This post is a part of the Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month initiative started by some fantastic souls I met on Twitter. I have to extend my heart-felt appreciation to the CSA team who have relentlessly advocated this noble cause with unmatched passion and zeal. Through CSA team’s effort, I have realized and understood so much about my own behavioural aspects as a result of some untoward incidents that occurred when I was younger.
I read through numerous stories on CSA blog that each survivor has so bravely managed to convey. Each such story strikes a chord and somewhere I relive my unsure and unhappy moments with them. When I was asked to submit a post for this cause, I went through many a sleepless nights. However hard I tried, I couldn’t remove the thought from my head and it kept coming back to me. I kept questioning, if only writing about it and talking about it would do any good? That’s when my daughter came prancing around on her ballet toes and I decided to do this post.
Unsavoury events in the past have probably done a lot to turn me into the person that I am today. But it is only today that we discuss these issues more openly, with reason and empathy. When I was a child, I believe it was a taboo to discuss “such” things. As a consequence, inspite of a very supportive family it wasn’t possible to come forth to discuss, or atleast I believed so. Now when I sit back and think, as a child an unkind word, a rude gesture or a mal-intentioned touch were all slotted in the same category. It is difficult to distinguish one bad feeling from the other. While, as a child, I didn’t run to complain to my parents when my classmate pushed me to the ground for no fault of mine, I couldn’t or didn’t feel the need to rush and tell them about any other kind of issues I faced within the school or outside, even if it was sexual or intimidating in nature. It was much easier to either fight my battle OR submit at times and then try to forget about it.
Over a period of time, as I grew up into a teenager, it was made evidently clear from discussions with friends, parents and teachers that it was completely fine to come up and discuss your grievances. During one such unsavoury incident, I understood a vital truth that even if you bravely went and spoke about your infliction, people ( read teachers and others) were more interested in the voyeuristic listening pleasure of details of the incident. When this revelation came to me, I immediately closed doors and decided to not let ANYONE have the pleasure of listening to my woes and convert it into a sensational gossip to discuss in their free time. As a result of this treatment, I quickly changed tracks and became the reserved person that I am. People who think that they know me may laugh when I say this because, I might the one who sang the loudest at the back benches of the class, the one who participated in every competition, debates alike. But inside, I knew a constant turmoil that rendered it impossible to let my emotions out easily.
Because these incidents left an indelible imprint on my mind really early on, I was always on high alert, constantly gauging my environment and those within it. Nobody needed to teach me the proper way to sit, stand or behave as I was already conscious about my body and had a specific idea about how I needed to project myself. As a young adult, I learnt to cope with these feelings of guilt and confusion by diving deep into creative projects. I played competitive sports, took dance lessons, exercised till there was no energy to carry on. This vigorous physical exertion made sure my mind was far from all the negative feelings that tried to creep up on me. But sometimes during the lowest points of my life, I have struggled to see the bright side of life and felt the demons rise again. I grappled and fought them till they were quelled again. In my own experience, there is actually no closure ever because memory seeks to find it from the deepest recesses in our most vulnerable moments. Even if you confront your abuser it may or may not lead to any kind of closure inside your heart.
But I can confidently say, it is possible to slay these demons by always being CREATIVE- trying to learn something new, being true to yourself, and being optimistic about life in general. When I found it extremely difficult to handle my emotions I sought refuge in courses such as Art of Living and reading inspirational books. I also indulged in activities like baking, painting and martial arts such as krav maga. PHYSICAL EXERTION or building physical endurance made sure I felt confident about myself and able to come out of my body image issues. BLOGGING or expression via the written word has helped me de-clutter and de-stress the most. I never thought I would be able to vent out my emotions so easily post after post. But that I can, validates that all those who have problems with expressing their feelings would find it very therapeutic. This form of expression I discovered only recently and boy! am I glad that I found it.
This positive outlook has helped me cope with my feelings of anger towards my perpetrators.
Many times I have wondered why I took the decision to take a break from work and be at home with my daughter. The obvious reasons are that I want to see her grow and be around to be a witness to each of her accomplishments. I am eager to get back to work, but in my heart I know, I am not giving my best to the cause. Lot of thought and I realize somewhere I am scared to leave my daughter with strangers, when I go to work. I have to be around to protect her and her interests. Subconscious makes sure you do what you got to do.
But it is a fallacy because I am not going to be around her all the time. All I can do is to equip my daughter with the right tools for life and to trust her instinct. To be able to stand up for herself and say no. To have the confidence to seek help in case the situation becomes difficult to handle. I for a fact, would always keep an open channel of communication with her right from the start. I would be around her as much as possible to keep her safe. After I read through most of the posts on the CSA blog, I have learnt so much about how important it is to earn my daughter’s trust and not take it for granted that she would turn to me when faced by a situation.
On a final note, it would have been easy for me to blame my bitter experiences on my guardians and feel resigned for the rest of my life. It was easier an option to blame them but I know for a fact that they stood up for me whenever they could whether it was about confronting an abuser or reprimanding an eve teaser. It was still up to me to find my inner strength and move on. I wish and hope that each one of us who had the misfortune of being abused finds something worthwhile that we can hold on to, get up, and move on.
This is my 100th post and I wanted it to be special. I am glad that it was for this important cause. Thank you CSA team for letting me contribute.