Sunday, 5 June 2016

Embracing My Dark Side.


Sometimes, out of nowhere, at no particular time of the day, I feel lonely.
I don’t feel alone. Solitude is one of the most beautiful things for me.
But I feel lonely, dangerously lonely.

I don't feel this vulnerable while sharing my story, maybe because that is a thing of the past and I have come out of it, stronger. But, right now when I say that I feel lonely, I feel exposed.
This is not an empowering article that I am putting up on my blog. I don't expect anyone to feel proud of me for this, or to call me strong or powerful. I am doing it for myself. This is a confession I feel the need to make, because life is not a few months of spring. And right now, I see myself in the middle of a downpour.

I feel as if no one among the billions that share the same planet as me would be able to understand me at these times of loneliness. It is not that I do not feel loved. I am well aware of the fact that I am loved, valued.

But in these dark moments, all I want is to be understood.

Maybe, it’s not anyone else’s incapability, but my own. Maybe I am too tired to explain things. Maybe I am short of words to put my feelings into organized and meaningful sentences. Or maybe I just don’t want to be that vulnerable, that naked.

For me, it takes a lot of courage to say "I am feeling lonely", when people think of me as a strong person and I have people in life that love me. It almost feels invalid to even admit this, because my life is going on as it should. I am not in depression. I am going to pursue a course of my choice in a month. I am doing a lot of wonderful things for myself. I don't have unaddressed emotional baggage. And so on. 

Then why this sinking feeling? Why should I be experiencing this?
This question seems baffling at times. And to be honest, I don't have any answer to it.
All I know is, it is. And I don't like to escape. 

There are times when I cry for reasons unknown, because crying feels like the thing to do in that moment. There are times when I want to cry but I can't. And I am not ashamed of this. I don't want to be as hard as stone. I want to accept life as it comes, and even if I am not feeling okay, it is okay.

So instead of escaping by watching a movie or going out with friends or family, I feel it. I witness this scary feeling called "Loneliness". No matter how absurd my being lonely seems to me, I let myself feel it, freely. Because that's what I naturally am  free.

It is not a very pleasant experience. It is not something that makes me feel happy. 
But, it makes me feel alive. It makes me feel real. It makes me realize that I have a beating heart.
And once I let the river flow without building any dams on it, the water no longer consumes me. 
I see myself as different from this feeling, because this is not who I am

I am not here to live up to the expectations of the definition of being "strong".
I am here to be me, in all my colours. I can be a garden in the spring, and I can be a storm in the monsoon. I can be as powerful as a mighty mountain, and I can be as vulnerable as a dandelion.
I want to accept life in its totality. 


Because if I don't embrace my dark side, who will?

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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Secret About Me I Learnt Last Night.

Mind works in the funniest of ways.


I had initially talked about my sexual abuse in detail during  my counseling sessions. After that, I started telling family and friends about it. Soon after, I wrote about it publicly and then discussing it became as normal as discussing music and movies for me. I began my healing journey, and the flashbacks and nightmares stopped bugging me. But last night, something strange occurred to me while I was sitting at the dining table, during a family dinner. My extended family from my mother's side was invited for a dinner at my place and being the introvert I am, I was observing people sitting close to me.

Suddenly, my selective listening took over, and I heard the word "Sant Ji" from my aunt's mouth. "Sant" is the Hindi translation of the word "Saint". And at that moment, while eating a scrumptious meal, surrounded by many people around me, with a number of sounds that blended to form noise, I realized something that stirred me. 

For as long as I can remember, I felt a hint of fear and discomfort when I was in the proximity of "Sant Ji", until he died a few months back. I didn't really know the reason until last night.

When I was very young, around 4-5 years old, I used to go to my aunt's place on a daily basis. They had a joint family, and "Sant Ji" - an old man who was a part of their family and a so-called celibate, lived in the same house as them. I have very little memories associated with him. But something I remember vividly is that one time after he had called me close to him and made me sit on his lap, my aunt assertively asked me not to go to him if he called me. Since then, I tried my best to avoid him, and I was not sure of the reason.

Turns out, this mystical man, who his family members referred to as a 'Saint', who was very much respected by the people who knew him, had molested me, when I was a four year old child.

All the memories came back to me last night. The shivering of his hands while they traversed the contours of my body, his making me sit on his lap, on the top of his genitalia, that staircase where this all used to happen, his tiny room on the rooftop that he invited me in to, the fear I had in me even years after all of it happened whenever he passed by, all of it. This realization was overwhelming. I had to find a quiet corner for myself, after I gulped down the remaining dinner. 

But, unlike the previous instances when I had felt betrayal, anger and a sense of violation on realizing the fact that I had been sexually abused, this time was different.

Yesterday, I was not angry, or sad, or disturbed by it. An addition to the list did not upset me.
I was laughing. I literally was. I was laughing on the absurdity of this all. I was laughing on how neglected our children are. I was laughing on how we can go on to speak lengths about poverty, corruption, pollution, etc. but something that rattles the world of so many children, the most innocent beings among us, is brushed under the carpet.

I was laughing on the masks everyone around me is wearing.

I don't know the history of this man. I don't know what experiences and conditioning he had been through, that he saw a small child as an object of sexual gratification. But I know that he was hiding something dark beneath that saffron attire.

I don't know what my aunt knew about him. But, by the way she asked me to avoid him clearly says how she was hiding something from me, from everyone. Maybe, there was a history of sexual abuse by him in their family. Maybe she had been a witness of it. I don't know about the fears she had that kept her from speaking against this cruelty, but I know that she knew that whatever was happening wasn't right, no matter how casual it would have seemed to her.

I was a child then, unaware of whatever was happening. I am grown up now, very much aware of what all happened to me as a child. I somehow gathered the courage to throw off the masks that had been stifling me. Had it not been so, I may have been ended up the same way most people do. Suffering in silence, or making others suffer.

Innocent Children
Picture by Ambika Batra.

I don't want to know what may have happened if I had continued to live with the devil on my back. But, I do know, that for me, child abuse is not something that you can describe as 'Ye toh hota hi hai sab ke saath' (this happens with almost everyone). I am not okay with it. I am not okay that we are taught to 'respect our elders', while so many of us violate the children who are equally deserving of respect. I have been repeatedly accused of talking about 'these kind of things' all the time, and I don't have the least problem with it. I am proud that I can let my heart talk, and not take my fears take over.
I am glad that I am not wearing any mask, revealing all of me to you, vulnerable, and true.

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Tuesday, 12 April 2016

My Honour Does Not Lie In My Breasts Or My Vagina.

Healing from my sexual abuse.

Exactly one year back I blogged about my sexual abuse. For me, it was a huge leap towards my healing; not because the people around me came to know about my story or it was an inspiration to some, but, because on specifically that day, I finally let go of the shame and guilt I had been housing inside me since what seemed like forever.

I vividly remember how I suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to do it, to lay myself out in the open, vulnerable, but alive. I wrote about breaking my silence in less than half an hour and published it without re-reading it even once. As I hit the Publish button, I could feel my heart beating louder and faster than ever.

