The Monsters Under My Bed
Story by Nikita Raje
My story unfurls at the age of seven. At an age, when one is not prepared for the bitter realities of this world. I became a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of one of my father’s colleague. As a confused child I treated it like a monster under my bed, as long as I refused to open my eyes it wasn’t there.
As I went on pretending to be safe asleep, I was pushed into another nightmare. One which lasted for 14 years, from 2005 to 2019. This one was created by our driver. The horrors I had to face were many, and even though I gradually realised them for what they were, I felt paralysed and helpless to scream or wake up.
I also share the experiences of majority of women in India, of being catcalled, groped or harassed by the members of their own family (in my case, a second cousin) or strangers in public.
I disassociated myself from these incidents. I thought I remembered everything I went through and it was not something I could not handle, until I confronted the second abuser over a phone call. It suddenly felt like I was facing the monsters I had pretended not to exist. Suddenly, I could see every little detail and it was overwhelming.
That is when, at the age of 23, I opened up to my father and then to my mother. Although by the age of 13 I had begun to understand what was being done to me, it took me 10 years to find the voice to say stop and to seek help. Even though I was close to my family, I was terrified of sharing my experience to my parents, and with time that fear only increased.
I had never seen my father looking as defeated in life as I saw him when I was telling what had happened. I thought it would break my parents, but they accepted my story without finding faults and even now they remain patient and encouraging in the face of the many manifestations of my trauma that they do not completely understand.
The incidents had severely damaged the wholesome picture of love or relationships. I became very critical of myself, had low self-esteem and sought toxic relationships or situations because they were familiar. Only recently I started noticing these patterns and try breaking away from them.
It took me three years of therapy to fully comprehend the happenings and I still have a long way to go. The doctor's diagnosis for me is general anxiety disorder, PTSD, mild OCD and severe depression. Therapy, medication and above all, the support of my parents, best friend and boyfriend is what helped me come this far.
Sharing my story on multiple platforms and interacting with other survivors have fostered a feeling of solidarity. I want to raise awareness on this issue. I want to tell parents to sit with their children and tell them about safe/unsafe touch and that it is okay to create a ruckus if a person no matter what the relation is to the child, touched them inappropriately. I find solace in knowing that if my story can help even one child it will be a success for me.