Trigger Warning: Article contains graphic content. Reader discretion is advised.
Our childhood experiences play a big part in shaping our health and mental well-being. Sexual abuse in childhood can leave scars that last for a long time.
As children we do not realise what's happening with us and by the time we do, it's late. But there are people who try to help themselves and others instead of succumbing to years of abuse and ill-treatment.
This woman is one of them. A victim of sexual abuse in her childhood, she has taken up the task of educating kids and parents about consent.
Speaking to Humans of Bombay, she narrated her story.
It began when I was 5. My house help would lay me down on Grandma’s bed and touch me inappropriately, all without undressing me. This went on for a whole year but I was too young to understand the difference between safe and unsafe touch, so I never said anything.
Devoid of proper sex-education or for that matter even the knowledge of good and bad touch, she was molested several times during childhood - by the watchman and even by an exam supervisor at school. At that time she did not realise that whatever was happening was wrong.
But the discomfort was there. How could it not be? At 13, she took admission into a boarding school to run away from all this, only to find a relative's video camera hidden in her bathroom when she returned home during the holidays.
In utter disbelief, I put on my clothes and ran into my room. For the first time, it struck me that what was happening was wrong. Even then, I just repressed all my pain.
Repressed emotions often lead to anxiety, stress and long-term consequences. Something similar happened with this woman. She had serious body image issues, stayed in a toxic relationship for almost 2 years because she thought she deserved the ill-treatment.
I still remember, I’d always choose ‘ugly’ as my password everywhere.
At 26, when she was about to get married, she shared everything with her mother and to-be-husband, thinking that it would make her feel better. But once when her parents gifted her a family photo collage, she broke down on spotting the same servant, who violated her, in one of the pictures.
This is when the true realisation came. The realisation that she needed help.
I began therapy. I started reading about child sexual abuse and in 2015, I founded ‘Circles of Safety’–to educate kids and parents on preventing child sexual abuse. I’m even trying to introduce Sex Ed to kids right from grade 1. But honestly, 30 years later, I’m still trying to heal.
A mother to 2 daughters, the woman has started teaching them about consent from an early age. She told Humans of Bombay that if her 3-year-old is uncomfortable with hugs, she unabashedly says, ‘I’m not comfortable with hugs.’ She's glad that they raise their voice, for something as seemingly ‘small’ as a hug.
Because she believes:
They didn’t even need to take my clothes off to violate me. And a layer of cloth means nothing when you take away someone’s consent.
You can read the entire post here.