To be very honest, I was apprehensive about the response my story would get. I wasn’t hoping for much of positive response and thought that the readers would carry forward our great culture, criticizing me for being open about a supposed taboo subject. To say that I was astonished after reading the comments would be an understatement. I felt a great deal of acceptance and love.
I thank you from all of my heart for supporting me in this journey, no matter how big or small your contribution has been.

Although my choice to go public about this has been criticized time and again, on the pretext of losing my family’s and my honour in the society, making myself a target of mockery or affecting my relationships within the family, writing out my story has been one of the best decisions I have made in life. I cannot go on encouraging people to share their stories to let go of the emotional baggage they’ve held on to since years, if I myself can’t do it.

My honour does not lie in my breasts or my vagina. Violation of my body parts is not the violation of my honour or my innocence.

It is unfortunate how the society we live in states the survivor of sexual violence responsible or guilty of what happened to them. You never ask a cancer patient to keep their secret because if they disclose it, the family honour would be in threat. People don’t make fun of you if you share about being in a car accident.
My relationship with my abusers was over the moment they chose to breach my trust and force me into something that caused so much damage to my body, mind and soul. Being in the same family as them doesn’t mean that I have to carry on a dead relation lifelong.

I would be lying if I say the accusation and criticism didn’t matter to me. They did hit me with a pang of betrayal and disappointment. But, if I weigh it against the healing my blog has brought to me, my healing would immediately win out with such a large difference that the criticism becomes easy to embrace.

Writing about it was my initial act of rebellion. Since then, I have made a lot of choices that align themselves with my cause and existence and go against many notions the society holds.
I am not fighting against anything. I am fighting for something that holds importance to me. Coincidentally, it often goes against many people and the norms they have. But as long as I am walking on my path, these intersections and hurdles hardly make any difference to my spirit.

Since my childhood, I was praised within the family because of my good manners, academic excellence and obedience towards the elders. But to me, it was of no use, because I was dead inside. All I wanted was to live, but I lacked the courage then. Lately, when I have made some choices that I was not expected to, there has been some disturbance. Going public about my abuse, talking "shamelessly" about it, working towards its prevention and dropping out of engineering to pursue my cause, to state a few.

At the same time, I have never felt more alive. I am able to feel more. Love more. Laugh more. Cry more. I am more present here than I have ever been. I am living the life I once dreamed of. 

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Friday, 26 February 2016

The End? Not Yet.

Is suicide the answer?

As I was browsing through the sent folder of my email to retrieve an important document, I came across a mail I had sent to a stranger a year and a half back. It made me sit still and reflect on my life, from then till now.

I had found a thread on Yahoo Answers, when I had searched something related to committing suicide. Those days, I was on the verge of giving up. In that thread, I found an answer where someone had left their email id, telling the one who had started the thread to talk to them if they needed to. The thread was some 2-3 years old, but still I chose to send an email to them, as keeping something so huge a secret was troubling me a lot.

Below produced is the email.

I don't even know what age or gender you are but I saw your answer on Yahoo Answers. I'm not expecting you to reply but I need to tell someone about this and a stranger is the only option for me right now.  I feel like killing myself every minute. I have suicidal thoughts too often. I'm ruining my relationship with every person possible. I'd freak out if I got such an email one day. It's not spam.
Thanks for reading though :)

Turned out she was a girl and she replied to my mail. Looking back, I realize that it was the best thing that could have happened then. Her reply didn’t solve any of my problems, but it gave me the little strength I needed to hold on to life, and I’m happy that I did.

I had totally forgotten about the email until now. The first thing it prompted me to do was to thank the people who had helped me survive and thrive and so I picked up the phone and began dialing.
The second thing it made me want to do was to write about ‘Suicide’.

So, here I am, sharing my perspective about some things related to suicide.

Why Some People Choose to End Their Lives

Contrary to the common perception, people don’t commit suicide because they want to die. Nobody wants to die. They are equally scared of death as you and me, but they are more scared of living the nightmare they find themselves in. Comparatively, death seems easier to some.
At some point or the other, most of us would’ve thought about ending our lives, even if we are in a denial about it.

As Albert Camus rightly said, “But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.”

I don't mean to relate someone who has committed suicide to being coward, but I want to tell YOU, that if after struggling with suicidal thoughts, you're still here, I am proud of you. 

Generally, when we learn about a case of suicide from some news report, the reasons for suicide are many times not known or seem trivial to us, like a financial crisis, inability to crack some competitive exam, failed relationships, academic failure, etc. Unfortunately, it is the tip of the iceberg we look at, while the part of it responsible for sinking the ship remains hidden, or unexplored. 
When a bucket is kept under a dripping tap, it starts leaking only after the water is already full to the brim. We see the drop that caused the water to overflow, after it had already filled the bucket, as the sole reason why the bucket leaked. But, in reality, it was only the final push, not the reason why someone chose to end their life.

It is when the pain exceeds the coping resources that one thinks about shutting the book of their lives, before the climax. 

Why Suicide Is Not The Answer

I won’t blabber here about suicide being the wrong thing to do. It is not about morality, religion or the law. Neither am I anyone to judge someone’s choice of what they want to do with their life.
If doing anything brings happiness to someone and their loved ones, they are more than welcome to do that.
But the question here is, does suicide actually bring anyone happiness?

It may put an end to the excruciating pain someone is going through, but doesn't it also put an end to the scope of betterment of life? Doesn't it snatch away from our hands, the capability to make our lives beautiful?

Moreover, it surely brings grief to our close ones, more than how our natural death would have.

In May, 2015, a guy I knew ended his life. We weren’t friends; I was just acquainted with him through a mutual friend. But, his death made me feel sad. I am sure he wouldn’t have even thought about me before taking his life; which makes it extremely difficult to imagine the pain his family and friends would have gone through.

Also, a failed suicide attempt could leave one physically or mentally disabled, only worsening things.

Why Law Can’t Stop Anyone From Committing Suicide

Unfortunately, in many states, if someone is caught attempting suicide or fails at an attempt to commit suicide, they can be prosecuted. Instead of providing them with the help and love they deserve, they can be imprisoned or fined.
I want to ask here, has the fear of law been able to keep crimes at bay?
In spite of capital punishment, cases of murders, abuse and violence are still being carried out rampantly. Law is something that is imposed on the people.

I don’t think you can stop someone from ending their lives by simply declaring it illegal.
What could prove effective in decreasing suicides can be an efficient and accessible emotional support system for all.

Why We As A Society Are Responsible If Someone Amongst Us Commits Suicide 

I am not saying that we are responsible for someone else’s feelings or actions. We are not. But, we ARE responsible for the apathetic and competitive attitude we have developed as a society.

In a superficial world we have created for ourselves, we have forgotten to see human beings as individuals with their own struggles and accomplishments. We can surely debate about suicide all we want. We can label it as the stupidest thing to do. When someone actually chooses to end their life, we may even have the audacity to say how wonderful they were and how we would’ve certainly helped them had they asked for it.

But the thing is, when we see live human beings around us, our main focus is on their behavior. We don't think twice before putting labels on people based on their behavior, not even bothering to find the reason beneath it. This makes our attitude hostile towards the people who exhibit behavior that does not conform to the ways of the society.

