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It has been quite long I experience sexual harassment for the first time. I still wish I could erase those memories but can’t really do so.
As it is a usual case in most of the middle class families that in summers we like to sleep in open. Same is case with my family and we were all sleeping on terrace just like everyday.

But something happened that night which left me horrified and now I am scared even to be alone at home. I was sleeping and I don’t know in the middle of the night I felt a hand swirling around my belly and trying to reach my breasts. It disrupted my sleep and when I opened my eyes I was shocked to see a man of around 30 years of age and he was drunk. I was dead scared and wanted to call out for help but could not utter a word out of horror. Then I somehow managed to speak something and tried to wake up my mom but she was asleep and my dad woke up from my voice.

My father saw him and he ran away. He tried to catch him but he managed to escape. I told my mom then what just happened. She then advised me to not to tell anyone about it. The incident kept me in shock and fear for many days. I now think why did my mother tell me to keep quiet.

It was not my fault. It was not something that I did wrong but I don’t know why she wanted me to tell nobody about it.

No Comments

Gender Female

Was: a victim
City: Street/Hyderabad
Was wearing long skirt and top
Reaction: Reacted (yelling, complaining, slapping, fighting back)
Incident was: One time

Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged 20-30

Experience:
Having lived in Hyderabad for as long as I could remember, I’ve always considered the city to be one of the safest places for women. You could hail a cab home as late as 2 AM and still get home safe without a shadow of doubt & fear! But it all changed a few days ago when I found myself in a very uncomfortable situation which thankfully got averted before things got too ugly.

A couple of days ago, I had purchased some new furniture to refurnish my apartment and made plans to meet some friends for dinner after. I got a little delayed with the carpenters assembling the furniture in my house but decided to meet my friends anyway since the restaurant was only 2 kilometers away! Before you speculate on what I was wearing, let me clarify that I was wearing a below-the-knee long dress and a blazer over it so yes, I was decently clothed.

I was standing around the corner from my house, waiting for an auto and I managed to find an empty auto over 10 minutes later. I had just gotten into the auto when a stranger who was walking by stops and makes an unwelcome gesture as if he wanted to kiss me. Women usually get teased on the roads all the time and men jeering at you is nothing new but this seemed different because he seemed to want to pull me out of the auto. I got annoyed and told him to mind his own business and leave me alone. He seemed a bit agitated at this, looked at my dress and tried to pull it at the knee. By then I had lost my temper and landed a huge slap on his face and asked the auto driver to start so I could just get away. Much to my disbelief, the auto driver didn’t react at all. He wouldn’t even turn his head and see what the fuss was all about. Noticing that I was quite helpless, the bastard grabbed my arm tried to pull me out of the auto. I lost my balance a little but still managed to stay in the auto because the street had gotten pretty silent and dark. I quickly reacted and started badgering his head with the iPhone in my hand and hit him pretty hard at least ten times. He shifted his position a bit and I assumed that he was finally pulling away from the fight but he suddenly groped me and tried his might to inflict pain. It all happened so quickly but as soon as he groped me, I realized that I could kick him and so I kicked him really hard in the gut, with all my strength. As soon as he fell back a couple of paces from the blow, I yelled at the auto driver to start and take me to the restaurant as soon as possible. All I wanted was to get away before the bastard could do anything else. The auto driver starts the vehicle, drives about 2 meters and stops again so he could get a glimpse of what this bastard was now doing. Fortunately, the asshole finally lost interest in fighting and walked away saying some horrendous things. Meanwhile, the auto driver takes his time before he starts the vehicle and finally began driving me to the restaurant. I didn’t know if he was amused or just didn’t care. I saw the bastard passing by the lane I live, into a parallel road of a different neighborhood. He seemed like a construction worker, was drunk and seemed to be carrying a parcel home.

