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Dee Bhagwanji

When we lived in Tooting, England we were all happy. I was such a nerd because I hated weekends because that meant no school!! Everything was good until one day something changed. I just remember one of the people I called uncle, pulled out his thing and asked me if I wanted to touch it. I don’t remember anything after that. I just know that what he did was wrong!! My mum doesn’t know and she will never know. I haven’t confronted him, because his son is my brother. I love him and I wouldn’t want to hurt him. EVER!! Sam, Sags and Yags are my brothers and I still feel close to them even though we’re thousands of miles apart. However, when I saw this person in London I felt physically sick and immediately had a panic attack. Jamie took me outside and calmed me down. That’s the beginning. Then things got worse. We moved to Harold Hill and I soon realized this was the most racist place on earth. For me anyway. I got bullied and they kept calling me packie!! This is a derogatory term just like using the N word. They would push me and pull my hair, criticize everything about me and they wouldn’t stop till I cried. Sometimes, even tears didn’t help. I don’t know but something inside me snapped. I witnessed a skinhead almost murder my father by throwing him off the balcony. My mum saved my dad’s life!! After that I started skipping school and became very angry. I’d had enough and I almost threw this girl over the bridge. So much force came out and I would have killed her if others hadn’t got involved. I started hanging with the “tough kids’ which led me down a crazy path of self destructive behavior. Before I go on I think it’s important to know this. A world renowned numerologist came to my mums old house (North Parkway) and it was Mum, Amit and I in the room. I am one of the most skeptical person and I didn’t believe in any of it. Amit told the man that you have to tell my sister something specific, because she doesn’t believe. His answer to that was ‘I know what she wants to hear, but someone in this room doesn’t know’ Mum left the room and this man blew my mind. There was absolutely no way he could have known. I mean he knew where the moles on my body were. He also said that the 3 things that happened were unavoidable. They were meant to happen and there was nothing I could have done to change it. This kinda validated that it wasn’t my fault and I shouldn’t be ashamed. However, I remained ashamed and worse too proud to say anything. He told us Mum had to know, so 2 days later it was Amit, Mum, Jamie and me. We told my mum (no details were given) and she walked up to me gave me a hug, kissed the top of my head and said “you’re so brave” I wasn’t brave at all. I did many crazy things.
Incident number one
I was 14 and I had lied to my mum and Dad about where I was going. I went with my friend Kay to meet her boyfriend. Everything seemed fine until we went to his friends place. As soon as I sat on the sofa, I began to feel weird. Like something was terribly wrong. I looked around and made a run for the door, but this POS pulled me back, slapped me really hard and dragged me into a bedroom. I was screaming for help, but it never came. I knew nothing about sex. I was still really innocent in that respect. All I remember is that he brutally raped me. I just remember seeing all this blood and I thought I was going to die, because there was so much blood. I remember another person walk in to take his turn, but thankfully something scared him off. I had been out all night and I got into trouble for lying. I sat in the shower and scrubbed my skin raw, but still felt dirty!! I told no one. I started acting up more. My parents knew something was wrong and gave me every opportunity to tell them. I just couldn’t. I was ashamed, confused and I just buried it. I started skipping school. I got kicked out of several schools. I remember so vividly my Dad coming to my school because I’d been kicked out of yet another school. It was my birthday and my Dad took me for pub lunch. He said “Don’t tell your mum” I was reprimanded. I also found out that due to the brutality of the rape I’d never have children. So many choices were taken from me. Thus far my virginity and not having children. I would have liked to have a say in that. But, it was not meant to be.

