This post is written as part of the Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month Initiative
Last year April, CSA 2011 opened by eyes to something which I thought happened only very rarely. But, it did happen to me. And through that month, I realized it has happened to so many people, and by those whom you take to be family, trust and love. I realized its so difficult to watch out for, so difficult to digest.
I was 4 or 5 years old when a cousin brother groped me. At that young age, I did not even know why it happened; we were just playing ' House'. Now I know this is the most dangerous game to play with a mixed age group of children. And in my case, I was just playing with this said cousin brother as he was the one who was back from school early. This incident did leave an impact on me, as I started avoiding him, and even now when I speak to him, this is the most clear thought which plays in front of my eyes. I do not know whether he realizes that I do remember; but, he does not show any qualms in talking with me. I have never ever picked on it, but have just been cautious.
Then, when I was 10 years old, we were visiting a family friend's place. The uncle's dad was staying with them for a few months, and he would have been 70 odd years. From the moment I stepped into the house, he was sitting next to me, hounding me with questions and asking me about what I do apart from school and such. At first, I thought he was genuinely interested in a child, but after some time I started to become uncomfortable when he kept his hand on my knee and I was wearing a skirt, so his hand was partially on the skirt and on my skin. I tried to move my leg but he would not remove his hand. Then, he asked me to come inside his room and take a sweet, to which I replied I do not like sweets, but he persisted and then my mom said, " Just go and take a sweet." I reluctantly went to get the sweet. Once in the room, he gave me the sweet and planted a kiss on my lips. I was shocked, disgusted and just turned and walked out quickly and went to sit next to my mom. For the next 2 days, I was dreading that I was going to be pregnant, with the limited knowledge I had about babies.
Now looking back at these incidents, I know how disgusted I felt with myself for what happened, but in the second case I knew it was not my fault, but nevertheless, I felt disgusted with myself.
Today, as a mother to a 11 month old girl, I am so unsure what I should be doing. I was a working woman, but now I just do not know whether I will ever be able to get back to work, get back to work fully wherein I would be required to work as per the company norms, and not to my comfort. Does this have anything to do with a fear of my daughter's safety? Yes, it does.
I wish for my daughter a place where I know she can grow to be independent, brave and smart. Creating that space is not a simple task, and as I see it, leaving her in the safety of her home is not a very great solution with the number of people who come to the door and there is so much which a nanny can do to take care. And, it takes just a fraction of a second to hurt a child, physically and mentally. To shatter her confidence and doubt herself. It makes it even more difficult to trust someone else to care and protect your child as much as family. And when do you know who will break the trust?
Some of the reasons why CSA goes undetected are:
1. There are so many myths which surround CSA and hence awareness is the key. Knowing your enemy is the only way you can prevent any harm.
2. In many cases, we do not believe that CSA is/ might be a factor to watch for in the society, community, country we live in. But, none of this is true. CSA can happen to any child and it is just a matter of chance for the perpetrator. So, as a parents we need to be cautious at all times. For which, we need to believe and know this is a truth and no MYTH. This I say, as many adults I know casually pass comments like.. this doesn't happen in our circles… but then it happened to me, and I am in this circle.
3. The child is seen to be the one who has done something wrong to result in the abuse. This is one of the most dangerous idea to put into a small child's head.
4. And, the most important one, the abuser is usually someone the child knows, which means as a parent, you can prevent it.
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