Friday, March 27, 2009


Mumbai's Fritzl-like case has only incited silent survivors to speak up. 

Harish Iyer reveals his story to Malay Desai. 

We're such concious over lookers as a people that it took a story as horrific as Austria's Dungeon Dad's for us to take notice. Now as the law's slow clutches move in to reprimand Mira Road's barbaric couple and the media does innumerable follow-ups, a part of me has suddenly awakened, yearning to reveal its brutal past. Yes, even I've been a victim of incestuous rape.

I don't know whether my story is as hair-raising, because the predator here was my maternal uncle. The incest began when I was seven, and persisted till I reached adulthood. Beginning with fondling and bathing me, my uncle gradually started sexual exploitation.

 I was initially unmindful, and so was my family. Who'd think there's something fishy in an uncle giving a bath to his nephew? However, I started realising that something was wrong two-three months down in this 'relationship', when the real abuse began. I hinted this to my mother, but she was perhaps not too aware of such acts, assuming that 'uncles would do such things only to girls'.

(thanks for the picture deepak)

The carnal brutality assumed greater proportions as grew up, entering my teens. Each invasion in my body was also one on my psyche. For, I soon started turning into a numb, lifeless creature giving in to force. And the force of fear it was. The few times I opposed – like any person would have, when inflicted with pain – he threatened kill me or have my parents killed. My mind fell prey to this fear-psychosis and hence I didn't confide in anyone. In fact, over time, I almost developed a dual personality – a silent one when he was home in presence of my parents and a benumbed one when he was with me.

I kept giving in, not being able to say no… till I was 18. The persistent rape took a toll on my sexuality – I realised I didn't have any. I was fearful of men (even guy friends) and not attracted to women. I began living in my own shell, murmuring to imaginary friends, writing in a diary and crying my heart out burying my head in my dog Jimmy's paws. All this continued till one day, as the predator pounced upon me, I instinctively kicked and hurt him. Post that incident, his exploits ceased completely. Looking back, I realised I should have given that kick much earlier.


But it was this realisation, and that of 'How could I allow myself to go through all this?' which led to some degrading emotional repercussions thereafter. This emotional trauma was perhaps more dangerous. I had become drained of all emotions; my resident anger had never surfaced. I forgot to cry. My walk had an obvious fear psychosis to it. After baring it all to my parents, much to their shock, my relationship with my father perhaps changed forever. He, in a fit of rage, alleged that since I hadn't voiced my dissent at these acts, I perhaps 'liked it'. I had no friends to go to, except one. He was my confidant, and I had often vented out my heart to him. Perhaps a turning point came when this friend revealed my story to others at college. I was soon the institution's most loved victim. Random taunts and giggles apart; there was soon graffiti in the men's loos with my name and number under the words 'gay sex'. It was during these pits when I attempted suicide… and failed. At this point, I could've done drugs, resorted to crime or turned into a serial rapist.

Then, thankfully, I realised that survival is more important than escape and that the only way to go was up. The fact that everyone now knew about my reality only made me stronger, more outspoken and often shameless. Almost in an obsessive-compulsive manner, I started telling every one of my pangs. I remember my chowkidaar being appalled on knowing some of my brutal past, but I sure felt better. Also, I channelised my frustrations towards activism. Having a special bond for animals thanks to my dog, I started writing to Maneka Gandhi, who heartily replied to each letter. My teachers, especially Prof. Lakhbeer Kaur of Khalsa College (where I was a Botany student) helped my healing too – they pushed me on to the stage at public speaking events and I ended up stealing the show. Then, through various talks, blog activism and impulsive reactions such as the Sita Sena (an angry response to the Ram Sena), I vented my rage towards all stigmas of society. As I had expected, I was approached by many silent survivors. Truth is that I wouldn't have been this aware a citizen had it not been for my brutal past. As for my sexuality, after a period of self-discovery, I realised I was naturally gay. And I am proud of that.

My aunt divorced my uncle soon thereafter, his sexploits being a prime reason for it. Though I didn't contemplate any legal action against him (there was no way to do that anyway), I made sure my uncle was ostracized from our extended family.

