For a long, long time now, I have been thinking of writing this piece. Was it fear or shame or social inhibitions which stopped me till now? I don’t know. But now I realize there is no need for any of these. As I had mentioned in an earlier blog of mine, there is something known as “closure”. It is applicable not only to relationships, but to anything and everything we go through including horrifying incidents of the past. My way of attaining closure has always been writing about it openly. I guess I should go through the same process here as well. There might be people including close family members who might despise me for writing this. But somehow, I don’t seem to care. This, I write not for anyone’s sympathy or hatred, but for my own peace of mind.
Any piece of news or movies focused on the subject of child molestation cause a deep stir in my mind. It leaves me worried for days. Unlike a lot of people who sympathize with the victims, I empathize. And there is a reason I do so. I have been a victim of child molestation myself.
At the age of 7, when a neighbour who was very close to our family tried to take advantage of me multiple times, I was too young to understand what was happening. However, I believe as a girl, though a kid, I had a feeling that whatever was happening was not right. That gave me the courage to break free and resist anything untoward happening. Thankfully, that left me unharmed. But to go through these attempts a number of times and run away from it every time was not an easy feat. These are instances which have left a deep impression in my mind. At almost 29, I can still remember each and every moment of these incidents.
Though I had narrow escapes from a rape (Yes! I am not ashamed of admitting it) as a kid, it still left a scar in my mind. Almost all throughout my childhood, including my teenage years, when I became more aware of what had happened, I felt a sense of unnecessary guilt – that I might somehow have been the reason why it happened or I should have done something more. But I never had the courage to openly tell my parents or anyone else about what happened. I know I should have, but I didn’t. The impact was too much. I started hating my mother for no reason – believing she should have prevented it from happening. She had stayed away from my father to take care of us all our childhood. But as a youngster who had suffered the humiliation of molestation, I didn’t want to think practically. I wanted an object to pass on the guilt to – and that was my mother. It led to my mother and I having a very strained relationship for the years to come. I am sure it had an impact on our entire family.
The worst part was that I had to see the molester being completely welcome in my home despite all that happened. And he was leading a normal and happy life shamelessly when I was carrying the burden of his guilt and losing my childhood. Later on in my life, I tried telling my parents what had happened. Probably by then, too much time had passed and they just wouldn’t believe anything like this had ever happened. That was, I guess, the biggest shock I have ever received in my life. Overcoming the shame and opening up about this incident and then being looked at as if I was lying. Over the years, I tried multiple times to make my parents understand the intensity and gravity of what had happened. Every time I was taken lightly. Then at a particular point I understood my parents would never come out of the state of denial, maybe because they didn’t want to feel like they had let themselves down. Or as is the case in our society, they might not have wanted to believe that something like this could happen in their own home. I cannot blame them; maybe in their time they couldn’t even imagine something like this.
The result of all this was that I was moving farther and farther away from my family mentally. In a good sense, it made me more independent. In a bad sense, I had lost trust in anyone. I had to make my own decisions; I had to take care of myself as I felt no one else could. The feeling that your own family does not believe what you say is the harshest thing anyone can go through, I feel. It even led to me having a fear of commitment. In one of my previous blogs, “My running shoes” I have written about this. I just could not let anyone be too close to me for the fear that I would end up being hurt and betrayed again. This sure would have been the result of some of the failed relationships of my life as well.
It went on like this until I met Hari. After all the years that we were best friends, when we decided to start a life together, this was one of the first things I wanted him to know. And to see that he understood what I was trying to say without any judgements was the best feeling ever. It even resulted in me stopping being too compulsive that my parents have to accept what I was saying. Finally, I started thinking, it doesn’t matter if they understand or not, because there is someone who does and that is all that matters. I started being more positive in my outlook. And for the first time in my life, I do not have any fear in saying I am in a happy relationship.
Anyway, the whole reason why I wrote this blog, in addition to gaining my closure, was to make you more aware. Child molestation IS a big deal! You cannot take it lightly because at the tender age of life, what happens in one’s life can make or break that kid. I would not say girls are the only victims of this. Whether you have a son or a daughter, please make sure that you know times have changed. You cannot trust anyone beyond an extent, even close relatives. Don’t pry, but try to be your kid’s friend so that he/she tells you openly what he/she is going through. Never take their silence for a surety that things are all right. And when they say something, be compassionate. They shouldn’t lose the faith that they can say anything to their parents. You never know, there just might be something in what they say. And most importantly, make sure that you don’t cringe in shame and try to suppress the whole thing out of fear of what would happen to your kid in future. If someone has done something wrong, make sure that they are brought out and punished. This will make your kid grow stronger as a person. I can tell you this for sure, as even today, I would give the world to bring out this person if I knew where he is now and make him pay for what he did to me. A thousand times in my dreams I have slapped him in front of a watching crowd.
And kids, you haven’t done anything wrong. It was never you. So if you feel guilty for what happened, understand that at some age you will realize you were wrong for feeling guilty.
July 24, 2014 at 10:06 am
Felt really great reading this.
I too have had the same experience from my neighbour. Whenever I see him near his flat, I used to call amma and talk to her while climbing stairs even if she was not there and he used to get inside his house thinking my mother was watching me. But I was never bold enough to tell my parents about it nor have till now :(. But that incident still haunts me whenever I hear any stories about child molestation.
As you said I also have slapped him thousand times in my dream. Anyways he is no more.
Since I have a baby girl now, I fear a lot and does not trust any person who comes near her. But I will let her share with me all her fears and make her understand that we are there with her to protect her.
July 24, 2014 at 4:32 pm
Very well expressed Radhika. Very few have the courage to admit such a traumatic experience, and I’m sure it does bring closure. And you are right, it is the denial from parents that would be more traumatizing than the incident itself.
I hope this does bring closure. The fire of rage damages the victim’s life more than the offenders, and it goes into a vicious cycle as the victim keeps on realizing the lost happiness because of the same rage. I know this would sound insensitive, but the quickest way to get out of that cycle of life altering rage is to forgive and forget. Not because the offender deserves it, but you and your loved ones deserve peace and happiness.
Child abuse is more common than most of us realize. I hope your courage will encourage others to face this reality, and teach their kids to be safe.
August 16, 2014 at 5:40 pm
Proud of you. 🙂
August 17, 2014 at 8:23 am
So proud to say you that I learnt life skills from you not just in TCS but even after. 🙂
August 17, 2014 at 11:32 pm
Bravo Radhika.. very proud of you.
August 20, 2014 at 1:08 pm
##Respect!! 🙂 this is more than an awareness. Hope i wont continue anymore..