‘I called him bhaiya, yet he raped me over and over again

‘I called him bhaiya, yet he raped me over and over again

She speaks out for others who have been abused, but this 19-year-old student still hasn’t been able to open up to her parents

‘I was too young to know how to protest, how to make my parents understand that I was being raped, again and again.

In villages, everyone knows everyone else, in fact most of us are related. My rapist was a distant cousin. He was in college; I wasn’t even 10 years old. I called him ‘bhaiya’ (brother), yet he raped me each time I went to his house in our village in Haryana.

My mother would send me to his house to buy milk. That’s when he’d rape me. At that age, I couldn’t understand what was happening but I knew it was not right.

I would protest when my mother asked me to get milk, but couldn’t muster the courage to tell her what was happening to me. Every time I refused to go she asked me why. Finally, she started going to get the milk herself.

Read other first person accounts from the series here

The abuse stopped when we moved to the city. A few years later, that cousin came visiting. He was married. I turned and ran to my room, and refused to come out. My parents scolded me for behaving badly. My heart yearned to tell them but courage failed me again. I was around 12 at that time. I never saw him again.

Last year, after I joined college, I heard about a voluntary organisation that encouraged people to break their silence around sexual abuse and harassment. I joined the group. Just being part of the group has made me realise that there are more people who have been sexually assaulted than I ever imagined.

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In the group, I gained the confidence to speak, and with that came the conviction to question all that was wrong around me. Now, if I see someone staring, pushing or trying to grope someone, I shout to him to stop. The sad part is that others don’t come forward to help or support. They just watch; this needs to change. Only if we rise collectively, can we hope to instill fear in the hearts and minds of those who sexually harass women.

We need to have these conversations not only to heal ourselves but also warn others of the dangers they face, and the action to take in such circumstances.

My parents are still unaware of what I’ve faced. I know the consequences of having this conversation but I want to share my real name soon. A beginning has to be made.

This story is part of a series in which survivors of sexual violence share their experiences to help others open up, and heal their own trauma.

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