My experience at the Safe City Workshop.
I remember eagerly looking forward to attending the workshop.I wasn’t dissapointed. The workshop took off with an introductory speech by Ms Elsa Marie D’silva. She asked us all to describe how we all were feeling in that moment, in one word. I had sheepishly replied,”Unstable”. I felt unstable because I wasn’t quite sure about what my stand was, on sexual abuse.
I always did feel that any form of sexual abuse, whether verbal or physical, was equally scarring.However,from what I had seen in the media and heard from people, when I spoke about ‘mere’ catcalling or a suggestive and demeaning brush on the bus, was that it should be ignored and dealt with in one’s head, being “too vocal” about it would only fan the flames. I also thought that my abuse wasn’t worth talking about. That it could be dismissed easily, because I wasn’t raped, at least. But I was molested. And I had never spoken about it to anyone but my parents who loved and supported me and saw to it that my molester was punished under the law.
I had quietly buried it deep in the recesses of my mind. Locked it in a drawer to which I had lost the key. I never did wear the top I had worn that day. I think I didn’t because that was the piece of clothing he had lifted up when I didn’t do as he said. I remember running out and having tears threatening to overflow from my eyes. I was 10 years old. I’ve never visited that place since. I was lucky to have gotten legal justice. But, it had a scarring effect on me. When my mother told me that she had found me a Guitar teacher, I asked her what sex the teacher was. I felt a bit of terror when she told me that my teacher was a man. But, time passed and I healed, or maybe just learnt to not be consciously reminded of my scar. I had learnt to ignore.
The Safe City workshop made me realize that any kind of abuse was worth talking about. That everyone’s story mattered. It made me realize that by sharing my story, I was helping people all over the world. I found Safe City’s approach to be very creative & innovative. By each person sharing their story along with details of the location and time, precautionary measures are being taken by another person at another part of the world. It means that by us, talking about our experiences, just maybe someone could be spared the horror.The workshop also made me question my beliefs.
What did I think caused sexual abuse?
What made me feel safe?
Well,I found my answer. I’ll feel safe when I know that everyone in the world is being reached out to and made to understand what sexual abuse is and that the magnitude of any such misdeed is no parameter for being worthy enough to be heard. When everyone knows that it’s not a joke for the victim. When people are more sensitized and stand up to abuse. I commend and applaud Safe City’s work and feel proud to be interning with them.
To every victim,you’re not alone and we’re all here to help.
Jessica – iridescent, a blogger and is volunteering with Safecity. I believe that change starts with me.