She was five and fragile when it happened for the first time. He came to her house with gifts and sweets for her. He kissed her on her cheek and hugged her to show his affection, but his kiss was rather filled with lust than love. His embrace was more about libido than care. But she couldn’t notice. How could she? She was far too happy that her favorite uncle had come to visit her with presents. She believed, he loved her like his own daughter and her parents also shared the same view for numerous times he visited her during her early years.
She started to blossom at ten and that was the first time when she felt something was not right. His hands grazed her skin in most inappropriate way on the pretext of hugging and she felt his heat penetrating into her body. She felt something, a touch, a grope which disgusted her sense of pride and for the very first time she felt horrified to see her uncle.
Confused and scared, she started to question what was wrong with her and why she was feeling such things with her own uncle. She started to ignore him but that predator always liked the resistance offered by its prey before being hunted.
God gave her a young brother that year, when she reached twelve. Her uncle visited them again and her father helped him buy a house nearby. He was now always there with his eyes lurking for her. She felt dirty when he was around, especially when he touched her in front of her family and no one seemed to mind.
She often asked herself if this was normal or if she was overreacting. If it wasn’t normal, then why it always seemed innocuous to others? What would his family think if she told them? Would anyone believe her? Would her mother side with her uncle in the name of family pride or would she listen to her daughter? Would her father and brother think dirty about her? Her uncle was the nicest man in the whole family and everybody had always vouched for his goodness. She couldn’t muster the courage to tell anybody and decided to keep it a secret.
Sweet sixteen struck her; she felt attracted to other guys without that disgusting feeling he had known since childhood. But she was so scarred that she turned down every single guy who approached her. She struggled to have an emotionally intimate bonding with anyone. She behaved erratically, eccentrically, not knowing what was right and what was wrong. She resorted to movies and books in search of such a relationship she had with her uncle. But the couples in movies and books were always unrelated. Gradually she became conscious of what it was.
Anger and frustration started to fuel her now, years of suppressed emotions outburst with teenage rage and fallout with her family only worsened the conditions. She felt jealous of her young brother for she felt that her parents loved him more. She felt unloved and unrequired. She tried to kill her pain but she didn’t know how strong she actually was until she survived.
She left her home for college and for the first time breathed freedom. She made new relationships, new friends who gave her the self-confidence she had long lost and away from the environment she had always known, she grew stronger day by day. She learned more there than she had ever learned at her home and three years flew away just like a summer breeze, still the memories she made there were far superior than the past she feared. Friends dispersed with a promise to always stay in touch, her college ended and she came back to place called home.
But now she wasn’t the same weak girl who always hesitated to face the reality. She was 22 now, a professionally independent and empowered woman. She let go the bitterness she had for her family as she loved her father, she loved her mother, she loved her brother and she loved her new life. No one could tame her now; it was now time for her to tame that demon which had ruined her childhood.
She confronted in front of her family and his family. They defended his honor; he had recently got married and had a daughter of age two. They called her a liar, depressed and crazy women. They blamed her friends for having a bad effect on her. Her mother stood by her uncle’s side. Her father loved her but he tried to dilute her stand by saying that she had misunderstood her loving uncle. But she had collected her strength over the period of three years and so remained unfazed by the prevailing silence of her family.
That daunting silence broke when her innocent ten years old brother held her hand and stood by her side as he stuttered, “I don’t want uncle’s gifts. He touches me at bad place and it hurts!”
The words of that ten years old resonates in everyone’s mind till now.
As I reflect today on the incidents of that day. I realize now that how courageous my sister was. She saved me a hell lot of pain and trauma when she spoke against my uncle, rather than defending my family’s pride like my parents. I realize now that her past could have been my future if she had opted to remain silent. I realize that she didn’t speak out to seek an apology or to take revenge. Such things couldn’t give us back our innocence lost in time. She spoke out to forbid the past to take control of her life and cause further trauma in future. She faced her fears for once and for all rather than living with it for her whole life. Disbelievers turned away from us but life became better after confrontation. We met more emphatic people who had gone through similar experiences and needed help. And together we built a life we are now proud of instead of being ashamed.
It’s important here to understand that it was not your fault that you were abused. Don’t ever blame yourself for it. It takes immense courage to talk about being abused. I just want to let you know that you are not alone and you don’t have to live with it for rest of your life. You are strong enough that you want to forget and move on with your life. But if you don’t confront your abuser, you will never gain your self-respect, your self-confidence. Always remember, you are strong and courageous as you have survived abuse.
Maybe you can’t speak out today, not tomorrow, or maybe not even the next month or year but keep this in mind that you must reach out to a person you trust and speak to them for your own good. It will help you face your abuser and you could warn him that now you are stronger, you will not be victim for rest of your life. You are a survivor and you have to claim your freedom from shame & trauma, and lead a brave, abuse-free life, like everybody else.
Picture source: https://cegepsherbrooke.qc.ca/~graphisme/blog/?p=2329