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For 17 Years, My Dada Sexually Abused 8 Of Us, And No One Could Confront Him

TRIGGER WARNING

Submitted Anonymously:

Last year in August, my dada (paternal grandfather) passed away. I was shocked at the pure occurrence of this eventuality translating into a reality – an end, that all members of my family had been waiting for. In November 2013, I finally mustered the courage to pick up the phone and call the Delhi police to file an FIR against my dadaonly to realise two things. First, how easy it actually was to make that call and second, how incapable and powerless the ‘masculine’ Delhi police cops were that day.

After narrating elaborate details of the years of sexual abuse and domestic violence, for close to two hours, all that the two policemen said was, “This is a case of domestic violence. We can see your grandfather is an arrogant stubborn man. But since this house belongs to him, we cannot arrest him. You can lock him in his room and beat him up if you wish to.” On their way out, they looked dada in the eye, warned him to behave himself, and left. I was sure I wasn’t going to waste another ounce of my energy in finding ‘justice’. I called my friends to come pick me up, and I left.

I was in class 7 when I saw my dada masturbating right next to the window in his room that faced our backyard, where my older cousin sister and I had gone to keep our plates after dinner. This was a practice all the girls of the 13-member patriarchal joint family were socialised to do, a routine my dada had mandated in his quest for ‘perfect discipline’. My sister, as if familiar to this sight, without even a slight sign of bewilderment, grabbed my hand and rushed me to our room. Later that night, she told me that it was called ‘masturbating’. I clearly remember not sharing this with my mother. But I can’t recollect why. I know I wasn’t scared of not being trusted, but I still hesitated.

The last time I saw my dada’s penis was when I was in class 11. I was talking to a dear friend on the phone and dada asked me to keep the phone down. When I refused to, he unzipped and charged towards me. Sitting on the couch, my face was at the level of his penis. Nobody ever talks about these grey areas of your life, there is no textbook that equips you with these life skills.

The fear I felt in my entire body that day was the only telling moment of knowing that what was happening was wrong, and that I needed to do something, anything, to keep myself safe. Petrified, I narrated what was happening to my friend, and she asked me to go to my room and lock myself up. Wiping my tears and controlling my fears, I pushed him, screaming “Aapko toh yahi karna aata hai (You only know how to do this)” , and ran to my room. My dadi (paternal grandmother), instead of stopping her husband, was stopping me from reacting’.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images (For representation only)

I remember sharing this incident with my mother when she got back from work, sitting on our traditional Gujarati jhoola (swing), outside in our garden. She believed me, but also didn’t want to believe me. I was getting angrier by the second at her absence of reaction. My expectation was at least to be hugged. Later that day, the anger stemming from the morning of helplessness solidified into the deepest hidden truth of our family.

In our common kitchen, along with my mother, cousin sister, younger cousin brother, and their mother, I sat and heard the stories of how they have all been sexually abused by the head of the family – our dada. Domestic violence was a common event in our house. People screaming, shouting, abusing; mothers running with their children inside their rooms, my father protecting my mother and me from dada. All of these had made me, and I still am, hypersensitive to loud noise. It’s like the fear grips me all over again.

But sexual abuse that continued for 17 years, to eight members of a 13-member joint family with ‘values’, where none of the male members knew about it, was turning into the biggest question that shrouded my adolescent years. How is this possible? Why did we let it on? Why didn’t we say “No, enough is enough?”

sexuality edu

We often laughed about it collectively in the same kitchen, or while watching a movie. Humour became a tool for us to live through this reality of our collective lives. We felt helpless and consequently, vehemently angry. The control he had on all of us – what we wear, what we eat, what we watch on TV. The fear that his authoritarian voice and piercingly ruthless eyes filled with sadistic pleasure cast on us, was neatly etched in our inner worlds. Crying together and comforting each other, knowing that this is what binds us together in spite of our irreparable differences, was the only way we coped and defended ourselves.

