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There is no woman in this world who hasn’t been sexually harassed, but to think that someone would do this to a child is grotesque!
Trigger Warning: This speaks of child sexual abuse and self harm, and may be triggering for survivors.
“But-But what if I accidentally, sent him a wrong message?” I asked for the nth time as I held my knees closer to my chest.
“You couldn’t have! He is 10 plus years older to you! You wore that dress and those heels for your own self!” screamed my therapist. After which followed a five minute of full silence. She drank water because she knew she had played out of character and I took a tissue to wipe out my remaining tears.
“Listen to me, sweetheart, it’s not your fault, it never was, it never will be,” she repeated. And I just stared at her through the blurry vision my tears had created, realizing that I had nothing more left to cry.
I must acknowledge that my privilege has given me the opportunity to seek help at such a young stage but I think once the buried child in me surfaced with all the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, it brought with it horrifying memories, almost flooding my brain.
From what I remember (and sometimes I doubt my own memory about it), I was abused by a distant relative (my dad’s cousin) when I was a kid – maybe 6 or 7, I don’t remember. But I think that’s where my aversion to frocks and skirts began. My mother could never figure out why, but for me as a child it was instinctive. It was much later that I realized the event that led up to it.
In my head as a 14 or 15 year old, the realisation was a relief, like something worse could have happened but it didn’t. Yes it made me cry in the nights and under the shower. It made me abhor any kind of affectionate touch for almost my entire life; it took me 3 months just to hold my boyfriend’s hand during my first relationship as a 16 year old, the boy got bored and took off to another girl, so maybe that was a good thing?
The incident, and the memory of it gave me terrible nightmares, but I was always grateful about how things could have gone terribly wrong, but didn’t! I always thought about how I had it better than most people, and blocked out those memories. School, and focusing on my academics helped me do that.
But as soon as the lockdown began, right when I had my entrance exams, the uncertainty and stress almost dug out old wounds, and the memories began throttling me! Almost choking me! So much that I refused admission in an extremely prestigious college of my field because it was located in Delhi – the ‘Rape Capital’, and settled for a much less reputable college that I somehow instinctively associated with safety.
(This decision gives me anxiety everyday, but perhaps the taste of the fruit of this process shall come out a few years down the lane, fingers crossed).
To the point that I couldn’t take it anymore and resorted to self harm, perhaps that when I realized how desperate for help I was.
Here was a secret I had never told anyone! No one in my life! In the first session I let it out – not even waiting to see if the therapist was right or if she suited my needs or not. I was lucky that she did fit in. But it makes me falter to see how desperate I was to let it out!
The first thing she told me after I explained to her my story was “I am so thankful you ran from there.” Yes I am thankful too! But what an odd thing to be grateful about, that too for a child!
But what such instances tend to make you do is question everyone’s motive and everyone’s intent. I began questioning another one of my relative’s touch in my teenage years – was it appropriate or not? Reminding myself of the feeling just put me off. I was disgusted, but my mind was also disgusted to think of this relative as having bad intentions, since he has practically seen me grow up and there was something so charming about it!
Recently when I met him at an event again, I felt those thoughts and this fear creeping up. I was lost the entire event, stopping myself from hyperventilating. Something about his gaze was choking me even when I wasn’t sure if he was looking at me. Until at the end of the event, while bidding goodbye, I felt his hand go up my ass and my waist. I was torn- was it intentional? Accidental? He couldn’t meant it in a bad way! He is newly married for god’s sake!
The kind of fear and inability to trust these kind of instances instill is beyond any scope!
On another occasion I was at my grandmother’s house, and due to certain events, my grandparents weren’t at home, nor were my female cousins and aunt, leaving me, my uncle and my male cousin in the house. Now the room I was allotted to was right next to my uncle’s room (who is my mother’s brother and she has looked up to him and is deeply attached to him) and my cousin’s room was across the house.
Now this uncle is my mama, he is a father figure to my mother and has literally carried me when I was a kid and been extremely cordial, patient and concerned towards me! I remember hearing bedtime stories from him as a kid.
But I just freaked out that night! All the bad thoughts came rushing to me! And they were disgusting. I got up thrice to check the locks of the doors and balconies (since the balcony of the allotted room and my uncle’s room was connected) and it was absolutely disgusting! He was ‘mamu’ for god’s sake, he would never do anything to harm me… I know that and cling on to it even now but that night just freaked me out. It made me ashamed of my own thoughts.
But maybe that’s a price you pay for the scars you carry from your childhood.
There is no woman in this world who hasn’t been sexually harassed, but to think that someone would do this to a child is grotesque! I have a 6 year old cousin, and man the thought of something like this happening to her makes me want to cry!
It wasn’t that bad touch and good touch wasn’t taught to me, but that there was no language of expressing what had happened to a 6 year old me. There were no words that I could explain it in.
Scars of childhood are very hard to erase, perhaps we just have to accept carrying traces of them for a lifetime and hope that we won’t pass them on to the future generation. I just really hope no child has go through something like this.
Image source: Alexas_Fotos on pixabay
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