"She groped me and molested me"
Any type of abuse within South Asian households normally goes under the radar. But, brave student Mandeep Singh* has come forward about how his own sister sexually abused him.
The 20-year-old from Birmingham wanted to share his experiences in the hopes that more people, especially men, will come forward and seek help.
Whilst sexual and domestic abuse cases involving women are higher, the incidents involving men are virtually muted.
This boils down to a list of reasons such as shame and embarrassment that gets put onto the men.
There are still outdated views that men need to be ‘tough’ and less susceptible to abuse. But this is not the case.
As is the case with Mandeep who had to deal with issues of alcoholism, sexual abuse and violence in his life. Exposure to this from an early age will have an adverse effect on anyone.
However, due to the flat effort within Desi communities to address certain ‘taboo’ topics, he felt alone and confused about what to do.
We get a first-hand account of what Mandeep had to deal with and in some parts, it is hard to process his experiences.
Warning: The following content is of an adult, graphic and disturbing nature, and may upset readers.
Alcohol & Upbringing
Whilst getting sexually abused by a family member is a difficult situation to comprehend, Mandeep gives some insight into his upbringing.
His experiences hint at the type of behaviour he and his sister were exposed to.
Additionally, he bravely tells of what type of family life he was surrounded by. This is incredibly important to gather the context of just how fragile the household was:
“I come from an abusive family, my dad got into fights with my mum and they would argue quite a lot. My sister was close to my dad and I was close to my mum.
“But, because of how often my mum would be depressed or sad, she ended up leaving my dad and the family.
“So, the one person I was close to and had a relationship with, left. I think it was mainly because of the drink that she left.
“My dad would sometimes finish a bottle of whiskey a night and then start arguing for no reason. I guess it got to the breaking point for her.
“For some reason, I got the blame and my sister would then start arguing with me, telling me it was my fault.
“Bearing in mind I’m about 8 or 9 and she’s older by six years. I’m not really close with my dad at all.
“He and my sister used to do a lot of stuff together when I was younger, and I’d be left out. Even when my mum left, I was alone in the house.
“Nobody would come and check on me or be there for me. I always felt like I’d let the family down.”
“I’d act up at school because of how angry I felt and then when they called my dad, I’d get smacked or shouted at home.
“Most times, I’d just get whacked and then my sister would come in after and laugh or say I deserved it.
“It’s not the right thing to do, and you start to feel worthless in your own family.
“This is all within a year or so of my mum leaving so I’m still really young but couldn’t grow as a person if that makes sense.
“I was always scared to go home after school so would try and take a longer route or stay behind for after-school club.
“But, when I’d get home, my sister would tell my dad that I got home at 5/6 pm and he’d get angry again.
“Even sometimes when my dad wasn’t at home, my sister would punch me or slap me randomly.
“I’d be in the kitchen and she’d scratch me or tell me to behave otherwise she’d “make me go away” or tell dad on me.
“It was like she was trying to control me or do my dad’s dirty work when he wasn’t there. I dunno if that was her way of sucking up to him.
“She might have even done it so she would be in his good books and wouldn’t get beaten as I would.”
At a time when Mandeep and his family should have stuck together, his father and sister lashed out at him, unfairly blaming him for his mother’s departure.
As a young child, seeing parents separate is such an emotional time. But, getting blamed for it adds a level of guilt that is unfair and damaging.
Mandeep was forced to deal with these feelings by himself and almost unnaturally mature to overcome the type of blame he received.
Sexually Abused by my Sister
As life at home was tormenting Mandeep every day, he was constantly on edge about his surroundings.
Although he tried to keep to himself, he could not escape the tension between himself and the rest of his family.
Diving further into the abuse he suffered, Mandeep was unaware that his life would change forever:
“The abuse started a year later when I was around 10. The first time it happened was late at night and my sister came home drunk.
“My dad had gone out for the evening and normally that meant he wouldn’t be back till the day after.
“She came into my room and I remember being half asleep and seeing a bit of light.
“The next thing I knew, she was laid next to me and I just laid still because I knew if I told her to get out, then she’d hit me or tell my dad something to get me slapped.
“I felt her hand across my face and thought she was going to scratch me again but she went lower.
“She kept saying ‘you’re so disgusting’. She said I was the reason mum left and everyone in the family is sad because of me.
“I didn’t know what to do and froze.
“She put her hands on my groin area and said, ‘I’ll chop this off if I want’. I was so freaked out and I just jumped up.
“She slammed my head against the backboard and told me if I said anything then she’d tell dad to hurt me.”
“She stumbled out and then that was it.
“I remember just crying to myself and I was actually more hurt by what she was saying than what happened. But at that age, I couldn’t really understand what was happening.”
This instance alone makes one wonder about the type of anguish Mandeep was feeling at that moment – abused and tormented by the person who is supposed to be protecting and guiding him.
This also raises more levels of concern and stigmatised issues in South Asian families such as alcoholism.
While there is no justification for the acts against Mandeep, it seems alcohol was the contributing factor to his sisters’ actions. Mandeep continues:
“The second time it happened was again when my sister was drunk. My dad was downstairs and I was in my room.
“I heard shouting from downstairs and I think my dad and sister were arguing.
“They were both drunk and slurring over their words and I remember thinking please don’t come in here or come upstairs.
