“I used to think, ‘What could possibly be worse?’ But he proved me wrong; he kidnapped me”

“I was in the 9th grade when I first met him; a mutual friend introduced us. He was 18, went to a local college, and offered me a ride back home. He seemed decent, so I gave him my number. It wasn’t long before we started chatting. But every time I asked him about his family, he’d brush it off. That was the first red flag I ignored.

And on our first date, he deflected all personal questions and said, ‘Let’s not talk about it.’ I knew something was up, but didn’t want to upset him. Soon after, I introduced him to my parents, and in no time, he won their trust. But the fact that he never let me meet his family irked me. I barely knew him beyond his last name.

So, I reached out to his Facebook friends– they told me his dad is a gangster who runs a drug mafia. When I confronted him, he said, ‘Everything you’ve heard is true.’ I was horrified. Back home, I didn’t tell anyone; I knew I’d be the one blamed and my freedom would be taken away. So I just blocked him.

But a few days later, he started following me. I told him to go away, but he burned my wrist with cigarette butts and said, ‘How dare you block me?’ Then, he slapped me and ran away; I was shocked.

And it kept happening; once, I was on my way back home from school when he dragged me to the corner of the street. When I resisted his advances to kiss me, he whipped me with his belt and said, ‘If you try to leave me, I’ll kill you.’ The harassment and threats went on for months.

Another time, when I was walking to the library, he pulled me into a van. When I screamed for help, he pulled out a gun to subdue me. Then, he drove up to a hill, dragged me to the ledge and said, ‘Say you love me, or I’ll push you off the cliff.’ I was hanging between life and death, so I complied. The emotionless look in his eyes when he dropped me home still haunts me.

He began to take me out to restaurants and bars, and force me to wear clothes he bought for me. I was convinced that all of it was my fault and I deserved it. But when he slapped me in front of his friends, something in me snapped– I felt like a toy. So, I stopped returning his texts and calls. He spied on me from my window, but I didn’t give him a reaction. I used to think, ‘What could possibly be worse?’ But he proved me wrong; he kidnapped me again.He'd brought two other boys with him; they tied me up and taped my mouth. They drove to an abandoned field, thrashed me black and blue with cricket bats, and fled.

My dad and uncles drove all night looking for me. When I regained consciousness, I found myself in an ICU bed. I’d broken my arm, ribs, and was paralysed from the waist down. I was too traumatised to say anything to my parents. 10 days later, I was discharged, still with no sensation in my legs. Even after months of working with the physiotherapist, I couldn’t sit up. Mentally, I felt numb.

I told mom and dad that I was run over by a car, but my injuries told a different story. So I was brought to a psychiatrist, to whom I confessed everything. My parents immediately took me to the police. He was nabbed in a day, but let off with a warning; the cops were intimidated by his father.

But my secret was out and I could finally start healing. It took me a year of therapy to get back on my feet. Physical pain aside, each session was emotionally draining.The cops assured me I'd never see him again, but I’d still have nightmares about that night. I had to repeat the year at school.

Slowly, I realised I was just 16, I had my whole life ahead of me. So, I resolved to be stronger and fight it off. I got better with the support of my friends and family.

A year later, I saw his photo with a girl on the front page of a newspaper; my heart skipped a beat. Apparently, he’d raped and murdered his pregnant girlfriend after a year of dating. I didn't sleep that night; I kept thinking how that girl could’ve been me if I hadn’t gotten help. It’s been 4 years since the incident and I still struggle to make new friends. People gossip that he’s set to marry another girl, that he’s a changed man now. But I don’t believe in hearsay; to me, he’ll always be just a killer on the loose, hunting for his next prey.

And I used to blame myself for all of this– ‘I got kidnapped because I was dumb enough to trust him and keep quiet.’ But now I’m a lot kinder to myself; I’m moving forward– healthier and happier. I want to finish college, because my family doesn’t think I will; they think I’ll always be this– a victim. But I’m going to prove them wrong. He broke my bones, not my spirit.”

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