On the way, I realized how everything happened so quickly and that the bastard left a few bruises and nail marks in my arm and my chest. Feeling devastated and hurt, I demanded the auto driver to tell why he wouldn’t help and if all he could do was just sit and not react when a girl is screaming out for help. To my horror, he replies saying, ‘I thought you knew the guy. Why else would he grab you?’. Utterly shocked, I yelled at him saying, ‘It’s not my fault some idiot tried to grab me and why else would I scream for your help if I wasn’t in need?’. He drove the rest of the kilometer in utter silence. Though I acted pretty quickly during the incident, I was frightened and called my friends to ask them to meet me downstairs when I got to the restaurant. I was shaking when I met them and couldn’t even drink a glass of water so they dropped me home so I could clean the wounds and get some sleep. It’s been two nights and I still can’t sleep in peace without the event playing in my head every time I close my eyes. I’m lucky I got away with just a few bruises. I hate how those three minutes robbed me of my sense of security for the neighborhood I stay in and the city I love.

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I realized that onlookers/ strangers might not even bother to react or care enough to help you out. I bought myself a pepper spray can and placed an order for a stun gun online so I can carry some kind of self defense device. At a time when there is so much public anger on the lack of safety for women, I can’t help but wonder, ‘Do people not care unless something bad happens to them personally? Or are they just being insincere?’. I’m not really close with my parents or relatives so I haven’t even told them. For all I know, they’d blame me for going out in the night. But I know I’ll get over it in time with the help of my friends. I also know that I can’t and won’t let the fear cripple me and that I’m going to do whatever I can to help support campaigns against street harassment. Over & Out.2616510-Autorickshaw_India

7 Comments

Gender Female

Was: a victim
City: Bus, Chennai
Was wearing school uniform
Reaction: Reacted (yelling, complaining, slapping, fighting back)
Incident was: One time

Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged 20-30

Experience:
It was during my 12th. My school is situated behind a Men’s College and the school’s closure timing and the college’s coincide.
I was waiting for a not-so-crowded bus at the bus stop for quite sometime. Later I had to get into a crowded one. Few of the college guys were passing explicit comments about me for which i decided ignorance is the best thing. Later, one of them tried getting close to me or i would rather frame it as molested me. I screamed at the person and kept yelling until the bus was stopped. The bus conductor tried quietening me down and completely ignored the guy who was supposed to be punished.
I wanted the bus to be taken to a nearby Police Station. But the elderly people in the bus asked me to forget the whole incident and think that none of it ever happened. The bus conductor asked me to get down the bus so that the bus can start moving again.
It feels so wrong that women always are expected to never retaliate to such situationsquiet

2 Comments

Gender Female

Was: a victim
City: Delhi
Was wearing school uniform
Reaction: Reacted (yelling, complaining, slapping, fighting back)
Incident was: Recurring

Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged Less than 20

Experience:
I have always been told that school and college are places where you are secure around teachers and friends. I have also read and understood that love is something which must not be forced upon or tortured to pursue and is a natural feeling between hearts which bloom from the wonderful feeling of friendship. I have various incidents in my life which made me an introvert inside and a tough and rude person on the outside and I will write about them in several posts following the current post.
In this post, I describe the first incident in my life which had made me lose trust on any person I meet and which makes me take a lot of time to make new friends even now.
When my sister was in her early teens and I was around 7-8 years old, we were studying in one of the prestigious schools in Delhi. Every evening, we used to walk around 4 streets from the school to our house. My sister and I were being followed by a tall dark man with a helmet on a motor bike almost every day. Initially for a few days, we didn’t react as if we noticed his act, but it became evident, when he loudly called out my sister’s name (more than once) in public and we had to turn. We were taught by our elders that we must not talk or react to any strangers and we just rushed home quickly from that spot. I wanted to tell thishadow mans to my mother, but my sister who was very scared about this issue asked me not to tell her as she didn’t want to make it a big issue at home. We had to find different ways and shortcuts to get back home and took different routes (just to cross 4 streets). Still he somehow used to find out where we were and used to follow us and pass irritating comments or sing some song with my sister’s name in it. In short, he was flirting.
One fine day, I came to know that, he was actually the cousin of one of my classmate who was also my bench mate in class. I found this guy talking to her (my bench mate) during one of our break sessions and I asked her who he was and how he knew where we lived. She told me that, he was her cousin studying in some XYZ college and he had asked her about my sister and I, where we lived etc., and she had innocently told him. I scolded her on the spot and asked her to tell him to mind his business and not disturb my sister. I had no other option but to tell my mother about it on the same day after school. My mother started accompanying us from the next day.
I started feeling really scared starting from that day when I came to know that he was my friend’s cousin. Hence, I decided that, for the welfare of myself and my sister (whom I am/was super protective about) and for the sake of my parents, who would be shattered if they hear any non-sense news about my sister or me, I must not reveal any personal details (even the place I come from/my phone number) to any friend of mine, unless I come to know that will not be of any problem to me!! Sounds bad. I know. Even if I had to give, it became a habit to warn them not to reveal my details to anyone else. I might have sounded like a paranoid to most of my friends, but I felt that, they won’t understand this pressure till they experienced similar issues.

