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

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