CSAAM April 2011 – My story

A new school year begins and with it, a new reason for paranoia added to my 10-foot long list of fears. The Bean has begun taking the school bus and it has an entourage of three men (this can only happen in India where there is an excess of labour – why do we need two men sitting with the driver?). I don’t leave my children alone with strangers, I am unbelievably particular about my househelp and I haven’t gone back to a full time job since they were born. Often I am tired, stressed out and cranky and family bears the brunt because I fret about the children. The average parent is a concerned parent. Me? I’m plain paranoid.

You see, for those who read the old blog, you’d know, I was a victim of sexual abuse between the ages of 6 and 8. Every year I’d visit my parents during the summer and winter break (they lived in the tea estates and I lived with my grandparents). My brother and I loved the sprawling lawns spread over half a dozen acres and the huge rambling bungalows. I learned to cycle and play football in the corridors. The kitchen and pantry were almost as big as my last house. The living room was divided into three sections and again, massive. Looking back, it was just the kind of home that made it easy to prey on a child.

The desolate home, surrounded by woods, tea plantations and streams and rivulets was every child’s dream come true in terms of adventure, but there were no children for miles and at times we ran out of ideas. There was no TV and since we didn’t live there permanently, there was no school. Through the day you were likely to see deer and rabbits and at night the more dangerous animals like wild boar, wild elephants and hyenas came out of the forests. Ironically the biggest threat was not these animals but a human.  The perpetrator was an odd jobs man who must have been about 19 or 20 and whose main job when we were around, was to entertain us and ensure that we didn’t wander into the woods and get lost.

This guy would often break up the sameness of days by taking us for a picnic to the stream, a little walk, a game of football or hide and seek. Let me begin by saying that we loved him. He was young and fun. A strong guy from the plantations he would swing us in his arms, take us piggy back and show us how to do cartwheels.

I guess what I am trying to establish is that he fit the first rule of all molesters. He was familiar to us and we trusted him. Also, since he wasn’t the cook or the sweeper, but actually our playmate, we were used to him being physical with us, as in jumping on to his back for a ride or hanging on his arm while he turned into a human merry-go-round. But that summer when I returned as a six year old, everything changed.

Perhaps he was just a young man experimenting, but it happened all of a sudden one day when he pulled me into a corner. We were playing hide and seek with my brother and my brother was seeking. It didn’t stop and no one realised that the smile was slowly wearing off my face. I was soon terrified of being left alone with him and sought excuses to stick to my mother. Who perhaps thought I was being clingy because I didn’t see her enough. I don’t know. I can’t really say. The holidays over, I went back to the safety of my grandparents’ busy home and tried to put the trauma out of my mind.

But it didn’t end and each year I’d come back to the terror of having to deal with him trying his best to lure me into corners. At this point I’ll bring up the second rule – he was never violent – just wheedling. A game of hide and seek, a trek down the hill, a slice of halwa from the kitchen and a dark corner. This confuses a child and makes them wonder if the person doing this to them is a friend or a foe. It also made me wonder whether what he was doing was wrong or not. People often ask me why I didn’t tell my parents. Well, for one, that is a huge expectation from a six year old; most six year olds will barely tell you what they did in school. Though he didn’t threaten me with dire consequences, he did keep telling me that it was our little secret. At age 6 it is easy to convince a child something is actually his own idea/fault and a big secret. You know how kids love secrets.

Also, children are taught early that private parts are a matter of shame. Shame shame, put on your pants. Chee chee, don’t let anyone see that, you dirty boy. How are they to draw the lines and understand what is their own shame and what is for someone else to be ashamed about? They are confused about who exactly is doing something wrong. After all,  if my parents or ayah weren’t around, this guy would help my little brother with his trousers when he wanted to go to the bathroom. There was an ayah who was supposed to take care of me and she did her duty by me. But the rest of the day we ran around playing with this guy and no one saw anything wrong with that.

By the time I was eight my parents who were unhappy that they were missing out on our growing years, quit that job and moved to the old home town to set up a business. The odd jobs guy actually moved with them and I recall him trying his best to get his hands on me in the busy old house. But it was near impossible because we were a family of almost ten members and a full set of staff. I lived on edge until he decided to go back south because of the language problem. My parents and brother were sad to see him go, but in all my little eight year old life I had never been so glad to see the back of someone. The spectre of him haunted me for years to come and I was jumpy around any male help or even strange males. About five years ago I went back to our old home with the OA and the Brat who was just a babe in arms. I went around meeting all the old staff and someone mentioned that he had gone mad and eventually disappeared. Until then my only regret was that I didn’t get to see him once I grew into an adult and slap his face – but after that I can’t help but believe that it was divine vengeance for preying on the weak and defenseless. I can only hope that all child molesters come to a bad end.

At at some level the thought that getting molested was part of life  set itself in my head and I didn’t have it in me to put up a fight. Some years later there was an airforce mela and my parents sat down for a cup of tea after some sightseeing and told my brother and me that we could walk over the to the caravan that was part of the exhibition and look in. The caravan was within their sight and I was 12, the brother 11, so I guess it seemed like a safe enough thing to do. The brother and I excitedly took off and the airforce personnel who was on duty there, explaining features, took advantage of the fact that two children had climbed in alone. Pushing my brother to look into the dry toilet and see the features, he tried to slip a hand up my teeshirt. Amazingly, his voice stayed steady as his hand struggled with me, ready to move away incase my brother turned around. I stood there in shock, staring at his face.

I think that was the breaking point. I got out of the dark caravan, into the sunshine blinking back tears of grief and shame, old enough now to know that this was not my fault. I swore that no one else would touch me and get away with it. Again, I realise this is only because I am a fighter. I know plenty of women and girls who have broken down, the trauma affecting them in many ways and my heart bleeds for them.

But in the long run it made me a very cautious person. Thanks to having a brother only a year younger, I hung out with only his friends through my growing years. I thank God for never again giving me a reason to mistrust men because those boys guarded me with their lives. From picking me up from school to dropping me at a friend’s home, I never again stepped out or travelled alone. Never again was I left alone or to fend for myself until I was old enough to know how to.

The years went by and as I lay in bed one night, my belly swelling with the Brat, I felt a panic attack seize me. The memories of those two years came back unbidden and I suddenly wondered why I was doing this. Why I was bringing a child into this world when I couldn’t guarantee his or her well being. And so at some point, without it being a conscious decision, I decided never to go back to fulltime work.

I have always struggled to find flexible companies and good bosses, even if the money is nothing to write home about. The kids have their mother in the next room, tapping away at a keyboard and I only keep female househelp. They are not allowed into the kitchen with the male cook, never left alone with the driver for a minute and I never ever let them go down to play in our apartment play area without an adult watching over them. I could have begun to reinforce good touch bad touch but I am not sure they really get it (each one of us is the best judge of what our children are capable of understanding) and neither do I want them overthinking it each time an adult touches them. It is my job to protect them and I can’t shift that burden on to their shoulders. It leaves lots of room for misunderstanding and focuses too much on the whole private parts matter which I treat in a far more matter of fact way – again, this is our family policy and might not work for everyone.

