‘My Most Favourite Cousin Turned Out To Be A Monster’

I was 12 when he came to our house. He was my favourite cousin. Right from my childhood, I used to love him the most. When I came to know that he is going to live with us, my joy knew no bounds.

My mum used to take care of him more than me, and I had also written about this in my diary. I did not have siblings and started feeling that he was the brother I had always wanted. He was like my prized possession. We used to eat together, play together, care for each.

But one day, our beautiful little world shattered.

That was the darkest, longest and scariest night of my life.

I was bathing when I saw a hand with a phone camera at the window. It was my cousin. Yes, my most favourite one. I screamed in horror and froze. It was like someone had just sucked the blood out of me and I was lifeless. It took me at least 15 minutes to come back to my senses and realise what had just happened.

I came out of the bathroom, and even though I had the most understanding and supporting family in the world, I couldn’t share this with them. He apologised and said it was just a mistake. But how could it be? What bothered me was that he was like this all the while.

It was unbearable to think that I was living with this monster and I loved him so much. He could have hurt me a lot more – physically and emotionally.

It took me eight years to bring the truth out. Long time, right? I lived with this trauma for eight years and had to face him every time I came home. He behaved as if nothing had happened and held his head high during Raksha Bandhans. Every time, I thought: “Really? Do you really deserve this?” But I was weak. I don’t know why. But when I came to know that he did something worse with his own sister, I had to speak out.

My parents lost the person who they loved like their son, but finally, I felt free and strong again.

I just want to say that never do what I did. Don’t wait for years to expose a person who has hurt you in any way. Don’t be afraid of such creeps because I have realised that they are weakest people on earth. Don’t let them ruin your wonderful childhood.

At the same time, there are certain things parents should do to ensure their children don’t have to face what I did.

  • Talk to your child about his/her daily activities.
  • Always know your child’s friends, the older people he/she talks to, his/her teachers (it doesn’t matter if the teacher is male or female).
  • Don’t shy away from discussing personal matters with your child. It’s better if you tell them about bad touch.
  • Listen to them seriously if they are trying to tell you something. Stand by them if they are facing this sort of problem.
  • Do not say things like: “Log Kya kahege?? Kisi ko mat batana, humari hi badnami hain beta (what people would say? Don’t tell anyone, It would disgrace us).
  • Sexual harassment can happen to both girls and boys. Don’t trust anyone blindly, not even your family members. In about 68% of child abuse cases, family members are to be blamed.

Your children’s safety is in your hands. Be aware and make them aware. Protect them, talk to them, listen to what they have to say and raise them to be strong, beautiful and confident.

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.