Date: 03-26-06 09:21
:: SUFFERING IN SILENCE ::
Hindu Voice UK, February 2006
In the first of a two part series, Natasha Jalota shares her true-life experiences of victimisation on a university campus, at the hands of a guy she met during freshers.
About to start University, I was really excited. This would be a fresh start with new friends and a new beginning. During the first term I was nervous to talk to people, but this would be the only way I could make friends, so I made an effort to be friendly. I joined some societies such as the NHSF (National Hindu Students Forum).
All the people I met seemed so helpful and friendly. I assumed that this was because they were in the same situation as me, as new students on campus.
After lectures one Friday an Asian guy approached me. I didn't think anything of it apart from "He's just being friendly". His name was Wasif. We got chatting; he seemed like a nice guy. Even though he was a year older, he was in the first year, because he was re-sitting the year. Wasif gave me his number soon after meeting him and not thinking much of it I also gave him mine. We met up for Lunch on a few occasions; always chatting about usual things like how University was going and whether we've been out anywhere good. So yes we got on really well. But there was nothing more to it. Just like with my other friends, we used to text each other and spoke on the phone once in a while.
On the whole I had a good first semester. Before I knew it, it was the Christmas holidays. Doesn't time fly! It only felt like I moved to University not long ago and was already on my first vacation. With exams on their way in January, the stress started to pile! University actually started to feel real now. Everyone went home for the Christmas holidays, with loads of revision to do and deadlines to meet.
Wasif carried on texting me in the holidays. It was just general stuff; "How you doing?" "What you been up to?" "How's revision going?" And so on. So I just replied generally. Soon after that we started speaking more on the phone. Before I knew it he began to call all the time. After a while I started feeling really uncomfortable, because some questions he was asking started becoming a bit personal. I started ignoring some of his calls. It felt as if he wanted to know everything I did. It was really strange. Holidays were nearly over and I was getting a little worried. "Oh my god how do I avoid him during lectures," I thought to myself. It wasn't that I didn't want him as a friend, but just didn't want him calling me every minute.
University started. The first couple of days were spent settling back in. I didn't see Wasif around much, but then a week or two later suddenly he started texting me to meet up for lunch with him. I sometimes made excuses like "I've got loads of work on", but I couldn't do this forever. When I bumped into him, he would always pester me to come for a drink with him, even though I didn't drink alcohol. Sometimes I said I couldn't make it, but once in a while I got roped into going along. I'm sure he must have known there was something different with me.
Soon it was March, with my birthday approaching! A few weeks earlier, he asked me what I wanted. I was shocked, because I didn't know him that well that he should get me a present. I just told him "I don't want anything…don't be silly." This ended up in a big discussion, and he said he wanted to talk to me over a drink I just said "Yeh", thinking to myself that a quick chat wouldn't hurt.
We met up in the evening at about 6ish and started chatting. He was complimenting me on what I was wearing but it was only jeans and a normal top, which is what I usually wear at Uni. The evening flew by and it was nearly 10pm; I couldn't believe how a 'quick' chat turned into something that took a few hours! I told him its time I went back to my flat. Just as I was leaving he said "Hey Nats can I ask you a question", I just replied with "Yep sure," thinking in my mind, "What's wrong, what is this leading to". I was nervous. It felt like he took ages to ask, but that was probably because of me being so worried. He finally said "Nat's I really like you as a friend, we get on really well," and stopped there. I knew there was something strange going on with all the calls and text messages. I said "Yeh I know were good mates", he then stopped me and said "But can we not be more." I was so shocked. Even though I knew it was coming, I still wasn't prepared. I didn't know what to say, so just said, "Hey I better get going it's getting late." He told me to call him later in the night.
All my way home I was thinking, "Oh my god, what do I say, what do I do, what am I meant to call him about". Just as I reached home, my phone started ringing. I was thinking, "It's not even been half an hour since I left and he's already calling me". I didn't answer the phone. After an hour or so passed. I kept getting calls and messages from him saying "Nats why are you ignoring me?" I did feel bad not giving him a straight answer. I knew it was going to be a definite "NO", but wasn't sure how to let him off lightly. I text him and said "Wasif I'm really sorry but I can't, you're a good mate, but just a mate, sorry". A few days went by, and he kept calling and texting me. Then he asked me what were my reasons for not wanting to be with him. Even though I was frightened I told him the truth. The fact was he was of a different religion. I didn't want to have a relationship with someone from a different religion. That's the way I am. On top of that, my parents and family would be very hurt and disappointed; I couldn't do that for a guy I barely know. Wasif wasn't happy with this, but I was not one to be swayed.