No Comments

Gender Female

Was: a victim
City: In a sleeper bus from Mumbai to Goa
Was wearing jeans and shirt
Reaction: Reacted (yelling, complaining, slapping, fighting back)
Incident was: One time

Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged 30-40

Experience:
I clearly remember that evening. I was really excited as I was going to Goa in December 2011 to attend the Sunburn Festival. All my friends were joining me from Bangalore and I had booked myself a lower berth on a reputed sleeper bus to reach Goa comfortably overnight.

I called my mother from the bus to tell her I am safe as the seats opposite mine were booked by a family of four and there were many youngsters in the bus who were going for the festival too. The lower berth behind mine also belonged to the family sitting in front of me.

I kept my bag near my face and slept off that night. In the middle of the night I felt that something was falling on my face. I adjusted the straps of my bag and slept again. It happened again. I then felt something itching on my face. Like something touched my face. I thought it was an insect and slept again. It happened a couple of times again.  I knew something was wrong. I was up and watching. I saw a hand creep in from the seat behind me to feel me up. I freaked out and did not sleep the whole night. I kept the lights on too.

I knew the guy who was doing this act was the father of two children – from the family sitting in front of me. I wanted to yell then but I thought I would create a scene and his wife would be disturbed. I kept quiet. But I was really really angry.

I had fortunately made friends with a couple at the tea stall last night when I was standing alone. In the morning when they asked me if I slept well I told them about the entire incident. The guy (the friend) was really angry and called the man who did that act in a corner to confront him. He started apologizing straight away and begged to us not to tell his family because his children were with him.

The girl who also became my friend insisted that I tell his wife about this as such men should be punished. We went up to the man’s wife and told her about how he was trying to touch me last night from the berth behind mine. To our surprise, the lady started defending the husband! Later when I got really angry and I said I would complain to the police she said she was sorry on his behalf and that her husband had a medical problem.

I then shifted my seat and sat with the couple for the rest of the journey.

I met both kinds of people on the same bus that day. Ones who don’t care about humanity and the one who go out of their way to help you and ensure girls feel safe in any environment in our country.

I thank God for meeting those people for I myself would have never gone up to that lady / yelled at that guy because I was scared I would scar a family.

But today when I look back, I know I did the right thing because I BROKE MY SILENCE! 🙂

 

6 Comments

Gender Male

Was: a victim
City: Train
Was wearing shorts and shirt
Reaction: Moved away silently
Incident was: One time

Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged 30-40

Experience:
Just a brief about myself first…as a kid..I have always been shy type..I have been totally unaware of things or topics related to sex till quite a long time..and anything related to sex (scenes in english movies..or even rape scenes in hindi movies..which at that time were quite prominent)were considered quite inappropriate and made my parents change the channel ASAP!

Anyways…about the incident..Its been a long time…I was most probably going to Delhi with my dad (he had some medical check up)…and I must be around 10 or 11 years old..It was day time and I was sleeping on lower berth. There was this another uncle who most probably boarded the train from same station (as he has been sitting with us for a long time and had seat in same compartment), he also lied down on the seat as there was plenty of space there. Before that he had asked my dad to go and rest on top berth as he was not well that time. After some time I felt a hand on my thighs and slowly he was groping me. I was not aware of whats going on…as mentioned…I had no idea of all these things! So I kept my eyes closed as if I was sleeping (dont know why I did that!) and maybe that encouraged him and he tried sliding his hand up in my shorts. Luckily, the shorts were a bit tight maybe and he could not succeed in what he was trying.

All this time even when I had no idea of whats going on..I was a bit uncomfortable and after some time I acted as if I was waking up and he instantly removed his hand!

