Life is a series of ups and downs, but sometimes when you are on this journey and very early on storm after storm rocks your boat, you can get so used to hunkering down and surviving the darkness of these storms, that even when they pass and the waters are calm with the warmth of a sun here to soothe your storm-wracked body, you don’t trust it. You see it as a calm before the storm, finding yourself held tight in the brace of survival, already in preparation for the next storm, unable to enjoy this fleeting moment of peace and sunshine.
And then the next storm comes, as it always does, and while you feel glad that you were alert, over time, this preparedness starts wearing you out. But, all is still not lost! Maybe this is when you learn that the calm after the storm, as short-lived as it may be, is real, valid and for you to bask in! The more you begin to trust that, the more you find yourself feeling the potency of the most short-lived joy during the darkest storms.
When a child from the day that they can make sense of the world, sees one stormy day after another, this is what happens to them. Ongoing violence as the norm locks them into believing that life is nothing but a whirlpool of violence, disparagement and despair; and that they are here to keep their heads down and continue walking, hoping it doesn’t consume them.
Healing then, for such a child, is to break that brace of violence that holds them in place, look up and around, and realise that they can see more, live more, laugh more and dance more. That life is more, and this is what Tarini found!
Tarini grew up seeing her father abusing her mother every day. Before getting married, her mother too had grown up seeing violence and ill treatment. This violence and dominance that Tarini and her younger brother witnessed therefore, became the norm, defining not only their perceptions of the world, but also themselves.
Soon after Tarini had entered adolescence, her father began touching her inappropriately. Used to his way of living, she would initially duck, or run away, believing that that was all that she could do, until one day when the abuse escalated. She was so traumatised, that her world began shrinking rapidly. She became listless, quiet and completely mistrusting. She started staying inside a closed, dark room. Refusing to come out. Refusing to interact with any one, but her mother.
Tarini’s mother sensed that there was something going on and eventually, during an incidence of violence at home, she understood what it was and unwilling to tolerate harm against her child, filed a report against her husband.
When we got in touch with Tarini and her family, it was clear how deeply the abuse had impacted her. Initially, she would remain quiet whenever we would visit with her mother engaging more with us. At the time, she had cleared her class 10 exams, but her mother, now the only earning member, had just lost her job and could not afford to enroll her in class 11.
There was a lot going on in the family – the case, the after-effects of the abuse and financial woes – and the impact of all this on interpersonal relationships. All this was too much stress was for Tarini to feel safe and relaxed enough to begin her journey of healing; and so, she preferred to remain in the comfort of her shell.
But, that is where we were certain of reminding her of possibilities. We continued to support her family in managing every challenge that came their way–from the legal processes to interpersonal stressors and most importantly, consistent counselling support and assurance for Tarini that her days of sitting in dark rooms were finally behind her.
Consistently showing up for her, at her pace, finally cracked open a window in the dark room that she had found herself locked in.
Soon, Tarini began to trust and connect with people. She started to feel safe and sure that she does not have to live alone in her pain anymore.
She began talking more openly and it was almost like a light switched on in her life, where she understood that the violence and ‘rules of being’ she had grown up with, that saw her and her mother as unworthy of respect and autonomy, were wrong and not applicable to them anymore!
Her mother found a job with a cab service provider and began earning enough to not only feed her children, but also enroll Tarini in class 11 in a good school.
This year, Tarini was approaching the final and qualifying school exams. Suddenly, her father passed away, leaving the family with a grief full of mixed emotions. With the case now over, Tarini stood by her mother as they moved into this phase of their lives.
Appearing for her final exams this year, while navigating all this, Tarini cleared class 12 with a stellar 78.6%!!!
While looking forward to higher education, Tarini has gotten herself enrolled in a Digital Marketing certification program (and holds a student leadership role) with the intention of walking in step with the world now. We cannot wait to see what uncharted territories Tarini will conquer in life!
CSJ is currently supporting over 200 children like Tarini to access legal & psychosocial support. We are eager to extend our support to more children and help them make the whole world their oyster. You can help us do that by donating and sharing this story with your friends. Under our campaign, ‘Begin Again,’ all funds we raise will go towards providing long term care to more children. Donate now to help us in reaching our goals.
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