I was so excited. Today we will be recruiting new members for our club. It was such a privilege to be the founder and the President of the Women’s Rights Club in my school. The past two years, I had accomplished so much. I had helped so many girls in my school to speak up the challenges they are faced with, in their lives. I had helped so many abused victims to step out of the shadows and face the society. I had helped so many bullied victims to stand up for themselves.
I looked at the clock, amazed to see how early I have gotten ready. So I headed downstairs to get some breakfast. But I stopped in my tracks when I heard a familiar voice coming from the dining room. It was a voice I would recognize anywhere. It was that loud, booming and irritating voice that makes my skin crawl. Before I saw the person, I knew exactly how his expression would be when he sees me.
“Good morning sweetheart. Remember Mr. Charles?” My mother said gesturing to the short fat man sitting at the table. Charles eyes fell on me, the same way it did 10 years ago. His gaze was full of lust, salacity and cupidity. He looked at me from head to toe slowly and yet, somehow, my parents failed to notice.
My father explained. “He just got here from Singapore. It’s been 7 long years since he had set foot in the country.”
“Why is he here?” I asked bluntly.
“Oh, its business, sweetheart. You won’t understand.” Charles said. And my mother laughed heartily.
I felt so sick. Sweetheart? How dare he call me that? I made up an excuse to leave early and got out of there as soon as I could. My eyes welled up with tears as I slammed the front door. It was so early that not a single soul, except the road cleaners were seen. I slowed my pace which was synched to my breathing.
“Remember Mr. Charles.?” My mother’s voice was still ringing in my ears. Of course I remember him. I remember that sly smile. I remember everything as if it was yesterday.
How big of a hypocrite am I? Day and night I write and speak about coming forward when you are abused. But I have been hiding that dark secret since a decade ago. Why can’t I just tell someone? Why? I ask myself a million times every time I think about it.
It’s not like I have never tried. There have been so many moments I have mastered all my courage and energy to open my mouth to speak when I was alone with mom. But I just couldn’t do it. All these years, I thought that I have healed, but seeing him, suddenly brought it all back.
That day I couldn’t concentrate in school. So I came early after claiming that I have a headache. When I walked into the living room, I was startled to see him still there. When he turned I saw him holding my 1 year old little baby sister. How dare he! My eyes flashed with anger as I stormed up to him and snatched her away, angrily, yet carefully.
“Don’t you dare touch her, you disgusting piece of junk.”
“Katie!” My mom shouted. “That’s very rude!!”
“I don’t care mom. I don’t want her anywhere near this stranger.”
“He’s no stranger! He’s your uncle. He was such a good babysitter when you were little.”
“Yep you looked just like her, except more beautiful.” He winked at me in a way my mom couldn’t see.
“SHUT UP!!” I walked up the stairs quickly and entered my room still holding dear Emma. I paced up and down the room with a racing heart. I have to tell her! I have to, I have to! I told myself. Otherwise he might do something to Emma.
My mom came up to the room.
“What on earth is wrong with you!?” Mom demanded.
“Is he gone?“ I asked, anxiously ignoring her question.
“Of course he’s gone. You’re not very welcoming. What’s the matter with you Katie?”
Yes this is your chance! Take it and tell her before you lose the courage!
I put little Emma down on the bed who was now sleeping peacefully. I sat down on the bed and took a deep breath. You can do it! I told myself.
“I need to tell you something.” I said looking down at my toes. I sat there for like 30 seconds.
“Well, what is it?” My mom asked with a hint of impatience.
“Will you believe me? Say you will believe me.”
“Just say it already. I have got a lot to do before she wakes up. You…”
“He abused me!” I blurted out.
“Mr. Charles. He did when I was in 2nd grade. When he was helping me with homework. When you were not in the house.” I let it all out in one breath before I chickened out.
“What are you saying? That’s not possible.”
“It is! He did it!”
“HE’s my brother!”
“He is a monster!”
She took several steps toward me, “How dare you!”
“But he did!” I sprang up.
“He won’t harm a fly! Do you have any idea how much he donated last month alone, to a children’s hospital?”
“So what? He has a good public image to show. He is a filthy…”
“Don’t say another word! He is the only family I have and I owe him everything for everything he has done for us. How could you accuse him of something like that?”
“You are just jealous of your cousin who graduated from another country.”
“I am not! This is not about..”
My mother picked up Emma and walked out of the room.
I slumped on the bed unable to believe what just happened. How could she not believe it! How could she not believe her own daughter’s words! It’s not as if I drop a bombshell every day.
That day I didn’t feel like doing anything. I lost my appetite and was unable to sleep at night. I couldn’t help think about what would happen to little Emma. At the thought of that little baby in that monster’s arms made me cry all over again.
I tried talking to my mother about it several times. But she shut me down completely. I didn’t feel like talking to a friend about it and I didn’t feel like going to school anymore. My grades dropped like crazy and I didn’t attend any of the club meetings.
I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. Few weeks ago I was this confident girl who everyone looked up to. I was this courageous idol that every girl wanted to be. How embarrassing would it be when they all figure out that I was a hypocrite all along?