“I then heard some footsteps so I rushed into bed and pretended to be asleep. I didn’t know who it was going to be but it ended up being my sister.
“So, I just froze up again and hoped she wouldn’t come near the bed. She sat next to me and was crying more.
“She started stroking my back and told me to wake up. I turned over and saw her eyes all red and swollen.
“I said ‘sorry I’m tired I’m going to sleep’ and then her sadness turned to anger. She told me to keep quiet otherwise she would call dad upstairs.
“Her hand kept stroking me and went lower. She said ‘I know mum didn’t leave because of you’ and ‘don’t worry everything will be ok’.
“But she also said, ‘if you want to be a part of this family then you have to make me happy’. I was a little boy and was so confused.
“I knew what was happening didn’t feel right but I also wanted my family back, I wanted to make my sister and dad happy. Those types of feelings, I hadn’t felt before.
“She then stroked me lower and lower and rubbed my penis and said you can make me feel better by laying here.
“She did that for 10 minutes in complete silence. Then she left, not a word out of her.
“This carried on for months, sometimes once a week, sometimes once a day. But she always said that this is what stupid boys have to do to get into the family.
“She even told me dad went through this as well and it’s part of growing up.”
“I was impressionable, I didn’t know I was getting manipulated or groomed. I always felt disgusting and didn’t know who to turn to.
“But, I couldn’t tell my dad because he wouldn’t believe me and I was cut off from contacting any family. I didn’t have friends at the time but what could I really say anyway.”
As Mandeep expressed, his loneliness meant there was no one to turn to. Even if he came forward to his father, there was a chance of further backlash or abuse.
With the confined upbringing he had, Mandeep couldn’t even talk to friends or reveal what was happening in a safe space.
Sexually Abused to the Brink
After these horrendous acts, Mandeep didn’t have time to realise what was happening and unfortunately for him, the worst was yet to come:
“The worst occasion was before Christmas. A few days before this she had told me to touch her, when I didn’t, she beat me and scratched me.
“She got my cricket bat and went to hit me but I said ‘ok ok’. So I did.
“Then the time before Christmas, I was in the living room and dad was out. She told me that she would tell mum to come back home if me and her could spend time together.
“Of course, I was happy and all I could think was that things would go back to normal.
“She groped me and molested me, I remember crying and she told me to shush.
“I was there quivering and she then turned me around and told me to bend over. She tried doing something to me. I tried to get out but she yanked me back and pulled on my hair.
“A piece of my hair came out and then she put my hands on her but I was crying a lot at this point and her eyes went red again.
“She pushed me and I ran to the bathroom. I sat on the toilet and wiped myself with paper and there was blood on it.
“I don’t know why I was put into that situation.
“Any mention of my mum and Id forget everything and just think about being with her again.”
“To be honest, I’d just hope she would come back and then me and her could leave together. Maybe she would understand what was happening.
“That’s the worst time I can think of and what I can clearly recall. Obviously, those types of events never leave you. Even talking about it now, I can feel it happening.”
It’s clear that Mandeep was manipulated into behaving a certain way in the hopes that his mother would return.
His sister preyed upon his vulnerability and led him to believe certain things to fit her agenda. The type of consequences this could have on someone is unfathomable.
For Mandeep, that bond with his mother was exploited.
When someone has been sexually abused for such a long time, whether they’re aware it’s wrong or not, they’ve been rewired to conform.
A Lucky Escape
With so many years of getting sexually abused by his sister, Mandeep explained that he didn’t try to stop it himself.
But, as he got older, calls from university came and an opportunity to finally escape from such a frightening household:
“The sexual stuff did carry on but became less frequent as I got older. Physically I outgrew my sister but mentally, I was still that little boy frozen in the bed.
“But she would still hit me if she was drunk or angry or shout at me in front of my dad. If I did try to defend myself, my dad would come at me.
“But, I knew that the only way I could escape was to go to university. It would give me my own space and I’d feel safer there.
“I could rebuild my life and make friends and knew if something ever happened, I could have other people to rely on.
“My dad and sister did try to stop me from moving. But I had so little growing up, I only needed one suitcase and a few other bits.
“So, when they were both out, I actually moved out to halls without telling them. Before this, I did applications, forms and finances all on my own.
“Even though that was hard, the bright side is that they don’t know any information about where I exactly am.”
“I signed up to therapy as soon as I got university and that was the first time I let out what had happened. Then it actually hit me what was getting done to me.
“I’m still dealing with things and I feel like 20 years of my life have been ruined. I don’t know how to do the basics correctly.
“Even meeting new people is still fresh to me. I have met some people and they know what I’ve been through. I’ve got to stay strong to try and overcome thoughts and feelings.
“I’ve felt suicidal in the past and that’s something I’m still dealing with. Thankfully it’s getting better. But day by day, I hope to finally live a full life again.”
Mandeep’s harrowing story is only a glimpse into how traumatic and painful his life was, and in some aspects, still is.
He is still recovering from years worth of multiple forms of abuse. But, it seems he is on the right path to overcome the torture at the hands of his family.
Although he is coming to grips with a new life away from home, Mandeep has done incredibly well to actively seek a better future.
He hopes that his story emphasises how important it is to address these situations, especially when it involves young South Asian men.
If you or another person are suffering from sexual abuse or are personally affected by any of the themes in this article, do not suffer in silence and reach out for help immediately.