That morning my mother asked me about the bloodstains on my underwear . My mind froze and reminded me of the memories of the previous night. I didn’t know why there was blood, I was a child after all, I was barely seven years old. My mother was furious. She asked, “What happened? Did you visit the neighbour’s house this morning? Did you sit on grandpa’s chair?” She waited for me to answer, but I just stared at her blankly.
I couldn’t tell her what happened because I felt that I was to blame. I was scared of bringing more fights into the family. So I just nodded. My mother asked me to be more careful next time I play around. The incident became a trigger to my fear. I became scared of being alone with him without anyone else there because that was the time when he’d approach me.
The incident happened when my cousins visited during the summer vacations. There was nobody at home so we started to play hide and seek. Then all of a sudden, he pulled me into the bathroom. I couldn’t shout, I was too scared. Even now, I feel the disgust and self loathing. I felt it back then too, even thoughts of it trigger those dreadful memories.
I don’t exactly remember what happened, but I remember being scared. I went along with it because of the feeling of being special and I thought this was they way of being accepted by people.
It only ended when one day he had come over to our new house. I was at home alone with my younger brother. That’s when the man started touching me inappropriately. I tried to escape by going to the kitchen. He followed me there too and started kissing and groping me. I cried, pushed him away and washed my mouth in disgust. I threatened to tell my father. That’s when he fell on my feet and asked me not to do that. When he left, I felt a sense of relief at the age of 13 that I hadn’t in the past few years.
There are many blank spaces in my childhood memories that I’ve probably partially erased from my mind. I vaguely remember being abused by many people in my life as a child and sometimes, they resurface in the form of nightmares.
Today, I’ve come a long way from being a child who was abused and didn’t know what was happening to her, to a woman who has the courage to talk about what happened. I grew up and learned to be happy. I learned to move past obstacles by being adamant and empathetic to others.
But there are times when I dwell on these thoughts:
“I wish my parents paid more attention.”
“I wish my childhood hadn’t been so.”
“I wish it hadn’t happened.”
These are things that I cannot change. Today I am happy for who I am – a strong opinionated woman. But though I have moved on with my life, the triggers and the fears have never left me, the only comfort is in the repressed memories. I just wish I could erase these memories all together, rather than remembering parts of it.
The result of years of sexual assault has made me build a strong shell around me, made me run away at the prospect of getting intimate with anyone, made me trust people less and has made me loathe myself for what happened.
My circumstances are such that I still have to interact with my abuser. Being here, around the same people who pretend to have changed, makes me feel scared sometimes. The thought that he is an offender never leaves my mind when I speak to him. How can I forgive him for all my suffering, nightmares and low self esteem?
How does this self-loathing and disgust from all that I have faced in my life – from bullying, sexual assault, inappropriate touching, pity, feeling of being unwanted, etc – go away?
I wish there is an end to child sexual abuse or any abuse. It is a traumatising experience that lasts for a lifetime.
Parents, please believe your kids and teach them about good touch and bad touch. Make them aware of their rights and be open with them. Sexual violence thrives on the silence and the collusion of people who could act to stop it, but chose not to do so.
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.