[Trigger Warning: Abuse]
“I still remember it crystal clear- when he lifted me by the throat and threw me on the floor. He stepped on my neck, cutting off my breathing, and went on to slew abuses at me and disregard even the tiniest bit of respect I had for myself. People always ask “why did you stay?”, through the punches, the choking, the assault.. concealing my scars became second nature to me, black eyes became the norm. You can still hear my broken jaw when I speak sometimes.
So why did I stay? Years of fighting PTSD, depression and anxiety had made me numb with all the trauma. It was like my brain was anaesthetized and my body took whatever came its way. I think it all began when I was 14 when I lost my father to a medical mistreatment. We were extremely close, he taught me everything I know today about the world. When he passed, my world shattered. I spiralled into a rage fuelled void, lashing out at people and actually throwing things when anybody approached me. People advised my family to put me in a mental asylum, but they didn’t. I graduated, got a job, but as I grew, so did the PTSD, depression and anxiety. I cried myself to sleep every night and at 21, I tried killing myself for the first time. Yes, first time. Thankfully, a friend of mine happened to come by who was a paramedic- she managed to revive me. Just as I was beginning to regain faith, my brother got into a horrible car accident and went into a coma. I prayed day in and day out. My other brother got into an accident soon after. He lost his memory with severe brain damage, and we didn’t know if he would survive. Somehow, I don’t know if it was a higher power or a miracle, but they both recovered and I began to heal from all the trauma.
I got a job on a cruise ship and found my passion in sailing. This is where my ex partner entranced me so much in his words that I ignored all the red flags- the gaslighting, the verbal abuse, the emotional abuse, and finally, the physical and sexual abuse. I stayed on through all of it. He forced me to quit my job after he lost his, but something in my mind told me not to give up on sailing, the place I found my freedom. I ended up lying to him that I quit, and took an extended medical leave instead. We moved to Goa, during which period I had my second and third stints with suicide attempts. I didn’t leave him because I figured since I wanted to kill myself anyway, it was more convenient if he did it instead. But one day, I don’t know what it was, maybe divine intervention, but I decided to call the women’s helpline. I broke down over the phone to this complete stranger for over an hour. Through streaming tears, I told her everything that I’d been through, as she patiently listened.
Things took a turn from there on. I came back home to Hyderabad and the women’s commission and some good hearted police officials gave me the hope and strength to take a legal course of action. Though in the beginning, NGOs tried charging me for it, lawyers refused to take up the case. I was asked extremely uncomfortable questions and belittled by several authorities, but finally I managed to get the case to stands of justice. When I told my family, they couldn’t take it. They always knew me as a headstrong, independent woman, they could not fathom how I allowed myself to be in that position for so long.
Throughout this whole episode, what kept me going were the friends that would randomly send me a “How are you?” text. In fact, I had one friend who had an idea of what I was going through, but he passed away in an accident during this whole thing. It felt like there was no winning in this life, just darkness.
Now finally, I have clawed my way back to the light, and I’m telling this story to give people hope that despite how dark and hopeless things seem, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Today, I’m fit and will be returning to sailing, travelling and blogging- the things that made me feel like myself. I also support several people going through mental health issues and abuse by lending them a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on, and also by guiding them through the legal process. Sometimes, you have to struggle to get there, sometimes it will seem unfair, but believe me, even if the world is telling you that there is no place for you, you need to make a place for yourself. It is always worth it.”