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Gender woman

Was: a victim
City: Elevator/Sharjah (U.A.E)
Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged 30-40

Incident was : One time

Reaction : Reacted (yelling, complaining, slapping, fighting back)
Was wearing school uniform

When I was in the second grade, returning from school, I got into an elevator with another man. He waited for me to key in my floor number until he pressed the one below. Fortunately, mine was 2 so he pressed 1.
As the elevator stopped on the first floor, he asked me to get out with him. I was hardly 6. I got nervous.I knew I couldn’t but what do I tell this uncle? He asked me my name..I knew I should not tell him my real name so I whimpered ‘Sujatha’…
Blocking the elevator’s

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doors with one hand, with the other he touched my face, then he ran his hand down my entire tiny frame stopping momentarily at my female parts. I was 6 but I felt so ‘ashamed’.
As a child, you know a bad touch from a good touch, but when someone touches you wrong…you feel guilty and ashamed and in ways you can never imagine, you end up blaming yourself over and over.

The rest of my memory is very hazy. He started to drag me out but I was screaming and not letting go of something I was holding on to, cant remember what it was. I had a roll of chart paper which I was trying to defend myself with. Suddenly, he stepped back and the doors quickly shut. To this day I keep thinking how I managed to escape. He would have probably dragged me out, violated me and run away …or would he have kidnapped me …or …

I couldn’t describe any of that to my brother or my mother or my father. I told my brother the first toned down version which was ‘a man (no he wasn’t uncle anymore..) asked me to go with him in the first floor but I didn’t. As for my parents, I am not sure I even told them anything, it was my angry brother (who was 11 at the time) who spoke for me…I just couldn’t bring myself to narrate the harrowing details, which I didn’t even have words for.

I never spoke much about this incident, and I carried it with me for years. It became a distant memory but resurfaced in its intensity whenever something similar happened again. My mother would ask me to go buy groceries from the store downstairs, I would readily go because there used to be this sweet shopkeeper named Basheer. But one day, they hired someone new. Someone who would pinch my chest and sneer…nope nothing there..yet. I’d refuse to go buy milk after that. Why was it so hard to explain this to anyone?

Fast forward to 2012 when mom and dad are watching Satyameva Jayate, episode on Child Sexual Abuse. That’s when it dawned on them. That’s why she never wanted to go to that store, that’s why she used to abhor that man…

That day, fortunately I made it out of that wretched elevator, but I never found my words until much later.

In college. As I opened up to my closest friends, I found that I was not alone. Many of them had faced similar experiences…at the hands of family members or house keepers or watchmen or school bus drivers…a harsh truth of how rampant a problem it really is and yet how hushed up.

Finding my words strengthened my resolve to never take it again.