Dealing with the Open-And-Shut-Case of Abuse.
I wrote this piece several years ago to process the abuse I had experienced as a teenager. It was the first step to self-recovery, the first time I could actually feel some respite from my tormenting thoughts and emotions. This is an account of the internal shift I experienced. Though I managed to see things from a higher perspective, I only found closure when I went on to confront and expose my cousin and cut ties with those who continued to support him.
I was molested. By my cousin. I trusted him. Looked up to him. Was crying in his arms. Expecting brotherly support. Instead, he molested me. 20 years ago. The scars remain. The pain is fresh. The memories vivid. They say time heals, but this wound is utterly raw.
I was 18! I was molested! By my cousin! Myriad emotions followed — shock, confusion, numbness and disbelief. Unwilling to tear him down from the lofty pedestal, I froze. Couldn’t react. Didn’t know what to do or say. Is this actually happening? Can my elder, married cousin actually be committing what seems to be an act of sexual abuse? Am I imagining this? What should I do?
Meanwhile, the molester continued molesting…
Until finally, he did something that snapped me out of my stupor: he squeezed my breast. The fog lifted. This was, without a doubt, horrifyingly wrong. This was abuse. I took a step back and angrily shouted at him. He withdrew, hurriedly apologized and left.
I was left ashamed, horrified, enraged, violated and confused. What should I do? Should I tell my parents? How?
I told my mother. She told my father. My father consulted his elder brother. They decided not to react! It was a sensitive matter, after all. The boat of family harmony must not be rocked. I was told I possibly imagined it.
Myriad emotions followed again — hurt, pain, disbelief, anger, betrayal, shock and guilt. My parents are going to let this go? How can they? Don’t they believe me? Don’t they love me? Shouldn’t they stand up for me? Maybe I did imagine it? Maybe I invited it upon myself? Maybe it is indeed my fault? Did I lead him on? After all, I didn’t stop him initially, did I?
It was an open-and-shut case. Not to be discussed again. I was expected to be cordial to this man at family gatherings — this man who everyone looked up to as a genteel, heart surgeon. My parents acted normal around him. But I couldn’t. And I didn’t. I ignored him. But that did little to heal the pain. The pain was sealed, unhealed, unresolved.
Fast forward 20 years. My maid is molested in our house while we are away. By our condominium electrician. She told no one… till the next day, when she asked me not to leave her alone with handymen. Her request made me probe. She told the horrifying tale. My husband sprang into action. Enraged, furious, determined to punish the culprit, he confronted the electrician. The accused denied the charge.
The condo management refused to take my maid’s word for it. After all, it was her word against his.
Another open-and-shut case.
My heart went out to her. She was experiencing emotions familiar to me. I explained to her that it was not her fault. How she had done her best. How she was brave to raise her voice. How her reactions or the lack of it were natural. How in hindsight it always seems we were weak and should have done so much more — slapped the offender, kicked him, or at least raised a hue and cry at the time.
But she had frozen like I had 20 years ago.
I gave her hope, tried to dispel the gloom, assured her I would speak to her husband and make sure he understood she was innocent. But it was not to be. The husband came and heard me. But she was his property after all; she must have been in the wrong, and must have brought it upon herself! She left with him, returning my house key in tears. He will not allow me to work any longer, she said. I was helpless.
They left. But my unhealed scars opened afresh. The pain ravaged me, stared me in the face. There was no respite, and I had to heal it this time.
I reopened the dark, dusty case — this time, not seeking resolution outside myself, but inside. “Why did this happen to me?” I asked, this time not directing the question to my broken mind, but to the wise, inner voice I had come to know and trust over the years.
“To make you compassionate,” my heart whispered back. “To give you a firsthand experience from which you can relate to others who have been abused and help them. It was meant to be.
Forgive yourself — you are innocent. Forgive your cousin — he was weak and impulsive and is probably living with his guilt. Forgive your parents — they were scared and weak. You scripted this for yourself, and it was meant to be this way. It could have been much worse. You wanted to feel the suffering and open your heart to others who have gone through the same. Let it go.”
At long last, a healing breeze of peace wafted through me. After 20 years. Amen.
Tara Anand, co-founder of Dhyana Life, is a Life Coach, Raj Yogi and writer based out of India. She works with people around the world, empowering them to bloom into their highest potential by forging a connection to their inner wisdom, re-patterning their mind and unlocking restricted areas of their life. A certified counselor and Yoga teacher with extensive experience in alternate healing, she is especially passionate about supporting women to lead more authentic and fulfilled lives. Her inspirational poetry has been published in the international poetry anthology, Where Journeys Meet: The Voice of Women’s Poetry (under her former name, Charu Agarwal). You could contact Tara via email, her blog, Facebook or Twitter.