The OA thinks I overdo it. Now the OA, God bless him, has never had any reason to complain. As I often tease him, male, elder son, very fair, Brahmin, MBA, investment banker – he’s the cream of Indian society and blessed with good luck. Me, I’ve faced more trouble and discrimination that I want to list here, for exactly the opposite reason. And I’d rather be paranoid and deny my child that extra hour of play after dark, than know that either of them has been touched inappropriately by one of the many gardeners or security guards floating around the compound.

I also struggle with sending the kids back to Nanna-G’pa’s home because they run their business out of the same compound and there are rickshaw pullers, labour, staff, engineers, service repairmen, all sorts floating around the place. They make a big fuss of the boss’ grandchildren and my kids are always being offered rickshaw rides, bike rides and so on. I come across as crazy when I deny the children those rides. Because I’ll never forget the friend who told me about the driver who often offered to babysit her while her mother worked. He’d keep her in his lap and let her pretend she was driving. All the while, his hand under her dress. From a distance, her mother would look out of the kitchen window and see her daughter safe in the driver’s lap and the driver would wave cheerfully and nod reassuringly. Or the friend who was brought home from school on a bike by a neighbour who was picking his niece up everyday too. It solved her parents’ problem of getting her a rickshaw home and they stayed blissfully unaware of him rubbing himself against her back.

We were all children and as innocent as they come. And  yet we all realised that something wrong was going on. Something we couldn’t explain, but instinctively knew was wrong. Can we protect our children at all times? No. But we can ensure that we avoid situations that are ripe for molestation. At this point I must point out that I am equally worried about the Brat and I don’t believe it is only little girls at risk.

For years my parents have struggled with the knowledge that their precious child was molested on their watch, in their home. By someone they trusted and employed. I told them years later and I think they were in denial for a long while. My father has a way of making jokes about my paranoia and my mother just clams up. I realise that is their way of dealing with it. But the information has been passed on and processed and they do the best they can to work with me.  It goes against their basic nature because they are simple, trusting folks who believe that the world is good to good people. Try telling that to a 6 year old who was molested.

Other than the business staff, Nanna-G’Pa always have young guys working in the house, basically a few odd jobs, grab a cycle and pick up the bread and milk, watch over the gate, pour a drink if there are guests. It works for them because they are just an older couple with no one at risk. But each time we’d go home I’d have palpitations. Mostly because the kids are very friendly and throw themselves  at anyone who offers to play rough and tumble with them. I’d run myself ragged keeping an eye on one child who is playing with the dogs and another who is crawling under the Grand Piano with one of the guys, pretending it is a lion’s den. And the more I try and tell the  kids not to throw themselves on bhaiya’s back or roll on the carpet with him, the more they tend to do it. So I now lay off and simply sit there with a book, watching over them.

This year Nanna took over. I left them there for the session break and Nanna didn’t sleep a single afternoon, watching over her precious Bean who took to one of the Bhaiyas and insisted on hanging on to his back and playing with him all afternoon. So Nanna sat there with a book, one eye on the child, letting her have her fun, doing her duty.

I’m sorry I lost my innocence and I am sorry my parents lost their trust in the inherent goodness of people. But on the bright side, we’re working together to protect my children and ensure that never again is a child from our home touched inappropriately. I know they need to learn good touch and bad touch and I do try to teach them, but with maids coming and going and school maids and what not, its very difficult to teach a child something while retaining that kernel of trust and innocence.  They might be over protected till age 14, but at least by then they will be clear on the concepts of strangers and good and bad touch – no scope for misunderstanding.

The thing with molestation is that the consequences spread like a ripples widening when a pebble is tossed into a pond. It has  reached a stage where I will not leave my children with a stranger and where I talk to every parent I can (even if it makes for a few awkward moments), about my own experience, urging them to trust few. A few quick precautions I take (there will be other, better researched posts on the matter coming up in the month ahead) with the kids.

– Don’t push your child to hug or kiss visitors, be they friends or family. A simple hello should suffice. Insisting that they allow strangers to touch them makes it difficult for the child to draw the line when they are uncomfortable or trust their gut and easy for a stranger to cop a feel.

– Never encourage games of hide and seek or dark room etc with children who are older and will be able to force themselves on younger ones.

– Drop in unannounced if the children are with otherwise trusted people in another part of the house/garden. It’s always best to keep an eye no matter how trusted people are.

– Safety in numbers. If I have to leave the children with a driver – I ensure that a maid or someone else goes along. This could backfire badly but it is safer than them being alone with one bad apple. If there is no maid available I take the day off from work and shuttle them around.

– Teach your child to say No, if they don’t like something being done to them, no matter how innocent. And please honour that No so that the child builds up their confidence to say it.

– Also, remember, there is no shame. When we were picking our topics for this blogathon, I figured that the best thing I could do for the cause was come right out and say, Yes, I’ve been a victim and I am fine, thank you (something I had shut away on the old blog). We’re not the ones who should be ashamed. The perpetrators are. Those who have survived and can smile, are heroes in my eyes.

EDITED TO ADD: This very good point from Itisha (who shut down her wonderful blog) – Ensure that you tell your children that “Mama and Dada and are very strong.  Nobody can do anything to them. Nobody can hurt them, no matter what you are told.” Because many children who have been molested have been told that if they tell, their parents will be harmed, killed or something will be done to their parents. And many don’t tell because they believe it.

I also hope this initiative that my post is kicking off today will widen like ripples in a pond. For the rest of this month we’re doing a series of posts on Child Sexual Abuse Awareness across our blogs. I urge you to spread the word and reach out to as many people as possible and help protect our children. Thank you.

If you would like to add to the discussion or know somebody else who would, please note that we welcome entries

b. posted as FB notes and linked to Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month Page OR
c. posted on your own blog with the badge and linked to the main blog OR

d. linked or posted on Twitter tagged twitter.com/CSAAwareness OR

e. sent via some/all of the above methods

The list of topics is available here. Anonymous contributions are accepted and requests for anonymity will of course be honoured. I will probably be hosting at least one guest post and encourage you to do the same for non-blogging friends. 

Please remember to send in a mail with all necessary links or just your input to csa.awareness.april@gmail.com so that we can track your contribution and make sure that it is not inadvertently lost or something.


U can also support it simply by adding our the logo of the initiative in your blog’s sidebar. Grab the below code to do so
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181 thoughts on “CSAAM April 2011 – My story

  1. Thank you MM for that post. It really makes one wonder doesnt it, how our experiences impact our parenting, how it makes us so paranoid that we would rather our kids dont go out of sight. We wish more women like you can step up and say, yes, I have been a victim, but I am not the one who should be ashamed…

  2. MM Thank you for speaking up in such detail. Pinpointing abuse is so difficult and yet so necessary.

    God bless your parents for working so hard to ensure that their grandchildren are better protected, at least.

