The recent festivities of Dusshera saw India celebrating a goddess. In a country where female deities rule the star-spangled pantheon of gods and put them up on a pedestal, there’s the paradox of deep-seated patriarchy and objectification of women. Rapes have begun to dot the landscape of the country, with a horrific 88 cases being reported every day, according to the NCRB report of 2019. While the media has begun to sensationalise rape, here’s the tale of a rape survivor. She answers the overwhelming question - Does one ever really recover from rape?
“We have become numb to the occurrence of rape”
The chauvinist society may argue that rape culture has improved over the years with India having broadened its thinking, but has it really? While the India of yester-year idolized its daughters, the 21st century sees a society driven by lust. Mutilated corpses are often the only remains of the trauma, but what also gets left behind, is a survivor, who has to start from scratch, who is required to build a life once again. Rape offers a choice. It can cause you to shut up in a closet, or come out and tell the tale like it is.
“There’s patriarchy imbibed in us along with the lack of strict laws and government policies. The absence of action against the perpetrators of such a heinous crime contributes to making rapes a commonality. This is one of the biggest tragedies of modern society,” a rape survivor tells Bingedaily. She draws caution to the fact, that as the occurrence of rapes has become more frequent, the common man has become numb to them.
An instrument to assert power and intimidate the powerless
Can we blame the poisonous cocktail of biology and bigotry, and a skewed sex ratio for the disgusting treatment that is met out to women? The Nirbhaya rape of 2012, the Unnao rape of 2017, Kathaua rape of 2018, and the recent Hathras gangrape that shook the Nation, are lone incidents that reek of such disgust that public outrage took to the streets. However, nameless, faceless cases are happening across the country this very minute, which never make it to the headlines of the prime time news. Have we really progressed as an open-minded society? Has the rage motivated the birth of solutions for modern India?
The answer is no.
A breach of consent is termed ‘love’
As a society, we glorify flicks such as Kabir Singh - which highlights how a man who cannot get a woman to comply with his sexual desires, goes into a destructive spiral. We have come to behave like Neanderthals. “Discriminating and labelling people on the basis of their experiences or their backgrounds is something we all should avoid at all costs,” says this rape survivor. “Trying to view our surroundings with compassion and kindness instead of judgments and opinions can go a long way and in this process, we can help others as well as ourselves in ways we can’t even imagine.”
Does the trauma ever end?
We ask her the remedy to the hurt and she says “Acknowledge your pain. Acknowledge it and grieve, and get help to deal with the aftermath.”Speaking of the trauma, she says it has different effects on different individuals considering we are all different. “The degree of trauma we’ve faced has a big impact. Unfortunately, there are times, in the aftermath of the trauma, where it is extremely difficult for the person to overcome what they’ve been through.” Addressing the situation is a multi-faceted approach.
Trying to delve into the root of the problem, we see that sexual assault trauma is a heinous act that infiltrates into a person’s physical and emotional spaces and may result in feelings of intense fear, powerlessness, and hopelessness. The trauma results not because such events are rare, but rather, they overwhelm the individual's internal resources that give them a sense of control, connection and meaning. Taking us through her personal healing journey, this rape survivor says healing is a complicated process. It isn’t a straight answer. “There will be days when you’ll go through the aftermath of a tragedy you’ve faced years ago and there can be days where you’ll feel you’re over everything that has happened to you.”
Recovery is not guaranteed
She speaks of how therapy helped her tremendously. “I tried to forget about the incident, focus on the bright side, as they say, indulge myself in different activities, work, friends etc. but the pain was always still within me.” Occasional flashbacks and constant anxiety took over her mind, and she could not point out the source of this hurt and paranoia. “When I started therapy, however, I was made to fully confront the issues of my traumatic past. It was difficult to relive it all, speak of the gory details and my feelings associated with it.”
Time and therapy healed what nothing else could. “It got easier. The nightmares stopped, so did my constant anxiety. It felt as if a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I no longer feel the need to distract myself 24/7. I’m at peace even when it’s quiet and uneventful.”
Is recovery guaranteed, we ask and she says no, “The only thing we can do is, accept our emotions as they come and acknowledge them and be kind towards ourselves.”
A platform for others
Having decided to let her journey help another’s, this woman went on to start a foundation, the Moonlight Foundation. The platform aims to support people struggling with mental health issues, such as diagnosed or undiagnosed depression and anxiety, and survivors of abuse and trauma.
The journey has been a long road, but this survivor now stands to light the way for others who have been through a traumatic ordeal.