“OH MY GOD! Did you see how sexy XYZ was looking today in his basketball uniform?”
“I know right! How does he get to be so gorgeous man?”
Does this conversation sound vaguely familiar to you? It does, doesn’t it? This is probably what your average high school girl talk and giggles would have sounded like as you would have spend the night over or talk on the phone or over social media and the likes. But do these girls ever wonder if XYZ really is the perfect gentleman that they think he is? Do they think about how this perfect gentle man demeanor is all just a mirage which may hide the abusive monster within?
When you’re in high school, all you care about is the popularity and having the perfect life which would probably make other people jealous. We were all 15, 16, 17 years of age at some point and we all thought we had the world figured out.
Ishani was no different. Ishani is one of the most vivacious people you’ll ever come across. But looking at her, you’d never realize that she had been through two very emotionally and physically abusive relationships. So when she decided to tell me her story over email and let her voice be heard, I decided to pen it down.
“So how did you meet this guy and how old were you when you first met him?”
“I was sixteen years old when I met him. I saw him first at tuition, and then I found out through the girl who was my best friend (at that point) that he liked me. She passed him my number and that’s when we got to talking.” Ishani said.
“What was it about this guy that attracted you the most?”
She continued, “Honestly, it wasn’t attraction. He was a distraction. I was bored and had nothing to do, so I said “Why not? Seems like a decent guy” and went with it. A lot of people are going to call me a lot of names for this. It doesn’t matter to me. I’ve made my peace with the decisions I’ve made.”
I kept asking her if she was okay with reliving the entire thing and throughout the time all she said was that she was okay with talking about it. It’s not like she could go back in time and undo the mistakes she had made. It was like she had made peace with the entire thing in a very cathartic kind of way.
“When did the abuse start with him? Did it just suddenly start or were there tell tale signs which you couldn’t really decipher since you were so young?”
“The abuse was weird. If you had met him, he would seem like the sweetest, most docile guy. Well mannered and polite. He looked safe. I guess there were signs, but I didn’t recognize them. But this one incident is pretty hard to forget. We were walking down the road, and we were laughing. There was a guy coming in the opposite direction. I was looking at the floor and laughing, and looked up. He thought I was smiling at the random guy, and he tightened his grip on my hand, twisting it. He warned me not to look at other boys, that I was his etc. And continued as if nothing had happened.
You know those cinematic interludes that happen in movies? It was like that. Like a flashback that no one but I could see.
Then it continued in smaller ways. Honestly, it was the mental abuse that tipped me over the edge even though I was terrified.”
“What was the mental abuse like? Tell me if I’m pushing you too much okay?”
“He used to like saying that I was his lowest priority. He would decide whether or not to give me time after his studies, family and friends. . But since I was a girl, my career wasn’t so important and I should always have time for him.
I’ve blocked out so much.”
“Its okay, Ishani. Take your time, don’t force it.”
“He used to taunt me with stories about his ex girlfriends and how far he’d gone with them, trying to pressurize me into sex.”
“But you were only 16 at the time. You were just a kid!”
“I was always scared of sex. The whole hymen being ripped apart freaked me out. He was also 16. We both felt the law was stupid. Currently, I understand how 16 year olds cannot fathom what consenting to sex means. But as a 16 year old, I felt I had the whole world figured out. As I was saying, sex terrified me. And I used to say anything but that. That was a major problem for him, me saying no. The physical abuse was cleverly done. He rarely left bruises in places I could show people. He hurt me so it looked like sprains. So, to my family, I constantly had shoulder aches from a heavy school bag, or wrist sprains from school sports.”
“Why didn’t you ever tell your friends about what was going on? Why would you go through this alone?” I asked her as I tried to picture a sixteen year old go through all of this.
“I was embarrassed and ashamed that I let it happen. I was always the headstrong friend who protected her friends from creeps and didn’t take bullshit from anyone. So, I’ve been clubbing from class 9, (yeah, judge me and tell someone who cares). I always fended off creeps from my friends, pushed them around, raised a stink if anyone got touchy feely with them. The fact that I couldn’t say a word when it was happening to me was new.
