The first time I was sexually abused, it was a girl. I still remember her faint structure; blonde hair, brown eyes, and an overall sublime face. Every evening, I would step out of my house to play with her. She would often take me behind a rusted blue door, perhaps it was a bathroom, and press herself upon me. She would gently take my face in her hands, and kiss me all over. For a 7-year-old, this felt like it’s an act of love. Also, the fact that she was always tender with me, never paved a path of realisation that abuse is not always harsh in nature.
This continued until I moved to a new city with my parents. But my tryst with sexual abuse had merely begun. I lived in a building and befriended a girl of my age who stayed two floors above me. Like every other child, I’d visit her house often, and was also friends with the male servant who would play with us. Once, I went to her house and found out she wasn’t at home, but the male servant insisted I stay back and wait. And in those few hours when I was alone with him, he tried to know more about me. This happened multiple times.
Then one day, when we all were playing a hide and seek. He came and hid near me, and pulled me towards him with a jerk. When I instantly distanced myself, he pulled me again and started kissing me. Upon seeing my discomfort, he told me to not worry and told me about the other girl in the group who he is involved with, and the fact that she enjoys the act.
He somehow convinced me that he wasn’t doing anything wrong, and going by the experience I already had, I thought it was ‘normal’.
Every time I would go to this friend’s place, he would take me to a secluded area, and press himself upon me. Then one day, taking an advantage of everyone’s absence, he took me to a bedroom, unzipped his pants and asked me to suck his cock. I freaked out looking at the male genital for the first time. He kept asking me, and I kept saying no. After some time he fastened the zip of his pants, looked at me and said, ”That’s fine. You’ll do it next time.”
After this occurrence, I stopped going to her place. I made new friends, and in no time, I forgot what had happened to me.
The fact that the younger me considered all of what was happening to me “normal”, raises the question of who to blame here. I honestly blame two things. First, my parents, who didn’t impart basic awareness about what a “good touch” and a “bad touch” means. The fact that nobody told me to immediately inform them if someone touched me inappropriately, and second, the mainstream television/media which often glorifies intimate scenes that lack consent and portray women as a damsel in distress with no voice whatsoever.
I remember once we were playing this game called ‘Hide N seek’ again and as I ran to find a hiding place, someone pulled me from a corner. Before I had a fraction to react, I felt a hand climbing up my top, my legs clasped, as I gasped for breath. I was let loose in a minute, and without looking anywhere at all, I ran and didn’t stop until I reached home.
I didn’t tell my parents about it, because I was sure, they would’ve been disappointed in me, shamed me and maybe kept me grounded for days. In fact, I didn’t tell anyone about this.
For me to have faced the abuse, I undisputedly blame my parents but I blame social conventions more. I blame the mindset, patriarchy, and a lack of open circuit between parents and their children.
I know people who’ve gone through similar disastrous cases of abuse and disliked themselves for the longest time. What happened in their childhood, deeply affected their mental well-being, and some of them withdrew completely and became fearful of any kind of intimacy.
I realized there were patterns of extremism in my behaviour too. To a certain degree, they have still remained.
I have a plea to make here, to anyone who might be reading this article. First, let us talk openly about the gravity of child sexual abuse in India and the sad reality that it happens more often than we think or know of. Second, and I say this to parents, please don’t hesitate to make an open conversation with your child, and make them aware them about this plague that nobody speaks about.