By Bhavna Sultana:
TRIGGER WARNING: Content contains graphic description.
My friend was raped by her cousin four years ago and never shared this with anyone until recently.
She belongs to a conservative family and though she has been rebellious all her life, she knows her limits. She didn’t have many friends and didn’t share everything with her parents because their set of values were a bit too traditional to match with hers. So the story of her rape was something that came to light very late, and she tells me that her parents remain unaware of it. I have decided to write about it after taking her permission to do so.
Her first cousin had always been different with her, behaving a little weird around her, as compared to how how he behaved with his other sisters. He first touched her during a family function. Though she chose to ignore it, the touch stayed in her mind anyhow. Any time he would find her alone, he would try to touch her, and it never felt like the brotherly touch. This kept on happening in every family function, so she started to avoid going for any by making excuses.
One day she was supposed to go to his place to collect some important papers. She was asked by her parents to go alone. She was scared, but knew that there won’t be any problem since her aunt would also be at home. She rang the doorbell, and it was her cousin who opened the door. She maintained her calm and entered inside. To her horror, she realized that her aunt wasn’t at home. Now she was scared. He asked her to come inside the room and collect the papers, so she went in. And then, it happened.
He forcefully grabbed her and pushed her onto the bed, leaning over and forcefully kissing her. With force, he held her down. She shouted and cried, asking him not to do so, but he didn’t stop. He slid his hand inside her clothes, and she tried desperately to stop him but he didn’t. He didn’t stop until he was done, raping her of her innocence and ripping out her soul. No help came, probably no one even heard her cries. Only when he was done did he release her. She cried. She couldn’t say a word, she was too horrified because she couldn’t stop it all from happening. Adding to the misery, he forcefully slipped a tablet inside her mouth. She knew what it was, and she was traumatized. He gave her the papers and asked her to leave immediately.
She came back home and was a little out of her senses. Her parents were going to arrive only after an hour. Till then, she just cried and thought about whether she should tell this to her parents or not. She decided she wouldn’t.
I did ask my friend why did she choose to not tell her parents about it? She told me that though her parents loved her, they were a little under the influence of the rest of the family and had the rape been disclosed it would have resulted in something really bad and horrific. She also never wanted to narrate this incident to anyone knowing that she would be judged. I asked her why she thinks so. She says she liked him. To be raped by a man she liked destroyed her hope of liking a man in the future. And frankly the way she said it, I didn’t even know how to comfort her or even if there was any way to do it.
This is, I suppose, only one aspect of our society where things go unreported because we fear about so many things, most of all our pride. The same logic goes for crimes against the opposite sex. The society finds it hard to believe that even a man can be raped, that even he can feel robbed off his dignity, that he can barely muster the courage to come up with the truth if such an incident happens to him.
I still remember how my friend asked me, “Does this even qualify as rape?“. She didn’t know if it did because she liked him and feels guilty about it. I simply tell her that if it happened against her wishes, it surely was a rape and that there is no need to feel guilty about anything that happened. I cannot assure her further because frankly none of us have the solution. Or, do we?