Meet Dr. Tanya Agarwal

"Today, my abuser continues to roam free and even works in the same hospital as me. Imagine how traumatic that must be! It deeply pains me to think that he is a doctor now, a profession considered so pious"

October, 2021

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“It took me 5 days to tell my parents, and 2 weeks to convince them and myself that it wasn’t my fault. Just a day before my medical exam, I was a victim of sexual assault. It all started, when a classmate who I considered my closest friend would make raunchy comments about me that made me feel uncomfortable. Whenever I confronted him, he’d pass them off as ‘jokes’ until one day when his jokes turned into a full blown sexual assault.

I couldn’t believe what had happened. How could this happen to me? Why me? I started second-guessing myself. I didn’t allow myself to process my trauma. Already under great academic stress, I brushed this incident under the carpet and appeared for my exam.

I kept feeling like I had let a criminal on loose. Constantly woken up by that guilt and horrendous nightmares, I finally mustered the courage to speak up. I was immediately supported by my classmates, many of who shared their own assault survival stories. It was heart wrenching. I also stood up and informed the abusers' parents and girlfriend about what had happened. They pleaded and begged me not to file a police complaint.

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I have been diagnosed with PTSD, major depression and panic disorder and I'm on treatment for the same. Now, during my internship, due to overwhelming work, my anxiety and panic attacks shot off the roof and I was advised 1 month's mental health leave to allow myself to get stable only to later hear by people- 'Oh, so you are chilling only no?' Had I taken leave for, say, a fracture, I’m sure their reactions would be different. Just because there is no physical deformity or a visible scar, does not mean that my pain can be invalidated. It's as real as it can get. The stigma around mental health in India, even among doctors, was a shock to me. When medical professionals themselves fail to empathize with their fellow doctors, what can I really expect from anyone else? These incidents make me feel as though being a doctor, I’m expected to be devoid of any feelings or personal struggles.

Today, my abuser continues to roam free and even works in the same hospital as me. Imagine how traumatic that must be! It deeply pains me to think that he is a doctor now, a profession considered so pious.

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I'm extremely proud of myself for having passed my MBBS exams despite the incredibly painful circumstances. It also made me discover the hidden resilience and strength in me.

My dream of healing people has finally come true. The day I got to know that my name is going to be prefixed forever with "Dr.' was one of the most emotional and rewarding days of my life. I'm healing and meanwhile, I pledge to heal others too.

I am a stronger version of myself today. This experience has taught me that the only person you can always rely on is yourself. You are your own powerhouse. Your own mitochondria. Believe in yourself and always stand up for yourself because trust me, nobody else will. You're the only 'permanent one' in your life.”

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