This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

“I Know Just How Destructive My Memory Can Be”: Why I Remember Being Sexually Abused As A Child

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Submitted Anonymously:

“Through it all there was no song, and weeping
came many years later.”
– The Interrogation, Li-Young Lee

It was seven in the evening, early in January, and I was sitting in an empty park near my college. I had quarreled with my only friend and needed some time to think. A man came up to the bench where I was sitting and tried to talk. I didn’t want to, so I cut him off. But he sat on the same bench, trying to be nice and warm, and soon he had a hand on my shoulder and another dug deep on my thighs. I sprang from the bench, flung myself on the grass, and cried aloud for the first time in several years.

man silhouette
For representational purposes only. Photo Credit: Stefano Mortellaro/Flickr

Surprisingly though, I wasn’t thinking of this particular man from the park when I started crying. The feral howling (I was alone in a park in an uninhabited area and I let myself cry), I remember, was the extirpation of what I saw as the sum total of my life. I felt like an object, used again and again for the pleasures of human beings. In that moment I hated all of them.

Soon this incident had pushed me into a vicious cycle. I felt scared of everybody, wouldn’t go anywhere without my aforementioned friend, and was seriously contemplating suicide. See, it had so happened that my first sexual encounter had been non-consensual. I was barely five and I had had no idea what was happening. I had swallowed only raw information. We were ‘just dancing on the terrace and it was nice that it was dark. The terrace was beautiful.’ Now this treachery would play in a loop in my head and if you so much as asked me for a coffee, I would suspect of some design in it.

Also, when still young, I was sent to a boarding school, which I had liked very much for the first few years. The Vice-Principal seemed to be a very kind man, offered sweets and chocolates, and would help me when I was ill. You couldn’t have sweets and chocolates otherwise, because we weren’t allowed to go outside. I liked it and I surmised this special treatment was being given to me because I was a good and obedient student. But one day, the Vice-Principal did the same thing as our man in the park. By then I had responsibilities that needed me to visit his office now and then, and he would hold me and do other things that I have let myself forget over the years.

There were other such people too (in my childhood and early teens), who gave me these tiny bit of incongruous information to store in my head. When I had started comprehending some of it, I would be terrified and frigid when I was molested. And the calmness with which my molesters proceeded was what I kept thinking of constantly after the episode in the park.

As I spiralled down recurring bouts of anxiety, I quarrelled more often with my friend- to the point that I had nobody who I felt comfortable with, and could trust. Soon I was visiting psychiatrists and counsellors and, obviously, neither they nor my parents had any answer to the question: “Why did this happen to me?

At the same time I was realising how slow our public health services work. The appointment dates were months apart and it was only around the end of summer that we came around to a report on my condition. All this time, I had to survive on drugs that gave me headaches and made me drowsy.

In the meantime, between crying and calling up people hysterically asking for help and answers, I had begun working gradually. My parents had taken all pressure of academic achievement off me, which gave me time to do the kind of work that I loved to do. And in life – taking in all the experiences I had – I often found myself fighting the systemic problems that result in people going through often irreversible losses like mine: of childhood, of a childhood of happiness.

But the fear remains. From what I learnt about my condition from my doctor, my condition remains still irreversible though dormant. Slipping back is easy and sometimes when I wake up scared at night- unable to shake off a nightmare – I know just how destructive my memory can be. Therefore, I remember everything, to control the narrative that my head spins. My only very personal and subjective mantra has been to turn the questions in my head to answers. No amount of talking will help a person forget what has already happened. Then the person shouldn’t go through it at all. Perhaps, all of us should work towards that. Those who haven’t had any such experience would, so that there is no weeping. For me it is a song even when there is weeping.

If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at dial1098@childlineindia.org.in. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.

You must be to comment.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Prerana

By Prerana

By Ashvin Malviya

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below