Do not take the blame on yourself, don’t break: Uber rape survivor’s letter
Eight residents of Delhi write open letters discussing sexual abuse and rape. In Part 4, a rape survivor addresses other fighters like her.
I am addressing you as a fighter and not as a victim because you do not deserve that tag.
I still remember the night of December 5, 2014, very clearly in my head. The night I was attacked, not just physically but mentally and emotionally by an Uber driver.
When I recall that night, it still gives me goosebumps. At times I feel vulnerable and overexposed but I take a deep breath and toss those thoughts out.
My only solace is that I stood strong and fought this battle to ensure the man who invaded my private space and violated it to mortify me, was put behind bars. That night, I was going through mixed emotions. I was numb, helpless and disoriented. The next minute, I was angry. Very angry. The incident, however, did not break me. I wanted that man, who dared to assault me, arrested.
I was one of the most vociferous protesters during the outrage after the December 16, 2012 gang rape. Being on the outside, I never thought I would ever be subjected to rape. When I was, I was raging and it strengthened my desire to get justice. But despite the outrage, nothing changed, may be because the police weren’t doing enough or the women being raped didn’t wish to come forward and do something about it.
First of all, what happened to you was not your fault. Do not take the blame on yourself. God forbid, but anyone can be in the situation I was in.
When in trouble, maintain your sanity. The incident can be emotionally taxing but first you need to react in a sane and controlled manner to save your life.
Instead of panicking, maintain your mental balance and stay strong. It is you who will have to fight it out.
Be conscious enough to note the appearance of the rapist, his clothes, vehicle, or anything that would help identify him. Remember that evidence is very important in a rape case.
This can only happen, if you look at rape like any other crime. Be assured that the incident has in no way destroyed the honour of your family.
Instead of collapsing, rise and channelise all your energy and strength to make sure that the accused lands in jail and is punished. The incident should make you furious rather than break you.
Immediately make a PCR call, if you do not have your phone, take assistance from a passerby, but be brave enough to report the matter without feeling humiliated.
Do not keep quiet fearing that your parents, neighbours or relatives will look at you differently. They may try to stop you from approaching the police fearing social boycott, which sadly is a reality in our country, but you should remain strong and put your foot down. If you do not complain, you are not only letting a rapist go free but also encouraging him to commit the crime again.
In my case, the police found out the accused was a sex maniac and had raped several women but only two came forward to file a complaint. Why did the other women choose to let him go? Why did they encourage him to go out and target other women? Had the others complained he would not have had the guts to attack me...
Also, understand that rape may be the most awful and harrowing experience of your life, but is not the end of the world. It has not made you an untouchable or someone who no one would wish to marry. You may feel low on self-confidence and depressed but that feeling should be treated like an illness and cured.
Life henceforth has not been easy. I still get nightmares, my heart still beats faster than usual when I step out in the dark but I have learnt that confronting your fears is a big part of the healing process post rape.
Even if you decide to report the assault, it is not going to be an easy journey. There will be many obstacles. Right from when you go to the police station, where they may not treat you with utmost sensitivity, to the hospital where you will be taken to for a medical examination and looked down upon, and the court, where the defence lawyer may question your character and blame the assault on your conduct. But you have to be strong and confident.
The police may ask you questions that make you uncomfortable, but try and cooperate. For them it is just any other case. Tell them everything that happened, in detail. They will surely cooperate and understand your pain. Be assured that in these cases, senior officers, at least in Delhi, monitor even the slightest development.
After the complaint is filed and the case is registered, it is time to move to court and the hearing will never let you forget what happened to you. They will ask you to repeat and recall that time repeatedly. But again, take it as a fight to restore your self-confidence.
The defence lawyers will try to break you emotionally and their questions may blow your self-confidence but stand resolute. Do not succumb to pressure.
Lastly, a suggestion to my friends. Always be alert when you step out of the house. Let your parents know when you take a cab or an auto. Note down their registration numbers before starting the ride. If the taxi driver requests to take another passenger along, just refuse. If he takes you through an unknown route, question him. If the way is unlit, refuse to go on that road. Always take the way that is known to you or switch on the GPS while travelling. If you are feeling sleepy in the car, engage yourself in an activity. Call someone…for women who travel on foot, always ask someone to accompany you.
Do everything possible to punish the person who dared to touch you without your consent and tried to shatter you as an individual.
The 27-year-old writer now works with a multi-national company as a director. She is married and settled in the United States of America.
Next in the series: A policeman writes an open letter to other cops.