What comes when the worst is over

CHALLENGE ONE : THE AFTERLIFE OF A RAPE VICTIM

Last week, I started a new concept on my blog… that of accepting topics to write upon from my readers – “Challenge Accepted“.

My first challenge came from a fellow blogger, Subhrashis, and the topic I am given, is the afterlife of a rape victim.

Here I am, writing on this, and hoping that I do justice to such a sensitive and grave topic.

As my challenger rightly pointed out, a lot has been said about the act of rape and the consequences per say. But how many of us, have actually thought of the life of the victim from the social angle.

We very easily pity that the victim goes into depression, does not have the courage to ‘face the world’ for no fault of her’s, et all… Anyone can tell this after watching a few movies. But all this is very easy to see on television sets and movies. Yes, I am calling it easy. Why? Because, now think, that when you and I flinch seeing this when we know it to be unreal, can we even start to think of the mental state of the victim, who has not to just go through the act itself, but also speak of it repeatedly, in court and to everyone.

I am in no way claiming to know everything or even anything of the life of a victim after the incident. The best I could do is to do some research and interview one such victim (over the phone).

For obvious reasons, the name is not being disclosed.

Note – Parts of the conversation which included overlapping talk or broken statements (like in any normal conversation)  have either been removed or edited (with no change to the matter) to make the interview easily readable.

“Me : Before I even start on this, let me tell you, that you have the complete freedom to tell me to stop even before I start or anytime during this conversation. Making you uncomfortable is the last thing on my mind.

Victim: Yes, I understand this, and I am happy you are giving me this option as I hardly had any option in any such conversation before this.

Me : I will not bother you by asking you to relive the whole experience of the incident but will focus on the life after that. Is that fine with you?

Victim: Here is where it starts, you along with everyone else, ask me not to recount the incident but it has to be understood that by even the mention of the incident, it is recounted to me myself and after that, speaking it out loud or not hardly makes a difference.

Me: I am so sorry.

Victim: But it’s not your fault (she said this only because I was sounding very guilty at this moment).

Moving on to the question, you might be surprised to know that the act in itself is hardly physically painful. The pain is psychological during the act, and many times over after that particular ordeal is over. (The explanation of this sentence came later, when she told me that a woman who has had a sexual relation in her life at any point would most probably not be physically pained by the act, but the pain would be of the intention of the rapist to have an non – consented physical relation)

Me : You reported the case to the police. What happened there?

Victim: A few hours after the act, my husband returned home and I told him the whole incident. I did not recognize the rapist, but I told my husband that I would do my best to describe him to the police. When we went to the police station to lodge a complaint, the person in charge there was extremely casual. He asked me to recount the whole incident. I broke down several times while doing so, and all that I received from the inspector during such breakdowns was “जल्दी करिए मैडम, और भी cases देखने हैं (Hurry up madam, we have more cases to deal with)”. It left me and my husband shocked. And this is how it went at every step up to the court.

Me: Was the situation any better in court? ( foolish question)

Victim: In court, it was as if hell had broken loose. The prosecution council was a sensible enough man to try and make me comfortable but the defense counsel, in doing his job, made me describe the incident part by part (here she meant her body parts and not parts of the incident). It was horrifying. I thankfully had my husband by me, to support me.

Me : I do not wish to take you through this incident again, though by now I know that my saying or not saying this is not going to stop the nightmares coming back to you at this moment. Let me jump to the judgement and the life after that.

Victim: The judgement was in our favour and the man was punished. (The man was behind bars for a week before he was let off due to political influence.. but that’s not what I am dealing with today). The day the case ended, our lawyer came and told us that the nightmares were over and that I could now live in peace. How I wish he would have been right.

Me: Was life after the case tough? (another silly question)

Victim: By this time, most of my relatives and my entire neighbourhood knew of the incident. When I thought I could finally rest in my house, I was constantly answering phone calls and visits of ‘well wishers’ to know how I was. Not just this, walking out on my street became a fresh nightmare as everyone would whisper seeing me. I heard statements like, “Don’t interact with her. She’s a rape victim.” I was wishing to ask this particular lady if being a rape victim was a contagious disease, that she so shunned me, but I knew making it an issue was hardly the answer. What surprised me most is the fact that I lived in an ‘educated society’.

Me : So, did this go on for a long time?