A few months went by, he was still contacting me loads and sometimes the way he spoke to me was as if he thought we were more then friends. I felt really uncomfortable around him, and didn't want to be round him alone ever. I didn't think my first year of Uni would stress me out so much! But things were soon to get worse, much worse.
:: SUFFERING IN SILENCE :: PART 2
In the concluding portion of this two-part series, Natasha Jalota shares her true-life experiences of victimisation on a university campus, at the hands of a guy she met during freshers. The first part can be accessed by clicking here.
It wasn't too long before the Summer Vacation, and I was relieved to be able to get away from Wasif. He had begun texting me saying "I'm going to have you no matter what, just watch". I was initially worried, but then thought to myself, "How can he have me when I am saying no, obviously he's talking rubbish". But he carried on pestering me. Wasif told me I had to meet him during the holidays, but there was no way I was going to meet him alone". He started threatening me, saying that if I didn't meet him he would find out where I live and come to my house. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. How can all this happen just because I didn't want to be with him? I was getting scared of going back to Uni because although I could avoid him over the summer, what happens when I'm back at Uni with him there? Messages kept coming from him, with threats too. One particular message has stuck in my mind. It said "Hey, if you don't have a relationship with me I'm going to tell your parents you're going out with me and I stay over at your flat". I was worried sick and couldn't believe this was happening. Most people look back at Uni as the best days of their life? But for me it was turning the total opposite. He stressed me out so much that it began to show. My family started asking me "What's wrong, why are you so quiet." They noticed that I wasn't eating properly. It was all down to this situation. But I kept quiet about it. I was too afraid to tell them about the nightmare I was going through.
Back at Uni, I thought that he may have forgotten about it over summer, and I could start afresh. How wrong I was! It was the total opposite. He became more and more aggressive. I was suffering in silence. I didn't tell anyone about this - not even my best mate. People were always asking me what was wrong. I tried to act as normal as I could, but obviously there was a change in me. I became withdrawn and lost focus. I began to loose weight because of the stress I was in.
This carried on. A few months passed on, and one day, Wasif hit me with a new and even more shocking bombshell. He told me I had to convert to his religion. I was about to die of shock. Convert??? Why??? I would never do this. He brought me some religious books, with titles like "How to be a true Muslim" and so on, and said "You best start reading them." I refused to take them and told him to leave me alone and that being friends with him was the biggest mistake I had ever made. He became really aggressive and forceful. I was very scared and wondered how long this would go on and what I had done to deserve this. I thought to myself "How can this guy who seemed so down to earth and normal have turned out to be a religious fanatic and a psycho?"
Soon after, he threatened that he would go to my family and show them pictures of him and me together - sexually. I thought to myself "How can he do this, we haven't been together in any other way apart from at Uni". But something came to mind. He was very talented with graphics, including manipulating photographs. I had seen some really good pictures of him with celebrities, that all looked so real, even though they weren't. I couldn't put it past him that he could use the same techniques to make pictures of him and me. Now I was totally scared. What if he carried out his threat? What would my family think of me? What would everybody thing of me? Surely they would think it was somehow my fault.
Wasif then started asking me to pay him off. "Oh my God - pay him off?" All I did was tell him I didn't want a relationship, are you meant to pay guys off who you don't want to be with? How was I supposed to pay him off? I had a student loan myself and was frequently in overdraft. Surely if I was rich I wouldn't have had to have a student loan or be in overdraft.
Finally I ended up telling my sister, after nearly two years of going through hell. She told my parents. I was in tears while she was telling them. "I've really let them down", I thought to myself.
However, my parents were supportive. My fear that they would blame me was unfounded. They told me I had to tell the police because this guy shouldn't be allowed to get away with this. I was very afraid of what he might do and going to the police was the last thing I wanted. But my dad wouldn't take no for an answer. As parents they were obviously doing what they thought was best for me.
I finally went to the police to resolve this matter. I knew that Wasif would tell them a different story to mine. And yes, that's what happened. He said that it was me who asked him out and that he never asked me to pay him to leave me alone, but rather that he just wanted to borrow some money. After so many interviews we both had different stories, which meant the matter would have to go to court, which I couldn't handle. I just wanted my normal life back. So the police involvement ended there. But since the police became involved, it meant Wasif no longer contacts me in any way. And since then my life has finally changed for the better.
I know that there are other girls who are going though similar situations. If anyone is suffering or has suffered what I did - speak out. Please don't suffer in silence. If only I spoke sooner I wouldn't have lost my health, peace of mind and the first few years of my Uni, which could have been the best years of my life.
Natasha can be contacted for questions or advice at Natasha@hinduvoice.co.uk