  3. Pingback: CSAAM April 2011, My Story by The Mad Momma. « CSA Awareness Month

  4. Hi MM,

    Thanks for this wonderful post. May I, with your permission include those last few pointers in my blog?

    Thanks
    Medha

  5. hi,
    i don’t know how to say, because nobody, including my parents, doesn’t know that i was abused by my uncle(my mom’s own younger brother). he died in an accident at the age of 21. whenever she talks and praises about his memory i will get such an angry that it will lead me to wheezing. nowadays we cant even believe our own relations. after seeing this post i got courage and want to share this to aware people, especially who sent their children to their grandparents house for vacation in villages. now i am 25 and even when i think about that my whole body will shudder. thanks a lot for creating such an awareness.

    • My God…. I am so sorry to hear that. A male friend of mine who is very fond of my kids says the Maama is more important to children because he is twice the mother – maa – ma. My maternal uncle is probably my favourite person on earth and to think of one actually harming his own niece horrifies me. Please share the post widely.. and someday, gather up the strength to confront those who hurt you. And ensure that none of the other children in your family are exposed to him.

      • mama, chacha, these are your closest relations after parents and siblings but sadly no I don’t think I can place 100% trust on any relationship when it comes to my kids it brings tears to my eyes to think in these terms about such close relations but.

  6. “Those who have survived and can smile, are heroes in my eyes.” – So true.

    So many points are a great a lesson to many parents….I think it surely takes a lot of courage to talk abt those things and today your post will certainly help someone to talk abt their own demons.

    If it’ll be of any help to u, I, myself is a paranoid parent, who stays at home, after resigning a gr8 career – all for my two girls.

  7. Sorry, the last post had the wrong url..

    I wish I had your courage to write about it.. I have been staring at a word file, wanting to write since the last 5 days.. But every time I start, the memories flood my head and I just have to switch of the laptop an distract myself.. I am 28 and I still have intimacy issues.. I look at every male with concern.. I watch over every child I am around.. I m paranoid about bad touch.. If you say you are a worried parent, I dont even wanna think about what kind of parent I would be..

    Thanks for sharing your experience.. And dont worry, you sound like a good parent.. I wish mine were half as alert..

    • Well, yes, I am a worried parent, but thats the thing – I am a parent first, worried second. When I look at the picture in totality, I want them not just safe, but balanced individuals. Which is why I push fear out of my mind and ensure that no trace of it touches them. Why should I let some pervert scar not just me, but them too?

      Don’t blame your parents. I did that at some point but soon realised that they are only human and what is more, they lived in an age when these things were not spoken about. So unless they had experienced it themselves, they had no idea that it was a threat. Today with all of us talking, not just us, but even those who have never experienced it, will know better than to leave their kids with strangers. We have the advantage of media. They didnt

      • I was abused for nearly 3-4 years of my life. He was a cousin of my mom who had come to stay with us. We used to sleep with him (only 2 rooms in the house and we being fond of him).
        I did not gather the courage to tell my parents then. Frankly I am not sure if I even knew it was wrong.
        Many years down the line when I told my mom about it, she did not believe it. To this day, that is the only incident for which I have not forgiven my mother.
        As regards that guy, all I can say is God did get back to him in someway. He did not have any kids. But the alternative to that problem was, his sis-in-law conceived (with her husband) and gave the kid to him. I just hope some day this kid goes back to his biological parents.

        • oh God… this happens so often. its always a cousin that you are fond of with sort of mixed feelings and a fear that something might be wrong but no idea what exactly it is. I know what you mean about not forgiving your mom, but I guess that sort of denial is the first reaction of a parent who realises that they failed at protecting their child and no idea what to do next. I only pray we deal with our childrens’ problems – whatever they might be, in a more supportive way.

          On a different note, I am surprised at how many people have kids for others and give the child to them. This seems to be really common

  8. Pingback: Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month -April 2011 | Mimi's Mommy – It's all about Mimi and his Mommy!

  9. MM, you are great that you had the courage to overcome this and share it with the world! I dont think I will call you paranoid..I would just call you extra careful..in some ways I am like you. I would rather have R just say hi to friends, relatives and strangers instead of going and hugging them. I am careful when the watchmen are friendly with her and dont allow her to go and hug them or anything. She has to be polite and respect them, but from a distance. Okie, maybe I am paranoid too 🙂

  10. MM, your post made me tremble. I cannot even imagine the scar it must have left on you for life. I am so sorry that this happened, and I wish we as a society could castrate and stone these bas****s to death. That is the least punishment that they deserve.

  11. MM, thank you for this detailed post. Coming out in the open and discussing it is often the most difficult thing to do.
    The pointers you have mentioned are so appropriate and pertinent.
    What we go through often decides how we react in future. Better paranoid than sorry. I totally believe in it.

  12. It’s openness like yours that we need, MM. Big ginormous hugs, it takes courage. I have friends who were abused by male relatives, and they’re very badly affected.But they didn’t speak up or make the perp’s actions public, because “They had to get married.” 😡

    One of the biggest ripples created by CSA is how it affects our decisions and choices, lifelong. Look at the pressure it puts on parents to protect their kids, by being physically present. It gets harder, as the kids grow, as they join hobby classes, as they start using school and other transport, as they spend longer hours at school and outside the home, at friends’ birthday parties and playdates. Not all of us can be there all the time, and if it boils down to opting out of a career or a passion because we fear leaving our kids alone, then we and our families continue facing the consequences all our lives, because of that one perp who took away our trust.

    • Very true. I lost my innocence and faith a long time ago and today I have lost my freedom to some extent because I am not leaving my daughter alone to be ferried around by a driver or left alone with a maid…

  13. I was waiting for you to write about this….I think the fact that a lucky few of us have not gone through this horrifying experience is sheer good luck. Having said that; I definitely have fallen prey to so called uncles, cousins trying to feel me up with or get cosy. I’ve an elder sis and still did not share this with her for a long time, till one fine day it all came out in a burst as to how I don’t like so and so uncles and cousins and she corrobrated the stories.
    I think back today and know that it was plain shame that stopped me from sharing it with my sister too.
    I remember a very dear friend of mine breaking down during a gossip session at hostel as to how she was raped in a photographer’s dark room when she was 8. It was a neighbour who walked into their house, took her for a joy ride and then finally took advantage of the unsuspecting child. And that’s not all, to make her happy packed her off with a bunch of chocolates…I was stunned into silence. One by one that evening so many of my friends came out with such horror stories and all I could think was – My God! What does the world has in store for girls?? For the first time in my life, I was scared being born as a girl.
    My father was a paranoid parent like you. Through out gatherings and marriages, he would hound us and not leave our side even for a minute. Back then I thought how could he be so unsocial not working like all other uncles and just sitting and keeping an eye on the kids. Even when we had house guests over, he would wake up 7-8 times during the night to keep an eye on us. I would get so bugged and blamed it on the scientist’s characteristics back then. Today I send a silent prayer and thank the almighty for such a blessed life that papa provided us. For the numerous sleepless nights he spent, we’re able to sleep peacefully till today.
    I wish all of us our do our bit to make our kids safe.