    Why Everyone Deserves to Live

I believe that we all are born divine and pure. No one is born a thief, a rapist or a murderer. It’s our conditioning and the environment we are raised in that shapes our paradigm. However, we are ultimately the product of the choices we make and not our environment. We can always make a choice, how difficult it may be, to step out of the years of conditioning and create a beautiful life for ourselves.

A diamond covered in mud and dust can never cease to be a diamond. Divinity is in our nature, it is just hidden because of our conditioning, our bitter experiences and our wrong choices.

Why I’m glad I Chose to Live

As I mentioned earlier, I was on the fringe. Another emotionally disturbing situation and I could have killed myself. Back then, it was impossible for me to believe that I could ever love myself. I was so much full of hatred, for myself and for the world that seemed absolutely unfair to me.

Fortunately, whenever I was about to break down, I got help, in various forms, asked and unasked.

I would like to share one such incident.

When my then-boyfriend had assaulted me, I was more than reluctant to go back home with the guilt and shame I was carrying with me. I didn’t even want to live anymore. As I was thinking of ways to end my life, Ross’s picture came to my mind. A four month old, ever loving, seriously ill puppy was back at home, and I was supposed to get him a medical treatment done. Unfortunately, we lost him a week after. I couldn’t save Ross, but he did save me.

Several instances came after that, where I was close to killing myself, but I chose not to; and I am proud of myself for making that choice.
Not only would I have caused hurt to the people close to me, but I also would have missed out on the amazing and meaningful life I am living now. I would have missed out on the beauty of the nature and the people I come across daily. And most importantly, I would have left the purpose of my existence unfulfilled.


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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

From Pain to Power - Survivor Diaries #4


I asked some wonderful people who are also survivors of sexual abuse to share parts of their healing journey. Kudos to the tremendous amount of courage they've shown and the difference they've been making to their and others' lives.

  " My healing began on May 5, 2008. After several years of talk therapy, it was finally suggested that I see a psychiatrist. He diagnosed me with PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder.  The PTSD thing was a huge game changer for me. I had no idea that civilians could be diagnosed with that. I thought that only military combatants got that one. This is where my healing started from the physical and verbal abuse by my parents. It would not be until December 7, 2011 that I would start to get the memories back of the violent sexual abuse after a bad accident in the partner yoga class.

The first step of my healing was realizing and admitting that I was abused as a child.  Being able to actually say, "I was abused as a child" was the beginning of the process for me.  Finding out about the abuse answered a lot of questions for me. Suddenly a lot of stuff from my past made a lot of sense. I could see why I had so many problems with anger, not fitting in, and depression, and just a lot of stuff suddenly fell into place.  A lot more stuff made a lot more sense once I started getting the memories of the sexual abuse back.

My coping mechanisms have been good therapy, yoga, reading everything I can find on the topic of child abuse, speaking on the topic of child abuse, talking to and helping other survivors, and getting into social work - or making some major life changes for myself that involve following my passion. Actually, getting into a line of work and study that I LOVE has made a huge difference to me with regard to healing from my past. Also, finding a very, very good therapist is another huge coping mechanism. I now see what is known as an "emotional release" therapist.  She is not quite like the usual cognitive therapists.  I found that traditional cognitive therapy did not do much for me.

I have found my strength in myself and knowing that I can rely on myself to get through the bad times.  I am finding out that I am a very strong and resilient person.  I also find a lot of strength in helping others. I like to have a positive impact upon others. Knowing that I have saved several lives and I am influencing the lives of my clients (in a good way) really gives me strength.  Hearing stories like yours also gives me strength.  Meeting fellow survivors who have overcome so very much and have learned to thrive - not just merely survive but to actually thrive - gives me a lot of strength.

Seeing my past through the lens of someone who had suffered a serious amount of trauma really helped to set me on the path to healing. Learning to love and accept who I am has been a big part of my recovery and healing journey. Getting the diagnosis of PTSD really allowed me to put the brakes on where I was going, take an honest look at my life and myself, and to realize that I can get this whole thing going in a better (and healthy) direction. "

I found that once I realized I was experiencing PTSD symptoms that developed because of an abusive childhood, things started to make sense and I started to take ownership of my healing.

I somehow came across Rosenna Bakari's Talking Trees page and couldn't stop reading her posts, I think I read every post for the past 2 years. Everything was finally making sense, it was overwhelming! I had a breakdown/breakthrough -what a roller coaster that was. I was angry, sad, relieved, happy, all at once. 

I also felt very broken, damaged, and a little crazy but there was no stopping me. I posted my story on my Facebook page and named my abuser, there was such a sense of freedom in doing that. I was no longer willing to keep HIS secret! I received an incredible amount of support from both family and friends. I found a wonderful therapist and have been diagnosed with PTSD, Dissociative Disorder, anxiety and depression -which explained a lot. I've had some memories resurface but still feel more are buried very deep within. I no longer have contact with my abusive father and he no longer has power over me. "

Healing began for me when I went to prison. That was the first time in my life when I was straight long enough to have clarity. I hate to say this as I was in prison really for a crime I didn't do. But prison saved my life. I began writing my book there

When I got out I had children, and that sort of forced me to deal with issues. Having said that, I didn't make a conscious decision to work on myself until about 2009. The real journey of healing for me begun when I created a support group for fellow survivors on Facebook.

Drawing, writing, and talking to other survivors helps me cope. I think connecting with others like me, I felt less shame and guilt.

My motivation for healing was not wanting to see my children end up in the same pain I did as a kid. I could have done a better job. I did the best with what I knew.

I don't give up. That's a strength.  I think about the others that went through hell like l have and know that there are others that have been through worse and I am humbled by it. "

My healing began a little over two years ago. I had hit rock bottom. After my attack I tried to ignore the pain and threw myself into dating, going out, never being alone, stuff to distract myself. I thought that not dealing with it was dealing with it. If it hadn't been for my fiancĂ© or friends telling me I should get some help, I doubt I would have.

My first step to healing was admitting I needed professional help coping with what happened.

Things that help me cope are breathing techniques, taking time to do things that I find simple pleasure in, grounding techniques whenever I have a flashback and talking to a loved one about my flashbacks.

I've found my strength in myself. I think if I would have tried to lean on someone or something else, it wouldn't have been enough for me. 

I started on my healing journey around 2 and a half years ago. It was actually more like accepting that these things did happen to me and it was not my fault. I did not have control over it and it's okay to feel bad or empathize with myself.

I read an article on child sexual abuse and I don't know why, but I shared it with my best friend. So, she opened up about her own experience. After hearing that I told her about mine too. Though I could not really tell her the whole thing at once. I had to come to terms with myself first that it's okay to share everything because it felt more like shaming my perfect family. But she made me feel so comfortable by not judging me at all. So eventually I did share everything. 

To be honest, after sharing it with her I kind of regretted it. I felt that I shouldn't have. I thought she was going to hate me from then on. But then gradually she encouraged me, comforted me. She also made me realize that healing is possible. She couldn't guide much on this, but she assured that it's possible to heal. So I started researching more.

And I consider this to be the most significant step towards my healing. Otherwise, earlier I didn't even allow myself to think about what had happened. It used to make me suicidal if I started thinking or was even slightly triggered.