Mr. Charles visits my house more than ever now and spends an awful lot of time talking to my dad in his study. It sickens me to my stomach to see them working as business partners even after I told them about my secret. Every time I see him I have this strong urge to just run up to him and wring his neck. If I could kill him and get away with it I would! I prayed to God to make his life more miserable every day.
That night when they were getting out of the study, I confronted my dad. ” How could you still work with him after what he did to me?” I asked.
“Look, he explained me everything. It was all a big misunderstanding.”
“A misunderstanding!?” I gritted my teeth.
“For God’s sake Katie! You fell asleep during tuition. He carried you safely to your bedroom! You should be thankful you didn’t wake up with a sprained neck at the table.”
“Yeah, and when you woke up before I left the room, you got the wrong idea.” Mr. Charles chirped in.
“Enough Katie! That’s what happened. Your memory is too fuzzy to remember what happened at such a young age.”
I couldn’t believe my ears! How could they let him brainwash them. I felt like running away and never coming back.
Every day in school I spend endless hours fantasizing about million different ways to kill him and plotting a good way to brutally murder him. I even thought of poisoning his food next time when he comes for dinner.
That Thursday I didn’t even hear when the last bell rang. It was long after everyone was gone that I realized that I was alone in the class. I got up and walked slowly. I didn’t remember the last time I slept properly or had a good meal. I was so exhausted and depressed. The unfairness of the whole situation made me want to scream at the top of my lungs. I walked up to the balcony and looked down from the third floor.
Will I die if I jump from here? I wondered. How bad would it be? Then my mom may take me seriously. Maybe she will believe that I’m telling the truth. I put my bag down and climbed on the railing. I put one foot over and stood on the ledge. I peeked over my shoulder with my hands clutched to the metal bar. I can do this. I murmured to myself. Just close your eyes and let go and it will all be over. But when I did close my eyes, all I could see was him holding little Emma. I gasped and realized what I was doing.
During the panic, my feet slipped and I screamed. Luckily I managed to grab the railing with one hand. I held that railing with all my life and screamed hysterically unsure of whether anyone would hear me. Suddenly some people pulled me up from there. It took a while for the two teachers to get my screaming under control. When I realized there was a huge crowd gathered around us, I ran past them. When I got to the ground floor, I saw a whole group of students gathered there as well. It was that moment I realized that some extra classes were held that day after session.
As I raced out of the school I heard clicks of cameras. I wailed hopelessly. The news of the ‘crazy suicide girl’ will travel across the country before I reach home.
By the time I burst into my room I was breathless. I controlled my urge to look at my Facebook page which will now be filled with my pictures. Or worse- my hysterically screaming videos.
That night, the news was posted in several online news websites WITH my picture. I cried in despair. How could they do that! How could they put my picture! It’s bad enough already that people knew about that fiasco. As I went through the people’s comments, it broke my heart further into million little pieces.
“Silly girl! Suicide is not the answer!”
“Still not enough publicity? You little ….”
And that was not all! Someone even edited the picture and put it up in some Troll pages!
So cruel! Why can’t they be more understanding? I didn’t know what I was doing. I was so confused. I knew suicide is bad and it won’t do any good. But…I didn’t know…
One night, my parents forced me to sit down for dinner. It was three days after the suicide attempt. They told me they had arranged a counseling session for me. I stood up angrily. “I don’t need some shrink to hear me out. I need you to believe me!! Why is it so hard?”
“Look, let’s not make a big deal out of something that happened a million years ago alright?” My father said angrily. “Just let it go. Forget about it.”
“FORGET ABOUT IT?” I shouted angrily and threw the empty water glass across the kitchen. Why are they being like this? Did Charles make some kind of business deal with them? I grabbed a knife and rolled up my sleeve. “Forget about it?” I repeated. “Well forget about THIS you sick people!”
I slit my wrist several times. My mom screamed while my dad tried to take the knife away. But I backed away and continued doing that. I didn’t even feel pain. All I knew was I was feeling weaker and weaker every second….
I don’t know how long I had been unconscious. When I woke up, my whole arm was covered in bandages. I tried getting off the bed. Suddenly a woman came in carrying a clipboard. “Looks like you are awake.” The nurse smiled. “How are you?”
“Where am I?” I asked
“You are in a hospital”
It’s a hospital alright. It’s a psychiatric hospital for the mentally unstable people.
This is where I am right now. Somewhere I don’t belong and I don’t deserve to be. This is my story. My voice is unheard. The truth is buried and the criminal is freely roaming around hunting down other victims. You might not be able to help me. But help all those whose voices that needs to be heard. Help them come forward. For there are a million “one in threes” out there.
If there are so many reported cases, there will definitely be an equal number of or more unreported ones. How many truths like this will be buried? How many parents will there be who refused to believe their children. How many stories are there unheard? Don’t you just wonder? Right now, at this very second, a very cruel person may be ruining some innocent child’s life.
There are a lot of people who attempts suicide. Each has their own story. The sad truth is that we judge them without knowing their full story. Without giving them a chance to explain themselves. The more they are mocked for their “silly” attempts the more they will isolate themselves. Hence, the more reason for them to repeat the attempts. So don’t judge them. Empathize with them. Hear them out and try to help them in any possible way you can.