Ananya Ramaprasad
Ananya Ramaprasad.Ananya Ramaprasad Facebook Page

The #MeToo movement in Kollywood has revealed some shocking names and here is one more story where the blame is not on the women, but from the same sex. Theatre artist Ananya Ramaprasad has accused actress Maya S Krishnan of gaslighting, sexually and emotionally harassing her.

The theatre artist has given a detailed account of the incidents that destroyed her relationship with her family and friends, her mental trauma and how she overcame the tough phase of her life.

Ananya Ramaprasad narrates that she became a victim of gaslighting by Maya, who brainwashed and manipulated her to an extent where she was isolated from the people who matter the most to her.

She alleges that the latter took complete control of her life and she completely lost self-confidence, and the ability to make decisions for herself. In short, Ananya claims that she became a victim of sexual and emotional abuse.

Here is the complete text of her story:

Writing this post is one of the hardest things I've had to do because it deals with a horrific and traumatic period in my life that I'm still recovering from. I am a victim of sexual, mental and emotional manipulation, abuse, and most horrifically, GASLIGHTING, all at the hands of my abuser, Maya S Krishnan

If anyone reading this is unaware (as I was until very recently), gaslighting is a dangerous form of emotional and mental abuse where the abuser manipulates you, isolates you from everyone who matters to you, forcibly changes way you look at people, and then takes advantage of you.

This is my #metoo story.

I think if my abuser were a man it would have been easier for me to realise and understand the extent of what I was being subjected to, but because it came from a woman, it made it much harder to identify, and even accept what was happening to me. After speaking to my therapist, I now realise the extent of my trauma.

I first met my abuser in 2016, when I just turned 18 and she was 25, during rehearsals for my first ever production. I was a complete novice in every respect – personally and professionally. She was supposedly a rising star in the entertainment circle. So when she took an interest in me during rehearsals, and told me that with her mentorship I could be the next big thing, I trusted her completely.

Over the next few months we grew very close, and I confided in her more than I did in any of my other friends, and her opinion and approval meant more to me than even that of my parents (I am extremely close to my parents). Maya expertly manipulated me into making her the only person I would go to. She started making all of my decisions both personally and professionally – (ads and productions), and even who I spoke to and how I should speak to them (using notes). She started taking exclusive control of everything I did, What started out as (what I perceived to be) a healthy and rewarding relationship turned into a nightmare.

She took control of my life, and slowly cut out all my friends (friends I have had since school). It wasn't as simple as her ordering me to stop talking to someone (although that happened as well), she also started spreading lies about my friends to me, about me to them and manipulated me into hating and resenting them.

She destroyed the things that meant the most to me, including my bond with my parents, who I started lying to and avoiding.

I would do anything and everything to please her because her disapproval would either make her throw the most horrible verbal abuses at me or act very cold, sometimes for days.

I don't think anyone who hasn't been through gaslighting, will ever understand what I went through. Being fed thoughts everyday of how I was a 'nobody', that she 'made me', she knew what was best for me and that only she would understand. I lost all my confidence, self esteem and the ability to make decisions for myself.

She could make me feel on top of the world or stab all my weaknesses & insecurities, and tear me apart piece by piece.

At some point she completely took over my life and I was manipulated into a sexual relationship. It became normal for me to sleep over at her place and spend almost all my time with her. She lived alone, and we used to sleep on the same bed, completely platonically. At least at first. She then began to cuddle with me, kiss my forehead. then escalated things slowly, kissing my neck, cheeks, and eventually, me. I felt scared and trapped. I started having anxiety attacks and emotional breakdowns nearly every day. She convinced me that I was being silly for reacting to it this way, and that everything we were doing was absolutely normal for friends. Despite my anxiety, breakdowns, and inner screaming, I was made to accept that this was normal.

As she carefully further manipulated me physically, emotionally & mentally, my anxiety and emotional breakdowns increased in frequency and severity. She told me all the trauma and angst I was feeling was perfectly natural, and that it was completely normal for anyone in a new relationship to feel this way during their first year. I was 18, I had never been in a relationship before, had no idea what love was (and I'm still not sure I do), and so I went with it.