Victim: It went on for a year, after which, being unable to take anymore, my husband and I shifted to another city where, thankfully, no one knew of the incident. We had a much more peaceful life then, except for the occasional relative who would ‘feel so sorry’ for me that (s)he would nearly announce his/her grief throughout my new neighbourhood. After six months, my new neighbourhood became the same as my old one, only the degree and frequency of the whispers were less. This forced us to shift again, and I had braced myself for such a lifestyle for the rest of my life. It is here when my husband took a bold decision to cut off from relatives so as the incident to not repeat itself. We told no-one of our new whereabouts and since then life has been better, much better.

Me : Is there anything you would want to say to the public at large?

Victim: Nothing. Someone saying something is not going to change the minds of the people. All people, especially the ‘educated ones’ need to realize that me and other women like me can be helped not by feeling sorry for us but by making us a part of society again. We are no different than you.

But in a country where untouchability was the law and where till date discrimination is considered higher than equality, maybe me and others like me are expecting too much.”

This interview left me with a lot to think about. I will leave my readers with the harsh but true words of the victim. It is upto us, and each and every one of us to realize that making them feel special, and extra cared for etc is not what they need. (In the words of my challenger), ” the society has to mature to make the victim feel comfortable….treat the victim normally just like anyone else…the victims should not feel like they are different…they have the right to live a normal life…”.

P.S. The Victim was lucky enough to have such a nice man as her husband who stood by and supported her through all this. Are we all ready to be such people as the husband? Or are we the ‘well wishers’ of the victim…. think about it.

P.P.S. A fellow blogger of mine (see here) is a survivor (or as I have wrongly called such ladies, a’victim’) of this wrong. It is heartening to see her fight back for her normal life. Do drop by and hear her out.

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52 thoughts on “What comes when the worst is over

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  7. I read this already from SUBs blog and I was speachless with his great idea and how nicely u took up the challenge.. hats off to u.. the truth of todays.. yesterdays.. and day before’s society..
    we need to change and let evolution enter our thoughts too..!
    This is a good spark.. Hats off..

  8. i was in grief… thinking… about an incident where i hurted my friend with words… but then the bold answer from lady made me feel good…
    thanks to her frankness

  9. This is my first visit to your blog. And I must say, you did more than justice to the topic given! Great post on such a sensitive topic really… And as far as the topic is concerned, I don’t have any comments… Makes me feel, there are more educated fools than the so called uneducated… It surely does leave the reader with some thoughful thoughts…

    BTW, thanks SUB for giving a link to this post…

    • Thanks for visiting, and I do hope you keep returning. And thanks a ton for the appreciation.
      I do agree that ‘educated’ people today have nothing but book knowledge, common sense and sensitivity are a lost cause today.
      I am glad that my post left some thoughts as that is the whole purpose of thoughtful thoughts.
      Hope to see you again soon.

      P.S, I am eternally grateful to Sub for the link.

  10. beautifully and brilliantly written
    u have done full justice to the topic
    hats off to your effort
    well done
    this post of yours will really have an impact on the society……..

  11. Thank you for writing this article. That being said, I think that it is important for you to understand something. And it is something that many “rape victims” do not understand. We are not victims. We are survivors. When we let ourselves be labled victim and we live the life of a victim, we let that person who violated our very being win. It is only through getting past that and becoming the survivor that we can begin to rebuild our life. Begin to get back to the life we wanted. It is never really over. The pain of what happened will always be there for us. We learn to get to the point where it no longer rules or ruins our life.

    Thank you.

    • First of all, thank You for dropping by, reading and sharing what you think. It means a lot to me and to thoughtful thoughts.
      It is heartening to see people moving from being victims to survivors. That’s the biggest step and my point is just that the person going through this needs to have a mature society around. Well-wishers, the kind i mentioned in my post, whether consciously or unconsciously, keep making the person feel victimized and this outlook needs to be changed.
      Thanks again for coming.

      • I agree with you fully that people do continue to make the person who has gone through this feel victimized. Even my husband sometimes does this, though he really means well and just doesnt understand. I spent a lot of years feeling like a victim. Then I saw someone say that no, I wasn’t a victim. That I had survived what had happened to me and come out the other side much stronger than I knew I could be. This is all I was saying. It is important to those of us who have gone through this terrible thing to have people stop calling us victims and start calling us survivors. That gives us the empowerment to move forward and stop feeling like victims.

