Posted by Komal Mistry
Trigger Warning: Rape, Sexual Abuse.
This is the story of a period in my life which I consider life changing. This is the story of my rape and how I blamed myself for it.
Rape in India has a lot of stigma attached to it, most of which involves shaming and blaming the victim. A victim, who already has endured the pain, emotional and physical, has to go through social rejection. Nothing highlights the suffering of victims more than the fact that we’ve had to frame laws protect their identity, to try and save them from the social rejection and further victimisation.
In such a scenario, what happens to someone who was raped by a friend or kin? Their suffering is manifold. Sometimes people don’t even trust them, and they might end up totally alone. How can we then expect victims to come forward and report the crime? Instead of reaching out for help during one of the worst phases of their lives, victims are forced into loneliness.
I too didn’t report my rape. I was raped by a friend I trusted at that time. It happened at his apartment. And so, by default I was put to blame for giving him the opportunity to rape me by going to his house in the first place. I blamed myself. I needed someone to tell me that it was not my fault. But I didn’t have anyone. I was scared to tell people about the incident so I kept silent. I tried escaping the memories of it and it worked for sometime. I avoided relationships and it worked for sometime too. But, as soon as I started dating again the memories of it returned and started haunting me.
I needed someone to tell me that it was not my fault
My relationships suffered and I suffered more. Just when I went into depression I stumbled upon an article about women sharing their experiences of rape and molestation, which gave me the hope that I needed. It took me a fair amount of time to come out of the depression and look at life positively.
Now, I wanted change in my life. Now, I wanted to change the lives of people who needed hope and didn’t get it. I wanted to support the women who were raped and women who suffered everything after that. Why does the victim have to hide? Why does the victim not report the crime committed upon her? Why is her social image more important than the justice she asked for? Why does our government need to bring laws banning naming the victim? And so taking cues from Jyoti Singh (Nirbhaya’s) parents, I decided to start sharing my story with people.
Also Read: Shaming Survivors Of Sexual Abuse Must Stop
As I started sharing my story I had to repeatedly defend myself. ‘Why did you go to his place to meet him?‘. ‘Because I trusted him that’s why?‘ ‘Didn’t you try to stop him?‘ ‘I did. I said no. He RAPED me‘. All these opinions about how I could have done more to protect myself were a subtle form of victim blaming and hurt me deeply. But I was not giving up now, and as I kept going I eventually started getting support and admiration of people.
Even after I had almost everything, the most difficult part of recovery for me was trusting men once again and having relationships. But why should I hold back from living my life because of one bad incident? I was not letting one bad incident take away my life. I was determined to live my life fully. I started dating again and today I’ve even found a partner who understands why I’m doing what I’m doing and supports me for it.
Instead of reaching out with help, victims are forced into loneliness
I share this story here in an attempt to reach as many people as I can, not just victims but others too. I hope other people see the pain a victim goes through and offer better support. I hope they see how the victim blaming culture permeates our society, and doesn’t let victims turn out as survivors. ‘Please help break this victim blaming culture in any way you can’.
The victims, who are hiding and blaming themselves for what happened to them, I want to say ‘It’s not your fault! Be strong. Live your life. There’s hope for you!‘
Komal Mistry is working towards being a professional sex educator, while pursuing her CA degree. She’s an avid reader, cinema lover and a storytelling enthusiast.
Featured Image Credit: Kelly Partridge via Pinterest