Being sexually abused three times as a child leaves you doubting yourself. You feel that you do something different from others that attract all the bad people. It’s only when you grow up that you realize that you’re not the only one who feels this way.
I was sexually abused for the first time when I was 5 years old. We were staying in a hotel for a wedding. While we were checking out, my mother asked me to get something she had forgotten in the hotel room. I went to the room. A complete stranger came running after me and locked the door behind him. He picked me up and kissed me on the lips. When I attempted to scream, someone started knocking on the door. He rushed to open it. I don’t know how I got downstairs. I don’t remember anything but an ugly feeling.
I was sexually abused for the second time when I was around 8 or 9. That incident turned me into an atheist. I had gone to a Satsang with my Nani, and we were standing in the queue for Prasad. A man, aged 50 something, came and stood between us. He tapped on my shoulder and ran his hands over my breasts. I was being felt. He then turned my face toward his and kissed me on the lips. I was scared. I didn’t scream. I felt violated, but nobody in that crowd came forward to help. I stood there frozen. I thought of telling my Nani about it, but all I could think was: ‘I want to go home now.’
I was sexually abused by a close relative when I was 13 years old. He abused me for 3 months. I used to come back home from school and stay in the bathroom until Ma returned from work. I eventually told my mother about the sexual abuse. It never happened again.
As a result, I developed suicidal tendencies. I still struggle with it. I always tried to overcome the thoughts of killing myself because of my failed suicide attempt. I started seeing a counselor at Sanjivini Society of Mental Health. I’m still in therapy. I attend weekly sessions. Every week, I tell her about my day and how people behaved towards me. She tells me how to react to situations and how the only person who understands me the best is my own self. Once I told her that it hurts me when friends treat me like I am faking everything. I was wearing green pants on that day.
‘Your red pants are ugly,’ she said.
‘I’m wearing green pants,’ I replied smiling awkwardly.
‘That’s exactly what I need you to know. You need to understand that there can be a difference in what people think of you. It’s never your fault if someone doesn’t want to believe in what you say.’
When I told her about the abuse, she asked me if I told anyone about it at the time. I said I couldn’t. She held my hand and said there is nothing wrong about it. She told me to roughly draw each of my abusers on a piece of paper, then either burn or tear it.
‘Can you remember your face as a child?’ she asked.
‘Yes,’ I said.
‘If you see a child like you going through this, what would you do to comfort her?’
‘I don’t know, hug her or something, tell her that she is safe with me and all?’
‘That child is in you. She is scared and she lives inside you and sees the world that you live. Her hug is still due, she needs a tight hug.’
I don’t know what hit me so bad that I started crying. I cried for half an hour, and I cried like a child. Maybe that was the child in me crying.
Reproduced from Facebook.
Pranjal Asha is a feminist based in Delhi, India.