Allow me to tell you a story. I would tell you to brace yourself, but I’m angry, and my hands shake as I prepare to write this. I have no sympathy for you.
There was once an eight year old girl who lived with her parents and her sister in a nice house just off the main street. She spent a lot of her time at the windowsill, gazing at the vehicles passing by, chin propped up on her elbow and lips curved in a small smile.
Seven years later, her habit of daydreaming never left her. She does the same, with more caution than before, a seemingly permanent frown resting on her face instead.
One sunny afternoon she saw something a little different from the usual traffic. A man was walking along the road with a big brown dog trotting steadily beside him, his fur glistening in the heat. She ran up to her father’s study and asked if she could go see the doggy. Her father rose from his chair, and took her downstairs to the shop next door. The man had settled down on a chair near the shop, with the dog faithfully by his side.
Seven years later, she sinks down in her seat everytime the car she’s in passes that very road.
Her small hands glide over the dogs silky head, as her father makes small talk with the man. He says he’s a watchman for the shop, pointing towards it, and adds that he got the dog a week ago. A giggle escapes the girl as the dog tried to lick her face. Her father says it’s time to go, so she promised to come back and see the dog again soon. The next day however, her fathers too busy to take her, and tells her to go by herself.
Seven years later, she never forgave him for it.
The watchman saw the little girl bounding up to the animal by his side. After a few minutes of her playing with it, he asked her which class she was in. The girl, unsure of whether she could divulge such information to a stranger, said ”Third,” very softly. He leaned in close. Too close. “What did you say?” His hand grabbed her elbow. Too tight. “Third,” she stammered.
“Huh?” he asked, his other hand moving to the front of her denim shorts. He had heard her. She was sure of it. What she wasn’t sure of was what his hands were doing. Her instinct was repeatedly telling her to run, but the grip on her arm was too strong. She was locked in place. Her mind raced. This was wrong. WRONG. This shouldn’t be happening, was all she could think about. It seemed like a lifetime of useless struggle and dizziness due to his hands pressing painfully into her elbow and places where no one had a right to ever touch without her consent. In case you hadn’t realized yet, yes this happened. On a main road. People and vehicles racing by. In broad daylight.
Three years later, she almost reeled over in shock when she understood what had happened to her when she was eight.
The grip on her hand loosened slightly, she took the chance and she bolted home, dropping her hairband on the way.
The next day she contemplated going again. Her father walked in, snapping her out of her thoughts. “Wanna take biscuits for the dog? You can go search for your hairband also.”
She went. Alone. Again.
He molested her. Again.
I know what most of you are thinking. Why didn’t she scream? Why didn’t she say anything? Why did she go again?
If you’re even half a decent person then those aren’t the questions you should be asking. You should be wondering what kind of people walked past her that day. How someone could do something like that to a little girl?
Five years later, she’s terrified of letting people get too close. Her heart rate spikes if a boy even accidentally brushed her hand in the hallways at school.
Five years later, she told someone about it. They told her that if she didn’t remember who it was then surely she had imagined it all up.
She refused to believe there is good in the world.
Seven years later, she knows there is.
Seven years later, she writes this story.
Seven years later, she’s determined not to let it stop her.
That girl was me.
Funny thing is, I’m not just telling you my story. I’m telling the story of a startling number of girls and boys who have been scarred for life thanks to the sadistic pleasure of a certain man or woman.
For this large number of victims not only do I want to thank the actual harassers, I want to thank all the police stations who laughed and brushed away the women who bravely reported rape or sexual abuse.
I want to thank the judicial system for treating these offenses as minor and as an irritation more than anything else.
I want to thank each and every person who blames the victim for anything that has happened to him/her.
You know who I blame the most in my case though? All the people who walked past me those afternoons. There is no excuse you can give me to justify what happened. I refuse to believe that it was my fault, because it wasn’t.
Are you trying to tell me that you would have walked past your mother, sister or daughter if she was in my place? That you wouldn’t have ‘noticed’?
I hate to use this example, but I have to. How else will your selfishness prevent you from seeing my point of view. Destroy the idea that everyone must respect women because we are their daughters, mothers, and sisters. Reinforce the idea that everyone should respect everyone because we are PEOPLE.
None of this would be complete without the people telling me that I’m overreacting and blowing things out of proportion. If you’ve read/listened carefully, you will know that I haven’t exaggerated any of it. I’ve written it as it happened, and no one can tell me to keep quiet. If my voice is all I have, then I will use it, and use it well. I refuse to remain silent, not again, not this time. I have all but one fear, which is that another person will have to go through what I did, or worse. I want to stress on the fact that one can never completely forget an event like this. You can never fully move on. You cannot possibly believe that it’s easy, because it’s not.
The saddest part is, all I’m aiming for is equal rights for everyone, which should have been provided to everyone in the first place. Are you going to blame me for that too?
From the readers of this, I ask one favor. Do not walk away this time. The world has seen enough rape and molestation. It’s going to continue to happen unless people with a voice use it. Right this instant, I want you to stop your sympathy, and instead do all that is in your power to stop this madness.
Do not walk away this time.
Continue reading “Do not walk away this time. Not now, not ever.”