In the last week, India saw the #MeToo movement explode on social media. Countless allegations against celebrities have came to light; and many people have stepped forward with their sexual abuse stories.
While most appreciated the effort, others didn’t seem to ‘get it’ or rather, they treated it like ‘a cry for attention’ (like we don’t get enough of that already). However, I’m not here to back the movement or convince you to support it. I’m just here to tell you that these stories and many other unheard ones are still happening.
I’m putting them down here, simply because these people (if you can still call them that) need to be held accountable for what they’ve done. So, here are a few heart-breaking tales from the survivors themselves.
On the street
I lost a little more faith in humanity that day. I was 13 – 14 years old when it happened. Someone pinched my barely-there-breast on a busy Malleshwaram street at 7:00 PM, when I was walking down the street with my mother. I just stood still and glared at him, not knowing how to react. While all he did, was grin and walk away. My mum kept asking me what’s wrong, but I just couldn’t speak. I just stood there staring at him for a few more seconds, and then I shook my head and continued walking.
At the shop
I was 6 years old at the time. I used to go often to get papers photocopied at the shop near my house. But who I thought of as a friendly old man, turned out to be a molester hidden in plain sight. He would ask me to touch his penis and stroke it if I wanted my papers back. He’d also touch my non-existent nipples and vagina while I waited for the photocopy. I knew it was wrong but at that age what did I know? Eventually, I did stop going there, but it unknowingly affected me for years!
In my own house
June 19, 2014: The day I was raped.
I was in a relationship with this man. But things went awry because he didn’t seem to be interested in anything other than being physical with me. So I stopped seeing him. I was looking for something long-term and didn’t want to waste my time with someone who wasn’t on the same page.
But he called me a few months later and said he wants to discuss something important with me. I obviously still had feelings for him, so I was hoping that missing me might have made him change his mind about getting married. So, I agreed to meet him. At first, he wanted to meet somewhere outside, but later called and asked me if he could just come over and talk. Maybe I could cook him something? I wanted to get over with it, so I just said yes.
But hat did I know? I said no but he forced himself inside me. He scratched my private parts to try and hurt me. He pinned me down, while I was crying in pain, and forcefully had sex with me. He raped me. Of course, I filed a case against him over the next week, but there was not much I can do when bribes are involved. Not only did my case get dropped, but I had no support from anyone. Instead, people judged me for having premarital sex and shunned me. Some others asked me to forgive him and my own father decided to declare me ‘mad’. It’s this system, the mindset, and the societal norms that are insane. Not me. I said no, but when I cry rape, it’s my fault?
On the field
I started playing cricket when I was a little boy of four. I used to go for coaching at a nearby club. After playing, the coach would often ask some of us to stay back to give us feedback or make us practice a little more. I used to love being on the field till the day I was forced to give my coach a blow job. I didn’t understand what I was doing – I just knew it was wrong and that I was being punished in some way. I didn’t know how to tell my parents, but after a year of harassment, I stopped playing cricket. I’ve never stepped on the field again.
At the party
I froze the second when I realised that it was more than just a dance. What started off on a sweet note of ‘May I have this dance with you?’, ended with him forcing himself on me. It happened on my recent trip to Delhi. It was on the evening of my second day at training. We all decided to go out and chill. But a while after, one of them started to frisk me. I tried to say no to his inappropriate touching, but at that moment, I didn’t know how to react. Took me a while, but I managed to push him away. Things took an ugly turn and people came to my rescue. But I was told that it was known fact that the man preys on women. Of course, the company is taking action now, but what were they doing all this while?
At the familiar house
I was 5 when the abuse started. I used to visit my relative’s house, where this familiar ‘uncle’ would ‘take care’ of me. He’d ask me perform sexual acts on him and asked me to keep the ‘game’ a secret. He would entice me with sweets and candies, and tell me that playing this game would make me a ‘man’. The abuse finally stopped when I was around 9, but I realised how it was affecting my mental only when I was 15. I used to self-loathe, block my memory, drink, and do what not to cope up. But it only left me depressed and suicidal. But today, I’ve let it all go and I’m glad people are finally getting a chance to tell their stories.
On the bus
I’ve only mustered the courage to publicly talk about harassing incidents that I’ve had while traveling via public transport. In fact, I could go on about how men find the slight chance to grope you under the pretence of a ‘crowded’ transport system. Sometimes I would judge them, elbow them, or use all my might and get them off my back. For the longest time, I wore low hanging backpacks to avoid any possible uncomfortable contact.
But even all of this wasn’t enough. I was sitting at a window seat in the ladies section, when this older man took the seat next to me. I was busy staring outside, recalling everything I had studied for my exam. This is when the lady conductor came up to me and asked if I knew the man. I didn’t understand why till I felt the wetness on the side of my kurta. I didn’t want to believe that a man had just jerked off on me in a public bus. I had to come to terms with what had happened, only to feel extremely gutted and helpless and not knowing what to do, or how to react.
I don’t use the bus anymore, but what about people who use public transport everyday? How many #MeToos are yet to come to light?
These are just a few of them. I still have many stories pouring in on my social media. I’ll keep posting them as they come. Just to make it clear, before anyone makes assumptions, these are just personal accounts and not official statements. I’m collating these only to help narrate incidents, and also to encourage more people from all genders to come forward with their stories.
Thank you for reading. 🙂