Trigger Warning: Sexual harassment, abuse, domestic violence, suicidal ideation
Every human being had gone, is going, and will go through the age period of 10-24 years, a time period when everything starts to change- our surroundings, our perspective for our surroundings, and most importantly, our own selves. It is the time when there is a constant transition of ourselves; from a child to an adolescent, then from an adolescent to a teenager, afterwards from a teenager to a young adult, and lastly from a young adult to a grown-up adult. This age group almost contains around 2 billion people of 7 billion living population of today’s world, and these people are called “Youth”, our future. And I am also a part of this huge population so that I can term myself a youth.
Youth life is very important for everyone because it is when we learn everything; good or bad, manners, morals, ethics, etc. Therefore, since our childhood, we are taught to be good and well-behaved people. But in making us a good person for society, we are not taught to be a self-loving person or to be a person of self-respect and self-dignity. For example, we can all recall how we are scolded for not being good to others, even if it means ending up hurting our own feelings.
This means that being good to others is more important than being good to ourselves. Similarly, we can see this mindset regarding love and relationship. In our films and culture, we are shown how helpless we are without that ‘significant other’, or how life is incomplete without that person. In other words, we are always told to find true love in someone else, but not in ourselves. That’s why many youths end up mingled in many unsuccessful relationships and breaking their own hearts several times. This shows that how we are stopped from being self-loving and self dignified people.
This is not the only problem we face every day as youths. When we want to do something different from the mainstream, we are always pulled back by society; even if we continue to do so, our society terms us as ‘bold’, ‘revolutionary’, ‘unique’ or most commonly ‘insane’, ‘savage’, ‘unruly,’ ‘stupid enough’ and so on. This problem has become so common that each one of us says these things unknowingly. For example, whenever we want to raise our voice for any specific social issue, our parents prevent us from doing so.
It’s not their fault; they are doing what they were taught in their childhood, and therefore they shouldn’t be blamed. They think that if we do so, society will piss us for our “over-smart” and “bold” attitude. Another example can be taken from our taste of music and dance. If someone sings a song from the genre of Kpop, hip hop, jazz, funk, heavy metal or performs contemporary, breakdance, or ballet in any religious program, then he/she is criticized for acting like an atheist or too modern in front of God.
Similarly, if someone sings any religious or classical song or performs classical or folk dance in any party or cultural program, then they are is considered too religious. In simple words, society has narrowed its thinking, and we are also forced to follow their thinking.
This is not the end of problems. These are what society has been doing to us verbally; further, there is physical and mental abuse, which breaks every youth from inside. For example, each one of us would have been bullied or teased due to our physical appearance; the flaw in our appearance can be acne on our face, extra fat in our body, dwarfism, black complexion, or even being too good looking also!
This bullying consists of beating, using slangs, ragging, and psychological torturing. According to the latest data by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 1 out of 3 teen experiences bullying in schools around the world, which is 33.3%. Bullying causes social difficulties, internalizing symptoms, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and eating disorders (i.e., anorexia or bulimia nervosa) among teenagers. These are the scientific terms of the effects; in simple words, victims of bullying totally break down.
They feel guilty for what has been done to them, they blame themselves, they start to see themselves from the eyes of others, and finally, they start to hate themselves. Here I would like to talk about my own personal experience regarding bullying. I have a school friend who has been being bullied since class 1. I don’t know the reason behind this, but she is always bullied even on her opinions.
Even my friends bully her sometimes, but I am never able to raise my voice against them, maybe because I have a fear of losing their friendship. She always cries before me and asks me why she is bullied by other girls. This bullying has made her so much introverted and self-hating person that sometimes she even talks of dying by suicide. From here, we can see that torturing and bullying can cause such drastic changes in the mental health of a teenager.
This is not the end. Physical abuse by seniors and classmates is a major issue, too, in schools, colleges, and universities. It is especially common among the boys, where the “weaker” one is beaten brutally. This type of bullying causes both physical and mental breakdown, resulting in any temporary or permanent physical impairment, depression, lack of confidence, self-hate, anxiety, etc.
Until now, I mentioned only bullying in academic institutions, but it is a matter of concern in our personal life also. According to studies, there are many forms of abuse or bullying against the youths in their personal life. These can be differentiated into domestic violence, sexual assault, and abusive romantic relationships. Domestic violence has two categories; one is where youth is directly abused verbally, physically, and mentally and the other where youth is affected mentally by witnessing domestic violence in their home.
