#Metoo movement: It never stops

"Nobody really tells you what sexual harassment or abuse is, as a child. Unfortunately, in our society, these are things you learn with experiences. Experiences that are horrific! Growing up, I lived in an apartment in Hyderabad and my neighbor was a close friend. I would spend a lot of time at her house, studying or just playing. Every time my friend would go to the bathroom, her father would pull me close and touch me inappropriately. Let me give you a few details. He would first touch my hand… then move to my neck and finally, rub my breasts. I was in class 10, about 14-years-old. I didn’t have a mother to tell me how and when to wear a bra. I would just wear a tee shirt, and sometimes, my body parts were slightly visible. Back then, I never realized he was doing something wrong. Yes, I was awkward. But he was my friend’s father. He was close to my family. So, I kept quiet. He continued to do it and only after a year I understood that I should do something because it made me feel very uncomfortable. So I stopped visiting them. I thought I was done with episodes like that. I was so naive, I didn’t know the world is filled with similar men who just want to get their hands on women. Eve teasing, awkward touches in public transport… What not! What bothered me the most about my neighbor was that he had two daughters, one of them was my friend. I couldn’t even imagine how she spent all her life with him if he was doing similar things to her. Even if he didn’t, just the thought about sexually harassing another small girl when he has two daughters himself was disgusting.

In my late teens, I read about good touch and bad touch. But never had the courage to call people out. I would freeze every time something like that happened. I would break down. When I started working with a regional media house, things got worse. Just because you’re a woman in your 20s, who just began her career, people assume they can say and do whatever they want. There was a Public Relation officer who would constantly call me and ask me about my personal relationships. ‘Are you married?’ ‘Are you single?’ ‘Do you want to go out?’ ‘Can you spend a night with me?’ I always wanted to shout, ‘Stop!’ But alas, who listens to a girl?

I was at an event once where the videographer with me got drunk and started behaving inappropriately. He said things like, ‘You know how men at work look at you? You’re so young and hot.’ That day was one of the most difficult times I faced because of men. I thought he’d do something to me. Thankfully, one of the crime reporters was my friend. He later helped me complain and get that videographer out of the company. I think this event gave me some strength. But my thoughts were never changed. What's funny here is that the same crime reporter later verbally abused me in his messages. He would ask me to help him fulfill his desires. It was difficult to get rid of him. For obvious reasons, I was awkward at work, because I could only think of how every man looked at me and what the videographer had said. What I realized and learnt is that it never stops. It never gets better. They stare. They call you names. They tease you. They force themselves on you. When you retaliate, you’re a feminize. You hate all men. You think you’re too beautiful for them. Sometimes, you’re stalked. You’re hated by everybody at work. Imagine this happening to you, all your life. How are you ever going to trust anybody? You’re forever scarred."

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