I would just like to clarify that I am not attracted to women. I have nothing but love and support for the LGBT community, I only wanted to clarify my own orientation to highlight the fact that it is possible to be manipulated into a physical relationship by a person you look upto, as they are in a position of power over you. The feelings I had felt for her were a result of my own ignorance and my abuser's manipulation. My therapist explained that I was sexually manipulated and mentally and emotionally abused.

At this point I need to talk about another relationship that Maya had with a 19yr old boy (Ashwin Raam) who was also a co-actor and a friend. This was a month before Maya started a physical relationship with me. They used to spend a lot of time together and got extremely close. I used to accompany her to sleep overs at his place. During these sleepovers she would cuddle up very closely to him. This made me very confused as she told me she wasn't really fond of Ashwin, and was only using him for his car and personal trainer at the gym, among other things.

On one occasion I received a message saying that she was staying at Ashwin's house by herself. Following that night, she told me that Ashwin had behaved badly with her but did not go into any detail. However, to my surprise, she called him to drive her to the airport the very next day. She seemed extremely friendly with him and even hugged and kissed him goodbye.

Maya eventually told me what had really happened between them - that they had been cuddling in bed, and Ashwin had leaned in and kissed her. Maya then attempted to turn everyone at The Little Theatre (TLT) against Ashwin, even intentionally sabotaged a show we were performing in Malaysia. However, that backfired, and both her and Ashwin were asked not to come to the TLT space.

Maya was seething with anger, because she expected action only to be taken against Ashwin and not her too. She was so angry and filled with hatred, she directed it towards Ashwin, and every single member of the that production. This is when she started to poison my mind against The Little Theatre. Maya stopped associating herself with TLT, and started to spread hate and poison against the organisation openly to everyone we would meet, calling it a place with 'no values' and where innocent girls were 'hypnotised and molested'. I watched all of this in silence, if I said anything that contradicted her she would attack me. She often said that she would do everything to bring them down.

To consolidate a long and painful series of days and months, It got to a stage where Maya's rage and hatred for TLT became my own. I even helped her draft rude messages to KK (director) and other members of the cast. Towards December 2017 I was in such mental conflict between doing what was right or facing Maya's scary temper. The toxic relationship had finally taken a toll on me, my relationship with my parents and my friends. Many of my friends were also severely affected by Maya's manipulation and lies.

In Jan of 2018 I decided to confide in KK as I was in a very bad state both mentally and physically. I told him exactly what happened and apologised for everything.

KK helped me reconnect with my parents and finally gave me the courage to tell my family everything that had happened to me. He helped me get back my friends and directed me to a psychologist for therapy. He also helped me rebuild my broken confidence by helping me get back on stage for the Short+Sweet Theatre Festival where I won the best actress for my performance. I saw my abuser at the event and had a panic attack during the festival.

I hope this post reaches Maya's other victims, and gives them the strength and courage to come forward with their own accounts. To them I have only this to say – keeping silent helps the predator, not only get away with all that they have done, but also increases the chances of trapping new victims. Be brave, come forward; for what it's worth I'm here for you, and I'll do everything in my power to help you.

To the person who shared my abusers "Anonymous" post, Sharada, after I saw you speak at an event at my college, I had a lot respect for you. You wear a safety pin and claim to be a safe space for victims, so I can't understand why you blindly tried to convince me that my abuser, Maya was a "good person" without any context or listening to my side of the story. (I am attaching screen shots of your messages sent to me, a month before you shared Maya's story.) It was also very strange that a person (Sharadha Vijay) who I have met only once in a college function would send me these messages. That was very insensitive and makes me question if the anonymous post you shared against TLT was biased.

I did not want to come forward with any of this, and would have suffered in silence. But I couldn't watch my friends and family go through so much mental trauma, be called to the police station for enquiries based on false accusations, and be seen in such bad light in the public eye.

I refuse to stay silent any longer, #timesup Maya S Krishnan. I will be taking this up with the ICC.

(PS - To anyone that Maya has spoken to about this relationship she has probably told you that I was the one who started this and asked her out. I hope that you now realise that this is completely untrue.)

Please let me heal, dignified

#gaslit #metoo