do our bodies carry the patriarchal honour? Reject those ‘honorable’ codes forced upon you by the culture that refuses to see you, honour you, value you, and support you. Reject! You don’t need them.

I am sure these might sound like mere words to you. But remember, history is still full of women who have risen against the violence of mankind in their own ways. Phulan slayed her violators. We can too.

Who says slaying means violence?! We can slay our perpetrators just by existing. A woman’s mere existence on her terms is enough to rattle the patriarchy. The first step towards that would be to be kind and forgiving to yourself.

But, be vigilant! You will come across fellow women who might shame you for the crime a man committed. Watch out for them! Don’t be polite. They are just those who enable patriarchy. Tell them to shut up and leave their company as soon as possible.

Yes, it is going to get lonely. A lot. Fair warning! But hey, I am with you! And so are many others! Reach out to us. Please do! Be my e-mail pal. You will be happily surprised that even though this world is hell bent on ruining itself with hatred, there are people waiting to listen to you, and talk to you. Lonely, scared, skeptical souls like you and me who the abusers of this world have tried their best to trample upon.

But we still exist and with much more courage than before. So, do you want to do this together?
Only love,
A

A survivor of gender based trauma is affected in ways that go deep, and their worldview can get permanently damaged. It can be really crippling in their day to day life – whether in the personal or public sphere, and sending some comfort their way can help.

We at Women’s Web are collaborating with the Saahas App for Survivors of Gender Violence to reach out to women who need to be heard, and healing, as survivors of gender based violence. Letters to the survivor from our authors will be published on Women’s Web in the coming 10 days, and also on the Saahas website, in a series called “Dear Survivor”.

If you would like to participate, please upload your letter on your Women’s Web dashboard, and if chosen, it will be published.

Image source: a still from the film Provoked

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Ankita is a PhD scholar at Louisiana State University and her research is on Bollywood,

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