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Why We Need To See More Representations Of Sexual Abuse, Mental Illness And Depression

23/04/2016 8:26 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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Upset problem child with head in hands sitting on staircase concept for childhood bullying, depression stress or frustration

I'm not a big fan of physical contact in general, let alone unwanted physical contact. Unless you are my imaginary-at-the-moment significant other, you keep that hug to yourself. I know you mean well and everything, but cooties! Unwanted physical contact, in any form, can do serious damage to a person. It's demeaning, you lose control. When it's sexual, of course, it's much worse. When you are an adult, you learn to cope, with or without a support system. But when you are a child, it's something else. Something really, really strange. I say that because I genuinely can't figure out what that feeling is. All I know is that it's definitely not a good feeling.

Almost everyone I've had a heart-to-heart conversation with has had a horrible sexual experience when they were kids, with an adult.

The most disturbing fact is that almost everyone I've had a heart-to-heart conversation with has had a horrible sexual experience when they were kids, with an adult. It's funny how casually we all talked about it as if it's so normal! For me, it was when I was 15, on a crowded bus. An elderly man with wandering hands sat beside me on what seemed to be a never-ending bus ride. I felt helpless and after a while, I reacted. I pushed those hands away. He got pissed and told me he was just being "friendly and nice". He continued and I kept resisting. The weirdest part was that more than him and his hands, I remember being worried about people noticing. I don't think I'd have thought that way if I were a girl. I didn't want to be rescued, I just wanted him to go away. I didn't want people to see me, a boy, in that situation because a part of me was blaming myself, which is saying a lot because I blame others for everything! But he finally got off the bus and I felt so relieved and happy. That ride was to a friend's house, which I was really looking forward to. So I thought I could just forget about that incident and go back to being normal. But I remember getting there and when everyone was having fun, that strange feeling started kicking in. I don't know how to describe it, so I'm not going to. Let's just say it was really bad.

Indian movies have a long way to go in terms of representations. We have Bollywood movies that don't even show South Indians properly, let alone depression and sexual abuse!

Then I grew up. There were some wanted physical contacts and all was well. And then one day in 2012, after graduating college, I watched and read Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I've never related to a character like Charlie before. He was an introvert, he found it difficult to belong, to "participate". He was sexually abused, suicidal and good looking. After the initial "so relatable!" freak out and heartbreak, I realized how comforting the story was. I got the kind of comfort I never had the courage to ask for, the same way Prayers for Bobby made me feel about my sexuality. So representation in movies, TV and literature is important. Not just for sexual abuse victims or gay people, for everyone! There aren't many mainstream movies that talk about these things the way Wallflower does about sexual abuse, depression and introversion, or how Silver Linings Playbook shows a bi-polar man and a depressed woman falling in love or even the animated movie, Inside Out, showing both children and adults the importance of being in touch with all your emotions.

We see movies and shows about doctors and the difficult choices they make, homecoming soldiers and their PTSD, women who become widowed, men who get divorced--a lot of tragic stories. While all of them are equally important and should be told, stories about sexual abuse, depression and other mental illness, or just complex emotions in general, are important too. It doesn't have to be in the mainstream--it could be as low-budget and indie as this year's Academy Award winning actor Brie Larsen's Short Term 12. Her movie Room might have gotten her that Oscar, but her heartbreaking performance in the indie film as a victim of paedophilia and depression was phenomenal.

We have passed the stage where movies, TV, music, literature were just for entertainment.

Indian movies have a long way to go in terms of representations. We have Bollywood movies that don't even show South Indians properly, let alone depression and sexual abuse! But there are a few exceptions: Imtiaz Ali's Hindi movie Highway was one. The recent Malayalam movie Amar Akbar Anthony, even with all its cinematic flaws, somehow managed to show how irrelevant gender is when it comes to child sexual abuse. The latest Hindi movie Kapoor and Sons was a win for the LGBT community in terms of genuine and true representation.

We have passed the stage where movies, TV, music, literature were just for entertainment. Yes, it's fun and important to watch Deadpool in all his glory! To watch Batman and Superman kick each other's butts and then Spiderman lands on top of a van and scares them or something. It's all important! But let's also talk about real issues. That might not be entertaining, but it, sure as hell, is comforting to someone in your life or maybe even yourself!

This article was first published on The Millennial Introvert

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