This incident was long lost in my memory and I somehow recalled it while reading the posts here. Luckily for me, this incident didnt traumatize me much and I later almosst forgot about it. Maybe the reason it didnt have much impact on me was my ignorance. Had I known that I was being abused at that time…or had I known what abuse is..then maybe this incident would have scarred me for life! I would say ignorance did protect me! But, having said that..somehow I still remember this incident and some parts are still crisp clear in my memory! Maybe, if I was not that ignorant kid, I would have shouted or screamed..or maybe would have just woken up..and that would have avoided this incident!

In our society, sex education to their children is something  which makes lot of parents feel awkward…but even if some parents do have “the talk” it is when the kid is grown up (and mostly knows a lot thanks to friends, etc.). I feel if the foundation of this topic is laid at a very early age and open communication is maintained..maybe a lot of such incidents could be avoided!Metro-North_train_1567_enters_Stamford

No Comments

Gender Female

Was: a victim
City: Coimbatore
Was wearing : I don’t remember
Reaction: Helpless/passively endured
Incident was: multiple times

Being a girl is never entertaining if you are leered at and hooted at like a circus animal; not because of the harassment but because of the by-products it comes with. It was never entertaining, for me, at least always. I was around 9 and I found that my breasts had started to grow. For a nine-year old, it only appeared curious – the way it grew and how it stood. For me, it only filled with thoughts like ‘what was inside it!’ ‘would it keep growing!’ and ’why are my tops getting tight?. That being said it was only an addition of my body that I didn’t know what to do with. It didn’t occur that my ‘recent’ addition could possibly look like an object of lust for a guy. That day, I had gone to the bazaar with my mom; it was crowded, as usual and the dark evening was visibly lit by the lights from various stores. My mom was holding my hand with a firm grip and was leading through the crowd; I was still a child for her. Among the bustling crowd, I suddenly felt a man’s robust hand, firm enough, reaching one of my breasts, holding it for a second and squeezing it. It happened in less than a few seconds, when my mom was still gripping my hand and walking. I was too small to be shocked, but I was scared: scared at men, men who were of the same gender of my father. That night, I told my dad, “Appa, today…at the bazaar…one guy pressed my breast like an auto horn.” I was only that innocent to come up with such analogy. My parents were obviously shocked and unanimously decided, “Let’s not take her out for some time.” For a genuine opening up it’s always loss of freedom for a girl. I started receding in and when it happened the next time, I didn’t tell a word to my parents.

I was around 10 when it happened, and I was at home with a guy who I called ‘brother’; when I thought people are what you call them by. He was an electrician and I was sticking around to see how he wires things. At one point, he pulled me towards him and started to play with me and making me laugh. He threw me up in the air and caught me; he made me sit on his lap and put his hands around and started to say stuff that made both of us giggle. I didn’t pay attention to what he said as there was something else that was holding my attention. Something was moving under his dhothi;  I felt wriggling under my thighs. And in some time, I felt it against everywhere, once against my thighs, once at my bottom, once here, once there. He was still cajoling me like a kid. It took a while to realize something was not normal. This had not happened when I sat on my father’s lap. My mom accidentally came there now, and called me aside. Her face was flushed and told me to come downstairs. I now clearly knew something was wrong; it took a bit of wrestling to come away from him. I knew what it meant only after a long time.

Now my shell had started to thicken; I had stopped talking with random guys and if I had to, I did it with utmost precaution not to let them near me. My trust on men came with great effort on both the sides which took time to overcome. I started standing up against them doing whatever I could. I thought I had the courage to fight back; I have grown strong. But a few things didn’t let me be so.

I was 22 and I went to a movie with my sister’s family. Towards the intermission, I felt fingers from behind searching for something, first from the bottom of my seat and then from the sides. My heart was palpitating and I moved to tip of my seat. I was out of reach. I was sitting at the edge and was gazing at the screen nervously.  It’s not the groping or the look that makes harassment obnoxious but the after effect that makes it  – ‘it is better when you avoid’. I wanted to stand up and kick that man’s ass. But I didn’t have the courage to do it. I would only end up losing my freedom. My sister would think ‘if this happens when we are around, then what horrible things might happen to her when she is alone’. I couldn’t afford to lose my freedom once again, and I couldn’t passively endure it. I made myself hard to reach. After the intermission, the same guy had misbehaved with my sister and she started to yell to Mother Kali. That guy, being threatened, ran off. My sister’s courage was commendable, but my courage could have backfired.

