I am a girl from a middle class family, now aged 19. Both my parents are well educated. And they had taught me every do and don’t as a child. I would tell them anything and everything. Even today I do. But in spite of all this I have been a victim of sexual abuse both online and offline and I never told that to my parents. I can remember a total of four isolated incidents when I was abused by men. 3 were complete strangers and one was a relative of my two generations elder. Two were online and two were offline. Here are some myths that, I feel, should be busted. Or at least I can say some points that I feel I should put out.
1. The predator looks for preys. (Incident 3 and 4)
In my case I met the other person online for purely intellectual purposes. The other person had cracked a very tough competitive examination and his name was on the newspaper all over. We met online and for the first few months our discussions were purely intellectual. Even today, I feel he is the best guide and mentor and he has helped me a lot in my preparation. And even my parents knew about him and they know him as a moral person as they had also spoken to him. We chatted once every month. It was followed by a phone call. Then a video call.
One day, towards the end of almost 8 months to the date of meeting, the conversation deflected a little bit from academics and we started discussing informal things. And that is where I feel I allowed the mistake to happen. The situation was so unique and horrible that I didn’t know whom to tell and what to tell.
So, I would just like to conclude by saying that this was a benign relationship in the beginning. He was a stranger who became my academic mentor with the knowledge of my parents. And things changed gradually and he became the monster.
2. The predators are mostly there in Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat or some social media. (Incident 3 and 4)
I met my predator on Quora, Yes! A qna website. We began texting there. My parents allowed me to use Quora because I was using it only for academic purposes.
3. Only strangers are potential predators. / Only friends or people with whom we closely interact are predators. (Incident 1)
Till I was in 8th standard, my parents had not given me access to internet and in all honesty I didn’t even need. But just because all my classmates were there on Facebook, I too secretly made an account and started using Facebook. A classmate of mine started sharing really ugly things on my message box. And that was the only and last time I used Facebook. I couldn’t tell my parents because they had clearly told me that Facebook is not a nice place and we won’t allow you to use Facebook. In this case the predator was a person known to me, my classmate.
In the other two cases of online abuse, they were strangers.
4. Girl doesn’t want to expose the predator because she likes him. YES AND NO in my case. (Incident 4)
In my case I got emotionally attached to my predator.#MyStupidTeenBrain He was smart, handsome, hardworking, brainy, doing academically really well, and strict and soft. Even my parents knew him as a person of moral character. I liked most of the things that he did except for one thing, and that was the demand for sexual activity. So I felt this person is 99% okay and only 1% not okay and therefore I should not raise a flag against him. My complaining would lead to a complete end of the relationship that we are sharing. So I thought maybe I shouldn’t. One can say it was almost like getting abused by a crush.
5. Nanny Parental Control/ Web filtering software prevents predation. (Incident 1)
My parents had blocked facebook.com. I was so stupidly smart that I started using m.facebook.com. Eventually that also got blocked, but I started using my friends mobile phone in school to chat.????
6. Only the girl is at fault. / Only the predator is at fault. (Incident 1)
I was at fault because I had crossed the Lakshman Rekha set by my parents.
But then the predator was also at fault.
Finally I would like to conclude by saying that
Benign relationships can turn into that of a Predator and prey.
Predators are there even on platforms like Quora, Yahoo Answers, Reddit, Fluther and StackExchange.
Both friends and strangers can be predators.
The more you restrict the more alternatives your child is going to come up with because child psychology and the teenage hormones work like that.
Your child may be at fault for going against you advice. But focus on the bigger wrong and not the closer one.
I know I have completely ignored that incident where a relative of mine two generations apart had abused me. Because I feel it was not relevant here.
And finally as for the emotional trauma, I would like to say that coincidentally and, I feel, luckily after each of the four incidents my family moved from that city. First we lived in a Tier 2 city and then we moved to Tier 1 city. There were new financial challenges for the family, simultaneously struck by health challenges. So my problems appeared very small in comparison to other problems. Then because of my education I had to move cities. I have always been a top ranker and therefore I had the pressure of performance on the academic front as the burden had increased. So somewhere the trauma got lost or suppressed in the middle of health, academic and financial problems coupled with changing places and times.
Thank you for reading my story if you’ve made it till here.