    • I’m impressed. Not many fathers would have done this. But over the years i’ve heard about a number of fathers who in so many different ways have impressed me. the irony of the bunch of chocolates isnt lost on me. first she loses her innocence and is then sent home with a kiddy gift. nice touch.
      how are your ears now, btw?

      • I doubt if I’ll be half as good as a parent. Add this to my long list of not having kids fear.
        As we speak, I can hear my ears still. Looks like it takes around 6-7 months for the adult infection to get OK. Koi nahin, my selective hearing continues :). I don’t hear, whatever or whoever I don’t want to hear.

      • My mom did this. She would hover around the room if we were in there with an older guy friend or cousin or even uncle. I would feel embarrassed then, but now I know why. Cannot thank her enough for being the hawk she was. The irony is that the one abusive incident I suffered was the one that happened when my mom sent me to my aunt’s place for my first ever stay without her. I told her much later and though the person was a family friend of the uncle and the aunt, my mom said it straight to my aunt’s face and told her to keep her kids safe. Needless to say, I didn’t get to go anywhere for a stay or a sleepover alone, till I was much older and able to take care of myself. Maybe she was paranoid, MM, but better paranoid than sorry!

  14. Talking out and counselling is so important here. Few of the tips:

    Never feel shy to talk to your kids about it. I have talked to my daughter (who is 8.5 yrs old) about it and have told her to report any unpleasant touch (by anyone on the earth) to me.
    I tell them to watch ‘Wake Up Sid..tera right hai yeh’, a short ad by Child Rights Society thats been telecast these days on various channels for kids.
    There is no hush-hush about these topics at my home.

  15. You know what struck me the most MM? These few lines here, “I could have begun to reinforce good touch bad touch but I am not sure they really get it (each one of us is the best judge of what our children are capable of understanding) and neither do I want them overthinking it each time an adult touches them. It is my job to protect them and I can’t shift that burden on to their shoulders. It leaves lots of room for misunderstanding and focuses too much on the whole private parts matter which I treat in a far more matter of fact way – again, this is our family policy and might not work for everyone.”

    I feel the same way and I thought I was the only one. I have also tried to explain good touch/bad touch to my boys and I remember them looking at me confused. The EO then voiced his confusion and listed out a number of people whom he loved and trusted and some whom he expected to touch him (whether for bathing, cleaning or helping with clothes). In the list were his grandparents, aunt, uncle, ayahs, doctor, etc and I realised that rather than making the issue easier for him it was over-complicating things, so I laid off. Like you, I try to be around them as much as possible and if I’m not around, I make sure that a trusted family member is around. I also believe in the safety of numbers and don’t send them anywhere alone with the driver.

    Thanks for sharing MM. May our children never have to face what we did.

    • I’m glad you agree. Its a loss of innocence either way. So I’d rather just be paranoid and not let them out of my sight. And trust in the little good/bad touch info I’ve given them, question them relentlessly when they get back from somewhere and so on, rather than just spell it out for such young children and upset them further. They know that private parts are private and that they shouldnt let anyone else touch them but i’m not really scaring them about it. and yes, may our children never face what we did.

  16. Hi MM,
    I am delurking for the first time, have been reading your blog for a while now, but this topic is too close to my heart to refrain from commenting.
    My story- I was raised in Calcutta. My family was fairly middle class, and we lived in old Calcutta ( every Indian city, I guess Delhi too, has these old city areas, which are crowded with old shops, dilapidated buildings, narrow lanes and lots of people. My folks did the best they could, would drop me to school and pick me up everyday, but we did not have a car, my school did not have school buses, and we could not afford taxis everyday, so public buses it was.
    My earliest memory of being felt up in those buses was when I was in class 1 (about 6 years old). It was a lucky day when I got home without incident. My mother accompanied me everyday but I was too scared and ashamed to tell her. It was the same story on the crowded streets when I stepped out…in all the jostling and shoving, I came to expect the inevitable.
    Its a different story now, I live in Bombay but never travel by local trains, and it is easy to avoid buses and trains given that my economic situation is very different from what it was in my childhood.
    What I am trying to say is, it is easier for us to protect our children, because we can afford small luxuries like car travel. There are parents who, inspite of being aware (my parents would not like me interacting with strange men and being alone with neighbours) cannot really prevent much of what their children go through because of economic constraints.

    • true. but being felt up (while offensive in itself) is very different to a little child being sexually abused by someone the family trusts. in such matters its got nothing to do with economic constraints and plenty to do with just plain trust. in my case we had a staff of close to 10 household helpers. certainly no economic constraint. in the other comments you will see its an uncle, a cousin… notice the patter of trust broken that emerges.

      • I couldn’t agree more, MM. My case was very different- it was never anyone my family knew. Also, I think being exposed to forty minutes of a terrifying journey everyday also made me wary of being left alone with anyone, I would not spend time alone with house help or relatives. But, it was a loss of innocence all the same, middle-aged men offering to let me sit on their lap because I was standing, or passengers seeing the guy sitting next to me working his hand up my leg but saying nothing.

        • Of course. I wouldnt trivialise the experience at all. And its a sorry state when even a young child has to fend for herself on a daily 40 minute journey. I just mean that while parents will distrust strangers on a bus, no one thinks twice if an uncle offers to keep his niece for the night when visiting.

          • I suppose it is our experiences (and reading about other experiences on forums such as these) that shape understanding and awareness. I am glad we are speaking up more. It is also very important to discuss these experiences with one’s spouse – in my case, my husband has suffered no abuse as a child, and as a result he would tend to be more trusting of others.

  17. I am so happy that I came across this article, I am not a parent , infact lesser than that at the age of 24. But I have faced the knacks sometime .. someone riding on a scooter and throwing a hand at you .. or on trips the guide your parents hire trying to get his hands on you .. these are situations one comes across .. a lesson to learn for every parent .. thanks for documenting this

  18. I’d written my story some time ago. I was going to add some more points and re-post it again for CSAAM

    http://revsjoiedevivre.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/hush-not/

    I haven’t told my family about this yet. Knowing their super protective streak when it comes to me(the youngest) I think they will beat themselves up too much if I tell them now, after almost 2 decades. I’m not saying that everyone should hide it from their families but I just know that this is what would suit my family, for now.

    Having said that, even now when I go home for holidays and I’m usually happy visiting relatives and old family friends, I shudder when it’s time to visit this particular cousin or his mother(my dad’s own sister). He’s now married and has 2 kids. The first few times, I’ve shed big fat tears and have downright refused to visit them and my mother put it down to jet-lag. Even later, when I kept refusing, she just looked at my face for that extra second and said ‘Okay’. Makes me wonder if mothers somehow sense something. And I’d like to believe that the Mommy-antenna works like that.