Now, when I am triggered I try to let the emotions come out rather than bottling them inside. The first thing I try is to talk to someone, usually my best friends. Otherwise I try to listen soft music or watch funny shows to make myself laugh.

I read survivor stories. They all had one thing in common. They were stronger now.  So I thought why don't I try the same. And I did. I am not saying I fully recovered but I like the person I am now. "

My healing began when I realized it wasn't a drama (people used to call it fake drama). I got to know that it was real. I had a problem.

Then I began to study physiology and pharmacology at college and I came across the topic "Depression". The first step to my healing was when i convinced myself that "no monster is immortal" even if it is the monster of depression.

I made myself my best friend. I used to teach myself, tell myself that nothing lasts forever with you. The only person who's going to be there for you always, is you and you alone. I am my strength. I am my best friend, my teacher, my care giver. 

My motivation was my mother. I couldn't see her crying for me every day. I moved ahead because of her. Back then i didn't really love myself but now I DO and that's the ultimate happiness. "

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Monday, 29 June 2015

Survivor Diaries #3

Read how a good friend of mine shares her story of being sexually abused and raped by a stranger and her own relatives. Her strength did not falter, even after the circumstances turned against her.


My first encounter to wrong touch was when I was around 9. It was few days before Durga Puja, the biggest festival for Bengalis. We had gone to buy new clothes. My parents wanted to gift me a pair of jeans so we went to a shop and they chose a good one for me and asked me to try them on.

I wore it but it was bit too long for me so the shopkeeper asked one of the guys working in the shop, to take my measurement so that they could alter it. So, the boy took me to the trial room to take measurement, which till date I do not understand how my parents did not find strange.

It was my very first experience of this weird kind of touching in that trial room. He told me if I be a good girl and let him take measurements properly, I will get that pair of jeans or else he would complain about me to my parents and they would be very angry with me. So I agreed to do what he told. The first thing he told me was to take off my clothes. He helped me to do this. I was scared but didn't say anything. He started touching my body, my chest and vagina. It was so scary and weird. I don’t remember for how long it went on. I do not think it was too long but it felt like eternity. Once he was finished, he kissed on my cheek, clothed me, told me I was a very good girl and that I could take the pair of jeans home, and then finally took measurements. He warned me to never tell this to anyone because otherwise everyone would think that I am a bad girl. I don't remember much about what happened after that but I remember that I never in my life wore those pair of jeans for once, even though my parents scolded me for wasting it.

To be honest, I don't remember much of my childhood. I have very few memories among which, I think this incident alone is the most prominent one.
Although it was a very disturbing incident of my life, I do not think it harmed me the way it could have. Maybe because I was successful in blocking it out temporarily with the help of my parents’ love. But this memory came flooding almost after 7 years when I encountered my second phase of abuse.

This second phase of abuse I would say has shaped my life.

I was 15 and had a pretty good life. After that one particular event, I never faced something as horrible again. Life was peaceful till the age of 15. At 15, the first thing that happened was my mother's death. It felt like my life was shattered and would never be whole again. I was naive. I didn't know many more shocks were to come.

After my mother's death, my dad didn't want to leave me alone in our house so we moved to my maternal uncle's house in a different city. My uncle, aunt and cousin loved me very much so my dad thought it would be better to keep me in a loving environment. He left me there and went back to settle down few things at our old city and get a proper transfer to the new city which took few months. I was left alone with my uncle, aunt and cousin.

First few days were quiet and easy. I was trying to move on with life. I thought I was supposed to have a better life here and these people would protect me. I trusted them.
But then, after few days, one night I suddenly woke up from my sleep feeling really weird. After first few seconds it became clear that it was my uncle in my room sitting near me in my bed. He started to grope my breasts. I was so shocked at first and then I was so scared. I felt like I was being suffocated. I wanted to jump out of my bed but I didn't have the courage. I don't know what I was so scared of. So I just pretended to be asleep, which I was not and I am sure he too knew it and yet he did not stop. I lay there silently till he was gone. After he was done, he kissed on my head and left the room and I lay there shocked, shattered, broken, crying. I again did not tell anyone. I just kept quiet like someone had told me that I was not supposed to talk about it.

broken girl
Artwork by Refaya

After that night, he started coming to my room every night after everyone fell asleep. It was so scary. I didn't know what to tell, whom to tell or if I could even talk about it or not. Something kept telling me it was happening because I had been bad. I knew it was not supposed to happen but then it must be my fault if it's happening. So I just kept quiet because I thought I had to.

Within few weeks, my cousin too left for another city for his work. I was sad because he was my best friend and he left me. On that weekend my aunt told me she would go out with some friends which would take few hours and till then I was supposed to stay with my uncle. I was so scared, I knew something bad was going to happen again and I could do nothing. After she left I went to my room quietly and started studying. I thought I could escape my fate. And then after few minutes, my uncle came to my room. I was so scared. I pretended that I hadn’t seen him, and kept studying. He came and started touching me and I tried to keep studying, denying what was happening. He then started undressing me. I closed my eyes and kept shivering the whole time as he raped me. It went on for what it felt like was few hours, but I don’t really know. He left satisfied, leaving a shattered soul behind.

This went on for two years even after my dad came back. This happened whenever he found me alone. He never wasted even the slightest chance to touch me. He raped me orally and digitally. He made me give him oral sex. He gave me orgasms and made sure I was not faking it. I was so confused. Orgasms felt good and I felt more ashamed of myself. Moreover, he used to say "See, even you like this". Much later, I came to know that it was not my fault and that the body is supposed to respond in this particular way to certain touches. He used to ask me if he was hurting me, and if I ever said yes, he used to hurt me more.

The only thing that kept me go through this horrible time was my father. I wanted to die but kept thinking what would happen to him if I did.
But even in this pain I had my cousin like a silver lining. I always felt safe and protected whenever he came home. He always used to kiss my forehead and made me feel so loved, safe and protected. My cousin was my best friend. But then one night when my cousin came home I was watching TV with him. No one was in that room. As usual my cousin kissed my forehead. I felt happy and thanked him. Then suddenly, he grabbed me and kissed me on my lips. He used his tongue and brushed my arms with his hand and touched me. It felt so disgusting. I was shocked. He again kissed me and left the room. He was the last person I expected to break my trust.

To be honest, I did not even know what my cousin did was called. I was from a very small town and had zero sexual knowledge. It just felt so bad, so wrong. It was after my uncle kissed me it occurred to me that what my cousin did too was something very bad. It broke my heart to know that I mean nothing more to my cousin than to my uncle. But again, I kept quiet. I had no one to talk to, no one to tell, no family, and no friend.

My uncle kept raping me for two years but my cousin kissed me only once. Both the incidents left me scarred for life. My abuse finally stopped when I forced my dad to move to another house giving every possible reason. Finally I was out of that place. But soon I started feeling depressed. I felt ashamed of myself, and guilty. I thought I deserved what was done to me and started self-harming. By this time, I remembered my childhood incident too. I got to know what these things are called. I came to know I was molested by my cousin and raped by uncle and a stranger. It was overwhelming. I felt suicidal and attempted twice but failed because I was too scared to die. My nightmares wouldn't let me sleep properly for the next eight years. I denied everything that happened to me and kept denying it. I always felt so scared, broken and sad. I struggled to live every day. I felt dead inside. I gradually accepted what my uncle did but kept denying what my cousin did. I kept telling myself it was his mistake, he must have felt guilty. It was the best way I could survive, by denying it.

