Trigger Warning: Mentions of rape, abuse, violence
My dad sexually abused me when I was a child. My mom died when I was 14. My dad remarried. I have one sibling, a brother who used to beat me up when I was 17. My father’s physical violence continued until I was 20. At every point throughout my life, they have been right there, at my door step, to stop me. I currently have three degrees, pursuing a fourth.
This is not a success story. It’s a story that stays right where it is.
I’m the sunniest person you will see in a room. I will smile and make conversation. I let others speak. I give my full attention until they are done speaking, after which, I validate them and their words. I write on my social media channels. Many struggling people connect to me through it, and either we make a strong connection, or I help them in personal capacities, or exhaust all my resources to help them organisationally.
I’m working hard to eradicate gender-based violence. I’m working, with the full knowledge that we’re going ample step backwards.
The legitimacy given to violence at homes makes me want to puke. I sit at the table every day, contemplating whether to kill myself or to fight, and I choose fighting every day. Every sunshine witnessed is a victory for me.
This is however, not a cry for help. I don’t need your help. I need you to look into your homes. And then into your souls. Who made monsters out of us? The people you beat up are not objects. The people you let get beaten up are not objects. Women are not collateral damage.
Reschool yourself. Reparent yourself. Unlearn your toxicity. Every day that you sit at your laptop watching another movie, a woman gets slapped. A woman gets kicked. A woman gets peed over. A woman gets raped. A woman gets killed.
And yet, the biggest problem is still not the violence. The undeniably much larger issue is the culture that allows it. Every time that I faced violence, my grandmother stood at the door and watched. When I was abused as a child, the only parent I told about it said that I’m absolutely wrong and a villain to blame my dad for something so ugly. Denied, denied, denied. Each time, each emotion was denied.
And thus the impunity, the legitimisation of the perpetrator increased. Violence is always a burden to be borne by the victim, right? To face the pain, to make people believe, to battle our own shame and guilt, and then to seek help. Our bodies are tired. We have been burdened by this for too long, each one right at the breaking point.
And even more appalling is the selective visibility that violence in public receives. Of course, with its own biases, but the country did rise up and come together several times to condemn several instances of rapes in the past. We took to the streets in protest, thus claiming the space which was always denied from us. But that only furthered the dichotomies of ‘private and public’, ‘safe and unsafe’, ‘protected and unprotected’, and in the process, invisibilising the violence that takes places within these spaces, protected spaces. It is as if people do not want to address it- that they want to guard this violence with their lives. Hush up, silently watch, take it to their graves.
This also elucidates that impunity and violence serve each other. The violence renders the impunity strength, the impunity provides legitimacy to the violence. It’s a whole system, a whole circle. And to break this, we do not need a criminal system that punishes, but a criminal system that establishes a circle of healing, development and apology.
But that is, of course, an excerpt from a fairy tale. A Disney movie. A La La Land. Tomorrow, I’ll wake up to another morning at a household that plasters smiles all across their faces to keep our fun secrets going.
If you are still going to linger here looking for some way out of what you have just learned, some way out of the guilt so that you can forget this and go back to your movie, I have nothing to say to you. I have nothing to say, except I hope you’re not able to go back. That that movie makes no sense now. That you pick up your phone and google “gender-based violence” right now. That you research it for days, that you decide you are going to actively confront it. That you pick up the baton and carry it for the rest of your life. That you educate, agitate, organise. That you never stop talking about it and so your friends stop inviting you to “chill scenes”. That you truly, truly feel it is your responsibility to understand, speak up and never stop until this war ends.
Featured Image Source: Feminism In India