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  • Writer's pictureTrisha Bhattacharya

Season: 2; Int: HerView 1- Victim? Survivor? Conqueror? Human. Girl.

Hiii, welcome back to my yearly interviews and before I start with today's, I have to tell you that this time, they are going to get bigger and stronger. Buckle up!

In the news and social media, we often see people discuss about (sexual) harassment incidents and related issues but what is it like really for someone who has been harassed? Many of them rarely are vocal about what they have been through and in all kinds of opinions that rise after such crimes, we often deviate from the real problem or drown the voices of the abused and their traumas. In this interview, I have a friend who I recently met online and have gone through such unfortunate circumstances. The word 'rape' is portrayed like a taboo. Writing or speaking up about it becomes an act of freedom and courage. The interview, today is not just like other interviews in the past, it is more like a conversation where at some point it might seem I, as an interviewer, am trying to get into specific details of it while gently treading the lines of a sensitive topic. I assure you that full consent and cooperation have been maintained throughout and what lies ahead focuses more on understanding what a person actually goes through after. It is about diving deep into the minds of one such person who I am so glad could share her story on a public platform, She is an 18 year old from Germany and her name is Larissa. I hope the insights and the heart-to-heart below make you all aware of people from all around the world facing the same difficulties but with their own different stories. It is time to listen and take actions- however small they be. I would definitely vouch this experience as being totally delicate and nerve-racking yet proud to have initiated a talk. But with a little bit of fear, consideration and an ambition to make a difference, we start small, we start now.

(Note: The lines in italics are words of the interviewer as this is a mix of conversations in a flow as well as an interview, I have hoped to include all the important points that arose.)

Have you spoken about this publicly before?

To my mom and my best friend.

So if you have to share your story right now , what would you like to say about it? Anything specific? anything general?

Well I don't remember every detail. Its been 8 years. But I know the basics.

Is there anything you prefer not to discuss?

No I don't think so. I'm good.

Would you call yourself a victim or a survivor?

Both I guess. Its not a shame to be a victim to me because it doesn't make you weak. To me at least. But not everyone survives an experience like that so 'Survivor' is also a fitting term.

Any aspect of your whole experience you wish to share? Anything you would want to let the world know from whatever you experienced?

I didn't even realize what it was for many years. I didn't know if it was because I was ten and an innocent child or if it was because he was dating my mom and told me it was normal. I always showered with parents when I was a child (About 3 or 4) and never thought anything so I guess it was normal for me. Only years later I learned its not normal for strangers to slip into a bath tube with little children and touch them.

How do you think it led to such an incident? I mean now that you may have analyzed the situation.

I don't know, I guess he was sick or something.

How do you feel about yourself right now? And about the past?

Well I feel better. I guess me being so young and hardly remembering anything helped a little. If it happened to me at 15 or 16 it might have been worse. But I also feel disgusted with myself from time to time when I think about it. I feel dirty you know.

Does that disgust towards self come often to you?

Not very often but sometimes. Had you ever seen yourself differently after the incident? Like your views towards yourself, how much did things change after that?

Not really. I always felt like it was just another awful thing in a really terrible life.

As a friend I wanna ask, what made you say your life is terrible?

Well my mom and dad broke. I was bullied ever since 3rd grade. I changed school 4 times but it was always the same. I was also in a very toxic relationship with a gay man who used me as a beard while he knew I had feelings for him and treated me like garbage afterwards. All of that lead to me never trusting anyone. I don't wanna come close to people especially girls (It were mostly girls who pretended to like me only to gossip behind my back). And I always saw the worst in myself.

Do you believe yourself to come out of all that you go through or have been through, someday?

Yes. Right now where I work everyone is so nice to me and I really feel good there. The work involves children which really makes me happy. But I still very much have trust issues.

And from what I know, till the time someone gets a person so close to them who will be their positive strength, the trust issue stays.

What about your support system right now, circle of people you can trust?

My mother and my best friend. And some friends I met via Insta.

How did you feel after telling your mom and bestfriend?

For my mother I felt bad. Like I said he was with her at that time and I was scared to tell her because she would feel guilty.

