Sexual abuse is probably the most common form of child abuse and violation of child rights. Isn’t it tough to write about one’s lost childhood? Death of innocence and tender feelings? I bet it is. And when someone who narrates how her father has been sexually abusing her for years, it throws a few chills through my spine. How can you blame the outer world for being rude to a child when a father himself turns evil? When even a home isn’t safe?
Priya Jason. 32. Hometown- Chennai.
“I was born to a businessman father and school teacher mother in Chennai, in a place called Adyar. My mother passed away when I was three years old and my grandmother used to look after me. She died too, the year I turned 11. A few of my relatives had suggested my dad to send me off to a boarding school but I knocked the proposal down. The very idea of staying alone scared me.
They always say, a father is a daughter’s first crush. I remember wanting to ride my dad’s back and he pushing me away, when I was a child. Most of the times, he used be on business tours, away from home.
After my grandmother passed away, it was only my father apart from me, in our house. He always insisted that I sleep with him in the same room. I wasn’t allowed to wear anything more than an undergarment, not even a top or shirt. His moving hands on my body often woke me up. If I asked him what he was doing, he’d answer that he was checking if I was sleeping. When I asked him why he never let me wear clothes while sleeping, he would say it was for good ventilation.
After my adolescence period arrived, my body started facing changes. My breasts slowly grew. It was very uncomfortable to sleep next to my dad without wearing anything. When I was 14, we visited a relative’s place for a wedding in the family. It was shocking to everyone to see that even at the age of 14, I didn’t wear a bra. One of my aunts bought me my life’s first inner, along with a vest. On the other hand, I too was very surprised to see how all my cousin sisters slept with their clothes on them.
I remember questioning my father about it and in reply he threatened to send me off to a boarding school. After the wedding ended, our place was packed of relatives due to which I slept separately for two months. Those two months were such a relief to me! But as soon as everyone went back homes, I had to be back to my dad’s room again. I literally begged him to allow me to sleep with my clothes on but no, he refused. Even during my menstruation cycles, he didn’t allow me to wear anything extra.
Like lot other children, MS paint was a favorite tool of mine. The home PC was password locked; my dad shared the password with me since I was 12, but only in his presence. If I wore a skirt, or a gown or something similar, he would pull that up and make me sit on his lap…
Life at home was turning hell. I used to be accompanied with my friends when I went to buy undergarments. Once there was no money with me and my dad said he would buy me one. That night, he felt like ‘checking my fitness’ and started touching me. That was the first time that I protested. I had reached the last possible extent of tolerance. I told him I’d never sleep without my clothes again and if this meant I’d be sent to a boarding school, then yes, I was ready for that too.
In class 10, a school tour was arranged. My dad obviously didn’t want me to go, but I still joined the trip after borrowing money from a few friends and adding my pocket money to it. The night I got back, he showed up in my school, drunk. He first abused, then he opened his belt and started hitting. Then, yes, he did it.
That night, my father had left me in utmost pain and trauma. Both mental and physical. My lower abdomen pained so much that I couldn’t walk. I didn’t know what to do, whom to share this with. My father sent a note to my school saying I won’t be able to continue my schooling anymore. This time, I called up a few of my relatives and showed them the marks on my body. Finally, I was sent to a boarding school.
Life has never been easy for me. In boarding also, my father stopped sending money after a few days. My relatives used to give me some money when they visited me and I saved them for buying sanitary napkins. I started working as a show host in different events for earning some money.
I have come across dangerous men. I was molested later in life too. I escaped a gang rape, only because god was by my side. But nothing can be compared to the horror my dad gave birth to, deep in my mind. I now work in an event management company. It has happened a lot of times that I didn’t recruit a male colleague. Just out of this horror. I am scared to travel in buses. When inside an auto or a taxi, I press my cell phone on my ears and keep talking as if someone’s there on call; so that the driver doesn’t understand I am scared. Even if a man stands close to me, it scares the hell out of me. I avoid crowded shopping malls. Lifts.
My father’s name is Stanley Jason Arvind. When I was a child. I never understood he was abusing me sexually. Now that I do, I sometimes feel I must put him behind the bars. But I never had anyone by my side. I was always scared that he might come back and torture me. Besides, I never had any kind of evidence against him, apart from the agony I stored inside myself. He killed my childhood. He killed all tender feelings that were in me. I want him to be punished him for his sins someday.
I hear we have helplines for children. I often wonder how many children know about it. It must spread its reach. There should be fast track courts to deal with cases of violence on children. In the present judiciary system, the proceedings are so slow that the affected becomes an adult by the time the verdicts are out. What about those lost childhoods? Special care should be taken of the psychological health of children who are subject to violence in any way or don’t have access to child rights. Free counselling should be given to them, to bring them back to normalcy. Legal activities must be free from the end of the child and his/her family.”
My conversation with Priya di (that’s what I call her now), though a virtual one, was a difficult one for me. I didn’t know how to discuss it or ask questions. I tried imagining myself once in her place and it was as scary as hell. One day after we talked, I received a Facebook message from her where she had written “you have been such a beautiful gift in my life”. I remember reading the message and choking. I couldn’t have asked for anything better from life, than being a shoulder for someone who needed love.
I just wish we can bring a day together where we won’t have to see another such Priya anymore. I just wish.
Save the childhood.
This post is a part of the #SaveTheKids Campaign and originally appeared here.