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I Have Been Molested As A Child And I Did Not Speak About It

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child-abuse-IndiaWe are all humans. We therefore like to live in denial as long as things are not affecting us directly. For us, it is always some unknown girl who gets raped, some man living in an obscure part of the city who gets murdered and a faceless woman who is burnt to death for not bringing enough dowry. We cannot accept the fact that things can happen to us, that we can be victims, unless they actually occur. I have read countless articles that talk about the number of unreported sexual abuse cases in our country and the massive debates around it. People go on and on about how victims should speak about it, no matter what. But what they probably don’t understand is the shock that survivor has to go through while bringing back to memory every minor detail. It is pretty much akin to ripping a wound apart and I know precisely why. I have been a victim of sexual abuse as a child. I was saved in the nick of time, before things could go terribly wrong but the horror that it has left me with is extremely difficult to put into words.

I was twelve when it happened. My mother was out to bring my sister back from school and I was home with my nanny. He was someone not entirely unknown to me; he had visited us quite a few times before, as the women in my family were very fond of his fare. The shawls that he sold had the most beautiful, the most intricate designs that could only belong to the state of Kashmir, the place he came from. He was very different from the other door-to-door salesmen. I remember how he would always greet me with a smile and would utter the words “hello meri bacchi” in an accent I was not really familiar with. He was fair and had green eyes, the first I had seen and his muscular built could have intimidated anybody, except me, because I was too preoccupied with the imaginary world that I lived in, to care. So this particular afternoon, when I saw him at the door, I did not think twice before asking my governess to let him inside because he was no stranger to me. He was merely that ‘acche wale Kashmiri shawl wale uncle‘, but I had no idea that my perception was about to change in a few minutes.

Since I was all of twelve, a clearly young and impressionable mind with no knowledge whatsoever of the ‘birds and the bees’, I could not fathom as to what he exactly intended to do. I walked into the room with a tray that had a glass of water set on it, something that I was told I was supposed to do when guests visited us. He smiled the moment he saw me and I smiled back, blissfully unaware of his intentions. The next thing I remember was the tray being snatched from my hands while I looked on in absolute shock. He held my face very tightly between his strong, sturdy hands, so much so that I found it difficult to breathe and kissed me forcefully on my left cheek. I might have been a kid, but knew the difference between ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’ as that was something that my mother had clearly explained to me. I realized that this uncle was not all that nice and tried to pull myself away from him and to my surprise, he proceeded to lift me off the floor. The next few minutes or seconds, I cannot say, are pretty much indescribable but several things happened together. I was kissed again, with ten times the force as compared to the previous one, my waist was grabbed in ways that left me in pain and more forceful kisses landed on my face while I struggled. I remember trying to kick him so that he would let me go, but to no avail. I finally let out a scream and before he could muffle the same, my nanny left the tea she was preparing for him and came running into the room.

I was immediately back on the floor while his bloodshot eyes shifted from my face to that of my governess. I ran to her, crying in a way I hadn’t cried before, not even that one time when a huge table had landed on my foot. She held me close and tried to make sense of the situation. She started screaming at the man and questioning him while he simply stared. I did not look at his face because I was too frightened to do that and I can vaguely recall my nanny’s desperation as she tried to think of something she could do. Amidst this confusion, this man picked up his bag and ran out of the other door of the room (this room has two doors and the second one is adjacent to the entrance of the house) and was out of the apartment within seconds. He knew that two helpless girls cannot do much, he knew everything too well. My governess wanted to run after him but I stopped her and was clutching onto her tightly. She asked me to tell her everything that had happened and I did not speak a word, I cried and then some more. She tried reaching the phone to call my father (he was the only one with a mobile phone back then) but I did not allow her to do that. It took me some hours to stop the tears from flowing but I still could not speak coherently. It was time for my mother to get back and I forced didi to promise me to not speak a word about it in front of my parents. She protested but my tears probably kept her silent. She would have spoken about it, I am sure, but my mother returned only to find me burning in fever. She was a little surprised because I was perfectly fine in the morning and asked if there was something troubling me. I had nothing to say and she proceeded to ask didi, but before she could speak, I began to cry. I remember being given a lot of medicines and being put to sleep after that. I had the most terrible nightmares, but kept myself from screaming, I had screamed enough that day.

My parents were still confused in the morning and that meant that my governess had not broken her promise. It took me a week to recover but the nightmares kept coming. Weeks turned into months, the incident was crystal clear in my head, it still is, but my family does not seem to have an iota of an idea about what actually happened. It was and will forever remain a deep, dark secret that me and my nanny will share for the rest of our lives.