But my best friend it felt freeing and good. She had her own problems in life (not the same but very hard ones) and she understood me and emotionally supported me.

Do you feel your mother still carries the deep impact that the incident had left on her?

I guess. We never talked about it again after. And I think its good that way.

What about the incident's impact on you?

Of course it had impacted deep. But like I said before it would have been probably worse if it happened to me when I was older and more aware.

Today after 8 years does it still feel the same way? The trauma? I wish to understand how the mindset might change or not.

Well for me the trauma will always be there. But it became better over time. Sometimes I still have flashbacks but not as much as I used to.

What things do you thing might have changed after the incident? Did you fear people more or avoid speaking to strangers?

No. Not really. Maybe I felt a little more odd and uncomfortable around people but I was never afraid of them.

You are open to speaking with new people then.

I mean online for sure, I can see that, you have trusted me with your story. :)

Yes. Kind of funny that I feel more confident and comfortable online. At least there nobody can judge you based on looks or other things you cant control.

Do you have any changed perceptions about the world now?

I noticed the world became a darker place with bad things happening to good people who didn't deserve it. But I try to always see the best in everyone and not assume the worst of myself.

Do you have a message to put out for the world? For the rapists and the survivors or the victims or women, men and society in general. You can answer altogether or individually for each person as well.

I just want everyone to get the help and support they need.

For the men: If you are in such a situation, let it be rape/abuse/or just somebody treating you like shit, you will eventually find the confidence to defend yourself against them. And most importantly: Don't let anyone tell you that it can't be that bad or it matters less because he is a man. IT DOESN'T make a difference how and by who you got raped. IT IS bad. Why because... People say when women rape men it's not so bad because most women force the man to penetrate her and while most don't even see it as rape in the first place, those who do mostly see it as "less bad" which is bullshit because rape is rape no matter if someone forces something into you or forces themselves on you. And even if men get raped by another man people say its still not that bad because the victim is a man. Some say very cruel stuff like "Well now you know how women feel".

As for the women: You didn't ask for it, it wasn't your fault and if you tell the truth and have nothing to hide, you will find the courage and emotional support to heal in the world. And again if you share the same gender of your abuser or rapist don't let anyone tell you to not do anything about it.

To everyone: Just be as good as you can.

To anyone who might have thoughts that are scary to them: Please seek help. You as well deserve and need help for your sake and others. (This message is for everyone. Man or woman).

Can you think of a common misconception/ wrong assumption people have regarding survivors/victims/even rapists?

Probably that everyone is the same. That every survivor has the same reaction to everything; have a lot of panic attacks and is a crying mess in the shower. But everyone is different.

How did you deal with your trauma?

When it happened? I don't remember. Probably not at all I just continued with my life.

It must have built within you but then you found the courage to tell your mom and best friend later so it might have released a thing so deep you were suppressing. Must have felt better?

Yes I do feel better.

How many years later did you tell though?

6 years when I was 16.

How you deal with the trauma now, you know to move past stuff?

Well, mostly distracting myself when my mind starts to go there. I read, write, sing, etc.

Earlier you said you don't feel afraid of people, but do you feel any sort of shame?

Sometimes yes.

Do you have any thoughts to share on consent?

Consent is very important. Before sex you should ask "Are you sure" or "Are you ready"?

Now that you have become an adult, are you aware of what steps the victim should/may possibly take after such an incident?

That's up to every individual in my opinion. There is no wrong or right as long as nobody gets hurt.

It also actually depends on the environment or situation the person is in I guess, because not every time they have access to medical facilities or the condition to report to police or tell family right.

I believe rapists deserve punishment, not as a death sentence but as a bad treatment where they feel the horrible things one can go through, what do you think about their punishments?

I think they should be punished but I believe they also need help. I think most who did such horrible things have a psychological disorder, you know. The guy who did it to me escaped without punishment.

They do, it's a difficult process to know why they do what they do. Misogyny and patriarchy is a part, we can't deny.

Lastly, what do you think, I and many like me, as a listener can do? I know it includes as a part of what your message to society was, but I think there should always be a listener in these situations and the thing they do after with what they have listened to?

Well, you can just listen. For me, I appreciate everyone who is willing to listen to me and without judgement.❤

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