All my friends knew about the reality of my ‘family’. As my therapist once observed, “It’s like you are making an army of people who will support you…” And how they have supported me! We were all the same age. Talking and sharing was the only way that I could find some healing. But how I wish I had someone, a counsellor in school, or even a teacher to share this with, to help me, tell me the dos and dont’s, talk about ‘comfortable feeling’ and ‘uncomfortable feeling’, or say that I have a right to say no because it is my body!

I wrote my Master’s dissertation on understanding my dada and why none of us neither confronted him nor made the unspoken truth known. With the help of my listening, supportive and critically analytical guides, I began to start unravelling and disentangling the threads that had tied me thus far. I gifted my dada a copy of it on his birthday. I made my father read it as well. It was because of the process behind writing my dissertation that I was able to confront him and call the cops, finally finding a closure to that chapter of my life – something I wish I had done eight years back, when my mother was still alive.


Speaking up against sexual violence is a powerful means of fighting it. If you have a story to share, publish here.

 

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  1. Susmita Ganguly

    Well,it is really touching and brilliantly expressed!; obviously this post alone cant describe the years of molestation and pain but it surely works as a driving force for those girls who are still suffering and have never reported.

    @Author,Sorry to say but you are quite courageous 🙂 Don’t blame yourself for anything,whatever you have done and is doing are all you can do.India needs courageous women like you,but its strange that your parents being adults indulged in that old man’s nonsense lust and didn’t take steps against it :/

    Take care,
    Susmita G.

  2. Indiangirl

    I had a freakish experience some ten to fifteen years ago.
    I was in class fourth. In this one lane near my home, this old man, probably past his sixties, used to mostly sit at his doorstep with newspaper in his hand, wearing a pajama and a vest normally.
    That one day I was going back home after buying something, and that lane was part of my way back home. I passed this house and saw that man holding his stuff in his hands, that ‘thing’ dangling out of his white pajama. And while doing it he was looking straight at me.I was too young to understand that asshole’s actions. I just looked down and ran quicker than usual to home.

  3. Indscribe

    Very unsettling. It is almost unimaginable how much you suffered. In fact, while just reading it, one gets severely depressed, I don’t know how you got so much strength to deal with it. After living through such a terrible thing, it is really inspiring if you are able to go ahead, study well and lead a happy life. Best wishes for you.

  4. Sunil Rao

    A very funny fictional story with a lot of inconsistencies, I LOL’d at the part where the old dude ran unzipped charging towards her. Her mother didn’t believe her yet they shared stories of their abuse later in the kitchen as a family, if it was a common occurrence her reaction shoulda been obvious. All the eight members of the family were abused but somehow the 4 men in the family didn’t knew about it, living in the same house the 8 abused members never had a private moment with the 4 dudes to share it. Ms. Anonymous try a better story next time, make it appear more brutal than funny.

    1. Tanya

      I don’t blame you for thinking its fictional..CSA is very complicated to understand..esp in the context of a family.. i feel sorry for you, for not trying to open up to engage with something that is challenging..something that disturbs the patriarchal structure’s epitome – family!

    2. Tanya

      I don’t blame you for thinking its fictional..CSA is very complicated to understand..esp in the context of a family.. i feel sorry for you, for not trying to open up to engage with something that is challenging..something that disturbs the patriarchal structure’s epitome – family!

    3. Fem

      It may be fictional. It may also be real. At any case sexual abuse of family members is a very real problem; I hope you know that. Maybe instead of blowing holes in a story (which very well may be a very traumatic event in somebody’s life) you could empathize some and maybe a bit more responsive next time you see signs of abuse in any family around you.

  5. Aman Shah

    Have you ever wished to see your old school photographs??
    Here is a wonderful chance for you to get your old school photos..
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  6. raza

    its very common in joint muslim conservative families ; hence the mothers force daughters to get married at 14 citing prophets consummation with ayesha at young ge … unfortunately many old muslims men use the same excuse to fornicate with their oung cousins nieces n grand daughters . infact islam doe snot allow adoption of girls for same reason as these girls can be used for sex by their foster fathers once they are nubile as is the practice of getting compensated for their upbringing from young adopted age ….most girls resign to their fate as iamans n muftis etc cite stupid sharia laws which are nothing but man made to facilitate the male chauvinism…..

