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Ode to a Friend

Panchkula-based clinical nutritionist and counsellor shares her late friend's story in a book to highlight sexual and mental abuse

It is still emotionally draining for Sunaina Sindhwani to talk about her late friend, one she lost to sexual and emotional abuse. “When we hear about a rape victim or someone who has been physically and mentally abused, we show support and empathy. We go to candlelight processions and voice our concern in different forums. I was among those people too until I saw a loved one go through the same. It was shattering as my friend ended up taking her own life,” says Sindhwani.

Ode to a Friend, Lifeinchd

Photo By: Vikram Joy

The year was 2014. Little did the Panchkula-based clinical nutritionist and counsellor know that two years later she would be sharing her late friend’s story in the form of a book, ‘I Breathe Last for You’ (Tellwell/Rs 375).

Ode to a Friend, Lifeinchd

“Though sexual abuse is increasingly being discussed openly, there are still many victims whose experiences go unreported, and in some cases they end up sacrificing their lives for the relationship. This was the case for Saakshi,” said Sindhwani at the formal launch of the book held on Friday at The Rumour Mill cafe in Sector 7, Chandigarh.

Just after Saakshi’s death, her husband handed Sindhwani a diary that her friend used to pen. “It was very traumatising for me to go through it. I realised that she had been physically, mentally and emotionally exploited by a person she loved most. That’s when I decided to share her story. I want women to read this and realise that we need to talk about abuse and exploitation. We can’t give up on ourselves. We should seek help,” said Sindhwani who has been working as a clinical nutritionist for over two decades.

Ode to a Friend, Lifeinchd

Photo By: Vikram Joy

Having seen her friend, who was also mother to two young children give up on life, Sindhwani feels in today’s “stressful and complicated” times it is very important to communicate. “We need to have an open relationship with our families. Women should talk about any kind of abuse and seek professional help,” says Sindhwani who feels writing this book helped her cope with her loss.

As a counsellor, the debutant author is looking to reach out to women and girls who have been victims of sexual assault or abuse. “I will be supporting two NGOs – Taruni and Bharosa – that are working with women in rehabilitation. They are based in Hyderabad and Bengaluru,” informs Sindhwani. She is also looking to pen another book on relationships.

‘I Breathe Last for You’ is available on Amazon and all bookstores.

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