  19. You know what my molester did?? He suggested my parents that I should be sent to a psychiatrist as i was keeping to myself and shunning other people.. And he was the one who took me to a psychiatrist.. how nice of him, NOT!!

    i have still not told about him to my parents.. it took me 20 years to come to terms that it was not my fault… god knows how they will take it..

    sigh.. hoping he rots in hell!

  20. Hi MM

    I’m really sorry to hear your story but I applaud your concern toward your children. I’d rather have an alert mother than scared one.

    I was molested by my ‘uncles’ between age 18-21. I’m 24 now.
    I still clearly remember the day he followed my around the house like a puppy because I was wearing “shorts”. I was shocked and so uncomfortable that I had to change into trousers. When I told my mom about his behaviour she told me it was my own fault that I had worn the revealing outfit (which was an inch above my knees). That is how it began. He would at times smack my butt, sleep beside me and hug me close, rub my thigh, stare from top to down, question my bathing time, offering to give ‘soap’, commenting on what clothes I wore esp the shirts/kurta.
    The other uncle would kiss my hand as though he was greeting me, ask if the water was hot enough after a bath, constantly ask my parents about my whereabouts, siting beside me on purpose etc.
    The way it looked to an outsider was how caring these idiots are. The most upsetting thing was my mother’s reaction who would often ask me to go inside the house if the neighbour was staring or blaming the choice of clothes I wore if an uncle ‘showed interest’.
    To make matters I was almost raped by my 1st boyfriend. I was 16 and deathly ignorant. I hated of myself because my parents/school/so called friends would often criticize me for who I was. ‘you are so fat’,’you are a dull student’, ‘why can’t you thread your upperlip’, ‘Omg you have a boyfriend at 16?’ ans what not. Neither did I find any relief at home. To society, we look like a typical middle class family.
    After these unfortunate incidents, I realised how scared my father is, how much my mother want to please the world and why my sister hero-worships my parents.
    I’m literally shaking writing this. My heart’s pounding.

    I’m in the process of healing. My to-be-husband is helping me. My screams and blame have forced my parents to be concerned.

    Some day I will learn forgiveness. Only to make myself feel better.

    Thankyou for the post. 🙂

    • That day when you feel a lot better will come soon. Everything you underwent is the past but guard yourself against any other crap. You will get all the good things you deserve.

      • Thankyou for such optimistic words! 🙂 Yes you are right. The same uncles don’t dare touch me now.My body language has changed tremendously over the past few years and I can sense they’ve got the message.

    • So sorry. May you find peace. I never learned to forgive. But learned that I should not spend my emotional energy on such scum.

      • Thankyou for the kind words. 🙂 Neither do I want to spend my energy on them but quite unfortunately since they are my uncles I bump into them at family functions. But yes, I have changed a lot over the years. I have limited my association with the ‘extended family’ at the cost of facing extreme critisism & negativity from all. I was asked why I had shut myself from the same people who had raised me like a parrot! I barfed at the statement. I’d rather stand alone than join their group just because we are family!

    • Many times I’m asked why I have only 30 friends on FB (of all things) and how come I don’t add people from school/college/certain relatives. I was embarrassed at the beginning but not now. I don’t want to be led by my past. I’d rather keep away from such people for my own sanity. I might look lonely to others but I know what I have overcome.
      I’m already feeling better!
      Thanks MM.

  21. Everytime I hear/read about abuse like this, it tears my heart to pieces. I was lucky, and yet, I am paranoid. Reading and hearing from so many friends, it just drives home how common such abuse is. And no society is untouched by it. I hear some of my friends here(we live abroad), about how child sexual abuse DOES NOT happen in India, and I can’t help being shocked at their naivety.

    The pointers you have provided are excellent. I know people who kiss children on the mouth, and I find it scary. Is it not making it ‘acceptable’ for the child? What if somebody with the wrong intentions do it, and the child thinks that it is allowed?

    Wonderful, wonderful post!

    • I think we draw different lines about what is acceptable. I remember there was this pic of Pooja Bhatt sitting on Mahesh Bhatt’s lap and kissing him on the mouth that made headlines for all the wrong reasons. I just figured that as father and adult daughter if they were okay, I was okay. You know, we wash the kids’ butts and scrub private parts during baths. We can’t and shouldnt stop showing affection either, because of fear of molesters, in my humble opinion. but as little kids we should guard them with our lives and as they grow and can differentiate, teach them the safe-unsafe touch thing and also ensure they have the space to come and talk to us

      • I agree. we should certainly not stop showing affection to our kids. And parents kissing their children on the mouth is certainly acceptable to some..which is fine. Sorry, I should have been clear. I meant, other people, not parents, kissing children on the mouth, and parents doing nothing about it.. Somehow I feel a little uncomfortable about family friends kissing little children on the mouth.. I mean how would we as parents know who has what intentions, you know…

        And yes, children certainly need to be able to talk to us, and we should be taking whatever they confide in us very seriously.

        • oh yes i agree. frankly mouth kissing isnt hygienic and so parents shouldnt do it either, but in terms of affection i dont see it as my right to tell anyone where to draw the line. but where others are concerned, definitely. i have to admit i am one of those parents who initially didnt know what to say when people kissed the brat on the mouth, but i’ve grown and learnt and i dont allow it anymore.

  22. It’s great you had the courage to share this. I see people brush CSA under the carpet all the time. The biggest thing for people to realise is that it is often family members, friends and other trusted acquaintances that perpetrate the abuse.

    My mom hired an art teacher for the brat when we were in Jaipur for a long-ish visit and the plan was to send Ayaan to the teacher’s house for an hour ago. My mom thought I was crazy (the word paranoid was used too) but I refused. Finally we paid the guy extra to come and teach Ayaan at home. Better safe than sorry!

    • Thank God you did that. I have been putting off this art class that the Bean wants to go to because I cannot go and sit there in the teacher’s house and I have no idea about the staff she has there. I must take the time out because there seems to be no other way to send her there.

  23. Dear TMM,

    This post and your earlier post are disturbing! Its important to speak out even after so many years, not just to exorcise your own ghosts but also to bring it out in the public domain. This is probably the most important step in erasing the stigmatisation of the victim rather than of the vile attacker.

    You talk about a loss of innocence – your own and of your parents. I can totally understand and relate to that.

    But you also talk about a lack of trust – of anybody but your own. I dont agree with you on that, and frankly I dont even see it in your, or your parent’s responses. And thank god for that.

    Let me explain – ofcourse you are going to be paranoid. Ofcourse you are not going to leave your kids in the care of someone you dont know and trust fully. Thats normal.

    But with those who work for you, whom you might not trust with complete confidence, you are watchful. But you don’t stop your children from playing with them, neither do you stop them from befriending your child. You (and your parents) keep an eye, you are around, doing your own thing. You have NOT PASSED ON your fears and anxieties to your child. You have given them the space to trust and forge relationships. That is the critical difference.

