CSA Survivor Story – 2.

This is probably the first time that I have decided to pen my story of abuse and relive those moments. It’s time. I was probably seven years old when it all started. It was my cousin who was ten years older to me.

The first instance of me feeling something strange happening, was during this particular family gathering. We were all sleeping next to each other and he slept next to me. He was touching my private body part and I felt really uncomfortable. It just didn’t feel right. It felt ugly. I was so damn scared, but I really didn’t know what to do. I changed places, but he still followed me. I wonder how anyone didn’t notice it back then. Was it really possible?

The abuse continued. It would happen every time the extended family came together, which was during festivals, public holidays and birthdays. What were fun times for the rest of the family was a torture for me. I just hated all that was happening to me. It was not nice.

I can’t forget this particular instance where all of us had gone to the terrace to play and he under some pretext made me stay when all my cousins went away. He mounted me and started doing something. I kept crying Dada in pain (“Elder brother”) but it fell on deaf ears. What followed next was beyond my comprehension. Suddenly I felt wet. I couldn’t understand what it was. I think under extreme excitement he peed on me, and asked me to tell everyone I fell in a pool of water. I wonder when I got over that sickening feeling. I wonder if I really have.

All hell broke loose when I lost my father. Firstly, for the obvious reason that Dad, the most important person in my life, was no more. Secondly because, my aunt whose son this man was came to live with us to help my mom. There was nowhere I could run away. But a few years later I had become so used to the abuse that I probably also started to enjoy it. I don’t know what I enjoyed more, the male attention that I missed so much after my dad or really the act.

The abuse grew in intensity and also the feeling within me that it was consensual. Though I would never go to him asking for it, it ceased to be an ugly experience as far as the physical feelings were concerned.

But inside I was rotting. From a bright cheerful child, I became a dull and quiet introvert. I felt like a sinner. Dirty. I was always aware of this aspect of my life, always. Even when I was in school or with friends. I always thought in my head that none of my friends must have known or have experienced anything similar. I felt worthless. Unspecial. Always seeking approvals, always trying to win the good girl’s title.

I started connecting to my abuser. I felt I liked him. Sometimes I felt his mannerisms were similar to my father. I also remember thinking that he was the smartest guy around. I tried to win him over by doing little things for him. He had become an important figure in my life. In between, he also got married. I remember being sad about it. I remember seeing the woman as competition.

This went on for a while till one day; one of my cousins saw him doing something to me.  She confronted me, and asked me what was happening between him and me. I told her the whole story. I still am not sure what she made out of it, but thanks to her decision of sharing the news to the world, the abuse stopped. Though the entire family now knew about it and thought I was involved in it, the abuse stopped.

It took me another 5-6 years to deal/comprehend with what happened with me. Initially, I carried the “I am dirty and now no one will marry me” syndrome. I was sinking. I slipped into depression and was suicidal. I also decided the day I will end my life. I really had no one whom I could talk about it, not even my mom. Especially not my mom, because subconsciously, I hold her responsible for whatever happened to me.

I know that she knew the existence of this but denied it completely. She is a weak person when it comes to confronting reality. I can understand that. But how can someone be so weak that she endangers the safety and well-being of her own child?! I know of no species which does not act to protect its off-springs.

I am saying all this because once when this abuser was involved in the act my mom walked in. She questioned me about what was happening. I was frightened. I spent the entire night next to her, feeling apologetic. But the next morning when she woke up she pretended as if nothing had happened. She said nothing to my predator. She let him be. She let him be around me.

And much later after my cousin had blown the whistle, when she got to know about it, she acted as if it was something she was completely unaware about.

Shethen fought with everyone who dared to say it was consensual. She fought for my respect, my pride. But for me it was a lost battle. I still haven’t asked my mom why she let me go through all this, but I love my mom far too much to do this to her. She in every other sense has been a perfect mother, but probably failed when it came to parenting. I still haven’t forgiven her, but I can never cease to love her.

Being a victim of sexual abuse changes you completely. It changed how I viewed relationships. It changed my notions of physical proximity between two people. It made me a far more sensitive person than I ever wanted to be. It made me feel powerless almost in all aspects of my life.

Thankfully, I entered a discipline that helped me understand human behavior and also helped me do something about it. I am a counselling psychologist and a child rights activist. I work with an organization that works for juvenile justice and child protection. I strive to protect any and every child that I can from abuse. I do not want any child to be robbed of its childhood anymore.

That man still exists. He has a family, with a daughter too. I have never confronted him directly for what he did to me. May be because till date I don’t believe it was entirely his fault. Till date I have not been able to accept myself that it was abuse. I still can’t forgive myself for enjoying any moment of it. I guess I was wrong when I wrote above that I have dealt with it, I am still dealing with the feeling of being abused.

– Ankita.