I had shut this website for a week in September.
I didn’t close this blog for a week because I was scared.
I know the tender marrow of fear very well, but I am choosing to make friends with it.
I am choosing to trust that when people promise me their protection, I should believe them. The people who offer me that protection say that the person they handled is ‘unstable and perpetually stoned.’ A person who showed no remorse and a doped ‘sorry’ was all that character would offer. “You shouldn’t meet guys online,” they reproach me. Of course, no matter their support, they are trained in a patriarchal system to blame the woman.
I swallow that admonition without correcting them because they don’t know that it was a woman I trusted who brought that person to my life, dragged me into that mess, and then left me to fend for myself. I never went seeking that person online. I don’t tell them because I have gone to great lengths to keep that woman out of their purview, one act of final kindness that the woman didn’t deserve.
But I didn’t close this blog because I was scared of that person. No. I will believe those who have promised me protection. That fellow knows I let him off lightly. Violating Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code attracts 3 years in jail. He barely spent a few hours there because of me. He can act as cocky and arrogant as he was, justifying harassing me by saying I was “trying to create ill-will” between him and his girlfriend, but he knows he got off easy. But I hope that the action I took will make him think 10 times before he thinks of harassing any other woman.
Then, my LinkedIn profile saw visits from random guys in low-level IT admin/service jobs from a major city in South India by the sea – the sort of profiles I don’t connect with at work, who weren’t even my 3rd-degree connections, and who wouldn’t even be remotely interested in my posts or my content-facing work.
But I did not close this blog because I was intimidated by those visits. No.
I closed my blog because I was getting repeated visits from the same city by the sea, a repeat visitor whose IP I could easily identify, the same woman I had once trusted, and who kept checking in, especially on this post. I was not scared by those visits, but it felt like I was being watched. Assessed by a woman who has very few values of grace, humility, decency, and kindness or empathy. And I had had enough of being stalked. I took action to pass this message to that woman: Actions have consequences. For too long, she has harmed people, getting away with blocking them, removing them from her life, and thinking “problem solved.” Like with that guy, I hope she thinks 10 times before she blocks someone else, uses them, or allows them to be harassed. I hope she understands what ‘trauma’ really means, what emotional abuse is.
I closed this website for a week to send that woman a message: You aren’t wanted here. Get out.
When you support and enable an abuser, you aren’t wanted here.
When you ignore pleas for help, you aren’t wanted here.
When you throw vitriol at someone seeking help, you aren’t wanted here.
When you are more worried about “who knows” rather than owning up and being accountable, you aren’t wanted here.
When you use someone and discard them, you aren’t wanted here.
This is not a space for anyone who supports harassment, stalking, misogyny, ill-treatment, and abuse. Never.
This is a space for kind, crumbling people, the sort of people who will stand up for the wrong they see in themselves and others with kindness, compassion, and care. This is also a space for the darkness we all have, true. I know we all struggle. I am deeply flawed. And I wish for all of us to hold our mistakes close to us, to offer in all humility every drop of kindness we can to those we hurt, and those we cause to suffer, including ourselves.
This is a space for people like my lovely J, who unfollowed a book blogger because in her words she could not “continue to follow someone connected with this type of behavior.”
That is the space I want; those are the people I want in my life. People who are beautiful in their messy ways, but who will show they are here for me in those messy ways. And I will be here in return. I was weak in my compassion before. Now, I am allowing compassion to guide me. That means removing people from my life who won’t offer respect, who treat you with condescension and mockery and turn a blind eye to the hurt they caused.
I deserve better.
So: Finito. End. A long, horrid chapter of 5 years, I hope, is shut forever now. There will be nothing more written about this. No names will ever be revealed, and no further action will be taken unless the woman connects with me or my contacts in any way or she and her cronies visit my website. But I hope that better sense will prevail because, this time, I am prepared.
And Dido says it best: Come over here now, so you can see me walk away and celebrate the end of night:
I leave you all with Pema’s words:
“May we continue to open our hearts and minds, in order to work ceaselessly for the benefit of all beings.
May we go to the places that scare us.
May we lead the life of a warrior.”
I am there, Pema. I am in the place that scares me. But I promise to lead the life of a warrior. A very peaceful, kind warrior, though. 🙂
I dedicate this post to all of you who stood by me and who took extraordinary risks and pains for me:
B, P, and another string of alphabets who are more than that, but who I won’t reveal for your safety: N&N, A, K, V, CSD, D, and J.