But then after eight years, I came to know my cousin knew everything his father had done. Even my aunt knew everything my uncle had done but they did nothing to save me from this pain, absolutely nothing. Instead, my cousin took the opportunity to molest me. I told my best friends everything because I couldn't hold it back anymore. I felt I would die if I hid it anymore. My friends told me to tell my father. I did and he did nothing again, maybe because he didn't want to face the truth, or maybe because he thought he if he doesn't do anything it will all turn into a lie. But I couldn't hold it in anymore. After knowing the truth about my cousin and aunt I was too angry.

It was a family gathering that day. I didn’t want to go but my dad forced me to. The moment I saw my uncle's family, my anger burst. I confronted them, all three of them. My uncle denied everything he did. My cousin said I wanted it and that's why he had kissed me. He said I wanted it because I did not push him away.  He used to be the guy I could even die for. And my aunt, the woman I loved like my mother, called me a slut, called me characterless. She said I wanted to have sex with my uncle and cousin, she accused me. She blamed my clothes. I knew this was to come but I still couldn't accept it. I thought this time, I was broken beyond repair. Even my dad did not accept this behaviour of mine. He didn't want me to confront them. He got angry and left me. Only my two best friends stood with me. They picked me up, gave me strength to face life again. I left my old house and came to a different city.

Right now, I am staying with few other friends. I have a job. I am working in a well known MNC, at a good post. I have friends who will even die for me. I have a new life again, away from my past, away from the abusive relations and a life full of lies. I am also pursuing my post graduation.

credits -

Obviously I still feel the pain but I don't let it consume me anymore. I struggle but I don't feel suicidal now. It still hurts so much, but I try to hold on. I want to live now. I know that I still have hope. I still can live the way I want to and not let my past control me. I know I still have wounds, but I believe they will heal, even if takes a long time.

Thank you, friend, for bravely sharing your story with us and inspiring others to break the silence.

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Saturday, 27 June 2015

Coming to Terms with my Sexual Abuse.

During the period of my sexual abuse, more than anything else, I was confused. I saw two entirely different sides of my abusers - one that was friendly and caring, in front of everyone else; and the other one that was monstrous when they were alone with me.  

two faces of my abusers

To pretend that it never happened came naturally to me. I did everything in my power to hide it, to save the people who had been destroying me.
Throughout the years, there was one thing that remained common to every incident of my sexual abuse. After it was over, I used to convince myself that whatever happened was just in my head.
And even if it didn’t, I had to forget what happened because it must have been a mistake.
And even if it wasn’t, I was the one responsible for what happened.
I used to convince myself that my life was perfectly fine and my abusers were considerate people. My stoical attitude harmed no one else but me.
Silence is not always golden.

Several situations came up after the period of abuse was over when I could’ve spoken up but I didn’t.

After the telecast of an episode on Child Sexual Abuse on an Indian talk show "Satyamev Jayate", I remember my mother asking me if I had ever been through something similar. I didn’t tell her.

In the end of the year 2013, I developed an inexplicable illness. One of the doctors I was receiving treatment from, asked me if I was under some kind of mental stress. In the back of my mind, I knew what it was, but I wasn’t ready to admit it. I wasn’t ready to admit to myself that something in the past could affect me then.

In July 2014, while everything in my life was apparently going fine, I had bouts of depression. Insomnia, fatigue, suicidal thoughts and the constant low-phase, everything made me wonder if I was insane. When some close friends of mine noticed my changed behavior, I couldn’t gather an explanation. There was an unending frustration because I wasn’t ready to admit the truth to myself, let alone anyone else. I kept questioning myself why I was feeling horrible about my life when things were going as they were supposed to.
For the first time then, I acknowledged the possibility of the reason behind this phase. And when I did, it terrified me. I tried to run away from the inevitable by self-harming and other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

break the silence of sexual abuse

The time when I actually came out of the denial mode was in September 2014 and it was in an unexpected manner.

Those days, my exams were going on and meanwhile I was reading ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ to take a break from the tedious study routine. 
As I read how the protagonist of the book realized in his teenage about the sexual abuse done by an aunt in his childhood, somehow the images of my sexual abuse started flooding my mind. I researched all about sexual abuse and rape on the internet that evening, totally ignoring the fact that I had my chemistry exam the following day. 
At the end of the day, I finally told myself that I had been sexually abused and raped. It was difficult to admit, to say the least. It was overwhelming. My mind was full of questions and thoughts, but it had to wait. 

While taking the exam, the stress of not having studied much added to the chaos that was already present in my mind. During the exam, I went numb. For a while,  I was unable to realize what was going on with me. Obviously, I spoiled the exam. That was when everything made sense. That was when I realized that something had to be done about it.
I wasn’t willing to share it with any of my friends, so I decided to seek help online. I emailed Childline India and we corresponded for a few days through email.

Then one day, I received a call from Ishita didi, who worked at Childline. She suggested I talk to a counselor. The whole idea made me feel uncomfortable. I discounted my pain and repeatedly told myself that I didn’t need a counselor. On the other hand, I felt trapped, and felt an immense need to liberate myself from the shackles of this agony.
That day, I mustered up all the courage I had and told her that I was ready, but I’d prefer a female counselor. The next day, I got to know that the female counselor she was in contact with was indisposed. So, she suggested I go to Sushant and told me about him. The mere fact that he was male and seventy five years old made me extremely uncomfortable. I thought that I was bothering Ishita didi too much and so I told her that I’d talk to him. I reluctantly called him. His friendly gestures seemed like an opportunity to me to spit out the poison I’d been holding in since years. I chose to meet him in person.

On my way to his place, my mind was full of apprehensions but somehow my gut feeling was good about him. I was extremely nervous when I entered his house. The fact that he lived alone added to my fears. But fifteen minutes into our interaction, I felt extremely comfortable and safe and I unraveled things I hadn’t even admitted to myself till then. As I have mentioned earlier, life hasn’t been the same since then.

I believe that coming to terms with my abuse was the first and the biggest step towards my healing.

After starting this blog, I have been contacted by many friends, acquaintances and strangers, sharing how they have been sexually abused too, but haven’t addressed the abuse yet. Most of them also shared the damage the abuse had left them with.

I know people who took decades to come to terms with their abuse, and people who did it immediately after the abuse. Although in both the cases, it was the most important step. All the people who have healed to a great extent, or have made the choice to move forward have one thing in common: they have come out of the denial mode. There's no perfect time to exit the denial mode. It's never too late. In fact, Sushant, the man who helped me heal, came to terms with his sexual abuse at the age of 60!

