In an interview, Chester Bennington revealed that he suffered sexual abuse from an older male friend when he was seven years old. He was afraid to ask for help because he did not want people to think he was gay or lying, and the abuse continued until the age of 13.
This fear which he addressed is very much real. I feared it too and didn’t say a word (in public) until this year. I never wished to speak it out but it burdened me. What will people think of me? What would they say? Would they make fun of me? How will they react? Am I inviting more trouble by sharing this? Trust me, all this is very intimidating even at the moment when I’m writing this.
I thought of an option before writing this: to end my life. I tried it as well. And I don’t know whether it is justifiable or not. But is it real? Yes, it very much is. It felt like my fault. But I was not the one who chose to be a victim. Who chooses to be abused at the age of 3, 5 or 7?
As I write this, I realise that I must do this, I must tell you my story. Not because I want it to land up on social media, or use it as a method to seek an apology. I need to write this for the other children/people who feel as hopeless as I do at times and tell them that you’re not alone.
I was eight years old. It was summer vacation which used to be legendary. My favourite part of it was the hide and seek games we played. Siddhant ‘bhaiya’ (name changed) used to play with us. He was 18, a good ten years older to me but used to play with us when he got bored and joined us many times for a game of cricket or two. He was also a regular carom mate, a known and trusted guy to the family and a brotherly figure to me.
It all started during an innocent game of hide and seek. We were hiding in an abandoned house, and my friend Prashant (name changed) was trying to search for us. “Oh, Prashant is here!” said Siddhant, as he caught my arms and squeezed them to create an impact. I asked him to be quiet. Prashant went away, but Siddhant didn’t leave my hand and I didn’t question it. He gave me a peck on the cheek, rubbed his hands on my arms and cuddled me. I felt awkward, my body replied with goosebumps but I ignored it as brotherly affection. Soon we went home, and I forgot the incident.
The next day, in the afternoon, Siddhant called me to his home to play video games. I went over in the greed of the computer and the games. After a while, he placed his hands over mine and tried to take the remote control. He suddenly kissed on my neck and I jumped up, startled.
He nuzzled me and swiftly placed his hands under my shirt. I jumped and left the remote. “Relax, we’re making love,” he said. I didn’t know what to say and I really don’t remember how he won me over with his talks and made me do things which I feel disgusted to even think about now. I sometimes feel pity for the child, little did he knew that a Bhaiya will do this.
I didn’t know that I had a choice to report this event to anyone – my parents, cousins or anyone else. I cried many times, wept but he threatened me with dire consequences. I was assaulted, I whimpered and was left almost paralyzed. This incident destroyed a sense of freedom in me, I quit hide and seek. His torture made me doubt any actual expression of love. I deterred any touch, (I still do till date, I feel uneasy in the metro when someone stands near to me in the metro, it’s as if my body is signalling something, there’s an alarm which refuses to go off) met fewer people and stopped seeing him.
One day, he came over again with his mother. Even though I was repulsed, I had to be civil to him. The mothers then made a plan that left me in a state of panic. They wanted to step out and leave ‘bhaiya’ alone with me at home as my siblings were at tuition. I pleaded my mother but she didn’t listen to my protests, and once again, I was left in an empty house with my assaulter. She reasoned that it is important that I shall be left under his ‘vigilance’ as it was night time.
We sat in the same room, he was studying, and I watching television. But this was just the calm before the storm. After half an hour or so he grabbed me from behind. I was disgusted and struggled to get out of his grip but it was of no help. His strong muscular body couldn’t be defended by a skeleton structure like me. I screamed, but it was of no use. People would have thought, “Ladka chilla raha hai, lad raha hoga bhai beheno se, (A boy is shouting, must be just fighting with someone)” so no one came and asked why I was shouting.
He locked the door and undressed me even though I was still struggling and started making his kind of love. Strongly forcing his face on mine, he kissed me all over my body, especially on my behind. Then I felt something, he came inside me with full force and covered my mouth with his hands. To and fro, with each rhythmic grunt, he intensified. I was down on my knees, completely surrendered. I couldn’t do anything but cry and beg, “Please let me free. Please let me free!”
Little did I know that I’ll revisit that state of trauma and panic in the winters of 2012. I just couldn’t think of anything except this incident while watching the news channel flash the ‘breaking news’.
The December 2012 rape case shocked the nation. I remember watching its coverage. I remember weeping. The definition of rape haunted me. I too was raped. Siddhant had no right to touch me, to rob me of my childhood. He had no right to pollute my thinking and opinion on those who love and express their love. This certainly was not love, it was molestation, child abuse and rape, as I know it now.
There are many like me in this country who are molested by a person as close as a neighbour, cousin or a family friend. Still, there are some questions that keep on torturing me. Can I file a FIR? Will anybody take action after so many years?
And these set of questions disturb me, as there is no law that can heed of men’s sexual exploitation. There is also the quintessential note about how the society and my family will react. Will the family let me disclose this heinous confession?
Today I have confessed something which could have been neglected and remains buried deep inside my heart. But I think I owe it to the other men. To Chester, and to others like me and him who were abused at such a tender age. But I want to send a message, as boldly as I can. We do feel like taking our lives because we’re wrong. But we’re only leaving behind abusers this way. We surely don’t want that, do we? To all who think there’s no one and are considering an option of ending this life. You’re not alone my friend.