Trigger Warning: Mentions of sexual assault and PTSD.

It’s never easy speaking up about the person who assaulted you. But it’s much harder when you decide to come forward with your story many years later.

My fears had drowned out my voice. But not anymore.

I was young, innocent, and afraid when I was assaulted. I didn’t know who to tell. I didn’t know who’d want to hear my story. I didn’t know who’d believe me because I lived in a society where girls were told that it was always their fault.

You can’t laugh too loud. You need to walk a certain way. Your dupatta must always be around your neck.

Some part of me grew up believing all these excuses. Some part of me thought that maybe, I was responsible for what I endured.

You need to walk a certain way. Your dupatta must always be around your neck.

But now, years afterward, when I think about it, I realize that it couldn’t have been my fault. I was just a little girl back then.

My harasser had no excuse to assault me.

For a long time, I kept my story close to myself. I didn’t let anyone else hear it. It only lived in my journal until now. But, I’ve finally found my voice. After years of hesitation, I’ve decided to write my story. I know there are already too many out there. But they’re all important.

Including mine. And yours.

It was late summer. There was still time before school opened again. I always wanted to learn tennis and my parents decided that I should take up tennis classes before summer was over. I went to the tennis court every day. For a few days, my coach gave me lessons outside in the open courts, where there were people all around. But later on, he insisted that we should go to the squash court, as it was empty, and he could teach me better.

I went with him.

Within the four walls of the squash court, he didn’t teach me tennis. He assaulted me.

What would have become of him if I exposed him all those years ago?

I didn’t resist when for the first time, he wrapped his hand around mine and said, “I’m only telling you how to hold the racket.” I smiled and asked if I was holding it correctly. As days passed by, he became bolder. He would wrap his arms around my stomach and ask me to hit a shot. I would do as he would say.

His prickly beard rubbed against my face and his hands grazed my body in all the wrong places. He smelled of all things bad. I wanted to pull away, but he was big and strong. My tiny wrists wriggled in his fists.

I wanted to run away. I wanted to scream. But even if I tried, I couldn’t. I was scared of him. And then, finally, one day, I stopped going. When my parents asked me why I told them I didn’t want to learn tennis anymore.

I wanted to run away. I wanted to scream. But even if I tried, I couldn’t.

I still think about him, even if I don’t want to.  And I don’t think that’ll ever change. I remember his face, his hungry, malevolent eyes pricking my skin like needles.

I think about where he might be right now. I think about how many more girls he probably assaulted after I moved away.

What would have become of him if I exposed him all those years ago?

I’ve realized now that all those years ago, I was assaulted by a man much older than I was. It was sexual assault when his hands moved up under my shirt, when he tightly held my wrists and when he rubbed his face against mine.

All of it was wrong and none of it was my fault. I’ve spoken up now, years after all of it happened, because it’s never too late to speak up, to share our stories, to raise our voices.

I was always afraid to speak out. But not anymore.

His time is finally up.


https://wp.me/p7kpad-uFl
Izza Malik

By Izza Malik

Editorial Fellow