I didn’t want to experiment how they would feel if I stood up, my question of freedom is more important to me to experiment with; but I knew they would definitely be worried. A few parents live in a myth that they have to bring their daughter up sinless and pure, something like ‘untouched by human hand’. The moment you tell what has happened, that their Cinderella-like-little girl has been abused, their myth gets crushed. They are comfortable with Cinderellas locked up at home than with a girl who fights back; it eases their heart that way.

I am being whistled at, I am being bruised by dark hands and I stand up when I am alone. I avoid and don’t fight back when my family is around, with their Cinderella myth intact. Would parents call their child and ask her to ‘Stand up and be bold’ the moment she says something she doesn’t know what to do with?

 

*Name changed on request

Share your experience with us and the world! You will be helping others who went through something similar; and you will show the world what it really feels like! We will knock some sense into people, one person at a time.

Break your silence at http://ibreakmysilence.org/tell-your-story/ or you can also call us at 07696078820 to talk to us.

No Comments

Gender Female

Was: a victim
City: Pondicherry
Was wearing chudithar/salwar kameez with dupatta
Reaction: Helpless, Passively Endured
Incident was: One time
IMG_8854
Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged 30-40

Experience:
This is an unforgettable incident because it happened on my birthday. I was on my way back from Chennai to Pondicherry that Sunday evening. It was around 9:30 PM. Really glad that i had bumped into my roommate on the way back from bus stop to the hostel, i was walking along with her discussing how my day had been. On the way towards the hostel, in the middle of a residential colony, a guy in a cycle came in my direction, groped me and whizzed past before either my roommate or i realised what just happened. Never had i felt so powerless, never so humiliated. I was wearing a traditional chudidhar with dupatta pinned on both sides. I was walking in a safe residential colony. I was not alone. This was not supposed to happen under such circumstances. And yet, there i was, watching the bastard cycle away into the dark, not knowing how to get back at him.

That was the day i truly realised that no matter how modestly i dressed, there are always men who would continue to stare below my neckline, who would continue to grope me in public. All the stigma attached to “modern clothes” was just rubbish.

No Comments

Gender Female

Was : a victim

City : Chennai

Was wearing : school uniform

Reaction : Moved away silently

Incident was : multiple times

Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged 30-40

I am sharing few incidents that hurt me the most during my child hood.

I was in 4th or 5th standard then. My father was a business man & my mom was supporting him in his business. Everyday they would leave early in the morning and sometimes returned home as late as 10  or 11 PM. During weekends, they take me with them to their office. Sometimes I refuse to go with them as it was extremely boring to sit at the office, doing nothing and preferred to stay at home.
One evening, I was watching TV lying on an easy chair. It was almost 8 PM and my parents had not returned. My neighborhood uncle, aged 35 – 40 years, came inside asking me if he could watch the TV with me as the TV in his house wasn’t working. I got up in respect, offering him the easy chair. He asked me sit on it and sat down on the floor beside me. After ten minutes, he suddenly took off my frock and started fingering. I was taken aback and did not know how to react. I became numb. I was blaming myself for not wearing underwear. He would stop every 5 to 10 minutes to see if anyone is coming and continue. I did not know how to stop him; I was praying that no one should see this as I was afraid that people might call me a bad girl. After about two hours, my parents came home.
Hearing their footsteps, he quickly covered me with my frock. My parents were surprised to see him and thanked him for looking after me when I was alone.

Once again when I was alone, he tried to use the situation. I got irritated and called him a dog. Then I shut the door in front of him and did not open it until my parents returned. He got frightened and went back. I then realized how I should react to him to send him away. But still he would disturb me whenever I were alone and try to use the situation. But I escaped from him by shouting back and
locking myself inside our house.

