I was probably 5 or 6 years old when I first experienced panic.
I was playing with a friend in my village, when he arrived and stared at me. I remember that he was trying to be nice. I knew I was safe, as there were people around but I couldn’t resonate. I couldn’t hear his words. All I could feel was my heart beating, feeling under threat and a deep desire for him to disappear.
He was my grandfather. The men who for years beat his daughter and wife - my mother and grandma. Although, he never dared to harm me (not even once), my mum’s trauma was passed onto me. As if it was tattooed on my DNA. Whenever he was around, his name was mentioned, or the violent stories were told, I would wish he never existed. I couldn’t even look at his pictures. I was ashamed of him, even though we were the same blood.
I fear him so much that once, as I knew he was around, I asked my mother to lock me inside the car. That was the only way for me to calm myself down. I fear him so much that for years, I secretly wished him to die. Just for the sake of feeling safe.
Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. No one has ever beat me but I know how powerful fear can be, to prevent a woman to leave her aggressor.
PS. It took me a year to share this publicly. Yet I couldn’t ask women to share their stories with us if I wasn’t brave enough to do it myself. I guess he is one of the reasons why I have started this project.
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