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I was sexually abused as a child – by a relative!

The Summary

This is something I have never shared with anyone. But I have decided to share my story now, openly. In short, I was sexually abused by an uncle when I was 12-13 years old. And I may still have some effects of it lingering around my life.

The Background

This happened when I was in grade 7, and it was about a year after moving to Colombo. During this time, I would often go to the house this particular relatives, after school on my way home. Most of the time there would be a number of people in that house, including some cousins and others. But on one particular day, everyone had gone out to some event (I cannot recall what it was) and only that uncle was there at the house.

The Act

As usual, I sat in front of the television and watched a children’s programme or a movie. This uncle came and sat next to my chair. It seemed normal. He put his arm on my thighs. It seemed okay (?). He put his hand through my shorts and touched my penis. It was confusing. He took my penis out and started licking it. It felt wrong.

The Reaction

I did not know what was happening, but I felt it was something bad. So I just pushed him away and took my school bag and ran out of the house. I ran up to the main street and was not sure which way was my house. I vaguely remembered some buildings and started walking that way. I did not have any money for the bus fare, but I also did not know which bus to take or where to get off. After walking for how long, and asking for directions from random people, I reached home. In the meantime, my mother had gone to pick me up from that house and found that I had already left. So when she got back home I had no good reason to tell and for some reason I also did not tell what had happened. And I have not told anyone about this since.

The Aftermath

This may seem an insignificant act to some, and it was only one time. I managed to avoid being alone with this uncle after this incident and I have grown to face him without any fear at this point. But when thinking about this now, after 21 years, I think it has affected me in a number of ways. I have grown up to become an adult fully cynical of families and relatives. I am very much a loner and actively avoid interacting with people when there is no absolute need. I was in significant self-doubt at least up until my mid twenties. However, I am not saying all of this because of the incident, but I cannot discount the fact that it may have had something to do with all these.

The Story

So why am I sharing this after all these years? Recently, I had an opportunity to hear from another person who also faced sexual abuse from a family relative, and how they had to endure many years thinking it was something only happened to them. At least by sharing these stories out, some victims can find that they are not alone and start on the path of healing.

Note: I am not going to name my abuser here on my discretion. I am certain he is going to read this, or at least his children would. I want to let him live the rest of his miserable life second guessing when I might out him. And I hope his children read this and be cautious when leaving their children, his grandchildren, around him…

Why religious extremism cannot be avoided, ever…

The very construct of the concept of a religion leaves the potential for extremism within itself.

Let me explain why I think this:

  1. Religious beliefs are based on believing in an unknown or unexplainable higher power.
  2. The core thesis and different concepts of a religion are communicated through scriptures or mythology, or both.
  3. In most cases, these source material were produced for a significantly different cultural and historical context. Also, they are mostly vague about their concepts and leave a lot of room for interpretation.
  4. Most religions do not encourage, or are not very welcoming of critical questioning of such concepts and their core thesis.
  5. A significantly very large proportion of the believers of religions do not have any in-depth understanding of those source materials (2).
  6. Because of the vagueness in source materials (3), there is ample opportunity for widely varying interpretations, and some of them would inevitably be extreme in the context of current societal norms.
  7. When such extreme interpretations are presented to believers, they are less likely to question those or even cast any doubt, because of it is not the norm to question (4).
  8. In such situations, believers are also bound to believe them because of their lack of understanding of their own religion (5).
  9. In isolated and mono-cultural societies, this can go on for long without being questioned or challenged.
  10. Even if they are questioned or challenged, those arguments can always be countered by the core tenant of a belief (1), and such extreme beliefs can further get strengthened as a way of self-preservation at perceived persecution.

These are my thoughts as a non-believer. I may be totally off track, but at least this explains things for me. If there is any better explanation from believers, I am always open to listening.

Cover Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash.

6 Years in Australia

6 years. Yes, that’s right, it’s been six years since I came to Australia in April 2010. Looking back, it’s been an interesting journey so far, with lots of changes, yet some are still the same.

Why did I come?

Technically speaking, I came to Australia for my studies. But was that the only reason? Probably not. A key factor was that it was an easy way to get away from home. I also wanted to get away from work at that point as it wasn’t exciting anymore. So I think this seeking a new adventure and change was the main reason for my decision to move, and the opportunity to study paid for that chance.

What have I done?

So I ended up finishing my studies eventually (in about four and a half years) and got one tick for the whys above. But that’s only a small part of my time here.

Some of friends and family think that I’ve changed a lot, but others think I’m still the same person. I think both of those are true in a way. I think I’ve developed more as a person, with more passion to explore life and to be more carefree. In a way I’ve turned from a nerdy geek into a hippie geek (still a geek nevertheless).

I’ve also spent a fair amount of my time being on the road travelling, being a full-time activist, being unemployed for a while, and generally being silly. So that’s a fair bit of variation I guess.

What am I doing?

It started feeling like home within the first few years of being here. It’s not a bad thing, but that comfort is sometimes concerning. So I’ve been switching thing up a bit lately. I moved to Sydney a bit more than a year ago and the change has been interest to say the least.

I made a big switch in my career trajectory, and now working for a non-profit in a community services role. Don’t ask me why I’m doing this after studying engineering and IT, I don’t have a short answer for that. But it’s going great and the uncertainty is keeping me active.

On top of that I’m involved in some ‘brave’ experiments with couple of friends, making a band. Yes, that’s right a band that plays music. So that’s that.

Where am I going?

I think after 6 years in Australia, I’ve attained a temporal permanency as to how I see my life here. It’s exciting enough presently. And I’m looking for the next adventure to jump on.

Setup QUT Cloud Email

Everything is moving to cloud these days (ie 2012) and taking on the bandwagon QUT recently (ie 2014) migrated their research student emails (and soon staff emails) to the Microsoft Office 365 platform.

And as usual the guides on QUT websites seems to be confusing many users out there, so this is a very basic summary of settings you could use to set up access to QUT emails from your smart phone clients (Android, iOS, etc.)and other applications (Thunderbird, Linux, etc.).

First, there is a lot of confusion about the username. For anyone migrating to the new system, your new username will be different from your actual email (previously [email protected] or now [email protected]). The username will be in the format of [email protected].

Second, there will be a temporary password while the migration is taking place which you need to activate here: https://connect.qut.edu.au/. And this will be different from your standard QUT Access password. However, once the migration is completed (expected to be from Monday 15 September, 2014), you will be using the standard QUT Access password with the @connect username as well.

Third, as for the server settings you can try using one of the following depending on what is required by your email application.

  1. Exchange ActiveSync setting
    • Server name: outlook.office365.com
    • Port: 995
    • Encryption method: SSL
    • Domain\Username: [email protected]
    • If your client asks for Domain and Username in separate text boxes, leave the Domain box empty and type your full email address in the Username box.
  2. IMAP settingQUT IMAP Setting
    • Server name: outlook.office365.com
    • Port: 993
    • Encryption method: SSL
  3. SMTP settingQUT SMTP Setting
    • Server name: smtp.office365.com
    • Port: 587
    • Encryption method: TLS

The changes are still very current and a lot of information in this post might be changing in the near future. I’ll try my best to keep you updated. As always if you have any feedback let me know in the comments below.

P.S.: I am no longer affiliated with QUT, so I can’t test most of the settings personally. But I’ve tested them with a friend’s account and everything seems to be working. So if you have any issues, please let me know.