We have been conditioned right from the childhood not to cry. Naturally, any expression of pain is considered a sign of weakness by most of us. As a result, we ignorantly keep on piling up the emotional baggage until it becomes too much to handle and it shows in our behaviour.
I believe that not being able to address the hurts faced in life promotes unhealthy behavior like drug abuse, promiscous lifestyle, self-harming, sexual abuse, domestic violence etc.
Every human being is born potentially divine. Why is then the world we live in a house to innumerable and unimaginable crimes?

Flooded by our own insecurities, we try to find solace in things that don't last. Things like alcohol, drugs and sex, that provide a temporary escape from our problematic lives, leaving us with possibly a hangover, health issues or an STD soon after, with the same problems we had before.

Substance Abuse

We put others down because of the constant need to feel superior because hey, no one wants to be left vulnerable right?

Imagine the plight of the six year old who got raped by her father's acquaintance because of the monetary issues between him and her father.
Or the woman who gets raped almost every night by her own husband for not having been able to make her parents give enough dowry to satisfy her husband's greed.
Or the teenager who gets raped every day by more than one men with unmanageable libidos, in a brothel because her parents sold her for money.

We ourselves are responsible for creating a world so full of insecurities. We ourselves are the creators of most of our problems.

The mere reason I could bare my heart out to a man four times my age who I hadn't met ever before is that for the first time in life, I felt that I wasn't being judged; that no matter what, my hurts won't be the subject of someone's drawing room gossips.

How many of us can honestly admit to being able to provide that kind of an environment to our peers and family?

How many of us can claim that they first seek to understand and then to be understood?

How can then we expect the survivors of sexual abuse talk about something that did leave them vulnerable?

It isn't too late. It never is.

It isn't too late to address issues from your childhood that still hurt you while you're 40.
It isn't too late to apologize to the friend you mocked for crying.
It isn't too late to stop harming yourself for the hurts caused by others.
It isn't too late to stop judging the people around you,
 all the time.

It isn't too late to take the remote control of your life back in your hands.

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Friday, 8 May 2015

Survivor Diaries #2

Another brave survivor of sexual abuse opens up and shares his heart-wrenching story with us. 

Read how Daniel, a 48 year-old man from Sweden shares his personal accounts of surviving sexual abuse as a child and an adolescent.


THERE PROBABLY ARE NO reasons why you should be reading this. I'm no one, someone, anyone, I'm no celebrity, I have no exciting adventures to share nor have I witnessed some horrible catastrophe I'm about to tell you about. I'm a boring adult and family man, I have responsibilities, I pay my bills and I go to work. I could be your neighbour or that co-worker you really don't know much about. You might say this story is about everyday life, about how cruel it can be and how little we know about the persons we have around us.
This story is about me, it's about what it's like being a victim of a crime but still having feeling of guilt for what happened.

MY EARLY CHILDHOOD isn't really much to speak about. I was just one of countless other boys living in a reasonably affluent and leafy suburb, in a traditional and stable environment, with caring and loving parents. In that sense you might call me lucky. Being the creative type of child instead of the sporty one, I didn't have many friends but I had this pretty wild neighbour kid I on and off spent time with. He was beaten by his alcoholic dad with a belt regularly but of course that "treatment" never calmed him down. As an adult and with a broader view of things I now think that my friend most likely had ADHD or something similar, but back then people obviously didn't know much about these things. He was just considered wild, school wasn't going great and the one thing he was really good at was ending up in all sorts of troubles. Despite probably knowing better, I was drawn to his thrilling company and we did a lot of crazy stuff my own dull life never would have contained without his presence.

At around the 11 or 12-mark, very much thanks to his lack of normal barriers and fearless way of approaching people, we got involved with a bunch of older teens and tweens. Cars - that was their interest, tuning them at day and racing in the streets of the suburb at night. I was scared at first but soon I got drawn to the excitement, I admit that. I never dared tell my parents about anything of this. I knew if I did they would never allow me to go back. So, all visits to their garage were always carefully kept secret to my parents and hid behind various layers of lies. 

After some time, about a month or so, we learnt that a party was to be held. My friend wanted to go, I was hesitant but eventually I gave in for his persuasive nagging and I had him promise we'd stick together. That became my first ever taste of an unsupervised youth party; insanely loud music, thick cigarette smoke, the sound of glass breaking, people screaming at each other across the noise and couples making out in public. It was so far away from anything I up till that day had experienced.

Despite my wish to stick together somehow we got separated, unable to find him I started to feel uneasy about the situation and wanted to leave. Before I had the chance, two drunken guys grabbed me and I was pushed to some storage room and forced down on my knees. One of them had his pants down and his penis pushed itself into my mouth demanding the oral sex at that age I knew absolutely nothing about. My mouth is stuffed with him and I gag. That's where my memories seem to stop. Time stops. Everything does. I don't remember how far this went, but I do remember me standing on my all fours throwing up and being laughed at. They let go of me and I was told to get the hell out of there and never return. I immediately left of course, you probably never would have seen anyone exit a building that fast before, left for the woods behind my house and sat there crying. For how long I don't know. 

When the initial shock eventually settled, I knew I had to do something. I had to figure this out. I shouldn't have been there. Listening to my friend and going to that party was the stupidest thing I had ever done. I blamed myself for what happened and somehow assumed a single word from my mouth would throw me into the deepest of troubles. I was scared my parents would freak out so I did the only thing I could come up with, the only thing I knew I was really good at - I didn't say a word; acted like nothing happened.

Surprisingly it worked. No one seemed to notice, nothing happened. Even though I did my best to block everything out, did my best to convince myself that party never happened and consequentially didn't mean anything, in retrospect I realize that incident traumatized me. I turned cautious in my relations, stayed home as much as I could, the piano and my guitar grew even more important in my life, started to read books and listen to music probably too deep and advanced for my age. I basically was prepared to do anything to be allowed to stay at home in some self-assumed isolation that felt secure. Of course the few friends I had soon faded away. Nevertheless it had me, the quiet and lonely kid, to go even more alone.

It wasn't until way into adult years I finally had words to describe this event and could understand what it truly meant; I had been raped.

A YEAR OR TWO later, it was after the summer when I turned 13, like everyone else, I had to change school. I recall my new school as enormous and frightening. It basically held all teenagers from my part of the suburb. Life quickly got tougher. You need to make yourself heard and claim your space to exist but I never did. I never could. Maybe that's why the bullying started.

At best, my presence was accepted or barely noticed but most of the times things went worse. My backpack was taken and thrown up into the trees. Snow shovelled inside my shirt. At the schoolyard I was surrounded and pushed around, I once fell and hit my head in a railing and had to go see the nurse to be stitched up. I lied and protected them, said it was an accident and my own fault. Still the following day, I was even more laughed at when I arrived wrapped in bandage. I was called names, sometimes straight in my face or I found them written on my bench when I was back after break. When school finished, I had to walk my bike home because the valves were gone. It's not all at once but not many days passed before there's something, enough to make me keep my head down. My creativeness meant nothing to them, not even when I strengthened myself and played my guitar in front of everyone in the auditorium and thought I had a chance to change things, no one cared. So I was stuck, regarded as a punching bag free to insult or head slap without the slightest risk of getting caught and the adults did little to intervene. Maybe my teachers didn't see or realize, maybe they decided not to because that's probably the easiest thing to do. But I tried not to care because I knew freaking out wouldn't help, I was in no position to jump on a bully, wasn't friends with any of the cool kids so I knew no one would take my side if I did. Starting a fight would only make everything so much worse so did what so many tormented kids before me had done; I kept my mouth shut at home and came up with lies meant to explain dirty or broken clothes, kept a low profile at school, hid if I could, hoped it all somehow would pass and improve.