    You have created the understanding that your kids can come and tell you anything and everything. Given the space kids would talk about things they like, dont like, confusions, horrors- everything! And you are creating that space so that your children can go and explore the world, and come back to you to soothe any scrape on the knee, or dent in their trust of the world.

    So no, you have not lost trust, neither will your children.

    I really think thats an important part of talking about child sexual abuse. How to be mindful but not shut out the world as a place teeming with potential molesters. And how do we teach our children to be careful when dealing with strangers but not fearful or hostile? How do we teach our children to love the people we trust but be able to say ‘ No’ if there is anything that makes them uncomfortable?

  24. My own uncle attempted to molest me when I was 6 and he still hasn’t changed – thank God he hasn’t tried it again, but I some other people I know have complained about him.

    I don’t think the attitudes of these people really change (and in so many other aspects people don’t change even if you try) and you always need to be on guard.

  25. Sorry for going viral on your comment space, but have you tried bringing up the issue of the helpers on Bean’s school bus with the school and other parents?
    In these days when schools are proactively educating kids about these issues (I know my nephew’s school does), it is concerning that something as basic as this is not addressed.
    I do feel that this is something the parents could come together and insist on.

  26. I would like to share here that as parents we cannot be lax for our little boys too, on my last visit to India my new neighbour told my why she packed off her teenage male servant back to her MIL’s place where he came from, the son got a bit reddish in his willy, though she didn’t have any other thing to pin point the mommy antennae might have sent signals. Other than she told me of her friend and her 2-3 yr old son they had a male servant too. The toddler kept crying and pointing his hand to his bottom. The mother took him to the doctor thinking it might be an infection after examining the child the doctor broke to news that the baby boy had been raped. So it all boils down to – We cannot trust little boys and girls with ANYBODY as this world comprises of sexually starved and mentally sick people too. I have a little boy and I would never ever leave him with anybody alone to play. I feel so terrible to see that parents don’t bother to check on their child who has been out playing, wandering around. A few days back a cute 4 year old came to my house along with our neighbour’s daughter she wanted him to be allowed inside too so that they could all play together. After a good 1 hr. the boys sisters started screaming for him outside to find him, long after he had gone I kept wondering this boy had been safe because he was in MY house under MY nose what if…. sorry for the long post but this is one issue that really shakes me up.

    • oh God, oh God… and now I have tears running down my face. … what a terrible thing to happen to a little boy. And you’re right. boys are no safer as I said in my post. I refuse to let my son down to play alone. the OA says I am being silly. Maybe. I’d rather be silly than sorry.

      • such incidents have led me to be ‘extra cautious’ too though I have a boy I cannot let him wander off despite the beautiful green fields we have in our estate in ireland. On the rare time I do I keep popping out to see if he is within visible distance and only with kids.

    • oMG…this is so awful!!! yes boys as little as that are targets too. no one is safe.

      MM, i am finally reading all the comments on your post and it amazes me how rampant this is.

      i feel calm, in a very weird way, that i wasnt the only one who had a horrific experience. there is a army of us!

      all the more reason why we should share our stories and create this much needed jolt!

  27. Kudos to you MM for bringing it all up so well. I have “my traumatic experience” post in drafts and I am still thinking if I will be able to let it out inpublic. That shame, guilt and hidden fear is still somewhere…
    Your post and any more to come are giving me strength to speak up.

    Thanks.

  28. Thank you every one for your stories, this is something that cuts across every strata of society. Having been through this as children, we hope, like MM, we can be more aware and informed parents.

  29. These awareness drives really help… there are plenty of us blissfully ignorant folk around. Until a few years ago it would never have occurred to me that such things happen. Hearing it from bloggers (as opposed to name-changed magazine articles) makes it a bit more real, too.

    • Same here…until a few years ago, I was blissfully ignorant of these things…maybe I should thank the paranoid father I have for all this.

  30. I am expecting my first child in October. Perhaps that’s what’s given me the courage to speak out.
    1. I was first abused by a male servant when I was 5-6. I have only vague memories. He was a helper in my dad’s office, and often did odd jobs around the house too. He would take me to the dark store room and do things.
    2. Next, was my neighbour. My grandfather passed away in an unfortunate accident, and my parents had to rush to Calcutta. Since I was taking my final exams, our neighbours (almost an extended family – you know how it is in small towns) offered to take care of me. The ‘uncle’ abused me. I was too young to realise the extent of physical damage done, but the mental trauma continues to date.
    3. This time a male cousin. He was a sick junkie. He began by telling me (I must have been 11 or thereabouts) all about sanitary napkins…how I would need one soon…and then he proceeded to touch me…all the while laughing and making light of it, as if it was just a ‘regular’ game we were playing. I think after that I figured it out and decided no one would ever touch me again.
    Ofcourse the sadak-chhap abuse continued – the paws, the feeling up on buses et al, but nothing as serious.

    I am sorry if I sound matter-of-fact about it. But that’s how I look at it now. Else, I’d never be able to heal. Oh, and I am from a regular family. My parents were not lax about my safety. It’s just that all three of my abusers were ‘known’, ‘trusted’, ‘harmless’. The irony!

    • No, we NEED to sound matter of fact. We CANNOT let them ruin our lives so many years later. How DARE they continue to have any power over us. I am so far past the abuse that it doesnt give me nightmares or anything anymore. I guess its the constant talking about it, the taking out of my fears and airing it. I am aware that for many of you this is a first time. But for me, I’ve done this in person, face to face with so many people. I’ve written on my old blog, I blogged about it for Blank Noise. I am now matter of fact because i am at this second stage of my life where the damage that was done is done, I am now just a tigress mother zealously guarding my children. And in such matters I cant be emotional. I have to alert and aware and practical.

      I am very sorry to hear about your case. And yes, this is the thing with child molesters. They are all “known, harmless and trusted”. So many of us say we’re not going to tell parents, but we must. We must tell our parents who will then look out for their grandson, for a neighbour’s child, for every child. And if possible, confront the perpetrator. Can you imagine – those three molesters are still going about looking for prey because they have never been confronted and they are growing bolder.

  31. I typed 4 drafts of the post I promised, but stopped. I just couldn’t do it.
    I hadn’t read your old post on the old blog, but the story is so eerily similar. Summer holidays, when my parents would send the sibling and me home to grandparents’ place. He was a tenant (they let out 3 houses within the huge compound). It went on for 3 (or maybe even 4?) years, from when I was 8. It stopped when I turned 12. He moved out of the house but he would come by once in a while, to meet the grandparents. I would seethe with anger, everytime my dad stopped to talk to him.
    I told my dad about it, when I was 20. Mum found out a lot later. It crushed them – they were always the super wary parents. We would do a lot of bus trips as kids and my dad was the eagle-eyed father who kept a watchful eye on his kids. Mum was the no- nonsense, ‘I will gouge your eyes, don’t even try moving an inch closer to me’ to the pervert on the bus, kinds. Self- doubt killed me for a long, long time. Did I do or say something that made me attract this behaviour?
    I have come a long way since then – I laid to rest the ghosts of the past, but I keep wondering if having my own daughter will serve to resurrect them. I am paranoid about such a thing happening to any of the babies in my life – when around babies, I view every single male with suspicion, when they touch/handle a baby. That paranoia refuses to leave me.
    I couldnt get myself to read through your post to the end – I will go back and read it.
    And I am going to go back and write my story.

