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Mother, writer and daydreamer. Also chocoholic and chick-flick lover. But mainly mommy. To two boys, at that! When not escorting my Elder One (EO) to karate class, I'm trying to get in as many cuddles as possible from my Younger One (YO). And when not doing either, I'm hard-at-work trying to maintain a steady relationship with my laptop. And as for the Man I Married (MIM), well, let’s just put it this way – even though we share a bedroom, our most meaningful conversations are held over the cell-phone!

Monday, April 4, 2011

CSAAM -- April 2011 : A Survivor's Story -- Mine

For years I have wanted to talk about this. I didn't know how. This initiative has given me the space and the courage to do so. If my story can help even one person, my effort will not be in vain...

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.


Aneela Z said...

B, there is a lot here I can identify with and I can understand now my erratic behaviour regarding the "circle of trust" ...I think this month will be helpful in other ways too, understanding ourselves and the things we do.

Shachi said...

wow! It takes an enormous amount of courage to pen this down - I applaud you for that. I think this is the first step towards healing. I hope n pray that happy memories stay :)

WhatsInAName said...

Hugs to you, mammamia! Did you ever try to share these incidents with your parents? I have always urged my daughters to let me know if anyone touches them in any uncomfortable way. I guess this is the only thing we can do as parents :(( and I curse these men a horrid slow end when they would want to repent but there would be no turning around !!!

Debosmita said...

B, I applaud you for finding the courage to write this post and I am sure you will feel much better now. I only know you through your blog and I always visualised you as this ever-smiling, pleasantly chubby (from FB pics) and a beautiful woman. This was a shock and more than the incidents, the aftermath pained me most.
I sincerely hope that as more and more people are made aware of this menace called CSA, less children will be at danger.
My hugs and love for the young you who had to go through it three times.

eve's lungs said...

B I am too shattered to comment . Hugs .
This is the first step to healing - speaking out about it.

Sue said...

You know something, Mamma? You're really pretty. I've always thought so, since the first time I saw a pic of you. You're really pretty and you make lovely memories for the people around you. Really truly.

CSA Awareness said...

Thank you for such a bravely honest post, M4. We hope it is a big stride ahead on your path to reclaiming your life and self-esteem.


Rohini said...

What Sue said. You are really pretty. And a pox on all of those effing b******s for messing with you and your self-esteem.

R's Mom said...

Hugs takes a lot of courage to come out with this...

Swaram said...

I agree with Sue and Rohini. And am not saying this JLT. U r so pretty and one of the few who are as beautiful at heart too!
***** to those morons! Hugs M4.

chandni said...

hugs to you. It takes a lot of courage to be able to say it out loud, let alone writing it down. But I do believe it will help the healing process.

God knows, I am still looking for courage to pen down what I have in mind, and as the day of posting comes closer, I feel more and more chicken.

But looking at you and so many people who have found it in them to talk about it will give me the strength.

lots of love always.

noon said...

HUGS to you Mmia. I am in shock. You come across as such a happy and confident and lively person - I almost cannot relate this post to you. Amazing what these jerks can do to lives. It takes a lot of courage to write about it openly. I applaud you for that. Is that slimy uncle alive still? I hope he suffers a lot in death - drags out and rots - if he is still alive. All of them for that matter. My friend went through this with her grandfather. The head of the clan really speaking. Every one treated him like a saint I believe. And he did that to her. Such horrible monsters.
I feel so bad for how you feel...but I am so so glad you have a wonderful husband and awesome kids now.

pseudo intellectual said...

you are very pretty. you are very brave. and you're a beautiful person in your own right. repeat this as a mantra whenever you find yourself feeling low.
as themadmomma told me (and i am passing it on)... don't let the memories destroy you. you're bigger and better than those bastards.
(i confess i am not a little freaked out by HOW SIMILAR our experiences are... right down to blanking out the memories).

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Thank you all...for your hugs, kindness and words of strength, of encouragement. As you can imagine, this is probably the most difficult post I ever had to write.

Originally, I was going to post it anonymously through the CSA blog. But then I decided to 'come out' and own it, thinking that maybe it might help someone I knew.

It has. A friend of mine who has been through the most horrific abuse imaginable opened up to me after reading my post. My effort has not been in vain...

But on this note, I want to say that I would never, ever in a million years have imagined that my friend - such a positive, lovely, cheerful girl - had such a scarred and traumatic past, one that still haunts her. That's what some people have said after reading my post as well.

It's sad isn't it? Here we are, two seemingly happy, normal individuals with a shared history of shame, torture, guilt and despair. Who knows how many more there are like us. The answer, I'm quite sure, is a depressing, far too many.

Shuktara said...

When something really touches me, I always feel like my comments don't even come close to expressing my feelings. This will be one of those times, let me warn you in advance.

Thank you for providing me with one of those times where I felt like there was another version of me out there. And not the happy, confident version; the version I try to clamp down upon. I think you know what I mean?

And engrave this into your head and heart: you're a very pretty woman. I promise I'm not just saying that. I thought that the first day I saw you at TCA. Second thing to engrave: you have a lot of great things going on in your life, some of which I wish I had.


Deej said...

I know how you feel, for a variety of reasons. So, hugs babe. Don't let the bastards win.

Anonymous said...

'history of shame...' - THAT IS THE CRUX. Why do we victims feel the shame? Should not the sleazy perverts be the ones to feel ashamed of themselves and what has happened?! When will things change.. will they EVER?! But yes, thanks to CSAAM, we are all more aware, and in a strange way, more emboldened, because atleast we know we are not alone!

pushpee said...

The more stories I read, the mosre I realize this world is not a safe place to live, there are perverts everywhere who are destroying the self esteem of beautiful girls..bless u for ur courage in writing this down

starry eyed said...

Gosh. I'd read this on the CSA blog, but didn't realise it was your story (not that it matters who suffered, it's a trauma for every survivor).

I can identify with some of what you feel, even though I didn't experience CSA. I've suffered pretty severe emotional and verbal abuse, tho'. Abuse of any kind tends to have lifelong effects. :(

I haven't seen a clear pic of you, but you come across as utterly gorgeous in your soul and your heart, and these jerks can't ever touch you there, M4. Never. Remember that.


Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

@ Shuktara: Sometimes, I am left wordless when I need them most. Like now, for example. I'd read your comments quite some time back, I just don't have the right words to thank you.

In the past few weeks, you have provided me with one of the best experiences here in Cal. I can never thank you enough for that. You have made me a part of something so big and so beautiful, that I sometimes wonder how I could be so lucky. It has been an incredible journey so far and the process of self-discovery as well as bonding has been tremendous.

Thank you Shuki. For your words, your thoughts, your vision, for everything.

Prabhakar said...

Really disgusting.

I wish you had reported this to your Momma, the first time it happened.

With deepest sympathies,

M. Prabhakar Rao,
[Author of "Mayhem of the Miserables!"]

Iya said...

Hugs M4. It takes a lot of courage to write this down. I hope this will lead you to healing. hugs and prayers.