Trigger warning: Sexual violence

“Since childhood, I loved playing football and visited the football ground often. Thirteen years ago when I was 12, all I wanted was to make it through the selection to the junior national team. During practice, one of the coaches noticed me and I was asked to partake in the selection. I tried my best, but I wasn’t sure if I’d make it, but the coach had shown a lot of interest in me. He invited me over to his place for dinner and a sleepover. My parents had no objections, after all, I was only a boy. Later in the middle of the night, I woke up to find the coach holding me inappropriately – a state of shock ran through me. Before things made sense, he’d already penetrated me. The pain and shock stunned me. A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. As the horrible act progressed, I only wished for the night to end and regretted everything that had led to this. On the brink of dawn, I ran home as fast as I could. For months, I couldn’t return to the training. In shock and denial, I tried my best to bury the incident. The love for the game was soon replaced by a feeling of disgust. The worst thing was seeing the face of the man act as if nothing happened.

All I wanted was to erase the memory and pretend he never existed. I grew up forgetting about it but it still remained. Whenever I see naked mannequins, I get extremely fearful and develop migraines and seizures. I could never seek any counselling because no one told me that I can. Over the years, I engaged myself in social work working with young children. They’d share their problems and through vulnerability, found ways to cope with their emotions. This brought back all the buried trauma. I wanted to talk about it, so I gathered courage and told them all about it. I felt free and relieved. My friends supported and empathized with me.

Now, I’m no longer that fearful 12-year-old boy who was ashamed of the fact that his coach raped him. I am stronger. I was finally able to confide in people. I’m no longer running away from my inner child. I aspire to be a good man, unlike my coach. I educated myself on the importance of mutual consent. My healing process though late happened eventually. I wish as a child, I knew about sexual abuse and the measures to be safe from it. Times have changed now, kids today, at least in urban areas, are more informed and vocal about it.”

Humans of Thimphu with National Commission for Women and Children – NCWC, BhutanUNICEF Bhutan and partners’ calls for action to End Violence Against Children.

If you, or someone you know, has experienced violence, seek help from the following organisations..

NCWC Woman and Child Helpline: 1098
Royal Bhutan Police: 113
Nazhoen Lamtoen: 1257
RENEW: 17126353


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