Child Sexual Abuse, Ep 4: ‘My Grandfather Abused Me When I Was 7’
“I get repeated nightmares of abuse happening to me, again and again, and me being completely helpless about it.”
Video Editor: Kunal Mehra
Neha*, who is 27 years old now, doesn’t have an easy time of it even today – an easy time of living down the memories. She still wakes up to nightmares, crying and shivering. She dreams of abuse happening to her over and over again. Her grandfather abused her, she says, when she was only 7 years old. This is her story.
Sometimes, it’s an isolated incident. A single day, night, memory that sticks out like a sore spot on the skin, where you were touched. Sometimes, it’s many incidents – recurring over many days and many nights – that stick out, the same way, like sore spots on the skin, where you were touched.
The sore spots turn into blank spaces in many child sexual abuse survivors’ memories – who bury the abuse and often return to confront it, as adults. They return, either with determination to find some semblance of justice, or with the hope that speaking about their stories will help someone today, to speak about theirs.
Transcript of the Audio:
I’m a 27-year-old woman based out of Delhi-NCR.
I was 7 years old when it first happened
and 8 when it happened for the second time
with a second family member.
The first time when it happened,
it was my paternal grandfather.
My parents had gone out for the evening
leaving me alone with him and
he used that as an opportunity to abuse me.
The second time around, it was my mom’s cousin.
And while playing one afternoon... (He must have been
around 19-20 at that point)
So it was just me and him playing some game – I don’t remember
but what I do remember is what he did to me and
you know, it still haunts me today.
When it happened for the first time, I told my parents what had happened.
I was very confused. I didn’t know what had happened to me.
All I knew was that, I was in a lot of pain.
My parents didn’t know how to react, and I actually
enacted everything out to my mother.
While my father didn’t say much (actually, he didn’t say anything at all)
my mother was the one who raised her voice against it.
And in exchange, my grandparents just asked us to leave the house.
The second time it happened, I told my mom
and my maternal grandparents that very instant.
And what they did was, they threw him out of the house.
They asked him to leave, to move to Punjab
where my grandparents own property.
I’m actually going to say that this incident haunts me
more often than not, because I developed a nightmare problem since then
wherein I get repeated nightmares of abuse
happening to me, again and again and again, and me being
completely helpless and not being able to do anything about it.
I have woken up almost every night, sweating, screaming
asking for help, so yes, the incident affects me even today.
It affects how I see the world, it affects how I see the opposite gender in general
and I do confide in my mother about it.
I keep her in the loop, so whether it’s a nightmare or whether it’s
a bad memory flashback, I always do talk to her about it
because she’s been my biggest support through all of this
and she’s helped me move on from there.
My dad didn’t say anything and the next evening
when my parents had to go out again, he was okay with leaving me
alone with him again.
I was really hurt and, even today, you know, it hurts to know that
my father did not stand up for me
that my very own father, he couldn’t take a stand for me because
it was his father in question.
I think with time, he has now come to accept what had happened
but it doesn’t change what happened 20 years back.
I haven’t ever considered approaching the legal system really
because, very frankly, considering how the legal system in India works
it would just mean going through a lot of rounds of the court
and having to relive what had happened,
and I don’t think I will ever be prepared to do that to myself.
I have received psychological help.
I’ve seen various counsellors time to time, and no, it hasn’t helped.
Psychological help, while important to move on from the incident per se
it hasn’t really helped my brain put it behind.
Talking about it on a public platform right now
it doesn’t make me feel like I’ve had a sense of justice
but it does make me feel happy about the fact that childhood sexual abuse
is a subject that people are willing to now talk about.
Back then, like 20 years back, if my family had actually done something about it
things would have been a lot lot different for me also.
Like, I think, you know, if I had gotten justice back then
I would have probably been an altogether different person today.
I probably wouldn’t have my nightmares, I probably
wouldn’t have so many trust issues.
So, I think it’s really important to talk about this
and I’m really really glad that The Quint is doing this.
*Name changed on request.
(The Quint will be publishing these audio stories of real individuals over the next week – who narrate to us their trauma of child sexual abuse and how they’ve chosen to heal. If YOU have a story that you’re comfortable sharing with The Quint, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your identity will be kept anonymous, should you choose to do so.)
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