“I must have been a five year or maybe a four year old then… and honestly, I don’t remember much. It’s something I have never been comfortable talking about with anyone, except three people till date (almost 15 years from then). It was a normal day, like any other day but it did change my life, why I hated being a girl once, why I hated being a child, unable to express what had actually happened that day. No matter how hard I tried explaining it to mumma, I couldn’t! I just couldn’t! Plus, she had some other household work to complete so then, I locked up myself in a room, shut myself up, and promised myself to never be friends with any boy in my entire life.
I never let my mother sleep with her arms wrapped around me after that day; they just reminded me of a human being’s touch, of him… his hands finding their way inside my pyjamas while we were playing hide and seek in a building which was under construction…Even today I am not comfortable with anyone touching me, no matter who it is; my mother or even my best friend. Also, I chose to remain silent then…I never wanted people to sympathise with me, it just didn’t feel right.
After two years, there was another incident. This one had ‘bhaiya’ forcing himself on me while everyone else was busy playing Holi outside. He gave me that scar on my forehead, a scar for life… I get to look at it every day and it has not been easy. Out of those two ‘honorable’ men, one is happily married with two kids and the other one is getting married by the end of next year. I wish I could explain it to others, how traumatic it is, especially those who only have jokes to crack about such a sensitive issue. I shut myself out but then when I saw it happening with someone else, I broke the silence and accepted it. It was real, after all. It wasn’t a dream. I finally let myself be heard! Close to a breakdown but I finally opened up and realised that hugging people and feeling the human touch is not as difficult and painful as it used to be [once].”
People often say, “Keep the child alive in you”. Ever wondered about those who regret being through that phase in life? The reasons maybe many but child sexual abuse is one of the major reasons for many of us who wish to erase that memory from our lives forever.
The month April not only saw a number of campaigns, awareness programmes and protests against child sexual abuse but also witnessed a rebellion among the survivors of child sexual abuse, those who spoke freely about it and inspired others to speak up for themselves.
The month April was declared as the Child Abuse Prevention Month by the presidential proclamation in the year 1983 in the United States of America and since then saw families and communities working together against child abuse. The major forms of child abuse are neglect, physical abuse, psychological or emotional abuse and sexual abuse.
In general, child abuse leads to major developmental issues where a study proved how “maltreating adults were maltreated as children”. What is more shocking is the number of cases which go unreported or are not brought to notice because of the social stigmas prevalent in the society.
Blame India for being a ‘cultural’ country now! So, why aren’t we ready to talk about it openly and deal with it when it is the reality and not something which has been made up for us? RAHI (Recovery and Healing from Incest) in the year 1998 conducted India’s first survey known as, “Recovery and Healing from Incest, Voices from the Silent Zone” (New Delhi 1998) on child abuse and the results were shocking, indeed!
76% women accepted that were sexually abused as child. What we need to understand is that men too have been subjected to child abuse and many are not comfortable talking about it.
To make the post inspiring for all, here’s a compilation of some celebrities who openly talked about child sexual abuse. So, what are you waiting for? SPEAK UP! Let your voice be heard.
- Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey in the year 1986 revealed that she was raped at the age of nine by a relative and in a recent interview with David Letterman she admitted, “Anybody who has been verbally abused or physically abused will spend a great deal of their life rebuilding their esteem”, to which Letterman responded, “You’re an extraordinary person who lived through hell. You were not consumed, you prevailed.” Who doesn’t know about her work on sexual abuse? Well, there’s so much to learn from.
Kalki recently broke her silence on being sexually abused as a child when she was only 9 years old. She stated, “…I don’t like to talk about it. For me, it’s not a one day headline; it’s something that’s a reality I have lived with for a long time…It’s so out there, so much of it that I think it’s not something that should be ignored.” She is one of the few actors who have been very active in such social issues and have tried to spread awareness among the masses.
In the year 2010, Byrne revealed that he was molested at the age of 11. He stated, “I didn’t feel I suffered at that time. I just felt it was the way of the world…It took many years to come to terms with it and to forgive those incidents that I felt had deeply hurt me.”
Anurag Kashyap in the year 2009 revealed how he was sexually abused for 11 years as a child. He stated, “The story had to be told…I met him [abuser] after many years. He wasn’t some dirty old man. He was 22 when he abused me. He was guilt-ridden when we met. I decided to put the whole nightmare behind me and move on. I came to Mumbai brimming with angst, bitterness and a sense of violation and isolation…”
One of the most celebrated writers/poets inspired many others to speak against child sexual abuse through her book, published in 1970, “I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings.” She was raped by her mother’s boyfriend at the age of 9 and was doubly marginalised since she also belonged to the black community.
“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill,
of things unknown, but longed for still,
and his tune is heard on the distant hill,
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”
In the year 2006 Hatcher went public when she admitted that she was sexually abused, by her uncle at the age of 5, when a 14 year old victim of her uncle committed suicide. She said, “This was something I have tried to hide my whole life.” Her uncle then 64 was sentenced to prison for 14 years on account of a child molestation case. Hats off to this woman for showing so much courage!
It’s not something to remain silent about. Speak up, not for others but for yourself. Live. Speak. Act. Let us fight child sexual abuse together! If we don’t stop it, who will?
“Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.”
– Maya Angelou (Still I rise)