In life, everyone goes through something that changes them completely. Something that leaves a mark on their heart and soul, a wound that never heals and we just get used to the pain.
It takes a lot of courage to talk about the thing that caused you the agony. I know this because even a few days back I did not have that courage. But then someone very dear to me inspired me to do what I feel is right. They asked me to not be scared of what people might think. They asked me to tell my story. So, here I go.
I was six and living with my Ma and Naani, when my family members began putting pressure on Ma to get married again. The thought was that I still was a child and needed a father. My mom succumbed to the pressure and got married to this man who became my stepfather.
It was nice at first. He was good to me, he would drop me at the bus-stop every morning after I got ready for school. But, one day, everything changed, suddenly. I came back home from school. Ma, as always, was still at work. I changed into my regular clothes and asked my stepfather if he’d play with me. He agreed.
He lay down on the bed and asked me to unbutton his shirt and kiss his chest. I did.
He then pulled down his pants and his phallus popped out. He asked me to kiss it. I did. It was hot and hard and while I was kissing it, sucking on it, he ejaculated. I didn’t know what was happening. I had no idea. I thought he loved me and that’s why he was asking me to kiss him. This went on for two years.
He was a very violent man, used to physically abuse Ma. I once saw her heavily bandaged hand. He had used a piece of glass to hit her. Ma soon filed for a divorce and left him and raised me with Naani.
I was six years old when this happened to me for the first time. And I was 19 when I realised that I was a survivor of child sexual abuse. I was in my second year of college when I finally figured it out. And the knowledge made me go numb. I started remaining silent. I changed, completely. I would not talk to my friends much. I turned into an introvert.
I recently started talking about it and went for group therapy. When I shared my experience with a group of survivors I lost my calm and began to cry. I cried my guts out. And I am still as overwhelmed. I have tears in my eyes as I recall the incident and write this piece. It wasn’t Ma’s fault. Nor was it mine. And all that matters is that we won. We survived.
To the people who have survived this, I want to say this one thing: I know it’s hard to talk about it, but try. People need to know how fucked up this world is. It happens a lot with boys but since our society asks us to ‘man-up’, we don’t talk about these issues, the issues that matter the most. These are the things which should be talked about.
If you have gone through a similar experience, and you’re reading this, please talk about it. That’s the least you can do for yourself, and maybe, for other survivors. Educate your kids, siblings, grandchildren, cousins, or any child for that matter, about the realities of Child Sexual Abuse. If a child or your friend comes up to you and tells you about ‘weird’ stuff happening to them, being done to them by someone they know or don’t know, please address their fears. The perpetrators of child sexual abuse are mostly the people you trust. So I urge you to pay attention to your child, listen to them, encourage them to talk to you about everything, and have a conversation with them so that they are aware. You have no idea how badly it affects a child’s life. It is why you need to talk about Child Sexual Abuse; because it’s real. It happens all the time.
The only way we can put an end to this is by educating our children about these uncomfortable subjects. I survived this and so did a lot of other kids. But we have paid a heavy price. So let’s work towards building a strong world where children are happy and their childhoods are safe.
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.