As a child, I was never too fond of discovering the outside world, so when a new neighbour shifted in and the mother and her son were someone I got comfortable with, my parents thought it was some good company for me.
The mother used to teach my friend and I how to draw and colour, her son who was around nine years older to me was always around. Soon he started sitting beside me on the dining table where we used to practice and seeing that I was too short to cover the distance between the table and the chair, he started to get me to sit on his lap. An act that is probably considered a sign of care or affection. I don’t remember how it began, but I do remember him touching my private parts at every chance he got. It was a game, a ‘secret game’ that only I could play since I was smarter than other girls, that’s what he used to say. A game that was supposed to remain a secret or else I could lose and that I definitely didn’t want to.
One day it was just the two of us at his place, and he asked me if I would like a new toy, a toy that I wasn’t supposed to have had a glimpse of, at my age. Soon my mother started banging on the door because she felt something was wrong although I couldn’t understand why.
I never saw him after that. My mother didn’t say a word to me either. I always stayed at home and didn’t start going out until four years later. I still can’t stay out of my house for too long, don’t have many childhood memories either that could describe my school life.
The sad part is, I wasn’t too young; I was eight and the memories did seep through. When I turned 14, I started learning about rape, abuse and molestation and on finding out that I had been through the same ordeal I started hating my body and everything about it. That period was painful; I am 22 today, and still even the slightest hint triggers me. Not having had anyone to talk to left me with no other option but to tackle my thoughts myself and that’s exactly what I did.
On entering college, I gave myself a chance to grow and breathe. I stopped accusing myself of all that happened but who will understand the mental trauma I went through, a game that made me feel on top of the world was actually not a child’s play. Instead of treating sex as taboo, I read, researched and found out that it’s nothing wrong if it happens at the right age without any force. The confusing part was should I never let a male touch me or should I stop being so guarded.
My parents are still hesitant when it comes to me being alone and I know that they haven’t forgotten what happened years ago. I would like to say to everyone out there, teach your kids or your siblings the difference between a good touch and a bad touch and encourage them to speak out.
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 email@example.com. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.