Domestic violence can cause higher behavioural and emotional problems among the youths living with it than others. Also, the victims accuse themselves of being the reason for so much chaos in their households; and the worst is that their loyalties towards their parents are torn apart. Survivors of this abuse can go into depression, causing them to be anxious, aggressive, self-hating, etc.
The next one is one of those topics about which people, especially youths and teenagers, are shy to talk about, and that is sexual assault or sexual harassment. Like other physical abusements, this is also a unisexual problem of our society, but the main concern has always been the girls. Whenever a youth is sexually abused by someone, he/she remains quiet because of the fear that society will blame the survivor first.
This is where the situation gets worse. Already the survivor is in the trauma of getting sexually harassed. Besides, society blames him/her for what had happened to him/her. Instead of helping them, we make them feel guilty, and therefore both the victims and survivors don’t complain against the culprits. The effects of sexual harassment on the survivor can be so deep that only the one who has gone through it can feel it, although I will give the consequences of this abuse.
Flashbacks of the attack, depression, anxiety, insomnia, lack of appetite, headaches, poor concentration are some of the mental and psychological effects faced by the survivor. The number of these cases is increasing at such a rate that if we don’t protest against these, then at some point in the future, “every one of us will be a victim of sexual harassment.”
At last is the new form of abuse, abusive romantic relationships. I have said something regarding this in my earlier paragraphs to find true love in someone else instead of finding it ourselves. As I have told earlier that our society has the culture of finding true love in some other person, youths decide to follow this trend, and therefore they forget to love themselves first.
This causes them to find love in someone else too quickly, which blindfolds their eyes, and they are not able to differentiate between a good and a bad person. In this way, they enter into romantic relationships, even before understanding its consequences in the future. They form committed bonds, waste their time, become a blindfolded lover, and the worst is that they lost and changed themselves for the sake of their so-called “significant other”. This is where abuse starts.
The other person misuses, tortures, abuses, emotionally blackmail him/her, and just for showing how kind they are, they give comforting words. Abusive romantic relationships can cause indecisiveness, depression, self-hate, and self losing, anxiety, etc. And most commonly, these types of relationships are really confusing. We are unable to understand whether to give up, and in this confusion, our partner abuses us more and more.
Further on, this abuse can take the form of sexual abuse, like pornography, forcefully forming physical relations, etc. This is most common among the girls where their boyfriends force them to send their nude photos, forming physical relations, etc. From this point, we are not able to turn around and thus continue with the relationship.
Now I want to confess something to every reader. I am both a victim and survivor of all types of abuse; in both school and personal life. Due to my fatty physical appearance, I was bullied by some of my boy classmates when I was in the primary section of my school. Also, until 2020 my parents always commented on my fattiness unless I started to focus on my health.
I have also been criticized for not being like others, especially due to my taste in music and dance nowadays. These things were ‘okay’ for me as I have got used to these, but one incident in my life just changed my perspective of viewing people around me. In 2017 after getting promoted to class 7, I was physically and sexually harassed by my then English tutor.
He was my tutor from 2015 to 2017. It started in April 2017, when he wanted to get closer to me. I thought that he was just showing his affection towards me, and my parents would have allowed him to do so. Slowly, I understood his intentions and decided to make my parents aware of these things, but suddenly a useless thought came to my mind; my parents and I would be blamed by society. So I shut my mouth, and that was one of my biggest faults.
On my 12th birthday, he harassed me at the highest level I know, and only then did I tell my mother about all these things. I am unaware of what was done to him, but two things came out from that incident. Firstly, I was harassed in my home, and secondly, no FIR was lodged against him, maybe due to the fear of ‘badnaami’ (insult) in society. Though I never felt guilty or depressed regarding my harassment, a question always haunted me; why me? And this question still haunts me and makes me cry.
After this, comes the domestic violence in my home. Since my childhood, I have been seeing my parents fighting on even the smallest issues. It was not a big deal for me when I was a child, but in my teenage years, it’s really affecting me to a great extent. As I have said earlier, indirect domestic violence can cause emotional and behavioural problems. This is what had happened to me.
Still, today I have the tendency of being angry or emotional about very little things, maybe due to the mental disturbance I bear from my home. And at last, I was in a toxic, abusive romantic relationship, in 2020 only. I will not take the name of my ex-boyfriend because I feel that it was my fault to jump into a committed relationship before even calculating the consequences. Also, we have promised each other not to reveal our names.
Well, being in a relationship is not bad, until and unless you haven’t loved yourself and your partner is not less than an enemy of yours. In my case, it is a very bad experience. In the beginning, it was all good, but that was not so. When I got to know him better, I realized that he was not the one I loved. His intentions, behaviour, and attitude were so unwelcoming, bad, and depressing that he became one of the reasons for my depression.