There have been innumerable instances where I have thought of speaking to my parents about it. But let me be honest, I could never muster enough courage. I understand what girls mean when they say that they could not go up to their family members and tell them about such incidents because it is often associated with this trauma that you do not want to go through all over again. My parents are the most liberal people I know but that has also not been an incentive for me to talk to them. I am 22 now and this episode, the face of the man, his expressions, his voice – I remember everything perfectly well, but could never confide in my family during the past ten years. I still cannot. I still flinch a little, every time I am touched as it brings back the horror of what could have happened had my nanny not been there. The nightmares have not disappeared entirely and the incident is probably the reason why I often get really awkward around males. It is this inexplicable fear, that still lies somewhere deep inside me and it probably will, forever.

My mother often asks me: ”yaad hai woh kashmiri shawl wala? Badi acchi cheezein thi usske paas. Pata nahi kahan gayab ho gaya”. I always look blankly into the space ahead of me. I know best.

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  1. Zeenie

    I completely understand your decision of not telling anyone about this man. But I hope you realize that this man is still out there and his business is probably flourishing. He probably still visits people who might have young girls without a nanny to look after them. I am just saying, not reporting is understandable, it is your choice but it has consequences. Not everyone is fortunate you know.

  2. Shehla Rashid (@ShehlaRashid)

    I am ashamed, as a Kashmiri, to read this. Many of us choose to keep quiet- why? Because it is always the victim’s fault! But this culture of silence needs to end. Kashmiri society is, by and large, free of crime. But part of it is also because we have been taught to shut up, keep quiet, ignore, move on- because that’s what nice girls from good families are supposed to do. After the news of an acid attack on a young woman by a jilted lover in Srinagar and two incidents of rape, I decided to speak out. This was in January. I recounted deeply personal incidents, narrating which had always made me uncomfortable- because if you identify as a victim, you also need to be prepared to be held guilty for all that happened. I was too scared to publish it in a newspaper, so I published it to my blog before the editor of a local paper offered to publish it. And it helped me to get rid of some of the rage that these incidents had filled me with. Of course, I did not share everything, every bad thing that I have faced as a girl. But we need to break the silence. And that’s also a part of the healing process. Healing is very difficult if you don’t share these incidents in an unapologetic manner. Love & Hugs.

  3. sujata

    Telling your parents would have been a better call and you know this. ur pyschological burden would have been much lesser.

  4. akanksha

    Pathetic ppl. .. Wd pathetic mentality… No words

  5. Aniket

    I know it is very difficult to open up oneself in front of their parents as it’s not only the fear of the abysmal action but also the indescribable fear of far( what could happen). I just respect your courage and willpower that you were able to confine it within you and lead this life. I hope you make it even more beautiful as it is supposed to be. 🙂

  6. Apeksha Kshirsagar

    I share a similar story. & I haven’t told about it to anyone ever..but today after reading your article, I feel I can finally face the facts, get away from the past and deal with it strongly. Thanks for giving soo much strength and inspiration!! 🙂

  7. Be LOUD

    I don’t know what compelled you to share it with everyone, but i believe that this is the beginning of a healthy trend.I hope these anonymous speak outs change to revelations with consequences for people that must be held responsible. Lets face it, achieving a society where things like these do not happen is really a far cry. However , making sure that when such a thing happens ,children speak out.This will not only help to stop what the offender could potentially do over time , but also help to prevent the children from a life time of agony.

    Stay Blessed/

  8. Vishakh Unnikrishnan

    I have heard many accounts of guys who have been sexually abused as children ( Boys are sexually abused in India than almost any country). They don’t even want to talk about it.

  9. Abhinita Mohanty

    One of my distant cousin tried to molest me by touching my inner thighs!! I went and told my mother and immediately all necessary steps were taken to prevent him from coming close to me I was in sixth standard and he just had completed his 12th n now he apperas 2 b a changed man but I can never forget this…I had d courage n so did my mother.

  10. Malik Tahir

    no doubt the girl has been strong to bear up the incident.had been the girl a bit more strong to speak about the incident to her family the situation would have been different today.not there has been still the nightmares nor any fare. i did not blame the victim but when an educated person and that too a girl can not contribute to society what we can expect from an illiterate person. because women folk is always to teach the lessons and morals to their children.

  11. Atul Mishra

    To be honest, I am dissapointed with what you did. Geeta says “the person who bears injustice is as big sinner as the doer”. Its because of the silence of the girls that these perverts get courage. Imagine if you had told your parent and they would have gone to police station, not only you would have got justice but you might have prevented rape and assault of other girls by that guy. What I fail to understand is how can you let go of that guy easily and even now you have not told this to your parents. My respect is reserved for woman who fight, not for cowards like you and nothing can justify your silence. Your age, fear nothing makes free from the responsibility of fighting for your dignity and rights
    I feel proud by reading about women and young girls who survived and raised their voice against gang rapes, assault, domestic violence, beating by their in laws against dowry and girl child. They FOUGHT, I am sorry but your story is not something I would like to narrate to my future daughter. I ask you, how can you ask your future daughter to share everything when you are nursing this old wound. Fight for your dignity because its your battle, not of someone else’s. Only then you can get respect in my eyes and in perhaps your own

  12. Anurvi

    I applaud the author of this article. For having the courage to write about this. Respect.
    Though i feel that that bastard should have been could and beaten up then and there.

