Link to the previous part : https://allaboutblogdotlife.wordpress.com/2020/04/22/the-risk-of-speaking-out-part-5/
Date : 20th June 2015, Saturday.
“Abhay, this is Riya.”
“Oh Riya, my love,where are you ?” I cried.
“I don’t know where I’m right now. All I know is am alive. And I’m thankful for that. It’s horrible here. I haven’t had water for seven hours. Those guys have gone out. One of them left his mobile in here. Hacking came in handy. Somehow unlocked it. Just switched on the location, and it shows shit. I’ll – I’ll back soon. Don’t worry.I called for the cops. They tried to do something else with me. Close enough. They’re quite creepy. Take care of Isha. I’m trying to decipher the exact location. They will be here anytime. Love. Bye.” She disconnected before I could say a word.
20 hours later, I received a news stating Riya is no more. Her body was into pieces, her face partially burnt, her eyes unrecognizable. She had been brutally raped, badly assaulted and discretely killed. The guys had escaped leaving no clues. Her diary said she had been assaulted five times. And she hadn’t said a word.
I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other. Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they’ve been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, ‘I stay out of prison.’ This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, ‘Nothing. I don’t think about it.’ Then I ask women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine. Here are some of their answers: Hold my keys as a potential weapon. Look in the back seat of the car before getting in. Carry a cell phone. Don’t go jogging at night. Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights. Be careful not to drink too much. Don’t put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured. Own a big dog. Carry Mace or pepper spray. Have an unlisted phone number. Have a man’s voice on my answering machine. Park in well-lit areas. Don’t use parking garages. Don’t get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men. Vary my route home from work. Watch what I wear. Don’t use highway rest areas. Use a home alarm system. Don’t wear headphones when jogging. Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime. Don’t take a first-floor apartment. Go out in groups. Own a firearm. Meet men on first dates in public places. Make sure to have a car or cab fare. Don’t make eye contact with men on the street. Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.
It brings with it connotations, assumptions, a whole steamer trunk full of other people’s ideas of it, because other people only know it as a word. A concept that’s discussed, argued, demonized. If you actually know what it is, if you live it and experience it and know what it is beyond a word, you have to carry that word with you. You’re now ‘rape victim’, ‘rape survivor’. Your identity is attached permanently to a word you hate.Women facing sexual violence rarely speak up or call the police because they know what awaits them. Even good men hate it when women express their feelings, often responding with mockery, insults or threats.
Why Is It So Important to Remember?
When you were abused, those around you acted as if it weren’t happening. Since no one else acknowledged the abuse, you sometimes felt that it wasn’t real. Because of this you felt confused. You couldn’t trust your own experience and perceptions. Moreover, others’ denial led you to suppress your memories, thus further obscuring the issue.
You can end your own denial by remembering. Allowing yourself to remember is a way of confirming in your own mind that you didn’t just imagine it. Because the person who abused you did not acknowledge your pain, you may have also thought that perhaps it wasn’t as bad as you felt it was. In order to acknowledge to yourself that it really was that bad, you need to remember as much detail as possible. Because by denying what happened to you, you are doing to yourself exactly what others have done to you in the past: You are negating and denying yourself.
Sexual violence is a difficult topic to think about and even harder to deal with. Always remember to take care of yourself no matter what, and never stop doing the things you love that bring peace and joy to your life. Whether it is music, art, exercise, cooking, reading, sports, prayer, nature, or any of the other amazing gifts life has to offer: Embrace them. Do what you love to do, embrace all the beauty that exists within yourself and the world around you, and take care of yourself. And of course, reach out to someone if you need help. Talk to a family member or friend, find the right therapist, or seek out a religious or spiritual guide if needed. Life is very difficult to go through it alone, so please talk to someone you love and trust, and one who always has your best interest at heart.
We live in a world in which women are battered and are unable to flee from the men who beat them, although their door is theoretically standing wide open. One out of every four women becomes a victim of severe violence. One out of every two will be confronted by sexual harassment over her lifetime. These crimes are everywhere and can take place behind any front door in the country, every day, and barely elicit much more than a shrug of the shoulders and superficial dismay.