It has been many years since my nightmare started, but it still haunts me until this day because my assaulter is able to walk around acting like nothing happened. He now has a wife and two kids and everyone in my family thinks I am a cold hearted b**** for pushing away this great cousin who did everything for his little cousin. Little do they know what a monster he really is.
I was in grade six, and 12 years old when I became close to my dad's nephew. He was about 27 to 29 years old at the time. I had no siblings as my brother passed away at a young age and I had always wanted one my whole life. So, when my cousin started coming around and offered to teach me how to skateboard and play basketball, I didn't think anything of it. He came around a lot- before work, after work and it almost seemed as if he lived with us. Eventually, he began to figure out the time periods when I was home alone. He would sneak into the house in the mornings when no one was home, between 6am and 8am. My dad left for work at 5:45am every morning and my mom came from work at 8am, so I was left alone during this time to get ready and leave to school. When he started coming to my home in the morning, I thought he was coming to drive me to school, but slowly he started watching me as I showered and got dressed. As a 12 year old child, I really didn't know what to do, but his behaviour scared me so I stopped talking to him immediately.
My parents thought I was being mean and didn't understand why I was being so hateful towards him. Eventually, they forced me to talk to him again. This was the worst mistake that I ever made. From this moment on, he assaulted me for years and when his arranged marriage fell apart and the wedding didn't happen, the assault only got worse. I remember that in grade 8, on Valentine's day, he called my school pretending to be my father and told them I was sick and would not attend class that day. I was forced to spend the day with him. I don't remember much about that day, except going to school the next day with bite marks on my body and being judged by my peers.
I never told my parents when it happened as I was afraid and ashamed of what they would say. He threatened and manipulated me and made me feel at fault. He eventually stopped coming around because he got arranged to marry another women. I went to the wedding and his entire family doesn't know the reason why I hate him so much. They just thinks that I am a rebel who doesn't know how to respect people. Research shows that sexually abused children become violent and can not trust anyone in their adult life. I really wish that they knew what a monster he was and all the horrible things he did to an innocent 12 year old girl
I finally told my parents about the assault in 2015 when I was getting married. We were making the guest list together for my wedding and I revealed the truth because I didn't want him there. My parents were upset, but it seems that in our culture we worry more about what other people will say and how other people's lives will be affected, rather than focus on how to protect our own. My dad didn't say much to me because this was his favourite nephew. All he said to me is that my cousin was married now and has a good life, so don't do anything to ruin it. My mom was upset, yet she also did nothing and even invited him to my wedding. However, at the ceremony, she did place him and his family in the back corner and made sure that he didn't come up for family pictures.
Why are we so quick to forgive male assaulters, but when a woman displays any form of sexuality, she is called a slut? Why do men get away with murder, but if a woman was to do the same, she is blamed for spoiling the family name? I have heard many stories of girls who are assaulted and get told that it is their fault that it happened. How is it a little girl's fault that a grown man raped and assaulted her? No one wants to report rape and sexual abuse that happens in Tamil families because family reputation is more important than the mental health and well being of the victim.
It is time we stop thinking about our family reputation and what other people will think, and start working to protect the victims. It is never ok for a grown person (male or female) to expose or perform sex on a young child. If a man beats a woman in our culture, it is often accepted because it is assumed that the woman must have done something wrong and didn’t behave right. However, if a woman does the same thing, she is a terrible person and not a good wife. The double standards in the Tamil Community have to stop. Regardless of the gender, abuse is abuse.