For a woman who is known to be upfront and vocal, who has lived life threadbare on her own terms for a decade now, this unfathomable and uncalled for incident left me stunned and silent. It left a scar so deeply rooted on my psyche that at this point of life I have begun to question people’s intentions, especially those of men regardless of their professional and personal status or age.
This incident has made me take a respite in my cocoon. Women have so long been tagged with epithets like shy, illusory, submissive, forgiving, compassionate and loving, that people have forgotten that they too can be fierce. I as a woman have always believed that we to some extent allow ourselves to be exploited and manipulated because of our inherent forgiving nature, for the nth time we let go and remain silent.
Until now, I have always drawn a distinct line when it comes to being taken for granted though men never cease to try and push the boundary with unnecessary small talks over social media. Social media and the leverage it grants makes people forget that they encroach other people’s privacy. Bothering anyone unnecessarily is not okay. Somehow, the men have never had the courage to act fresh in person. But for once, I was too taken aback to react.
Taken aback at the audacity of a person who forgot his professional ethics and morals. This was the least I expected from a doctor. Shocked because I wanted to believe, the doctor was just trying to be friendly and kind. What shook me was, if such incidents could silence a woman like me, what about those who are uneducated, unaware and naive? What about those who deal with such people every single day at their work places? For two consecutive days I had to see this doctor to make sure if my heart was soundly functioning pertaining to the innumerable palpitations I got. I am under medication for anxiety attacks and palpitation for the past year and a half.
As this doctor saw ‘clinical depression’ he gave me a friendly advice to sit in another cabin for he did not want me to bare my skeletons in the presence of other patients. I took this suggestion very normally until I found myself in a room with no attendants. He came over leaving aside his other patients. And tried to reason that my palpitations could be because of excess stress that I take. I actually was visible vulnerable at the time because of the countless palpitation attacks and was going through an emotional tide. All the while, he tried to reason me how to enjoy life pubhopping and partying as life is so uncertain. As he advised his hands began with a rub and then a caress over my shoulder, were sometimes above my knees, holding my hands. He even gave a supposedly friendly hug and planted a kiss on my forehead. And asked me to let him know when my mother and son were leaving the country. He said, he’d teach me how to have fun. I cringed. I felt numbed by this audacity.
This was the least I wanted at my most vulnerable stage. I was seeking help and I got objectified very subtly which only added to my existing trauma. For me, the abuse begins with a way a man talks to a woman, his warped ideas about her desire and needs, the way he wants to be the messiah. And I bet many women keep SILENT about this. Later on I complained to my regular consulting doctor, who apologized for what I had to face and asked if I wanted to file a legal complaint. He would help me. I said NO. No because the doctor in question was a savior of thousands of lives. A bigger no because I was at such a vulnerable mental state that I could not face media or camera pointing at me to bare myself. But yes, I requested him to bring this issue up within the fraternity. I was assured that this issue would be reprimanded and looked over. My psychiatrist has really helped me throughout battle with my emotional setbacks and now this.
But over the months, I have become very bitter with what I had to experience. Sexual abuse or harassment is heinous and I wonder how many of us can look back at it with forgiveness? How easy can talking about the self be for anyone irrespective of the gender, when there is a lot of violence involved in the psyche? It is time we speak up breaking the myth of being the powerless and voiceless.
*Saguna Shah contributed for Mero Tribune media. She is Educator and Founder of bOOkahOlics