Anahita shares her story on battling sexual assault

5 minutes

I am Anahita, a 19-year-old pursuing graduation in psychology in New Delhi. I am an activist, an animal lover, a writer, a musician and an artist. I love having conversations with people and travelling. As of now, my life is pretty sorted out and there is a sense of contentment. However, if we take a look at who I was a couple of years back, the picture comes out as dark and hazy. I was in depression. Alcohol used to be my escape from the agonising reality and I was not happy. The worst part being I was not able to figure out the reason behind it for a long time.

It started when I was four or five years old. I was sexually abused by an elder member of my aunt’s family multiple times in a deserted staircase of their house. It was only some months later that I got the awareness of this episode in my life. I was too young to even understand what happened, let alone report it to an elder.

Later when I was 8, an elder female friend felt my body multiple times on the pretext of playing the game, House. I did not like it but I could not gather the courage to say no to her. She was one of the only few friends I had and I feared to lose her. At 9, I was abused by an elder male cousin on the pretext of playing. My attempt to report it to my mother was misunderstood for “harmless teasing” by that cousin.

For the next two years, one of my older female cousins came to stay with us for a couple of years. She felt and kissed me and made me do the same to her, countless times in these two years. At 12, I was groped by an uncle who was about to get married. At 13, I was intensely and painfully molested by another uncle who is a father of 3 children. Again, the same male cousin from childhood molested me a couple of times when he came to visit us during the summers.

All this while, I too was scared, ashamed and guilty to talk about it to someone. At 13, I tried to talk about the ongoing abuse to an elder cousin. But I wasn’t able to express myself properly for him to understand what I was talking about. I was scared of not having anyone on my side after I disclosed it. Multiple directions from my abusers not to talk about it to anyone scared me further.

Since my body sometimes responded to the touching positively, I carried a huge amount of guilt with me. I thought it was better to stay silent.

When I was fifteen, a guy I had been talking on and off on Facebook since a couple of years started to show interest in me. He was persuasive and my self-esteem had gone down in spirals by then. I agreed to meet him. We hit off quite well. We met a few times following that and generally enjoyed each other’s company. 3 months into our relationship, he drove me to a deserted street and tried to have sex with me. I was firm on my decision and repeatedly said no. I was on my period at that time and was in a lot of pain already. He ended up raping me orally and digitally.

It took me 9 months to even consider it as sexual assault. All this while I was thinking I was an equal part of it because he was on the receiving end of oral sex. Soon after, depression, unexplained chronic illness, suicidal urges and an urge to escape the reality followed. I binge drank, self-harmed, contemplated suicide every night and decided to become a tomboy to hide my feminineness.

When it became too much to handle in September 2014, I finally sought help from an online emotional health platform. I was linked to an amazing local counsellor, who even after being a 78-year-old man understood me better than anyone else ever could. With his determined help and my will to break out of my past. I made a choice to transform my life for better.

As I sorted out myself, I made it my purpose of life to help others who had gone through child abuse. I took training in Non-Directive Counselling and started to talk more and more about my story. I did some workshops with children to help them identify and prevent abuse.

Today, I continue to heal and surprise myself in beautiful ways. I am proud of how I didn’t accept my defeat and continued to fight. I hope to make meaning out of my life and touch others lives in the process. I also hope to bring about a change in the mindset of the youth and the children.

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