My new school offered a lot of after-school activities and I signed up for the photography class. The teacher assigned was the school's youth group leader, a beefy guy with a massive beard, I guess in his late 30's or early 40's. Picture yourself an outlaw biker; there, you pretty much have his appearance. At the first day of the course he carefully took everyone's hand including mine and introduced himself. Welcome, I'm ******. His hand seemed gigantic to me and the grip was firm. He was one of those persons with unquestionable authority that could stop a fight just by standing there staring with his arms crossed and grunt a little. I simply loved how he could be uncompromisingly decisive yet gentle and kind, I loved how he acknowledged me in the darkroom, how he leaned over and touched my shoulder with his hand, kept it there and took himself time to explain and show what to do. While waiting for our images to dry I loved listen to his stories, anecdotes from his childhood, gossip about teachers or just weird random hilarious stuff. I soon suspected a lot of it wasn't true but as he was a good story teller that didn't matter at all. The photography class soon became my source of inspiration and the weekly boost of energy. It also spread to the youth centre and whenever I went there he treated me with respect and even called me by my name. It didn't take long till I considered the youth group leader to be the only one in school really understanding me, maybe the only one in my life.

Sometime later I found out he was a keen sailor, then we truly had a lot of common ground and I liked him even more. My family also comprised of boaters but unfortunately because of my dad's work, beside a few summer weekends there never seemed to be enough time to use our motorboat. Then one evening after the photo class had finished he asked me to stay for a minute and when everyone else had left. I was invited to go sailing with him the upcoming weekend... if I wanted to. That was so unexpected! If I wanted to?? Of course, I did!! I was delighted to say the least. Back home I talked my parents into allowing me to go, I honestly don't think I gave them that much chance to say no and they were probably happy to finally see me excited over something.

WE MET EARLY IN the morning at the marina. His yacht turned out to be even bigger and more exclusive than I had expected and when I curiously looked down into the cabin I could see a palace of dark polished wooden panels and white inviting cushions. I didn't believe my eyes and I felt proud to be a part of all this, almost hoped someone from school would see us and go jealous. Then we waved goodbye to my parents and set sail. He was amazing and showed me all the basics in sailing and for some time I was even allowed to steer the yacht by myself, he had his big hand on mine to help me adjust the rudder when needed. It felt unbelievable great. Nothing besides fantastic sailing ever happened and I loved it right away, I showed up back home with a new tan and a happier than ever look on my face.

As we came to know each other better and I started to pick up things each time we sailed a bit longer, and when we had extended our sailing to span the entire day he suggested we should go even further and do overnight trips. That sounded like a brilliant idea, my parents agreed and off we went. It was then everything changed. My first experience of the other side of him was a complete surprise and a massive shock. I had been absolutely clueless. I hadn't seen it coming at all.

After sailing the entire day I soon feel asleep, happy and exhausted. It was all dark when I woke up by things just feeling weird, it took a second or two before I could grasp the situation. He was sitting in my bed, my underwear had been lowered, and he had his hand there. I was shocked when I had it all together and realized. He was masturbating me! I could have kicked him hard or yelled at him to stay the hell away from me, I could have done so much, I could have done something. But I did nothing. Put up no resistance whatsoever. In fear and confusion my stupid body just froze and I pretended to be still asleep, which of course he knew I wasn't, I just kept on doing the only thing I could think of - nothing. He kept on doing his business until he was done, then he had my underwear up and put the cover back on me. That was it. Neither one of us ever said a word. I didn't even "wake up".

The following day everything felt awkward. I wanted to say to him I didn't like it, I wanted to tell him never to touch me like that but I just couldn't phrase a single word. We both pretended like nothing had ever happened, kept on sailing without talking about it. Back home I didn't mention anything either, I was ashamed, confused, didn't know what to say, carefully balanced my words, only said what I believed my parents wanted to hear, what I wanted to be the truth but inside my mind was going in circles. Was there something I did to make it happen, he's my friend, it felt good, maybe I liked it, maybe it is supposed to be like this? I didn't tell him to stop; I didn't fight back so this can't be so bad, right? And there was no violence so this can't go as assault either, maybe that makes it my fault?

My head was full of thoughts impossible to comprehend and process and a couple of days later when  was approached in school and invited to go sailing with him again I foolishly accepted hoping it all had been nothing but a huge mistake, hoping we'd do nothing but the sailing I so much loved. I told myself he probably soon would sincerely apologize and try make it all right. I was also scared my parents would ask me why if I didn't want to go, maybe start ask me questions I didn't know how to answer, questions I was too ashamed to try answer. So I went back, worried and nervous.

After a full day of sailing we anchored for the night in some bay and it was time to enter the cabin and shut the door behind us. It was when he started to have his clothes off in front of me I realized what was about to happen. That freezing fear preventing me to put up a fight struck me again. I realized was alone with him, no one would come crashing in through the skylight and intervene and miraculously save me, I was a long way from home and just as he was my ticket to come he was also my ticket out of here. I undressed too, reluctantly and hesitantly, but I did it myself, not because I wanted to but because I didn't know how not to. I still remember how he told me I had nothing to be ashamed of, how he told me to relax and not worry. When I was in his bed and his hands touched me all over I was so nervous I hardly could breathe.

He was always smiling and laughing. I never got hit, viciously attacked, threatened, drugged or given alcohol. He didn't have to, I always silently complied. I felt I had to do everything he asked for because he was my friend. Because he was an adult and I was just a stupid lonely kid. I felt insufficient to stop it. I wanted to tell my parents the truth so bad but I just couldn't. The shame and the unspeakable embarrassment made it impossible. I felt so dirty, was afraid to get yelled at, afraid no one would believe me, afraid no one would understand, afraid to be blamed, afraid the word would spread at school making the bullying go even worse, afraid everything would turn even uglier if I told him to stop.

But I admit I was torn, I honestly saw him as two persons. At school he was fun and whenever around I felt protected from all jerks, and when sailing we always had a great time, he sure was an awesome friend and a brilliant sailor definitely knowing his stuff. That part, that undivided attention, having him all for myself, I loved it. Suddenly I, the invisible, the quiet one, suddenly I was someone. Suddenly I had someone that cared about me, it felt like I finally meant something to someone. No matter how I tried I couldn't see any way out. The only thing I knew was that as long I kept my mouth shut my shameful secret was safe. As long I kept returning I was safe.

To the rest of the world I put up a brave face and acted like everything was all right, like there absolutely wasn't anything wrong with our friendship.

