*Trigger Warning: Mention Of Rape*
*An anonymous account of a client*
I was 4. Merely a kid, I was. Or that is what people say or assume about age. I wasn’t supposed to be pushed upon to hold expectations of what the world holds out there. Or what it means to “be” according to gender, caste or religion. I was a new creature, learning and developing gradually.
But I guess it wasn’t something he understood—the ruthless monster.
It was back in 1998; I lived in a joint family. While Indian households were spending their time adjusting to the time of transition, the country was facing the global phenomenon of globalisation and its associated social, financial and political factors. The establishments developing were now weak and mostly on shaky grounds of social taboos, stereotypes, etc.
Families were drifting apart; they were compartmentalising and apparently changing rapidly in 360 degrees in some structures. For instance, in some families, both males and females were equally employed. To support unbalanced structures and to differentiate roles of members, hiring help had become quite a trend. It also was a mark to live the luxuries and mark a status statement.
My family had a plethora of characters in it. Some had weird sides to them, some were followers of trends and some carried a descent literature outlook to life.
Following the marriage, my aunt used much of her skills to rework the family and its structure in her favour. A typical situation of an Indian household. She couldn’t afford to miss anything, which was a trend. Sometimes, she spoke boldly of it, and sometimes it happened in the dark or behind the doors of her room.
To stay much in trend with associates of my uncle, she employed a new domestic worker. Having delivered a son to the family, she expected the family to respect her needs. The domestic worker was to take care of the newly born son of hers and do small errands for the family.
We were two girls, daughters of the other two brothers in the family. Being of a similar age, we most often used to spend time playing and watching TV together.
Having a three-floored house with an office attached to the house, we were always under the eye of some adult of the family. It was thought to be safe and protected that way. Being kids, we sometimes rebelled against it. At that age, it gave a sense of attacking our private space.
But then, one day, things went a different way than usual. Everything changed after that. That day seemed to challenge everything that existed in that house. It was 8:30 p.m. on a regular working day. My elder aunt had run out of some spice required while cooking. She had to rush to the market to get the same.
As per the rules, we had to go up to my room if no elder was there on the ground floor. But things didn’t go as they were supposed to. That day, the moment she left, the domestic worker found his red carpet. He set the tone by tricking us into playing some new game. This way, he locked me into a room with him. And he raped me.
I wasn’t liking what he was doing; I rebelled it. I shouted. My sister tried helping; she banged the door from outside. Finally, when the voices went loud, he let me free. I ran to my mom immediately. I was scared, startled and shocked. I didn’t know what to react, how to react. My mother seemed shattered from her face when I told her what happened.
Everyone was called. My dad slapped him, asked him about what happened. He lied and my aunt defended him. The mouth battle turned into slaps to beating. He was thrown out. From that day, our household became quiet. The commotion had died down for several days, months and years. The family seemed scattered all over.
For me, without much understanding at that time to be an advocate now, things took a sharp turn. A hole was pierced that day and it still exists. The pain doesn’t go. I feel empty the whole time. Feel deprived for days of energy, commitment, trust. I fail to adjust to situations that require a human touch. I have lost the battle which I never fought.
An honest account of most families considered sophisticated and cultured in the eyes of many like them and an ideal for those below them, setting goals to be reached. But these patterns of discomfort cultivated rules and regulations regarding who is right, who is wrong, who should speak, who should be quiet, who is educated, which profession is privileged and who is the leader to be followed.
This idea of internal misogyny leads to establishing the patriarchy for years and generations together.
While I don’t deny men are victims too, what about women who have been challenged at every moment of their life? Whether they are empowered or not doesn’t matter much. But what matters most is the stratification society should be stuck to and adhere to and contradicting it can lead to a distressing and painful life.
This leading to the foreground for mental health issues to be born right there and never leaving the body because the fear that the affected should not be wrong or will be put off to human garbage is so strong.
Thus, what really needs to be questioned is the pressure of education we have let exist in society, allowing fishes, cats, rats and birds to set on a race to the top of the tree to prove that they are worthy. Has it led us somewhere? When after a point, each has to find their habitat to grow. But by that time, the person has lost the self-efficacy, confidence and esteem to grow and foster.
Why not look for modifications and reformations and rehab people with skills to use immediate resources to build the community which defines more belongingness, need identification than need resolution, IEC (Information, Education and Communication) to help them be enlightened and powered to define decisions and consequences than building a world on instructed manuals.
From a personal point of view, I suffered but couldn’t fight my battle until now, when I have found my habitat and skills to foster upon. Now, I want to initiate a pond for those like me to help them find their meaning, purpose, etc.
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.