I was in an abusive relationship. I was young and did not know what to expect from a romantic relationship. He was nice at first, said the right things, and made me laugh. Then he started getting angry at me over small things. He hit me the first time. I was shocked, scared for my life, and afraid I would never be able to leave. I should have left then. Over the next few months, he would hit me, bite me and even forced me to have sex with him on occasions. I felt so violated, physically and emotionally. He had emotionally manipulated me and broken me as a person for me to leave. It was hell.

I was returning from tuition classes in the public bus at 8 pm. There were only a few passengers on the bus when a middle aged man came and sat diagonal to me within my vision periphery. There were a few seats empty between him and the other passengers. He looked at me, unzipped his pants, pulled his penis out and started masturbating. I was horrified, scared out of my mind, and unsure how to react to the situation. When I got off at my bus stop, I cried all the way home. I was 15.

I was traveling with my father in the Indian railways. It was a long train journey. We had the lower berth which we shared with people during the day and at night we would make our beds to sleep there. The first night our journey was okay. The next morning, a new passenger has joined us from one of the many stops. He came and sat at the window seat right opposite me. There were several passengers with their bags and belongings sitting on the same berth as him obscuring him from public view. When my father got up and went to the bathroom, he exposed himself to me, pulling his penis out in public and looking right at me. I tried looking anywhere else, unable to believe this was happening. I didn’t know who to tell and if they would believe me. I spent the rest of the train journey shaking, quiet, and avoiding eye contact.

My father’s friend, my uncle, used to visit us often. He used to take me for walks since I was 3 years old and was very paternal when we were around people. As soon as people turned their gaze, he would kiss me on the lips. It is one of the first memories I had and it went on for a very long time. I was sure someone else must have seen this inappropriate kiss in all those years. No one had chastised him all those years and psychologically it normalised his behaviour in my head. I thought I was not supposed to be uncomfortable with it and it ruined my perceptions of what characterised appropriate and inappropriate behaviour over the years.

The first time I was “touched inappropriately, I was six. Like any kid, I used to go out into the society to play with other kids my age, and a ‘friend’ used ‘hide and seek’ as an excuse to kiss me on the lips and touch me in places. He was a few years older than me and at that age I had no concept of ‘good and bad touch’. Eventually, I decided to tell my mother because something felt a little off; children do have a sixth sense about these things. I was then asked to not go out to play anymore. Instead of confronting the boy and his family, I was the one confined to the four walls of my house. This almost reinforced the thought that what had happened was my fault, even though I was just six years old.  

I was travelling between two cities using Ola Intercity. I dozed off for a bit on the highway because I was tired and had not slept the night before. I woke up feeling a little warm and decided to ask the driver to turn up the air conditioner. I leaned forward and saw that he was driving with one hand and masterbating with the other. I asked him loudly to turn up the A/C, at which point his hand quickly moved away from his crotch and he feigned nonchalance. I did not want to confront him or ask him what he was doing. We were in the middle of nowhere and I was honestly scared for my safety.

I was twelve years old when we got a full-time male servant who was 18 years old. I started feeling uncomfortable with his presence because I started feeling his eyes on me whenever he was in the same room as I was. I wasn’t sure what to do and had never gone through anything of the sort before. He lived in the same house as I did, and I started checking each hiding spot in my room before I slept, just to make sure he wasn’t hiding to do something unsavoury. This lasted for a year until he stopped working for my family. I never told anyone about how his creepy presence affected me; it was like having a stalker live with you.

We had just gotten done with our midterms in my second year of college, and two of my friends and I were on our way over to another friends house to celebrate. I was walking down the main road, with company, when a stranger groped me, and ran off at full speed. I tried running after him, but I was wearing chappals and could not catch up.  I was obviously shaken and so were my friends. It was 7pm and the street was crowded, not that it made any difference. It was a violation of my body, and it made me angry rather than scared. To think someone would do something so disgusting with so much flamboyance and not an ounce of fear had me shaking. I went on to get a taser, just to make sure nothing like that happens again.

It was 9pm at night and I had to go to a stationary shop to print out my assignment due the next day. I was aware the streets weren’t completely safe, so I carried a cutter along with me just incase I ran into any trouble. I exited my society and started walking towards the stationary shop not 50 meters from my apartment. That’s when I saw it; a group of young men tailing me. I thought it was my imagination and decided to cross the road just to make sure. They crossed the road too. I crossed the road three times, and each time they followed. I was afraid and decided to call a male friend who I knew was in a 50 meter radius, close to the stationary shop. He understood the problem and was there in a minute, as I hid in a nearby building waiting for these men to pass. Once he arrived, the group dispersed and went their own way. Just the presence of one male sent a group of men away, even though it was obvious that I was uncomfortable with their behaviour.

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