It wasn't only on-board his yacht he managed to find his way on me. It was once at home in my own room, once at school, on various outings when it was off-sailing season, and at so many times when he offered me a ride home after school or after the photo class had finished. Whenever I could I made up half-lame excuses to escape but sometimes I found no way out and entered his car knowing what would ultimately happen. A hand on my thigh, him telling me how much he likes me, how I was the only one that could make him feel that good, that special. Him telling me how special I was. My ride home paused at some secluded place where I performed the oral sex I knew I never would escape. His hands gently caressing my hair, that sickening memory still makes the ordinary task of getting a haircut a really triggering and awful experience to me.

I learned not to care. I learned not to feel anything at all but I also learned to hate myself, learned to hate my body that made it look like I was enjoying his hands on me. Worst of all was when I couldn't stop myself from sense a pleasure from stuff that felt good, that really sickened me, especially when I saw him noticing it. I didn't want it to feel good! I knew if I only shut down for awhile the other guy, my friend, the person I loved spending time with would return. So I did it. I gave him what he wanted. I had him take whatever he wanted, over and over again. Time passed. Eventually the skinny kid was gone and so also the girls voice. I got taller and stronger, probably strong enough to put up a fight but I never did.

Over time all fun stuff gradually started to feel distant, his hands touching me felt more and more revolting. I was sickened by just having him close, soon I didn't care about the sailing anymore, all left was my nightmares and the shameful secret making me feel so alone and so dirty. It all came to a point where I knew I had to do something if I wanted to carry on living. I couldn't take it anymore. One day I was dropped off back home after yet another trip, stood there outside his car with my bag and guitar. Took a deep breath, forced myself to look him in his eyes and told him that I didn't want to go with him anymore. This was the last time. He instantly knew exactly what I meant, snapped, started yelling. Every kind word, every soft touch was taken back. And yes, maybe I was a worthless piece of shit and an ungrateful bastard, maybe I deserved having all those words thrown at me. Back then his sudden and never before shown anger scared me, nowadays I only see my strength finally being able to say no.

I MAY HAVE broken free from him but I never managed to escape myself. Left realizing I had been completely fooled for so long I felt hurt and humiliated. I wanted to tell my parents the truth but I just couldn't, instead I came up with new lies and got stuck in confusion anger and self-destructive behaviour, soon even alcohol and some drugs. Started to question my sexual preference which of course the bullies picked up and gave me a tough time for, got involved with people not good for me, basically did anything to destroy myself which even included a period of selling myself to men in my neighbourhood, after school, sometimes instead of school or when I lied and said I would go see my non-existing friends. As some twisted irrational revenge I guess, I wanted to feel as shitty as possible and I wanted to be able to blame it on him. Somehow my weird revenge worked, I felt more sickened than I ever could have imagined. It was just like I wanted and in some strange way I managed to convince myself it all was my abusers fault. It almost made it feel like I had reclaimed control of myself.

Of course my changed behaviour was noted both at home and in school. I got sent to the school counsellor but refused to cooperate. Insisted to everyone asking everything was okay. Came up with new lies meant to explain. Maybe they believed me, maybe not. Or maybe to believe in my denials and lies was the easiest thing to do. Either way, nothing changed.
No one ever confronted me, no one ever had me up against the wall to ask me those probing questions needed to have me cornered enough to have it all out. This is the part I find hard to understand. Why didn't anyone see anything strange or suspicious with an adult man befriending a schoolboy? Wasn't just that an obvious reason to investigate a little further? Not even my parents apparently saw anything strange in me going on various unaccompanied overnight outings. Or maybe they did but didn't consider what possibly might have happened that serious? Maybe they simply expected me to tell them something if things weren't right, maybe they meant to ask but never knew how? Or maybe the general awareness of these issues simply was less before?

For some time our paths kept on crossing at school but we avoided looking at each other. Every time I saw him even in the distance I wanted to scream out loud but I couldn't, all I felt was like I was dying, it felt like someone had punched me hard in my stomach stomped my head. Sometime later he transferred away from school and left. Maybe he was scared I would tell, maybe it was something else that made him leave, I never found out.

It took a few years but slowly the anger and recklessness eased off and got replaced by... life basically. The earth kept on spinning. Despite feeling different from everyone else and feeling like I didn't belong I put up a fake smile and went along with the ride. Life went on. I guess it's supposed to do that.
It has to.

IT'S BEEN GOOD days. It's been bad days. Good periods, bad periods. Flashbacks and nightmares have tried to tell me their story but I never went there. Never talked about it or deal with it, only buried everything deep inside... away from myself I guess. Until some 25 years later when the news of my abuser's passing reached me. One day I suddenly had his obituary in front of me. I wasn't prepared at all!

Maybe the news of his passing should have given me some feelings of revenge but it never did, instead it felt like he had escaped all responsibilities towards me so cheap and easily. I never had him confronted with all my questions. I wanted to ask him why. Was it something I did or was he simply a master of manipulation capable in saying what I wanted to hear so he could have his ways with me? Was he a serial pedophile, did he leave a life-long trail of ruined lives after himself wherever he went? Maybe he soon forgot my name when new naive kids were lured down into his yacht? Maybe I replaced someone before me, someone he had gone tired with? Why did he pick me? I never had him told about all the nightmares he left me with, he never heard how awful and ruined he made me feel and he never learned about all the pointless self-destructiveness I ended up subjecting myself to. I never had him apologize for everything he did. He just... took off and it felt like he had gotten away with it all.

Ending the Silence of Sexual Abuse

I could see how my family life suffered just as the situation at work. Everything gradually turned unbearable and I felt I was taken to the verge of implosion.

Then, after a massive flashback I finally broke 25 years of silence and disclosed my story to a trusted friend, I just had to. It was either that or something much worse. After realizing the depth of what I had told him, my friend convinced me to seek professional help which I eventually strengthened myself to do. For the first time ever I came to confront my trust issues and social anxieties, my dislike of physical contacts and roller coaster-mood. It wasn't fun but it felt good to understand the origins of all issues and have a validation to all sickening feelings.

Therapy is neither fun nor easy but it has helped me ask myself the right and important questions, it has changed my perspectives on what happened, it has made me see what I have and what is worth fighting for. Also various communities and recourses on the Internet have been important and have taken away the feelings of loneliness and have helped me find answers to profound questions.

Eventually when I had managed to gather enough strength I finally told my wife the truth about my past. To my immense surprise, after the initial shock had gone, she said pretty much the same thing as my friend had done a few years earlier; My story was despite its awfulness logical and seen in this new light, much of my behaviour suddenly made a lot of sense.

Healing from Sexual Abuse

Nowadays I live a fairly quiet but normal life, whatever that is. I have met the warmest and loveliest person on earth and I'm a father of two. My family is important to me, they're all I got, and they’re all I am. Knowing my children are safe and being able to see them grow up makes me feel proud; it makes me feel like I have accomplished something important. Like my life finally has a purpose. Growing up wasn't a very good experience but it has made me to person I am today. For better and for worse. I have made some bad decisions along the way but realizing I'm still here and actually living a reasonably good life must mean something. That positive vibe, that's the one I try focus on, that's the one I hang on to when memories from my past are trying to push through.

I am thankful that you chose to share your story with all of us. Kudos to your brave spirit and kind soul. I'm sure your decision to speak up will encourage other survivors to do the same. I'm extremely glad that I got the chance to interact with someone so strong as you.

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