I am a survivor of child sex abuse. The memories haunt me every night. And they get stronger when I read about incidents involving other children. I always looked up to Girish (name changed), my abuser, as my elder brother. He was my neighbour and he knew me since I was a baby. Girish used to take me for walks, feed and play with me. He was 13 and I was six. That day, as usual, we were all playing – me, my brother, Girish and my cousin Dinesh. Girish asked me to come and play indoors.
There was a cot close to the door. I sat next to him. After a while, Girish started to unbutton my shirt. I refused but he forced me and said, “It’s a game.” I did as I was told. He then removed my skirt and my panties. I stood naked in front of him. Girish removed his shirt and told me to lie on top of him. I refused, but he forced me.
At first, the warmth of his skin did something to my body. I can’t explain what I felt, but when I think about it now my hands start shivering. His hands went all over my body and I couldn’t resist him – he was way stronger than me.
After some time Girish dressed me up and told me not to discuss it with anyone. If I did, Girish warned, he would harm my brother. He did it for a few more times. One day, out of the blue, my aunt told my mother that there were many complaints about Girish in school and that he behaved indecently towards girls. Mummy stopped me from going over to their house. A few years later, they shifted to a new home in a different locality.
When I think about it now, I want to beat him till my anger, pain and sadness go away. But I cannot because Girish is married to a nice girl who trusts him a lot. I do respect his family. My silence isn’t out of fear of society – it’s only out of the love his family has given me.
(Memories of a survivor as told to Shevlin Sebastian)
Teach children the names of their private parts. Explain to them very clearly that nobody is allowed to touch their private parts without their consent. It should only be done to keep them clean and healthy. The child should also be told that he or she is not allowed to touch anybody else’s private parts. If somebody is trying to touch them inappropriately, if it is possible to shout, “No”, then do that. If it is possible to run away, do that. If neither of these is possible, when they can get away, they should tell an adult immediately and keep telling until that person believes them and decides to take action.
Dr Janaki Sankaran, Psychiatrist