Panic during a pandemic; that some of us were not prepared for
Oppression and October, both start with the letter 'O' and it has particularly been a month of collective rage and grief with the occurrence of two disturbing events, one after the other
Trigger Warning: Murder, Rape, Violence
October has been a very unsettling month for the country. Numerous people are reflecting on how the eleventh month of 2020 is almost here and how most of the year has been indoors. This month gave people the opportunity to engage in mental health based events globally since it was World Mental Health Month. Interestingly, right after World Mental Health Day on October 10, it was National Coming Out Day on 11th, International Pronouns Day on 20th, Intersex Awareness Day on 26th and Asexual Awareness Week till October 31, 2020. Each of these days were observed extensively all over social media with the intent of educating people on multiple identities.
Oppression and October, both start with the letter 'O' and it has particularly been a month of collective rage and grief with the occurrence of two disturbing events, one after the other. The first incident which shook the nation was when four upper caste men raped and murdered a young 19-year-old Dalit woman at Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. This traumatic event was all over the news and social media leaving Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi communities (DBA) and survivors of abuse feeling emotionally triggered. At least three of my clients mentioned experiencing nightmares about sexual abuse after taking in all the information about what happened. An article by - She The People, also mentioned how Hathras has noticed an increase in the number of crimes against women and young girls. The second incident was the brutal murder of Coimbatore's prominent Transgender activist, Sangeetha Ma. Along with being the head of the Coimbatore Transgender Welfare Trust, she was an entrepreneur who started a restaurant 'Covai Trans Kitchen' and gave employment opportunities to fellow trans individuals to work with her. The news of her murder triggered many trans and non-binary individuals who are now fearing for their own safety. Clients have mentioned feeling anxious, facing difficulty in sleeping and experiencing drastic changes in mood. A lot of people who experience post-traumatic stress might find it difficult to distinguish between threatening and non-threatening situations as the incidents have long lasting effects on the brain and the nervous system.
If caste-based violence is affecting you and your loved ones, reach out to - The Blue Dawn, that holds mental health support groups for Bahujan communities through a social justice lens. In case you are looking for a queer affirmative space, One Future Collective facilitates Queer Justice Healing Circles twice a month.
The increase in hate crimes and acts of violence fueled by oppression have been huge factors that affect people's emotional, physical and mental health, especially those in the margins (unimportant or powerless position within a society or group). Marginalization can have damaging effects on a person's health as it silences the voices of diverse communities by 'othering' them. Hence the narrative, 'Personal is Political' is crucial at this point, whether it has to do with someone's sexuality, gender identity or caste.
Written by Richa Vashista (she/her), an independent mental health professional, queer affirmative and trauma informed, working at the intersections of Gender and Sexuality since 2014.
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