    1. wardah

      “Very common”
      I have never seen any such incident in my entire life. How do u substantiate ypur claims , raza?
      More than half of my relatives live in smaller towns, and nobody’s daughter got married before 20. Who are u representing here?

    2. Dhruv Ghosh

      Thats what he is saying that he has witnessed it and you have not and simply because you have not seen , it does not validate that it has never happened or will never happen after all we are all humans with same defects and similar greatness, and why the hell would raza substantiate to you? who r you? supreme judge? can you substantiate that you have never seen it? huh and even if he/she is successful in doing so then what will you do about it?
      Therefore my friend lets all become human first and open our hearts and mind to understand and overcome the fallacies and to raise our voices to against them and post that we can become representatives of whatever we want to but if we become the representative initially then we might miss on some veiled faces pouring is some very bitter truth of our so called civil society.
      \-/

  7. Angana

    I know almost exactly how u felt, because i am a fellow survivor of CSA. And no sorry I am not ashamed of telling this publicly even if some people say that i shud be writing this anonymous because i have a name (i have been told to be anonymous) CSA isnt who I am it just something that happened to me.
    back to the topic. I was molested and almost raped by my uncle and cousin for 2 years in mid teen. I know how exactly u have felt and why u never said anything. I must say you were brave to report that and police were immensely stupid to show u such a stupid excuse.
    I hope u r healed. no i will never ask u to forget or get over it.. it’s life time wound which cant be forgotten … i will wish that it makes u stronger and stronger every day.. so strong that these wounds also bow to u.. and stand upto every innocent soul who can be saved..
    stay strong.. love
    -Angana

    1. Nabiha

      First of all, thanks for writing this. I can imagine the amount of courage it must have taken to pen this down (it took me almost an hour to write this comment and come to terms with the fact that I am not responsible). A big thanks to Angana as well (I couldn’t have mustered the courage to write my name otherwise). It started when I was in the fourth or fifth grade. I barely knew anything about it (thanks to the entire hush hush over the topic of sex education). He was my maternal aunt’s husband. I did not exactly know what happened and what should I do about it. My mother probably sensed something was wrong and she told me to avoid going near him or she would always be around when he came home instead of confronting him (I wish you had done something then, Maa) It stopped at that. We went on a family holiday when I was in the 10th grade. He tried to molest me. I spent an entire day crying inside the hotel. Thinking I was wrong somewhere, the one to be blamed. I was so enraged I wanted to kill him. I wanted to tell my aunt about it all. My mother stopped me saying that it would ruin her life and the life of her sons’. I did not come out about it to anyone else. It changed when I was at a sleepover after my 10th boards. I and my friends decided to talk about something that has haunted us. My best friend told how she was sexually assaulted as a child by her driver. As I grew up, I realised this wasn’t uncommon and almost all of my friends had faced some sort of physical/sexual abuse as a child. I am 18 today and I have stopped holding myself responsible. I wish more people could come out about it. And yes, some things make you scarred for life. More often than not, in front of your own eyes. Stay strong both of you and to those millions who have suffered at some point of their lives <3

