The Repercussions of Abuse
A paying guest. My father’s friend. And a blood relative – my own uncle. What do these three men have in common?
All three of them are guilty of sexually abusing me.
All three of them are guilty of robbing my childhood.
Growing up in the States in the early 80’s and in Bangalore in the late 80’s and early 90’s, CSA wasn’t really talked about. Probably because people didn’t think it existed. After all, monsters like that belong in hell. Unfortunately, they take a stroll through Earth first.
What were the repercussions of my abuse?
Well, the first time I was abused, I must have been around six or seven years old, and it was by the paying guest we had at home in the States. It was a few times, but it was blatant, disgusting, rough and enough. And I was not alone. I know the monster pawed at my friends and at my parent’s friend’s children too. I didn’t understand the full import of it, but I do remember feeling terribly, terribly dirty. I felt unclean for a long time and I hated that feeling, so I did what I thought best...I blocked the memory out of my mind entirely. I forgot it ever happened until...
I was fifteen, living in Bangalore and an uncle abused me. It was just the one time, but it was all the more devastating because it totally shattered my self-esteem. He didn’t just sexually abuse me, but he played sick mind-games as well, commenting on my body, my puppy fat and my propensity to put on weight.
And a few years later, when I’d finally shed the fat and turned into a decent looking bird if not exactly the beautiful swan, my father’s friend tried to kiss me...a big, fat, slobbering smooch which I couldn’t wash off me for days.
The effect of each abuse was severe to the point of being extreme. As a result of the first episode in the States, there’s is a huge gap in my memory. I just can’t remember what my childhood was like. Yes, there are a few hazy memories, but nothing which stands out like a bright light; nothing that comforts me. I don’t even remember our trip to Disneyland. When the second episode with the relative happened, it brought all the terrible memories rushing back...along with other sad memories.
Today, I am severely, emotionally crippled as a result of this. I can only remember sad and unhappy things that have happened to me. My happy memories are non-existent. It’s almost like nothing good ever happened to me in my life. I am constantly depressed because of this.
It kills me to hear my family and friends reminisce about their childhood as they back-slap, guffaw with raucous laughter and hold their sides from laughing too hard. And there I sit like the harbinger of gloom; a person so mirthless she can only remember being teased and taunted throughout her childhood; a person who so looked forward to her wedding, desperately wanting it to be the happiest day of her life, except now when she thinks back she can only remember an aunt making her cry and other cringe-worthy episodes; a person who tries to write down every little moment of happiness she shares with her sons in the frantic and desolate hope that at least the written word will help her recollect the sunshine moments her boys have given her.
The other damage that is a direct result of the abuse, especially by perpetrators two and three, is that I have a terrible image of myself. I have a distorted body image, I have never felt pretty enough, I have always been on the plump side with no intention of trying to correct in my younger years and I have a depressingly low sense of self-esteem. I’m not worthy of anything good. When my uncle told me that I was too fat and that I needed to lose weight, I deliberately chose not to do anything, thinking that if I was fat, I would be too repulsive for him to want to touch me again. When the puppy fat finally shed of its own accord and boys began to give me a second glance, it felt nice. More than nice actually – it was a huge ego boost. So I started to take a little interest in what I wore and how I looked. But then that old man had to go and kiss me – and it shattered me once more. If looking pretty and having a sense of worth about oneself meant inviting the lecherous paws of men old enough to be your father, I wanted no part of it.
I’m in my thirties today. I don’t have any friends from my school days. I have just one bosom buddy from my college years. I am closer to my virtual buddies than I am to the people I socialise with. And it’s all because I have nothing happy to talk about. I have scared away many potential friends because I unburden myself way too quickly and share episodes from my life which should probably be reserved for the 100th meeting or so.
I want my childhood back. I want my happy memories back. I want to be that sunshiney girl that I knew I once was.
Those bastards stole more than my innocence. They stole the very essence of happiness from my soul and everyday is a living hell.