Story by Pinapatti Pranathi
Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse
It all seems so cut and dry in hindsight. As if I should have realised from the beginning and somehow stopped it. But I didn’t know any better
I was 13 and went out with my cousin on an errand. I remember the rain on my cheek. The edges of my skirt were wet because we thought to take an umbrella but it wasn’t big enough for both of us. We came back; I had to change and I decided not to bother with the ensemble and wore only my favourite black bra underneath my favourite army T-shirt. I was reading the encyclopedia and he just put his hands on my breast like he fucking owned it. He didn’t. That piece of me was new but mine and he ruined it for years to come. It just spiralled from there.
I started struggling with my body and self-esteem. His insults only made it worse, I was always too hairy or too fat but just good enough for him. It's sickening to think about it, but I wanted the attention and I wanted to feel good about myself. It was all twisted in my head back then because I believed that he was the only guy who would find me attractive.
In reality, he was just taking advantage of my innocence and my candour to use me, making it seem like I started all this. It went on for years and I slowly realised he was just a terrible person and was taking advantage of me. Now, however, I had the added realisation that I was terrified of him and of anyone knowing that this ever happened. It was always so secretive because none knew except for us and it was always in public places because he couldn’t do it at home. I wanted to kill myself from shame. Even now I feel a pit in my stomach whenever I have to be alone in a room with him.
I blamed myself for it for a long time and thought it was all my fault for causing this to myself. But in reality, I was barely 14 and just realising my sexuality before it was impossibly tainted with shame. I grew up with shame. It simply surrounded me with everything that I did and I hated the way I felt in my own skin.
When I moved away from home for college, I found solace in my distance from my family. I was in a new environment where he could never touch me. I made new friends in the hostel who always had my back. Even the little things like applying make up boosted my self-esteem gradually. I attended a few therapy sessions at my campus, spilling everything to the therapist was cathartic in a way I never realised I could feel. I finally felt good.
It is not easy to just forget my past, the flashbacks still paralyse me. Still, I don’t get them as much as I used to. I am in the process of healing and in a long time, I finally love my body for what it is.