    • I want you to do this babe. You have to do it for you. I know I told you to drop it if it was making you unhappy. But I think you need this catharsis. We all do. I cannot tell you how unbelievably light I feel after it.

      • @Me: please share your story as MM said, for you, if not for anyone else.. i finally wrote mine and let me tell you, i feel less burdened now, as if a huge weight got lifted.it was very therapeutic.

    • @me : I have been like u too, writing and deleting the story in my head… today I wrote and it gave me relief, it helped me heal..

      do it send it as an anon it would help

      hugs

  32. great pointers MM…hugs. hugs hugs. i remember you mentioning about being a victim but i missed the post on it.

    this is such a fantastic initative-one that motivated me to write about my own. i too am a victim.

    http://sukanyabora.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/child-sexual-abuse-awareness-month-april-2011/

    and i totally get your paranoia about protecting brat and bean. in the US, we may not have live in help but there are predators out there at every corner. we have things like sex offenders lists which help to a certain extent but nothing like awareness and continuous dialog to prevent this from happening.

    my son is in first grade and just yesterday they had a discussion about personal safety, safe touch/bad touch, trusted adults, bad secrets/ok secrets, private body parts etc. We continued the discussion at home and he summed up what he learned at school wonderfully, making me realize that he is at an age where he gets stuff like like this. I will post some of those pointers on the CSAAM website.

    Thanks!

  33. I had tears running down my face as I read your post and the comments. God I feel so lucky and blessed to not have had such a trauma growing up. Thanks to my over-protective and paranoid in the best way possible mum. We, my twin brother included, were given the good touch/bad touch talk at seven and my mum brushed up on the talk over the years. I was never left alone with any man other than my dad. Sometimes I felt my mum was going overboard but boy am I glad now!

    I am going to forward this post to someone I know, this woman has a 7 yr old daughter who plays in her building compound every evening. She has this so called ‘friend’ who is a 16 year old boy. First of all I find it strange that a teenage boy would want to hang out and play with seven year olds. Secondly this boy ‘proposed’ marriage to this kid. He also buys her chocolates and chips- things her parents don’t let her have.He also takes her for rides on his bike. The moment I heard this, my mind just went to the worst possible place. But this woman, this mother thought it was the sweetest story she’d ever heard!!! She and her husband think this boy is such a charmer and even tease their daughter with this teenage boy! I wonder if some of my mum’s paranoia has been passed on to me, perhaps this boy is innocent, but….a 16 yr old boy buying gifts for a seven yr old girl is just a tad too disturbing!

    • okay I am sorry, but they REALLY need to worry about this boy. i’m sorry we’re turning into a paranoid society but we have so much reason. i grew up with my maama’s friends in the house. all in college when i was about 5-6. a lot of them took me for bike rides and bought me toffees… but i dont know if i’d allow the same for my daughter now.

      • I agree with you both. I grew up in an apartment complex/colony and folks were known to each other. I remember older teenage boys with bikes taking us out for rides (and I enjoyed them) but a 16 year old who’s doing things like buying gifts/talking marriage likely has a lot more on his mind. And are the parents nuts??? To be teasing, teasing a 7 year old with a BOY?? What is the world coming to??
        I am glad I don’t live in a “colony” anymore as I don’t think I would let my daughter out of sight for a bike ride!!

      • a 16 year old boy proposing marriage to a 7 year old and we second guessing it as “paranoid thinking” sorry this is no sweet love story and the parents have to be naive on MANY levels to allow these bike rides and gifts. MM, I am pretty sure none of your mama’s friends were proposing marriage to you when you were 6, so it is not that generational attitudes or social niceties have changed!!

    • I think the worst mistake a parent can do is tease their little kid with that boy. i know it confuses the kid so much that even if she sense something is going wrong she will never come over and confess to her parents as she will definitely think her parents adore the boy.

      • Thank God!!!!! I thought I was being paranoid out of nothing. I forwarded this post to a couple of people, the mother of this seven year old. This whole things reeks of something being wrong. I wanted to tell her that something was wrong with this boy being so interested and talking marriage, even as a passing joke. I really hope the parents see the potential threat in this situation!

  34. MM, I am a victim of child sexual abuse. Abused by two of my maternal uncles on different occasions when I was probably around 9 or 10. They visited us often. Like Deepti, we lived in a small house with two bedrooms and because I was a ‘kid’, I had to share my bed with those jackals while my elder sister slept with my parents. I still remember the terror and palpitations when the lights went off. Years later when I told my mom, she cried with me. But she is still very much in love with her brothers and I wonder how she can be like that. But I am really glad that they were not able to break me in any way. I grew up to be a normal healthy individual. My marriage is great and I have many male friends that I trust and love.
    There are days when all I want to do is go right up to them and slap them.. show the whole world who they really are. But then I think about my aunts, who are really sweet, and their children and I feel helpless. I don’t have any kids but like you, am very paranoid when it comes to my nieces and my sister knows why. Thanks a lot for writing about this topic.

      • I think, yes, we should. There are so many things I’m unable to talk with my mom about, because she shuts down on me, and my dad too. I shudder to think if I had gone through something so traumatic as CSA, whether they would be able to take hearing about it, then or anytime afterward?

        I guess, we have to aim for that, for our kids to come to us with anything, and we won’t be judgmental and be ready to stand up for them, no matter what. The ultimate test of parenting…many of the older gen would fail it.

  35. Castration isn’t enough for such people. How, just how can they do it – the sick bastards. You see a little girl and her cute little bum and it’s all so adorable and then there are these assholes who’d be jerking off. Seriously they should be castrated in public or be stoned or something… boiling over with rage and helplessness

  36. Love you for writing this…I had my huge share too….and sometimes in a very rare moment the fear revisits , even if its for a few seconds….these nasty people scare us for lives…oh yes, I will be equally paraniod when I have children..I truly understand why you are so….love you MM for spreading this awareness….what can I do to support or spread this ? Write a post ?

  37. 6? OMG! That is just horrible. I see kids at 6 and think they are still just babies! To have that happen at such a young age must have been simply awful! Good thing you are a fighter and have bounced back.

  38. I didn’t share this earlier. But I have to come out with it:

    When I was 6, my cousin (then 14) and I walked my dog together. He took me to a lonely spot, sat down and unzipped. Then he said “Show me yours, don’t feel shy,” It felt really wrong and I said I wouldn’t. My dog was sitting right there, innocent silly creature, it loved him too.
    The only thing I don’t like about that dog is, that it didn’t bite off his penis.

