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My Story Of Sexual Assault: I’m Scared As Hell But I Will Regret If I Don’t Speak Up

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Trigger warning: Sexual Assault

He took me out, touched my hands, dropped me home in his car, and then grabbed my face and kissed me.

He is strong, he is a man, and I am petrified of him. She gets sexually harassed and abused but how does she prove that the incident really happened? Where can she get the proof from? He can easily deny it and run away because she has no evidence to show what exactly happened to her. It’s in her mind all the time.

Representational image.

Does she have to live with this all her life? Does she need to learn that things like this happen every day and the best way is to ignore and move forward? Or do you want her to put a body camera on herself whenever she goes out so that she can collect evidence just in case something happens to her?

A lot of women are sexually abused, assaulted, and harassed every day and every minute. The numbers you have in the reports are the ones registered. Multiple other cases are unregistered and unnoticed. You know why most of the women keep quiet and do not report cases? Well, I will tell you today because I am one of them and this is my story.

March 21st, 2021, I was in Shoot x Academy Noida sector 40, practising pistol shooting. I enjoyed taking shooting as a sport and it helped me focus on my goals, control, and manage my anger. It was a Monday evening and I was just about to wrap up everything when the owner of the academy signalled me to check my Whatsapp.

4-5 months earlier, I called the owner to ask for the admission details but I joined the academy in February because I made sudden travel plans with my friends then. He always used to call me and text me asking about my whereabouts and when I will join the academy. It was all normal for me. I finally joined the academy in February when I was home after a long work-from-home vacation.

Everything was going well and we sometimes used to talk casually because I thought he is a nice man. Being an extrovert and social person, I get easily mixed up with all ages. I love meeting people, knowing and sharing experiences, and learning from them life skills. All my life as a student I used to organize cultural events and meet new people. I also got a chance to work in France by the French government as a cultural ambassador from India in 2017. In 2020, I was selected as a member of a jury from India for the Freedom Prize 2020 which was held in France and organized by the International Institute of Human Rights and the Normandie Region of France.

When I checked my Whatsapp, he had texted me, “Aaj party karne chale? (going to a party today?)” Very politely, I replied that I cannot as I have an office meeting. I had already booked my cab and it was on its way. He asked me to meet me upstairs where the exit gate was. Continuously forcing me to go out with him, saying that we will have dinner and it’s just a matter of an hour he made me cancel my cab. I sat in his car and had a very casual thought that okay let’s go if he is insisting this much.

So the man stopped the car a few blocks away from his home and went to his home maybe to change his clothes or whatever. He came back after 15 minutes and we went to the nearest place. We had a few drinks and food and then we left. I was about to book my own cab when he insisted on dropping me home because it was already around 10:00 pm. Everything went well, he dropped me home, and we both hugged each other while sitting in the car to say goodbye.

That was the moment when he suddenly grabbed my face and forcefully kissed me on the cheeks and then on my lips without my consent. This happened so suddenly that I did not even have the time to think about what just happened. The only thing which was running through my mind was to get out of the car immediately and enter my building to ensure my own safety. I was totally shocked and taken aback by this incident. I went home and gave myself an hour to think and process everything.

Then after I text him asking why he kissed me and what gave him the liberty to do that. To which his exact words were “maine kab kari, chalo so jao kal baat karta hu yaar abhi ninny aa rahe hai mujhe bhi (When did I do it? Go to sleep, we will talk tomorrow, I am sleepy)”. I then noticed that he deleted all his messages from his side where he asked me to go out and then again I asked him why did he delete the message and he replied “pata nahi tumne kiye honge kya bol rahi ho tc (you must have deleted them)”. This conversation happened on WhatsApp and I thought of calling him the next day to confront one on one.

My phone does not have the recording feature so I called him from my mother’s number because I wanted the conversation to be recorded for any further references but he refused to talk to me and ask me to call from my own personal number. We did not have a phone conversation that day. But later after 3 days, I called him back to confront him and he completely refused. He refused to admit that he kissed me (obviously why would he accept such a thing).

Representational image.

I told him that now he has given me no choice but to register a complaint against him and inform his wife. Yes, the man is married. Instead, he accused me of blackmailing him and after the argument asked me to take back my academy fees and not to create a matter out of this. I told him that if he thinks he has not done anything then let me file a complaint and we will see who comes out clean. Also, when I asked him about the deleted messages, he told me that it’s very normal for him and he deletes messages all the time.

This statement contradicted his previous statement where he said that I might have deleted the messages. The conversation ended after a huge argument and I had everything recorded from a different phone. What I saw next was that I was immediately removed by him from the academy’s Whatsapp group.

Since the incident took place, I am not keeping mentally well and can’t focus on anything else. I can easily go to the academy and tell everyone that this person did this to me but I have no proof apart from his deleted Whatsapp messages and phone conversation where he denied everything.

Now, why do I fear to tell this to my family and lodge an FIR?

My mother is a single parent, usually unwell and this news will certainly make her more concerned and weak. I cannot file an FIR because it’s a long process and I cannot go to the police station every day while hiding it from my family. I have a job to do and taking legal action on this will certainly make me lose my job and I will be left with no earning.  Moreover, who will be responsible for my safety? I will always have a constant fear that the person might hurt me in any possible way. And these thoughts are very normal after what we see in the news these days.

I want to take some action against him because I am sure this is not the first time he has sexually assaulted someone. People do not get the courage to do this all of a sudden. Only after they see that the world is quiet, they take their next step. But letting these people go off so easily is also a threat to the coming generation. I really want this person to know his limits and I want to be the last person he ever touches without consent.

On my part, I have already filed a complaint to the NCW (National Commission for Women) and am hoping for some help from their side. To all the females, I want you to know that you can do more than you think and you can do that all alone. I am Fscared as hell to do this all on my own but if I don’t do this I will regret it my whole life. I cannot let people like this walk away without any shame and fear. This is a world for women too as much as it is for men. Know your strengths and overcome your fear.

Speak up now because we are the Youth and this is our Voice.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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