I always wanted to be counted as one amongst the boys. No I was definitely not a tomboy as such, neither a girly girl to brag about. Something in the middle. Men were either best of friends or the ones who liked to pick on me, based on how I looked. I laughed at their misogynistic jokes, which I am not proud of one bit. I used to take shortcuts through shady slums, without fear of being catcalled or eave teased. As in my head I was this stick figure and a lesser woman in whom no one was interested in. This train of thought did irreparable damage to my psyche.
Fast forward a few years later. My life was heading nowhere. Until recently something happened, which changed my world over. I became a victim of a sex crime, many times over. The abuse was sustained. Whenever I read about the sexual violence women face on a day to day basis in the news, I tend to experience this hot flashes accompanied with a feeling of nervousness as it acts as a trigger for me. I have been accused of seeking attention for coming out with my story, online. The thing here, is I didn’t fit the standard definition of a woman who could have gotten into such situation. I dress traditionally without showing skin, the crime happened in daytime, I am not into partying and the like. I think sexual assault is a crime of men venting out their aggression. My assaulter was mocked for being impotent; Yes I knew my assaulter very well.
This kind of thing, can happen to anyone irrespective of where you come from. I was of the opinion that I was inherently safe, but that was not the case. Another thing, I had a pen knife with me in my bag, but I forgot about it altogether. I was reminded of it, only when I decided to take the metro, where it showed in their security cameras. I was let off, with a warning.
If someone is going through this your close friend or a relative, please don’t cast doubts on their story and support them wholeheartedly.
Another important revelation I would like to make is that, there’s no hard and fast rule of predicting whether someone would get sexually violated, molested,harassed and the like. What Kirron Kher said about the gang rape victim’s decision to board a shared autorikshaw propagates rape culture,where one puts the blame on the victim solely for what happened. Even I haven’t been spared, why did you go to his room,when you clearly knew his intentions. Did you lead him on?. Were you partially willing?. You had so many sexual encounters with him, he might just claim that you had consensual sex with him, if the case goes on trail. My rapist was a manipulator and a bully, who had taken my family into his confidence. Many rapists contrary to popular belief of being two horned monsters are regular men who lead normal lives. How are women supposed to know, whether a particular man is capable of committing such a crime. We can’t go around looking with every man with suspicion.
Where to seek help if one faces sexual violence of any kind
Organisations like HRLN (Human Rights Law Network) provide counselling and legal support for victims of Sexual violence, they can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Another NGO which is based solely in Mumbai is SheSays, founded by Trisha Shetty. They have got their won redressal directory as regards to seeking the closest mental health professional, closest police station around you or closest hospitals http://www.shesays.in/get-help/redressal-directory
A Pune based organisation named Aks Foundation too helps women in distress, http://aksfoundation.org/
If the above sources fail to provide you with any help or if they aren’t based where you stay, then there’s http://www.hotpeachpages.net/
Despite this if you are unable to seek professional help as regards to counselling as such, there’s an online platform as well. Therapy takes time, plus money, so if you are unable to afford it, there’s an online platform too, which you can try out. Here’s the link https://yourdost.com
Last but not the least one can watch these survivor testimonials on youtube, which makes us understand that we are not alone in all this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukRrdo54a4