It was only after he tried to rape me, that I called my relationship off with him.
It was like the guy disassociated himself from all this shit he did when he did them. One moment he had me pinned to the bed, taking my clothes off, groping me and whispering to me that even if I screamed, he’d have raped me by the time people came through the door and the next he was cradling my head in his arms and asking me why I was crying, that he wouldn’t hurt me. I blinked and he was naked, pulling my face to his penis and telling me that that (penis) was all I’d be worth and then hugging me and saying ‘baby na na’. After he tried to rape me, I did tell one friend. The supposed best friend who had given him my number.”
“What did she have to say after hearing everything?”
“She said I deserved it for sneaking him home.”
“How did you break up with him?”
“I stopped talking to him, going to the tuition, taking his calls or texts. Then, I had gone to Mani Square one day with my sister and brother in law. It was away from home (which he knew), and I was surrounded by people I knew would protect me. I texted him saying it was over. We might have talked after that, I don’t remember.”
Once Ishani was done telling me about this guy, without any break or anything, she immediately moved onto the next abusive relationship she had been in. The abuse she faced here was more emotional.
“He was in college, I was in school. He was a race car driver (or so he said), and I was in absolute awe. I LOVED cars then and it was like meeting a superstar. He used to make fun of me in front of his friends if I didn’t let him do things to me, take me out on long drives so that there wasn’t anyone around when he tried to touch me. He left me the day I didn’t let him have sex with me. We were in my room, and I had just refused. He made me stand in front of the full length mirror I have here, stood behind me and hugged me, said this is what we’ll look like in 5 years and pretended to get a call from his garage, and left. I never saw or heard from him again after that.
No text, no call, no facebook, nothing. I used to think he was dead, or in the hospital. Because he used to race at night in Kolkata apparently, so I spent weeks calling up hospitals and asking for him, asking if a car accident victim had come in. After a while I gave up. I used to send angry drunk texts to his cell. After about a year or two I saw him again. I was drunk. I used to be really out of it those days. Either high on pills/dendrite or drunk. He had the audacity to call later and say he still loved me; he was disappointed in the texts I sent him. I still get the urge to stalk his profile, to see if he’s alive.
He lied to me about how his mother was sick and he had to drive her to Vishakhapatnam for her treatment.”
“Did you ever find out if he is alive?”
“I think probably a year or so later, I found out that he was still alive. And you want to know the craziest and sickest part? He had been dating a school senior of mine when I finally saw him again and they broke up because he used to keep saying how much she reminded him of me. She broke up because she couldn’t take the constant comparisons to me.”
“Do you know where he is now?”
“I think he is happy, hopefully. And not taking other people’s happiness and lives away from them. Could you please put in a message for the second guy in your article?”
“Yeah sure! Tell me, what do you want to say to him?”
“If you’re reading this – wherever you are, know one thing – whatever sick game you played with me – you won. I just survived.”
I thanked her for deciding to share her story and let her voice be heard. We wished each other goodnight and went offline. Ishani has been a very good friend of mine, but hearing her story, has just made her a more close and treasured friend. She did survive. She made new friends and ultimately did find an amazing man. Joydeep takes amazing care of her and loves her like no one else ever did. She describes him as the light at the end of the tunnel.
My message to all of you reading this is that if you are in an abusive relationship or if you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, walk out. Walk out before it’s too late. There are tons of people out there. One of them is your soul mate. Don’t let pressure or friends or anything keep you in something that is destroying you.
I thank you, Ishani, for having the guts to share your story. Ishani wasn’t lucky in high school. She didn’t have the best of people as friends. Think about your friends. Would you want them to go through what Ishani went through? Sit with them, talk to them, let them share their stories and don’t tell them that they deserved what they got. Don’t let them be another Ishani.
Note: Image used in this post is only for representational purpose.
Image Source: Tv3