I want to elaborate more. Actually, my ex-boyfriend always manipulated me in a very unwelcoming way. I used to stop him from manipulating me earlier, but later I stopped to do so, and I regret stopping. It’s not that I was a very simple teenager, but he really changed me completely. I became like him and started to change myself.
I even believed his fake sympathy, and this is where things got worse. Thereafter, he acted like he doesn’t care about my existence. I should have realized that he wants to get rid of me, but I was so much head to heel over crazy for him that I didn’t want to leave him. All these problems came together and broke me totally from inside.
Well, these are my problems, but many youths suffer even more than me. Due to depression and anxiety, many youths take the help of smoking, alcohol, and drugs to get rid of these every day tensions. They become addicted to these things, and therefore they ruin their life every moment. Drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, flakka, and heroin are the most common among youths, and these items can cause emotional and behavioural problems, addiction, diseases, brain damage, etc.
But when even drugs also don’t help youths overcome depression and anxiety, they see only one way to get freed; and that is suicide. According to research and studies, suicide is the 2nd largest cause of youth deaths around the world. This is clear proof of how society and its people force youths to suicide. Each one of us should be guilty of how we manipulate every youth of our society, how we force them to do what we want, and how all these leads to so many problems.
I still wonder how I survived all these problems or how I am standing happy now. Maybe I am a strong person since my childhood, but if I tell the truth, my ex-boyfriend really almost killed me during the occasion of Durga Puja; just because I loved and believed him more than myself.
Now I didn’t have any psychological counselling for healing myself, rather I had and have songs of a world-famous Kpop idol boy band, BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan). Their songs regarding loving myself, relationship problems, mental health issues, etc., really healed me. I am not promoting them, but I want to thank them for giving me a new life. All the readers going through hard times should listen to their songs; maybe they will also feel healed like me.
In the above, I mentioned how I won over depression. Like me, everyone can have their way of dealing with these things, but there are some collective measures we all need to take together. Moral and psychological education should be an utmost part of our schooling system because conducting programs regarding these just once a year is not going to work. But in my opinion, the most important thing in this regard is to love ourselves.
As I told in the last paragraph, BTS’s songs help me to heal from my problems, but their Love Myself Campaign with the partnership of UNICEF really inspired me a lot. From what I have learned from their campaign, loving yourself is maybe the solution to all these problems faced by today’s youth. I believe that when we will start to love ourselves, then what society is saying will no more affect us.
We will believe, trust us for whatever we do. And when we believe in ourselves, then we will speak ourselves. We will protest against all the abuse and tortures which we face since our childhood. Many people think that loving myself can create irresponsible and careless youths, but this is totally wrong. When youth like me loves themselves, then they will also learn to love and respect others.
Maybe it’s a new thing for everyone; even I was also unaware of self-love before knowing about BTS. I really feel loving myself or self-love is something which can stop and prevent all those physical and mental abusements; not only among the youths but also among the adults too. But here comes another problem, who will take the initiative of spreading this message?
So, therefore, I am starting this chain from myself. I am sharing the unforgettable and unwanted moments of my life so that everyone can relate to me and start to love themselves. Now, how to create this type of new sensation in our hearts and soul? To answer this question, I will take some help from the official webpage of the Love Myself campaign. Here are some methods suggested by BTS to love yourself:
While the above four methods can be done by everyone, you can participate in the love myself campaign. Just use #BTSLoveMyself and write something regarding this on our social media account. Also, if you are financially secured enough, then you can donate money to the Love Myself campaign. But these are not the only ways to find love ourselves. Just like we are taught to be good to others, we should also be good to ourselves.
This can be achieved by giving the freedom of living life in everyone’s own way, until and without harm to anyone. For example, we should not scold someone due to their attitude, dressing style, physical appearance just because it’s not normal (it doesn’t mean that aggressive and impolite behaviour should also be promoted). We should make each other comfortable with what each of us is doing. That’s how we can make this world a better place for every individual.
At the end of my elongated and much-aspired article, I have just one-two things to say. Let’s work on this issue together, just by helping or supporting someone who has been a victim of abuse, and teach him/her to love themselves. It’s a small request from a 15 years old teenager from Burdwan because I, along with everyone, want to make this world a better place for every human. It will take time, but there’s a great quote, “GREAT THINGS TAKE TIME.” Thanks to all the readers for patiently reading my article. Hoping that you will help me and BTS to protect today’s youth generation.