Discovering one’s identity is a lifelong process filled with hope, fear, trial, error, gain, loss and eventually, a disgruntled acceptance of the truth that one is indeed mortal and therefore imperfect. There is no ‘end’ or conclusion to this journey of discovery, it begins as we are born, and (depending on individual spiritual views) carries on to other worlds via our spirits or fades away and is forgotten.
An Ugly Childhood
For me, the search for my own identity so far has been enlightening, painful and filled with moments of joy and learning. I was subjected to over 25 counts of childhood sexual abuse, rape and incest from ages 8 to 19; experiences which threatened to destroy my journey towards self discovery and a normal life. The uphill struggle to overcome the rage and confusion which followed helped to a large degree in developing both my character and personality, which I would like to think of as flawed but pleasant!
My parents separated a few months after I turned five. My world shattered into little pieces, and the thought of picking up and moving forward seemed impossible. I felt vulnerable and alone in a world that didn’t care.
By the time I was eight, I was visiting my father on weekends, and looked forward to bonding with him. It was during one of these visits that the apartment caretaker molested me on the pretext of showing me around the apartment block’s auditorium. The experience made me angry and guilty at the same time, and I recall the response of my father’s female cousin when I told her about the experience. She laughed at me and asked me what I had done to make him assault me. I reacted by cutting my hands with a piece of broken glass, feeling that if I made myself ugly, I could avoid encouraging the abuse.
Needless to say, I was unsuccessful and endured abuse many times despite my efforts at ‘uglyfication’.
Like most children, I picked up traits and characteristics based on the way the adults in my family behaved. From my father, I picked up the ability to communicate with anybody; from my mother, the sometimes-dangerous ability to put others’ needs before my own. I discovered a resilience within myself, which was strange considering that my self-harming tendencies followed me well into my late adult life. Another pleasant discovery was my enjoyment of books. I read them and began writing my own little series of stories about a girl who was a student by day and a crime fighter by night!
I sometimes wonder how I survived the sexual abuse and the general reaction of people to my disclosures of it. Some family members questioned my sexual orientation (as I had been abused by a female on three occasions), while some were hostile and disbelieved me, calling me a lying brat.
Friends too, did not stand by me when I confided in them about a ‘boyfriend’ who would try forcing himself on me during sleepovers when everyone else was sleeping. He denied it outright in their presence, but acknowledged it to me when I confronted him alone. He did not apologise however, and while we are still friends today and I have forgiven him, the memories of those nights will take time to fade. I suppose I have survival instincts or large dollops of good karma that has kept me going.
The Journey to Self-Discovery
I am 26 years old now and I in the process of discovering who I really am and what my purpose in life truly is. I started a movement against child sexual abuse when I was 10 years old, and while that movement still exists in the form of the NGO, Elaan: Combat Child Sexual Abuse, I do wonder if there is more in store for me beyond being an advocate for survivors of sexual assault. While in Los Angeles, California in March 2012, where I received the Drawing Hope International Point of Faith Award for my work against CSA, I had the opportunity to self-introspect a little. Having given up on college, post-completion of my A-levels from the Calcutta International School in 2003, I miss the thrill of studying and exams, and hope to earn a college degree soon. Travelling and time away from home always rejuvenates and revives my inner author and one day before my time is up, I hope to publish my account of surviving childhood sexual abuse and inspire others to heal and survive from their pain.
Overall, the journey towards self discovery for me has been a long and tiring one. And I feel that there is much more for me to learn about myself and about other people as well.
The Fighter Within
I am a fighter and will not give up on battles that I feel are worth fighting. I have been questioning society’s rulebook in which there are rigid ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ and wonder as to how relevant they really are, considering that in my world, I was mocked and punished for being sexually assaulted while all the perpetrators who assaulted me were not held accountable or punished. Inside me lies the desire to bring balance to the world, to rid it of people who are evil and to give justice to all who deserve it. I have never been capable of putting forth a diplomatic, harmless or safe perspective and have suffered for it. However, I have no regrets, as I would rather be known for being someone who spoke her mind freely, rather than one of those people who ‘say the right things’ on autopilot.
My father’s untimely death from cancer in April 2012 was a rude shock to me. It woke me up to the fact that I had stopped travelling, stopped fighting and more than anything, had stopped making the best of my life.
I have recently restarted my journey and hope to discover things about myself, both pleasant and otherwise and want to be remembered as a fighter. I want to be able to write at least one book about the things I have discovered and hope that it is large, filled with adventure and abundant laughter.
I was subjected to over 25 counts of childhood sexual abuse, rape and incest from ages 8 to 19 years; experiences which threatened to destroy my journey towards self-discovery and a normal life.
Volume 2 Issue 1