This is a MUST READ article written by my friend & columnist Deepan Kannan for the magazine "THE RALLY". I feel that it is my moral and social responsibility to post this article for your perusal. (Diwakar)
When a shy, frightened pre-school victim was asked if her grandfather had hurt her when he touched her,she responded, "Only in my heart."
-The Secrecy of Child Sexual Abuse, Nancy Faulkner
In many crucial situations of our life, we adults struggle to make a choice, but somehow manage to come out with one that is fulfilling. We struggle inspite of our well learnt lessons through arduous experiences in our life. Even the various freedoms we possess such as the freedom of thought and speech do not help us in the right moment of our life. What about the young tender children who lack all these? What about the young developing lives who don’t even know about the rights they possess?
What would happen to such vulnerable children when they are suddenly molested by the ones they loved and trusted? They undergo a huge emotional devastation! The sexually abused child may develop some serious long term psychological disorders like depression, self-destructive behavior, anxiety, feelings of isolation and stigma, poor self-esteem, difficulty in trusting others, tendency toward revictimization, substance abuse, and sexual maladjustment.
Child sexual abuse is not something that happens rarely to some 1 child out of 1000 children. It is something that almost every child would have encountered in her/his life. Statistics say that 1 out of 3 girl children and 1 out of 6 boy children are being sexually exploited and abused. So why is this serious problem not addressed with the importance and urgency it deserves? Why does it still elude our attention among the various social issues and problems that are viewed seriously? Lack of awareness among the people! Yes only lack of awareness and the social stigma attached to it keeps the issue far from important.
The serious problem associated with this issue that makes it less important is the reluctance of the child to open up to her/his parents. It is primarily because of the sense of guilt that is being instilled in the innocent minds by the basic attitudes of the society and in some cases by the perpetrator. In a society, where the word “sex” is considered as a sin and taboo to even adults, leave alone children, how would the child be expected to speak freely about her/his bitter experience? The children start to believe that they are also responsible for such an abuse and feel guilty for letting this happen. Their basic fear of being back answered with the questions like “did you allow it because you got pleasure out of it?” , “why did you allow it to continue?” and “ was it out of your control to stop it?” when disclosed to the parents keeps them closed and shut forever. Children also avoid speaking out because in many cases the sex offender would be a trusted friend of the family or a close relative. This increases the fear of doubt in the child of earning the trust of her/his parents because the blamed person is the one closely related to the family.
There are many adults whose lives have been left in tatters due to their childhood bitter experiences. The implications of such events may cause long lasting damage to the lives of children. In some cases it may even remain dormant waiting for one crucial moment in your life! So, what are the possible ways to protect the children from abuse? There are many, but the effectiveness depends on how carefully it is handled and how far it is practicable and reachable to children and parents as well.
The primary solution is to empower the children in terms of awareness of sexual abuse. It is important to make the children understand that no one has got the right to touch their private parts and to involve in any unacceptable actions with them. It is also equally important to educate the children to free themselves from the sense of guilt and help them to understand that it should be reserved only for the perpetrators. Schools should come forward to educate children about sex, sexuality and sexual abuse. They should also help them by teaching various ways to protect them from such abuse and ways to tackle it. Parents should be vigilant about the people who move closely with their child, no matter how closely related they are to them. In many cases the perpetrator may not be a stranger but closely related in blood to the child like grandfather, maternal uncle, paternal uncle and also shockingly in many cases it is the child’s own father!
How would the parents identify the sex offender or the paedophile? Does he or she (in rare cases) come in any definite shape? No definitely not! Then how would you identify? They look like school principals, and close relatives, and close well trusted family friends, and clergy, and teachers, and coaches, and police officers, and the nice old man next door, and the nice young man next door, and the baby-sitter ... or my neighbor ... or your neighbor?
K. Deepan Kannan
A shameful fact:
90% of the child sexual abusers are male.
“Abuse survivors tell us that one of the problems that lingers into adulthood and that keeps the secret intact for years, is the child's feeling that they were somehow to blame, and as a result, they are "dirty" or "soiled." Sex offenders are smart. They know about "pleasure guilt" and may even emphasize it to keep the sordid secret, -- "If you tell anyone about this, they'll think you're bad."”
-Adult-Child Sex: Abuse or Misuse?, Nancy Faulkner Ph.d
“During an initial therapy session with a senior citizen, I asked one of my routine interview questions: "Have you ever been sexually abused?" She paused, then nodded slowly. Although she had been in therapy most of her adult life, there was no record of sexual victimization in her overflowing patient file. Her response, "No one ever asked."”
- Nancy Faulkner Ph.d
Why don't children tell?
No one will believe me.
No one cares.
I'll get someone in trouble, and they'll have to go to jail--and
Everyone will blame me for telling.
It happens to everyone.
It won't happen again.
Everyone will know.
I'll have to go to court.
People will ask me lots of questions.
It's too embarrassing.
I'll get in trouble.
I've done something bad.
It's my fault.
Why do we focus on the word SEX?
Why don't we look at the real issues--
Recently three youngsters in Chennai were awarded for creating awareness about child sexual abuse. Nancy Veronica, Vipin and Alankar have been working with schools aince 2004 through the ‘ School Based Initiative for the Prevention and Awareness of Child Sexual Abuse (SBIPAC).
Source: Metro Plus, supplement of The Hindu
“In a study, an attempt was made to assess the frequency of young adolescents who had been sexually abused but who had not disclosed, and to assess the frequency of young adolescents who were uncertain if they were victims. The most outstanding result of the research was of those students who responded they had been sexually abused, 100% responded they had not disclosed the abuse to an adult. Additionally, six percent of the young adolescents in the study responded "I don't know" to the question of whether they had been sexually abused, confirming there are young adolescents who are uncertain about having been sexually abused.”
- Pandora's Box: The Secrecy of Child Sexual Abuse.