It has been a month, but nothing seems to have changed. In fact, it seems to get worse. Gossip travelling at the speed of light can cause more damage to a person than lightening itself. While some people talk behind my back, others just can’t seem to keep their intrusive questions to themselves. There are sympathisers here and there, some who leave these horrified expressions on their faces when they hear this and most others spit out the obvious- “It’s ok, things will get better”.
The incident is over. But its consequences are everlasting. And insensitivity just ensures that things really go downhill. Somehow, that incident seems to define you. Value judgements are always round the corner – “She asked for it”, “Why did she dance with him like that?”, “Why aren’t you going to the police?”, “You don’t look like you’ve been harassed, you seem to be quite normal only’’. It never really ends, does it?
I stay there motionless listening to their questions thrown at me. I can’t speak a word. If my mind could talk, it could scream out so many things. Born to a middle class family with parents who want their daughters to be home by 7PM I hate acknowledging the fact that they were right, my safety depends upon supervision.
People say that the best way to most past it is to forget it. People often argue that in such a volatile stage it is hard for me to make a decision. It’s funny how everyone seems to have an opinion after the incident happened but never spoke out when the allegations were made.
All this hogwash about justice sounds completely alien to me. I was asked to pretend like it never happened but I can’t tell you how I cannot go without crying myself to sleep every night. I might find refuge in the criminal justice system, but I will still face insurmountable public humiliation and victim shaming. I might make others fight against such atrocities but the ghosts of my past seem as though they will never elude me.
It’s funny how everyone seems to have an opinion after the incident happened but never spoke out when the allegations were made.
No amount of physical or mental harm caused to the perpetrator will set right what has happened. There is no justice for me. The only redemption, my only desire, is a sense of normalcy in her life; a promise that maybe someday the good things in my life will far outweigh these terrible memories. A ray of hope, be it a person or an idea or a purpose, is all I need. Not a police constable beating the perpetrator up, not pretentious exclamations of sympathy, and certainly not tall promises of how the world will soon become a much better place. All I need is a genuine smile, a caring heart and a strong will to overcome. But where will I find that now? Is that too much to ask?
I remember when I spoke to my harasser on the phone, confronting him about the incident that night, he asked me to “take care”. I must say I went blank for a minute or two. Take. Care. No two words have had a deeper impact in my life. That’s the amount of power we give to a predator in the society, enough for him to make sure your life runs on his terms. When I told this incident to my not-so-very close friends, they were supportive, but only enough for them to listen to a victim’s rant. Apparently, that is the maximum that they could do, being the ‘third person’ in the incident.
That’s the amount of power we give to a predator in the society, enough for him to make sure your life runs on his terms.
One Year Later; Same Date
It has been a year now. The whispers have died down to an extent – people seem to have decided that there is better gossip out in the market. My friends talk to me just fine. My parents still don’t have the slightest clue of what their daughter has been through. My studies are going well. Superficially, “all is well”. Are the wounds healing? Are the memories fading? Am I really alright? Will I ever be the same?
Oh and before I almost forget to update you, my harasser is doing quite well for himself. He has currently settled in the United States and is earning quite well. The people I know update me regarding his “happening life” and also ask me to “ignore it” and “move on” in the same breath. Apparently, sulking about it is ‘too late’ now. I wonder, was it ever, ever, too soon to complain?
Superficially, “all is well”. But am I really alright? Will I ever be the same?
It doesn’t feel like its been a year already. It still feels the same. No matter how many movies like ‘Pink’ are made, all their “no means no” values are as temporary as Facebook activism. This is the truth. I lived through my friend’s circle shrinking, I lived through being known as the “sexual harassment victim” from “Section C” of 2nd year. I wonder if my harasser got his share of recognition too. But, who cares? He’s the one that got away.
As my eyes shut to doze off, here’s to one more night, where I try to learn to move on and sleep in ‘peace’.
Your Pretty Little Liar.
This is an account written by a woman who was sexually harassed in an ‘after party’ of a college event. The person who harassed her, though being chucked out of the event, has not regretted or apologised for his act, and has also continued to do this to other women. The woman was blamed to have consumed alcohol and danced with him. It’s true that there has no case been filed against him, but imperative that we remember to blame the society for it. Is it fair for anyone to live with such stories?