My Father was a phenomenal person. He was kind hearted and would help anyone that needed it. He was fun loving, stylish and completely selfless. The guy who tried to throw him off the balcony, he even helped him. He was funny, fun loving and an absolute joy to be around. I just wish you guys had met him. For those of you who don’t know, he was murdered in Kenya. The day Mum, Amit and Dad left to go to Kenya is the same day they found out I wasn’t going to school. I never talked to him when he called because I was ashamed. I never got to say bye. When we got to Kenya and I saw his body. I touched his cheek and remember how cold it was. I also witnessed my Grandmother’s(Dad’s mum) horrific treatment of my Mother!! She would take all the food off the table before my Mum had eaten. Mum would be do chores then come for breakfast. I just exploded. I told her I couldn’t do anything when I was a child, but you’ll NEVER treat my Mother like that ever again!! So much anger!! I was still in shock and almost lost my mind when I was informed by several people that we (Priti & I) couldn’t attend the funeral. I was livid. I needed closure of some sort and these people didn’t understand. I was crying my eyes out begging them to let me go!! It never happened. Talking about my Dad is still very difficult for me. It’s like a big, gaping raw sore, that never heals. I miss him so much. My mum was so strong. She is by far the most incredible woman I know. She’s been through so much, and has to deal with Baa, Kris and me 😥 I just hope I can be a functional human being before she leaves this earth

Incident number 2
A friend and I were at Upton Park subway station waiting for Priti so we could all go to Baa’s. The next thing I knew this guy who I had only met once where he shook my hand and told me it meant something. I didn’t think much of it. Well he drags me outside. I was screaming for help, but yet again no help came. He shoved me in the car. It was one of those cars that had no back doors. You had to pull the front seat forward in order to get in the back. I was already crying uncontrollably. We stopped once and his friend told him to let me go. He was outside so I quickly pushed the seat forward and ran out the car. My legs were so shaky that he grabbed me by my hair and smacked me, throwing me back in the car. We ended up at someone’s house were he raped me. I was still crying uncontrollably. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Again, someone else walked in the room but saw the state I was in and walked out. At this point I was in complete shock. I let him drop me to a train near my house. I later found out that he bragged about raping me. As if that made him a man!! I still didn’t say anything. Priti knew about it, but no one else. She didn’t hear it from me. I had started to shower 2-3 times a day, but I never felt clean. It was different in those days. If a woman was raped on an Indian movie she was ostracized and blamed. This prompted me to stay silent. The shame you feel is overwhelming.

Incident 3
I lied and told Pravin mama and my mum that I was going to the hospital Christmas party, but I went to meet my friend and her boyfriend. We had dinner and I proceeded to leave. I was driving when I noticed blue lights flashing so I pulled over just before the Stateline exit. I thought it was a police officer. Boy was I wrong!! He came to my window and showed me his badge. Something in my gut told me something was wrong!! Before I knew it I had a gun pointed to my temple. He told me to get out of the car without making any noise. At this point the gun was firmly lodged in my back. He pushed me in the car. I already knew what was going to happen, but the things he did were cruel and demented!! After he finished I felt nothing but numbness. He then took all the bullets out the gun except one, spun the barrel inserted the gun inside me and pulled the trigger. I was still alive. At this point I didn’t care if I lived or died, but I couldn’t let my mum find me this way. That was my only concern. He then spun the barrel and put the gun in my mouth and pulled the trigger. I was still alive. He started to laugh and told me I was lucky!! Still numb. I was like a zombie. I got home late and got in trouble. I didn’t cry until I showered and yet again I didn’t feel clean. Years later I took Jamie’s gun and I left one bullet in, spun the barrel and pulled the trigger. Nothing. I repeated this 3 more times. I was having a break down and suicidal. Jamie hid all the knives because I had started cutting myself. This actually started after incident one.
In closing I don’t want pity. I just want you to know why I’m so strange. I push everyone away and live like a hermit. Raja is my joy. I still haven’t dealt with Simba’s death. She was 13 when she died and I couldn’t love her more, even though I didn’t birth her. She is my daughter and Raja is my son. I love them just as much as you love your two legged humans. I really hate humans!! They’re vile, disgusting and do atrocious things to one another!!
Triggers
Blood, shouting, hospitals, and new ones pop up whenever they deem appropriate. I have PTSD, Bipolar, anxiety disorder, and frequent panic attacks. I stabbed invisible people, because to me the shadowy figures were real. So hallucinations too. I have so many things I want to do, but I don’t think I will. I’m hoping that getting this off my chest and sharing this with my family will help me move on. I’m scared shitless about how people will perceive this remains to be seen. I love you all!!

— Dee, age 48

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