I had to help myself, before I helped others.


There have been incidents in my life that have aided to the manner in which I perceive events, situations and obstacles. As a fourth grader my grandmother was hospitalized due to a cardiac arrest.  This was a sad, emotional period as I loved my grandmother who also doted on me.  She was incapacitated and required to be moved to a hospice. This was a gut-wrenching separation for my parents. The impact this had on their time management was immense, as they had to juggle between their work, home and the hospice. 

It was in the midst of this time schedule, my parents found refuge in Raj, the trusted servant who served in our home for 20 years. Raj was my father’s age, but unfortunately a sexual predator, more appropriately called a pedophile. He had earlier made attempts to attract me, through his advances, or nearness to me, and even flashing himself at me.  He used the absence of my parents to his advantage and blackmailed me with threats, should I complain to my parents. The following three months were torturous for me physically, mentally and emotionally. My grandmother passed away, and life appeared to be normal. Making a choice to disclose the weakness of the manservant to my parents, was a difficult period. They were finally faced with the truth, and after serving his sentence, Raj moved back to his hometown.

Childhood trauma of emotional and sexual advancement, characterized by mistrust of a “family member” had a detrimental effect on me, scarring me even into my adolescence. My perception of male counterparts changed since my modesty was violated. I could not muster the courage to speak about this non-consensual behavior. I suffered nightmares, a racing heartbeat, panic attacks, cold sweats and dreaded being stigmatized. My interest in games and athletics waned, as did my literary interests. The next two years were difficult growing years for me as I developed an inferiority complex. I was scared and ashamed. 

I realized the effects of childhood sexual abuse could be varied, complex besides devastating. The greater the effort to put on a brave front and move into the social circle, the more aloof I would get. Every attempt of mine to hide these feelings of shame, sickened me to the core. I spent school hours engrossed in reading, about sexual abuses and rapes on children. My frustration grew in my inability to help others, as I had not sought help for myself. This anger and feeling of self defeat, aroused my dormant spirit and determination to do something. 

I realized I had to help myself, before I helped others. The deeper the thought and desire the greater my resolve. My opportunity struck while we students were on a camp. Having befriended a classmate en route we were permitted to scout around the area, once we settled in.  A short distance away I spotted a man staring at us in an awkward manner. I was filled with fear of abuse as my mind envisioned Raj. I realized I was not alone. I stood strong as I walked towards the man and in a strong, steady voice told him to leave us alone, which he did. I then shared my agonizing story with my friend feeling the fear and anger ebbing away, as she held my hand understanding the emotion. We are friends to this day.

Life is full of surprises and opportunities and I never realized how a small situation could change my life. I was grateful to have found someone to talk to and share my emotions with. This not only made me realize the importance of speaking up but also made me realize that I had become stronger over time. The challenges life throws at you only makes you stronger!

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