One noon I was returning home from school. As I opened the main gate of our house, a fat man, who came in a bicycle, stopped at our house and came to me asking for an address. Like a child, I told him where it was. He slowly asked me which standard I studied and if there were any health inspection in our school. It somehow coincided that there was indeed a health inspection that day. I told him yes and that the health checks are due to me the next day. He said he is a member of the campaign and started pressing the sides of my breast. He asked me if it hurt, I said no, thinking he is really checking my health. Then he asked me to turn back, raised my uniform and removed my underwear. He then put his palm between my buttocks and fingered my vagina from behind. He asked me if it pained. This
time I said yes, to stop him from doing it, realizing his real intention. Then he asked me to turn front to see my front part. I said no I would not. He kept talking with me for few minutes to see if I would accept. I said a strong no and then he went away in his cycle. I was feeling shameless for not realizing his intention in the first instance. I was blaming myself for being so innocent.

I had gone for a wedding with my parents when I was around 12 years of age. A guy, aged 20 approximately, was constantly watching me wherever I went. I found it uneasy but thought it is normal for guys to see girls in weddings. I wanted to go to the washroom and called my mom to accompany me. But she told me where it was and asked me to go on my own. When I was sitting in the closet, someone pushed the door hard to open it (the door was made of just an ordinary metal sheet). Even before I could get up, the door was opened and the guy who was watching me throughout the wedding was standing out. He watched me for almost 2 minutes and quickly went away hearing someone coming. I felt ashamed and ran to my parents. On my way, I saw him sitting with his gang of friends and having a nice gala time. I was bursting inside and hurriedly asked my parents to leave. My mom scolded me for asking them to leave so early. I was unable to tell my mom what happened and was silently blaming her inside my mind for not accompanying me to the washroom.

I am now the mother of a 2 years old baby girl. I do not trust any of my neighbors and ensure that she is not left alone with anyone. I will educate her on good touch & bad touch and teach her how to react if anyone ever tries to misbehave with her. I will tell her that it is not her fault and not to feel guilty if anyone ever behaves that way. Most importantly, I will ask her to share every incident with me. I think this is every parent’s responsibility.

easychair

1 Comment

Gender Male

Was: a victim
City: Main road in Chennai
Was wearing school uniform
Reaction: Helpless, Passively Endured
Incident was: One time

Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged 40-50

Experience:
What could possibly go wrong by just accepting a ride back home from school?

The incident happened when I was in high school (standard XI).  I was walking home from school when an old(ish) man with grey hair and riding a motorcycle, stopped and offered me a ride till the bus stop at the end of the road. I figured I was lucky that day since I had never got an offer from any stranger before, and I was in a hurry back home anyway; I accepted the ride. Halfway towards the bus stop, he asked me where my house was; I told him, and he replied that he is anyway going somewhere close by and he can drop me in a bus stop near my house. I agreed a second time, thinking that I was lucky after all.

However, soon after, in the middle of the road, he stuck his hand behind him, and started rubbing my genital organ. I resisted his advances, but I did not have the nerve to react or fight back. This went on for a little distance, and then he took my hand in front of him & forced me to rub his organ. I resisted a bit more, at which point he threatened me saying, “Don’t act like a good boy. I know what you do when you boys are alone.” (By the way, he spoke fluent English.) I was initially too stunned at that comment to react; slowly I mustered my courage and forced him to stop by threatening him that I will try to get the attention of a traffic cop standing nearby.

I got down immediately after he stopped the vehicle, but he didn’t let me go completely. He caught my hand, forced it up on his genitalia and asked me to squeeze it for him. “One hard squeeze, and I will let you go.” I was just thinking of getting out of there asap, so I first obeyed him instinctively. But he was not satisfied with my squeeze, asking me to tighten my grip more & more. When I couldn’t take it anymore after a stage, I just loosened my grip and repeated my warning that I will call for attention unless he lets me go. He relented finally, and I walked away.

Aftermath: I was quite shocked for a few days after the incident. Fortunately, however, the incident was rather brief, and it did not leave any long-term or disastrous impact on me. I do think about it from time to time, feeling embarrassed by my helplessness in that situation. Finally, this incident remained a complete secret for about seven years, until I told my friend last year. I did not know how to bring it up with my parents, friends, or teachers.Photo-on-2-22-13-at-6.26-PM

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