Sharing an email from a courageous
victim survivor of child sexual abuse.
It is all very easy for us to expect that the child should come and report everything. How is it possible when the child is already traumatized, hardly aware and scared and betrayed? The ability to sense the behaviour changes, to listen to what the child is hinting at, to create the bond of trust and safety with the child, to care more about the child than the society, to stand up for the child and put a stop to the sexual abuse are some of the things parents need to do before they ask children to speak up.
Satyamev Jayate touched a deep wound. Listening to the survivor stories a memory came haunting from the past. A dark secret buried deep inside, something that must have down the line changed my whole personality and what I am now. Talking to my son I realized that however open a household environment is there are certain things that stunt the growth and health of a child. Child abuse doesn’t occur only in houses which are chained by so called social “norms, values” etc it happens wherever there is a child who is vulnerable. Abusers target children who can be soft targets, knowing everything about their background and psyche, winning their trust and providing that comfort zone which sometimes a child lacks. I am a survivor.
After almost 30 years I broke the silence. I told my elder one. He was the first to know my story.
As a 11 year old I had no one to turn to not even my parents. Even though they did not bring us up in so called “traditional way”, even though mine is a highly educated and cultured family apart from a cousin of mine, hardly anyone noticed any signs of behaviour changes in me and those who did, gave their own interpretation to it.
A male relative made me touch him on some occasions during our visits to my granny’s home in the darkness of a room full of relatives. Usually the lights were low as everyone gathered in the living room for music and after-dinner chit chat. Adults, children everyone. I have no idea what emotions I went through as I went through the routine. Guilt and shame were just some of the things I felt. He gave me access to porn magazines and porn videos which I vehemently refused. “Girls your age like to see them.” I was told I wasn’t normal if am not interested in it. It was only for short duration that all this happened but it scarred my being.
I slowly found myself and let it pass like a nightmare but it was superficial for I know now what impact it had, it must have had on me. I moved on and maybe made myself believe that at least it did not go further than what it was. I even kept the relationships intact even with the uncle. Why? I don’t know, maybe because my hurt was channelized towards parents. There was hardly any sibling communication with my older brothers. I can’t analyze it now. Nor do I want to.
Now at almost 40, I am unable to relive and understand what the child (me) was feeling. My anger and hurt was directed more towards my family than him. On one hand I rebelled, misbehaved, deliberately did things to provoke and on the other curled up inside and lost all confidence in myself. I felt that I was the reason for people to take advantage of me. I searched for comfort, understanding, love and trust in every person I came across. Trusted easily and got hurt easily.
I felt I was “the seductive child” , later a “seductive” adolescent and adult. I was always shamefully aware of the glances that made me uncomfortable*. I never could stand up and fight though I pretended to be brave. Sometimes landed up in fights as I tried to remain as tomboyish as possible, but growing up I couldn’t stop. It was a bitter sweet emotional rollercoaster that I had to face all the time. The family issues of growing up years, the pain of being uncared for (I felt I was) , the gap that was slowly getting deeper and wider between me and my family made me a nervous, shy, vulnerable girl. It took me a life time to get even one percent of it out of my system.
The later years as a teenager were even worse. There was always a conflict inside me, a turmoil.
I always landed up with wrong people, did the wrong things though I was a good student with sports background and an outdoor person. As I grew older slowly I caged myself. I didn’t have many friends in real time but had lots of pen-pals. The distance made me feel safe. I fell in and out of love , not knowing what I wanted from myself. That was the time I created a world inside me, a world of stories and dreams. I kept diary.
I wanted to seek security in marriage. That was the biggest mistake I made. My judgment was also scarred.
After a lot of inner dialogue I decided to break it all to my mother during this episode of Satyamev Jayate.
What was her response?
“Shocking, why didn’t you tell?”
We had a long discussion on that.
I made my elder one sit and listen to all of it, it was part of his lesson in life. As a person who has been through it I wanted my children to know about it, children can help each other, if they can’t open up with the parents, they can support each other.
Nothing changes. No one actually helps you deal with what you go through unless you do it yourself. The solutions and help all come from within.
Once you accept those then you can seek the right person to help you which in itself is a task for the most trusted are the ones who stab you in the back.
Fortunately one thing I never gave up was the will to bring the change, to never let my voice be stilled again. Over the years I learned to have courage to face the challenges and stand up for my dignity. I made sure my children grew up in as normal environment as I could possibly create.
I also took some steps to cleanse myself of the past. Sometimes one has to completely cut oneself off to heal. I did just that. I decided never again to visit my uncle’s home though I had forgiven and moved on long ago. This final step had to be taken.
Some aspects of my personality have been scarred for good and I wonder if I will ever be able to heal them. Only time will tell.
I thought of writing this not for any sympathy or support but as a therapy and as an eye opener for others.
I lost many beautiful years struggling with myself to decide who I was and what I wanted from myself and life. Do not waste time in standing up and saying that first NO. You owe that much to the life you have been given.
Hope you will find time for this, I just poured my heart out.
A CSA Survivor.
Related Links and posts.
Myth: Children are seductive.
Fact: No. Humans are born sexual beings and children have a natural curiosity about their bodies. They need and seek safe, appropriate and healthy physical affection. Sexual offenders exploit children’s curiosity and their need for affection. Children who are sexually abused learn, usually at a very young age, that the price they have to pay for attention and affection is sexual activity. This learned sexually reactive behavior is interpreted by adults as seductive. Click to read.
2. The seductive child – Convicts tell “…stories of succumbing to the wiles of young ones…” “Good, decent men. Men who would never, ever, ever stand accused of aggravated rape or molestation if some hot to trot child hadn’t taken their innocence away.”
4. To keep a child safe – Smitha
6. Satyamev Jayate on CSA – Kiran Manral