Trigger warning: This post has graphic content.
I was trying to give myself a mourning period. A period where I could eat what I wanted, slept as much as I wanted, neglect my work and basically do anything else I wanted that I thought would make me feel better. I walked around the house like a ghost, lifeless and emotionless. I felt like I was already dead. Over the past one week I had lost contact with all my friends and I didn’t even want to talk to them because if I couldn’t tell them what had happened to me, I didn’t want to take on the burden of putting on a pretentious happy face. I wasn’t ready for that but at the same time I felt like I was slowly suffocating, paying for the sins someone else had committed on me. Why did I feel so completely drained of energy and why could I not see the light at the end of the tunnel? What happened to me was not my fault. The fact that I became prey to someone’s perverted, incestual fantasy had nothing to do with me but I still became the victim at the end of the day, didn’t I?
So many questions about that night swarm my mind, the flashbacks never stop, the constant reminder of something bad has happened lingers in the form of my heart constantly sinking. So many questions about family, love, trust and an unwanted touch torment me. So many childhood memories ruined just like that in the flash of a second. What angers me is not what this man who claimed to be my ‘mama’ (uncle – mother’s brother) did to me but the fact that his one night of ‘masti’ took away so much from me.
How can I forget the night? I remember every little detail. From the way he smelled to how his swollen penis under his shorts felt rubbing up against my thigh. I remember the shock and how paralyzed I was, unable to say anything as my body still mustered the courage to retaliate. Throughout the heartbreaking ordeal, my mind wondered about all the articles I had read where girls narrated similar stories and just thought about how I was now one of them. I remember how my heart skipped a couple of beats in the worst possible way while my glassy eyes saw what was happening to me. It’s like for a couple of second my soul left my body and hovered above, watching everything unfold, maybe that’s why I couldn’t say anything for the first 15 minutes.
He started by rubbing my back while I was looking up something on my laptop while we both sat in bed just ‘bonding’. The constant rubbing in circular motions slowly but steadily escalated upwards and this process lasted a good 15 minutes. The whole time I said nothing, just giving this relative of mine a chance to redeem himself, giving him a chance to come to his senses or maybe I was just giving myself the chance to believe that this couldn’t possibly happening. In that moment, I felt dirty for thinking otherwise, for thinking that he was touching me inappropriately, but I knew exactly what was happening. My body just froze, I almost felt paralyzed. Earlier, when I couldn’t sleep, my boyfriend would often gently rub my back in circular motions and it would bring me so much peace before I drifted into deep slumber. Now, my uncle’s touch has forever ruined that touch for me.
I think my mind finally registered what was happening when his hands started moving towards the front of my body inside my shirt. I clutched my arms closer to my body in attempts to block his hands from touching my breasts and my body stiffened. I think this sudden retaliation from my end made him think of the whole scenario as a challenge so he immediately slid his hand into my pants and groped my ass. It was so sudden that I was almost caught off guard. To this point, not a word slipped my mouth, it’s like it didn’t even happen. I just moved myself to a different position and acted like nothing happened and I have questioned myself multiple times on why I didn’t slap him or say anything. Now I realize that my reaction was a product of my shock. When something bad is happening to you, you don’t want to believe it’s actually happening. You want to hold on to your last shred of optimism till tragedy really strikes, but what’s confusing about this situation is that tragedy had struck and I couldn’t say a word.
My mind started plotting my escape, even though that escape was not far, it was literally the next room where my mom was. This man had crossed all his boundaries and knowing that there were only women at home, I really wasn’t sure what extents he would stoop to, so I couldn’t help but think that if I said anything he would hurt my family. I stood up and went to use the bathroom as an attempt to try and collect my thoughts and give myself somewhat of a pep talk. I walked back into the room just hoping that the five minutes I spent in the bathroom would wake my sick uncle up and that he would come to his senses. I was so wrong and so naïve to believe that it would stop.
I told him I was going to sleep and he calmly asked me for a good night hug, I didn’t want to overreact so I leaned in for a half shoulder hug when he pulled me onto the bed and that’s when every bit of suspicion came to reality in the form of his erect penis which was now rubbing up against my thigh. Shell-shocked, to say the least, I was back in my paralyzed state of mind but I still did try and push him off. He forcefully tried to kiss me, taking my silence for weakness not realizing that I wasn’t weak but just shocked. My voice finally stood up for the violation my body was under when he got on top of me in the position a man would get on top of a woman to try and have intercourse with her. I said nothing of significance but at least I said something, “I think that’s enough.” As soon as he heard me talk for the first time he grinned at me and said, “Are you sure?” I don’t think I have ever heard any 3 words condescend me that way before. In my head I couldn’t help but wonder what that even meant, how could he even ask me such a question? I think the fact that I finally said something let him know that I knew exactly what was happening and that I wasn’t going to go through with it. He got off me and without worrying about any consequences; I walked to my mother’s room and told her everything while he pretended like he was fast asleep in my room, on MY bed.
We didn’t say a word to him the next day, but I hadn’t slept the whole night. He woke up in the morning and left, but my family made sure to give him a piece of their minds individually over the phone. Today I wonder how this could have happened to me. His explanation was baseless and he kept saying he had no bad intentions towards me and that he was just having a little bit of fun. I sit here scarred and wonder how that could be anyone’s definition of fun. I have always wondered why victims of sexual abuse never speak up or pursue their perpetrators legally and the answer is simple, it’s just too damn traumatizing.
Maybe I’ll pursue it one day or maybe I won’t but for now I just want to concentrate on getting rid of the constant flashbacks from that night, I want to try and see my bedroom as my sanctuary again and I want to try and believe in the unity of family again. Why should one sick man define so many things in my life? Why should I have to bear the burden and hurt and disgust? Because that’s just the way it is.
I’m not writing this from a survivor’s perspective that has overcome and emerged stronger. I am writing this from a victim’s perspective who is still desperately trying to overcome what happened to her and that’s probably why you won’t find a name at the bottom of this article. Yes I am scared and there’s no shame in that but I also know that if this could happen to me, it could happen to anyone. If my over-protected and privileged background couldn’t prevent this from happening to me then I can’t even imagine what other girls go through but I’m learning not to blame myself for it. “What if I had moved away sooner? What if I reacted sooner? What if I hadn’t been so trusting?” The list could go on but what happened to me will never, ever be my fault and that’s what victims of violence like me need to understand. I’m not going to let one man’s overpowering sexual desire break my trust in humanity and even though it seems that way right now, I know things will get better. For anyone that’s going through what I’m going through, have faith that you will feel again one day, after all how long can this numbness last?