  13. Anonnymous

    Its a story most share. Kudos to you that you have found the courage to speak up. I still haven’t.

  14. rohitha

    yet there are many children molested, abused, but still couldn’t dare to speak up…. they are still drowned in these cruelty, pathetic world…. I hope every women stands up, fight against a bastards. …and moreover everyone has some indescribable, undeserved situations…. but life is to move on neva let yur past control yur future

  15. Anusha

    I can understand ur feelings but one thing i want to suggest- u should have fought against him , he should be punished, may be he is doing same thing to many other , this type of animals must be punished in-front of every one.

  16. ishita

    If I could see u in person I would have hugged u, not out of sympathy but just to offer human warmth and solace. Its a big decision in itself to write about it and let the world know even if done in anonymity. And whenever u wish to tell ur parents is ur call but do whatever nakes u light and happy. That kashmiri pervert should not be empowered to scar u forever, let it go…
    Take care girl! =D Never stop dazzling just because someone somewhere tries to dim ur brilliance.

  17. Ankita

    It is true that as Indian women of this generation we have all faced sexual exploitation at tender ages, when we were not even aware of what happened to us. It just stays in our mind crystal clear as bad memories that we could never share with anyone, sometimes denied by people we trusted the most because they thought we might have been mistaken. I too have numerous such incidents from childhood which could not reach my protectors because either they were too distant from me or they did not believe me. A similar incident happened to me when a very old man, old enough to be my grandfather kissed me full on the mouth when i met him. He used to kiss me on the cheek and i thought it was normal because my grandmother used to do that. I never had a grandfather so I had no idea about how a grandfather acted. He used to hug me tightly, hold me weirdly. He behaved like that two-three times and then I started maintaining my distance. Its sound unfathomable for guys and sometimes they think we are foolish because we did not protest or did not tell at that time. But they don’t realise the trauma we go through. I was once travelling in a dtc bus to school and there was this school guy next to me who was feeling my legs and I could not say anything and distanced myself from him because I was too scared. People who say that we imagine such things or that we should have avoided that person are assholes and gutless who cannot support a person to stand against sexual violence against them. Such people can themselves be perpetrators of such violence. We should all raise our voices against this and end the violence. We should also educate our kids. The child rights that have come up now are a very good step in this direction.

  18. Veda Nadendla

    Congratulations to the author, this must have been a rock off your chest. It takes a lot of courage to express what you have, and I am proud that you did it so beautifully. We need to encourage that more of our children and women take the step you did by expressing their anguish immediately, that is the only way of curbing these activities. And It’s important for parents to actively trust their children and believe what they are saying.

  19. siddhanto roy

    It’s really high time we start talking about these issues and i am happy that you have mustered up the courage to do that..i am a guy and i also had been abused by a family member…the worst thing to do is to hush it up coz then the perpetrator gets even more courage to carry on his crime

  20. Anon

    Kudos to the author to have the courage to write this down. I really appreciate it because I have been through something similar. Except for the exact incident it felt as if I had written it down. I still dont have the courage to ever tell my parents although I have thought about it but now I feel I can never tell them not because of fear but because of the how extremely sad they would be to know something like this happened to their daughter and what impact it might have on them. and that just makes me never want to tell them.

  21. A Mom

    Do you think it is a good idea to tell your kids to share things with parents by telling them that they are sharing it for the better of society so that such b*****ds don’t get a chance to do anything of this kind to anyone else. Will this help the child talk to parent? But still I have questions- Assume a child talks and parents take an action which means many people know what happened to the child and which means there might be times when their frens or someone might ask them related questions which the child might not be able to handle at that age.
    Thanks for sharing the article!

  22. Bhavana

    Dear Author,
    This comment is to not deeply feel what you went through because the trauma can never be expressed in words.
    This comment is to let you know about my thoughts, to make you think for a sec. I agree and not sure as to how i would have reacted to this particular incident in my life but now after being educated ,After learning to raise my voice against those hooligans , After seeing people fight to death for an unknown girl who is struggling to survive because she got raped , After watching the social experiments against all such social evils – I want you to know that its not just you out there fighting against this trauma, there is a world with people who have had similar experience’s and people who raise voices against it supporting you.
    Things have changed in this world, Women are no longer the ones that are suppressed , There is no longer silence against patriarchy, There is no longer lack of awareness and There is no longer a world where only the victim exists.
    If you are 22 , If you are someone who could read and write on a blog like this , If you are bold enough to tell it out to strangers like us – Speak up! Speak to your Family about this , They will empathize and maybe they would have words which could make you fight against this incident.

    If one of you sees him on the road , you mom shouldn’t go greet him instead he should be slaughtered. All i can vouch for is , i shall stand by her and so will all of them who had read this post.

    Thanks!

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