Child Sexual Abuse, Ep 2: ‘Why Should I Hide? It’s Not My Shame’
“After 20 years of silence, I told my sisters about the cousin we all adored growing up and how he molested me.”
Video Editor: Kunal Mehra
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.
The Quint spoke to a few adult survivors of CSA and these are their stories.
This is Episode 2 and this is the story of Zijah, 27.
Transcript of the Audio:
Hi, my name is Zijah.
I'm 27 years old and I was sexually abused when I was in 3rd standard.
It happened over a summer vacation when I was at my **
and mere ** aur unki family bhi waha rehti hai.
My ** who was in 12th standard at that time,
he did it.
So, it started with him asking us to play this ghar-ghar game,
and me, my sister and another cousin,
he used to say that, I will be your groom
and all three of you will be my wife.
And he will be like, okay, cook food for me and
when we used to go serve him the food, like, one by one,
he would, he would, umm, take us under the blanket and,
I don't know what happened with the other two but then,
he made me hold his penis.
I don't know, I thought probably, this is the game?
I just did not know. I was like, okay, this feels weird.
And I don't know for what reason, I never spoke to my sister
or my cousin about it.
This thing continued till 6th standard
whenever we used to visit my **'s place,
something or the other used to happen.
So, there was this incident once, when we were sitting in a room
and we both were alone, and I was drawing something
and he was lying next to me.
He unzipped my jeans and he put his hand inside.
I did not know how to respond to that.
I just stood up and went.
So, when did it stop is – I was the one who stopped it.
I was at my **'s place and we were lying next to each other.
We were watching football and
he put his hand and grabbed my breast
and I...put his hand away.
Initially, I felt, I don't have the courage to do it
but then, in my head, I was like, you have to physically
tell him not to do it if you can't tell him verbally.
And then I took his...I put his hand away and then I
gave a little pat when I kept his hand back on his stomach,
you know, that's where it belongs, not on my body.
And...he didn't do it after that.
I just feel...because I never said anything,
he thought I enjoyed it?
I don't know, I should never justify this, his wrongdoing.
I never shared this with my parents.
I don't know, I somehow don't want to complicate things.
So it's been 15 years, almost 20 years if I'm not wrong
since this incident happened and I have attended his wedding
and we've been okay-ish with each other
and umm, I've danced at his wedding also.
So, I think both of us, we buried this.
So, I'm super close with my sisters but I never shared this with them
because I was very, very embarrassed.
It took a lot of courage to tell them.
They were really, really shocked.
Of course, they were sorry, they were very, very sorry,
they were so sad, they felt sad about this.
My sister, she hugged me and then she said,
you know that, umm, she's sorry that this happened
and that, umm, that I had to hide this, umm,
with me for such a long, long time.
And then, umm, I was, I was fighting the tears,
I was... the embarrassment went on for so long,
I just tried to fight my tears.
My sister, she hugged me and she said that
I'm sorry that you had to live with this for so many years.
And I feel so stupid that I'm so stiff
that I didn't let go of myself and cry. (cries)
I kept on fighting my tears and hide the fact that I'm so hurt
and I'm so sad and... broken. (cries)
I was feeling so broken at that moment.
They were shocked because this person is loved by everybody
and a lot of us youngsters, we looked up to him,
because he's so successful and he's so nice
and all that, and everybody loves him
and I think, that's what made them so sad also
because they didn't expect it from him.
And thank god I shared this because one of my sisters said,
you know, no one is immune from this.
And I thought she's making a statement in general
but she also had a story to share.
It was about a guy who was our neighbour and woh zabardasti...
my sister went out to get some chips or something
and woh zabardasti uske kheechke apne ghar le gaya tha.
And she just ran away somehow.
When she was telling me all this, I could see the fear on her face
and my heart sank.
I felt that, how couldn't she tell us about this man
and probably she was also embarrassed.
Such bad incidents could happen with you,
that people could look at you that way.
Like, how? She was a kid. I was a kid.
Why do we keep hiding such serious issues from our parents?
Why such an environment is created that we hide such things?
It takes a lot of courage and
we must have such an environment
that our kids talk about these things and not feel ashamed.
What I understand is like, anybody who looks like a decent, nice person,
decent, nice human being, can be a molester.
Anybody and anyone can be a molester.
I think aisa environment hi nahi hona chahiye that
the kid might feel that nobody's going to believe them.
The kid must feel that whatever he or she is going to share
with their parents, they're going to believe him or her.
We are four sisters. Two of us are from same age
and the other two, there's a gap of 6 years.
And the one who's one year younger was telling me,
why are you revealing your identity?
You should hide it and what are people going to think about it,
you know, they're going to say things and stuff.
This other younger sister, who's 6 years younger to me,
she was like, why should she hide her identity?
It's like the same thing. If she took so much time
in coming and telling this to us,
why shouldn't she share it with the world?
Why shouldn't everybody know that such things happen?
Happen in your own family?
And I felt so proud at that moment that, this young sister,
she's, she's so strong. That gave me so much of courage.
Another reason why I really wanted to come out,
as a content creator, I want people to talk about
all kinds of issues and not hide their identity because
there's nothing to be ashamed of, nothing at all.
I buried it so deep down and I, after some time,
I even let this go and don't hold any grudges.
It was bad, it was unjust and it shouldn't have happened
but now he's married, he's blessed with a daughter and
I think life's come to a full circle now.
(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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