He is disconnected from me and my family now, but I know he is still at large, in the city. I have humiliated him enough through my talks and one TV appearance, since I believe therapy doesn't work with people who talk from their d***s. Today I walk about the streets of Mumbai flaunting activism on my sleeve and having tucked away my bloody past in a corner of my psyche, but not without a rare look over my shoulder.


(Harish Iyer is a Creative Manager at

an Event Management Company)



Today there was an article in Mumbai Mirror

And I thank Malay Desai for doing a wonderful job with the article

And the best thing is he doesn't even realize that he is equally a changemaker.

This reminds me… how often we forget the messenger, after the message is relayed.

I for once will not.

love you Malay

thank you Malay


Anonymous said...

Hey, harish i respect u for what u've made out of ur life.
U've arrived man, n u r an icon for all the victims child abuse. bless you

*Aham* said...

thanks Dost!

Pinku said...


like your name this way..

i had read your earlier post on the matter...but reading this post yet again brought the shivers....beautifully put....thanks for sharing...i am hoping more such cases come out of the darkness and the monsters punished.

And by the way why cant you get your uncle punished under law??

*Aham* said...

the sad thing is.. there was no witness. and by the time i opened up.. i was an adult.

and there is NO LAW AGAINST CHILD SEX ABUSE. victims are tried under the RAPE law, which is against outraging the Modesty of a WOMAN. (what about men/boys who get abused?)

and there is section 377, which bans oral/anal sex... but the funny thing is "THERE IS NO LAW AGAINST CHILD SEX ABUSE"

mahafreed said...

You rock. Very inspiring story

Anonymous said...

Harish, it's extremely traumatic to imagine what you had been through. But most amazing part is that you've made the effort to come out of that dark and dingy shadows. Hats off to you man.

I myself was victim of child abuse as my brother's friend had forced me into couple of times. But then, the inner strength help me fight back to him and many more who felt like 'humiliating me'. Today when I meet those people, they can't look in my eyes!

You're much sober version for you've gone through way much more than anyone can imagine.

Respect! :)

SMM said...

Hey Aham...I had read your earlier posts about this. I can't even begin to think of what all you have gone through or how much you have suffered and a little part of you somewhere always will.

I don't even know what to say actually. But kudos to you for having come out with it and having put it behind you somewehere and not having let it takeover you and your life.

chandni said...

I am speechless.

And all I can say is thank you for sharing. I am sure it won't only inspire people to stand up against abuse but help them understand that survival is most important and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

omnithere said...

** hugs ** :)

Zillionbig said...

OMG, that was one horror, and you have cared to write. thats commendable. I appreciate and honor your courage and spirit. Kudos buddy. You are on the right path, spreading the word. Cheers

*Aham* said...

thanks friend.

Anonymous said...

I can totally relate to the story.... Even though mine was not such a clear cut abuse... i was just approached by a lot of my class mates....... and got groped a lot of times, but fought back throughout the 2 years in boarding school..........
But it does has had a huge impact on my identity, sexuality ...... as a matter of fact, I am still a confused kid in many ways...... but i believe i am on the path of healing....Just that it has been almost 11 years it sounds like too much of a time being wasted..... Hmm.........i guess somethings just take time..

Deepa Nair said...


I am too shocked to read this. Really. All the time we were in school you suffered like this? I choked at every word you wrote!

So very proud that you are out of it and know what you are and what you want to be. Hats off.

Send me your email id... keep in touch.


Sanjukta said...

Hugs :)

We would meet someday...a lot of work needs to be done.

anupamasj said...

I guess the society that we live in, we just trust 'our' people too easily to even think that such things can happen to us. We really need to be aware about a few hard facts, and safeguard our loved ones against such horrors. Your movie will definitely be an eye opener.

It takes tremendous courage to say "This happened to me". And you have come forward and said, "This is MY story". Hats Off to you.

I hope your movie helps all the 'abhimanyu's kick the 'uncle's in their b***s at the right time.

Anonymous said...


Its very heartening to see your post. I can understand you must have gone through a lot to reach here. I respect your courage and trust for people. This is a true achievement!

Wish you ATB Ahem.

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