        • It’s absolutely great to hear that you are emerging as a stronger person. It truly gives me hope for all women who have had to face this. As I was saying to someone else also today, I have learnt that calling such women victims was a mistake I made. Be it online of offline, my perspective has changed.
          I am truly grateful to everyone who has spent their time on this post, as it is because of all of you readers (and the survivor who was kind enough to grant me an interview) that has made me learn so much on this subject.

  12. You dealt with such a grave topic with sensitivity. Kudos. It is such a harsh and cruel social stigma that defiles the victim’s psyche and scars her for life. No punishment would befit this despicable act. The least we can do is to try to heal the scar by reaffirming them in the society.

    Education is not related to people’s irrational prejudices and hypocrisy. Sensitivity, understanding and rationality come from within.

  13. Fantastic job lady…
    topics like this r usually left unsaid and we all (educated intelligent) r hardly ever free to give our so called “precious” time in such discussions, but posts like this at least make reader think about the filth n plights of our society.
    Fantastic read !!!

  14. First, we live in a pathetic society. Second, if anyone had suffered anything bad in their life, the best thing you can do it to treat them normally which means no sympathy. Give them respect as they are so strong to face the world, many of us won’t dare to come out of house if we caught stealing.

    Great post, thanks to Subhrasis and kudos to you…

    • How very truly said. But oft their bravery is taken to be shamelessness… society needs to really grow up in their thinking.
      And I owe a lot to Subhrashis for the challenge. It made me think of these things.

  15. @Janhvi: All I have the appreciations for you to accept this challenge….though the topic was too sensitive but u handled it really well….a painful read with last two lines making everyone thinks if we are the one who can change it…than why not now!!!!!

    • Thank you Hemant. I just tried to put forth how i saw it, along with the interview. I truly pray that we all learn that this change is a necessity and it has to be done now!

  16. OMG Jo…. what a disturbing read. Kudos to you for handling such a sensitive issue.
    I must say though that it is hardly surprising. In a society which still blames a woman’s dress, talk, actions etc for “attracting” unwanted attention and somehow implying that it is always the woman’s fault, be it eve-teasing or rape, people will stigmatize the victim. The guilty is let off with the outrageous reasoning, “afterall he is a man!” WTH!?!
    It is high time that such thinking changes!

    • Thank you.
      I hope that such thoughts disturb everyone enough to think of their thought process and that someday we will all grow up enough to accept them as a part of society.

  17. Perhaps, by the mere mention of any related incident on anyone else or being cinemated on TV would make the victim cringe and relive all those moments again.
    It is those well wishers with malicious intent that adds fuel to the agony. Because they aren’t really sorry for the state, but are just applying salt and pepper.

    A touching read.

    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

    • Thank you for appreciating my effort.
      It is indeed the well wishers, who, consciously or unconsciously make life worse for the victim. Everyone needs to mature in society.

  18. just came here through SUB’s blog post….

    About the post……well this is what happens with rape victims when they intend for justice and tries to get the culprit booked…thankfully in this particular case her husband was supporting her morally but there are incidents when even the husbands starts blaming the victim and the situation gets more troublesome for the her….lets hope some sense prevails among people and they start behaving humanly with the victim.

    BTW you did managed the post well..and i liked this “challenge” concept..looking ahead to read some more interesting topics in this series…

    Best wishes,
    irfan.

  19. this was really great jojo. but in this case victim was enuf lucky to had a great husband who alz stood by her side. and she was able to change even her city too. but what if a lady cant cant change her residue or her husbands also leaves her.then situations become disastrous. dono when our society will get mature towards these issues. great post indeed

    • I agree with you that the subject of my interview was a fortunate lady when it comes to support from her husband. I only hope that society as a whole matures to make life after the incident peaceful for the victim.

  20. Thank you for writing this and for going where people so often don’t go: life after being raped. It’s not as if once the act itself is done, it’s over. For the victim, it’s never really over. I was sexually assaulted and I can tell you 100%, it changed me forever. And you pointed out so beautifully that what someone needs in that situation is to be supported fully, not whispered about or treated as though they’re damaged goods.

    • Before anything else, I hope and pray that you have been having and continue to have a peaceful living. I cannot even start to fathom what it must be like, to be a victim of such a heinous act. Secondly, thank you for appreciating my effort.

  21. You have done that brilliantly…I knew i would not have done justice to this topic like the way you did…this post is not going to change the society overnight, but will definitely make some people think…I’m putting this link in my blog…

    Cheers!
    SUB

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