I was eve teased as a young girl. The incident intimidated me to a greater extent and made me distance myself from any interaction with men. I don't even interact with my male cousins. Whenever I am around men, it makes me feel weak and reminds me of the horrendous experience. And hearing about rapes makes me cringe. I am studying in a convent and will be moving out in the job circle soon. Please help me. I want to fight this fear but I don't know how? - Anonymous

Answer by Dr Deepak Raheja: Eve teasing, being one of the rampant social evils depicts incidents of public sexual harassment, sexually suggestive remarks, making lewd gestures and perverted teasing goes without saying that these disturbing incidents can leave a huge impact on the minds of the victim. Please do know that it is a lot more common than we anticipate. By being silent, the victim has huge consequences compared to standing up and speaking or addressing the issue emphatically with consequences on the perpetrator. When you stand up for yourself others shall follow suit.

It is unfortunate to learn that you have been subjected to such trauma. However, the first step in battling this fear is for you to not blame the incident on yourself and not bear the responsibility of the humiliation incurred. Do not allow this incident to define you as a person and pervade into your sense of respect and worth that you have for yourself. Research indicates that it is common for victims of eve teasing to experience flashbacks, wherein they keep reliving the incident and tend to generalize it to situations with similar stimuli. However, this is erroneous as it is a conditioned response and all similar appearing situations (all men) are not the same. Please do not generalize. Consulting a qualified and experienced clinical psychologist who practices evidence based therapies such as cognitive-behavior therapy will help you overcome such conditioned beliefs and the avoidance behavior you display.

I also recommend that you visit a trained professional for a few sessions on self esteem before taking up a job as this will help you establish positive, healthy self concept.

- Dr Deepak Raheja is a Senior Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist, Director of Foundation Hope