    2. Angana

      Dear Nabiha.. 1st of all i would really like to salute u for being so strong.. and thanks to you for coming out of closet and showing that u have a face.. not just of a victim but of a survivor.. u r younger than me and definitely much wiser than me..coz at 18 i was trying to commit suicide or run and hide to some remote corner of this world rather than fighting the pain..and literally denying that it ever happened… and really though i was quite elder than u when it happened i too had no freaking idea about sex.. so believe me i know how u must have felt.. and also i know what u felt when u told becoz that’s almost exactly what happened to me.. when i told my dad (he was the 1st one to know in my family).. he just got up from his chair and told me to “forget it” as nothing can be done now.. no reaction at all.. not even just a hug that cud make me feel like i am safe now.. but no nothing… i rather found peace after telling my friends
      and m so sorry that almost same happened to u.. and that ur mother, who was kind of the only saviour u had, let u down.. really no.. i wont make excuses for ur mother… becoz she dint do what she shud have.. just hushing up the subject or the abuse dsnt help.. i know it.. have felt it…
      but lets just say they dont understand..becoz they were brain washed to not understand and to not make real judgement.. they were brainwashed to understand shame more than the safety of their own child.. we cant blame them… i hvnt forgiven my dad but i dont blame him fully.. i know they will tell u shud have spoken up.. u shud have done this done that.. well tough! we dint coz we cudnt.. it was not really our choice.. next time someone lectures u on how u shud have behaved then just ask if they wud really have stayed quite if they knew that speaking up will save them
      and about common.. well as the survey goes.. there are 1 out of 3 minor girls and 1 out of 6 minor boys will be abused in next 1 minute.. and my personal experience told me… 90% of my friends have been through this.. so rare?.. no sorry it isnt..
      but none of them.. none of us are to be blamed for this.. we were kids.. we were innocent.. they took away our innocence.. so if there is someone who is to be blamed it’s those monsters.. it was never us.. not telling them dint lure them onto us.. we were brainwashed to not tell on them…
      u know what will heal u most.. when u muster up the courage to stop blaming urself and accept that some people failed u..u were hurt in a way no one shud be.. u never deserved that pain that shame.. and still it was forced down ur throat.. but u still had the courage to go on till now..and u will go on and on… then u win.. and to add to the flavor if u can slap that f***er hard on face and tell him to get his a** out of ur life..life become a bit tasty too 😀 (i did it.. i mean i enjoyed it 🙂 )
      stay strong survivor..Love and hugs
      -Angana

  8. Sarvana

    Something which we don’t except from the old. We should teach our children to speak out..

  9. Dhruv Ghosh

    Well this story or event is such a disturbing one that for a moment it pushes me to stop and think, could this be for real? There are few things that I would like to point out though.
    Your grandfather was an incest which is punishable in almost every modern society so the Delhi police refusing to help is not very prospective because they would be rather more interested to trap an old man who is the owner of a house as it will surely add some bucks to their pocket.
    Secondly the police cannot decide to leave anyone at their will, if an FIR has been lodged, it has to got to the court for verdict, be it the local court but it has to.
    Assuming that these things did not happen keeping in mind that the male members
    were not aware of it, the questions rises why were they not made aware?
    Suppose even if the male members would have been made aware, had they really actively participated in informing it to police and putting it all public? probably not, why? because of family reputation and all off course but what they might have done is basically thrashed your grandfather on the very first or second acknowledgement of this shameful act, obviously group of ten people are good enough to man handle a man of 60 be it male or female, this is the ideal thing to do, we should never get confused here thinking about the age of the person, position the person holds in the family,whether or not the person owns the asset and shit like that because a person committing such a crime has lost his sanity mentally and physically, how can such a person disciple others and lead a family, they should be sent to some incest rehab centre if there is any or simply in a mental hospital
    Now if you say that my assumption about the male members in your family is wrong then I would say that its a very sorry state of affair and I praise you for holding the courage and keeping your mental stability to go through all this for such long and hope that this article helps others to be more open and aggressive in dealing with such issues, I would say give that family person a life threat , why not, wouldn’t we do the same if some outsider does the same.
    As someone has said it very rightly “Always respect the behaviour not the age” because its not necessary that all people would evolve equally with age and we need to practise this in each and every interaction we do.

  10. vishakha

    kudos to your courage. it isn’t surprising to me any more to hear of such incidents. I myself have become victim of such incidents at an age when we don’t even know what is happening to us.
    I vaguely remember been kissed on lips by a distant cousin at a mere age of 5,being touched at chest and bum by complete strangers at an age of eleven,being hugged in strange ways when I was but a child. And I didn’t even knew what was happening and what to tell my parents about it.
    finally talked to some friends about it and got to know that what was happening was wrong and I should immediately tell my parents about it. It was really awkward,but from then on I was relieved that no such incidences would occur to me any more.

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