  39. Excellent job MM. I too am a victim. It was done by our landlord’s sons- 2 of them when I was maybe 8-9, then a Yoga teacher who came home and finally when I was around 18-19 by a much older and married cousin in Lucknow. It is ok now but the one regret I still carry in my heart is my loss of innocence. I would look at my female classmates in school and wonder how many of them have had to go through it…and I would wonder if anybody could see it on my face! I felt old and all-knowing beyond my years…the first abuse started with my landlord’s older son giving me a hardcore pornographic book to read-i was 8 and a voracious reader and he took advantage of that.

    My parents were careful, strict and even paranoid and yet it still happened. Ive healed but for the longest time I blamed myself, for bringing it upon myself: my poor twisted logic? Well, I didnt tell mamma, I didnt run away, i didnt shout for help so that must mean I enjoyed it, so it was my fault!!Can you imagine the guilt I carried for yearssss!

    Today I am a paranoid and a very vocal mother. It does not embarass me one bit to tell off parents for trusting men with their children. Yohaan is not allowed out or inhouse for that matter, with any male other than his dad and grandpa. No way. He is a very demonstrative baby going around bestowing hugs and kisses on random strangers without me having to prompt but that is something I am planning to curb once he gets a lil older…I just fired a male cook last month because he took Yohaan down for like 10 minutes while I was showering. I had left them with the maid in the living room and went for a quick shower. He took Yohaan down without asking me and the poor foolish maid didnt think of stopping him either. I am telling you MM, when i came out of the bath I thought I would die! I was hysterical and like a mad woman. I ran down in my nighty! No i am not kidding you…I wore my nightgown and rushed down and it became even more ominous when I didnt find them playing in our building allocated play area. I found them behind our building with Y just toddling around and the cook on his phone which too was negligent. Well, he got a slice of hell that day. Short of hitting him, I screamed bloody murder and fired him on the spot. To his credit he apologised and actually said to me ‘madam main samajh gaya aap kyon naraz hain, mujhey pata hai duniya badi kharab hai’ and he left. I watch Y like a hawk but we can still slip…we must be PARANOID. Nothing wrong in that.

    My mom runs her own school. She hires no men. There is however a driver, a gardener and a male sweeper. They have no access to school area at all while the school is on and my mom has been very blunt and told them the reason too! Take it or leave it. These guys have accepted the conditions and follow it to the T. Reason why my mom is paranoid? She and my dad were both abused by their respective cooks back in the 50’s when they were little children. now in their 60’s themselves, they both have clear memories of those times and even talk openly about it to young parents nowadays. That’s good I say. One can never be too careful- ever!

  40. Pingback: Child Sexual Abuse Awareness « Verbal Blasphemy

  41. To MM and all the commentators:

    Does it *really* helps talking/writing about it?
    And no, I am not talking about awareness.. I am talking about personally.

    My guess is that kids who have grown with too many domestic helps are always more vulnerable ( at least in Indian context ) not here in US.
    Just so that everybody knows.. I have been there.. and learned to protect my sis.. and actually confront the person in face.

    Why is that this comment section so dominated by females? I always thought that it is easy to get boys then girls.. coz of typical indian mentality

    • I think while it is easy to access boys, there are more perverts interested in girls maybe ? and yes it does help. it helps to know you are not alone. it helps those who have no idea how common this is, to keep their children safe. it helps to get the hurt and pain and trauma out of your system. its like lancing a boil.

      • How does it helps to get the hurt, pain,trauma out of my/your system?

        For me, I think I was lucky coz no penetration happened ( typical Indian male view).. and when I grew up, I confronted him.. and actually took him back to his newly married wife ( I never mentioned anything to his wife).. just to drive the point.

        I know a 21 year old.. who was raped by 2 black men ( no racial thing here).. when he was walking around a Mcdonalds when he was 12 years old.. he was kicked so hard that he was unconscious. Later when he wock up he realized what happened. He never told anybody about it.. but it screwed his relations with girls… he would go out of the way to have as many GFs and ditch everyone of them.. just so that he can feel manly.
        So I asked him, how does it feel to share his story.. ( and he was crying when he was narrating).. he says it feels good.
        Next day, I asked him the same question.. and he says that he is not sure about his feelings…

        • Well, it depends on the person you are, I guess. To me, pain is like an infection. Until you get it out of your system, it will eat away like cancer. I think you’re very lucky to be able to talk about it like this. Most men would never bring it up again. Its a male ego thing I suppose.
          btw – deleted your other message but i am SO happy for you. And thank you for sharing that bit of awesome news with me. Congrats and God bless….

          • “Until you get it out of your system, it will eat away like cancer.”

            Well.. to each his/her own. I finally went to alcohool rehab this year (Feb 15 to March 15) coz I realized I was hurting myself too much. ( no this has nothing to do with past or with my son.. I’d always drink when my kids were ready for bed). Here, in US, they club alcohoolics with drug addicts.. and that is when I heard the horror stories.. about the abuse.. and what drives so many kids to what they are..

            My sister still chides me for being so overprotective.. ( I did hit 3 guys when she was 13) and when she told our parents about her love interest and planning to marrying him… I was OK, but still wanted to *check* his background etc.
            Luckily, my Dad turned out to be totally different person (as I had known him) and my mom was super cool ( which she is)

        • I think it helps a lot, Arun. In my case, I stewed in guilt for 8 long years. Finally, when I confided in my parents, it helped do away with a lot of the mistrust I felt for the opposite gender; later, when I was in a relationship, my then boyfriend was super- supportive – if I can talk about it in a fairly lucid manner today,it is thanks to these people.

        • Dear Arun,
          Post being abused, I went through the same cycle of dating/ ditching as many men as I could.
          And I think the reason was because I didn’t want to get close to any one person and also because it gave me a warped sense of control.In some way i also felt I was getting back at the person who had hurt me (did I already mention warped!!)
          In the 15 years since then I have had only 2 meaningful relationships and countless pointless ones.
          I got married recently and had a tough time connecting the emotional and physical parts of the relationship.
          I finally went for therapy and it helped,not because I told someone else about it but because it made me sort through the entire 15 years and get through all the layers I had piled up.
          And I must admit the first few sessions made me feel even worse but at the end of it, I knew myself better, I had no guilt and I could move on.
          So please do tell your friend that it does help to talk about it and deal with it, albeit at your own pace.

          • And I have to add, through all of this, it was my husband who helped me the most.
            In fact he was the one who suggested therapy. until then I was still prejudiced about going to a therapist.
            Knowing I had his full support helped me seek the help i needed.
            And now I recommend therapy or simply talking to someone, to every one of my friends.

    • arun I have been shouting from the roof from the day I started planning this, boys are abused too and we need more men to come out and accept it

      U know my take on why this comment section is dominated by females because boys (now men) are even more ashamed to accept that they have been abused. We always teach boys to be macho, to be strong… nothing can hurt them yet someone came and abused them? now how can they share this with the world..

      As a mother of a small boy it bothers me a lot and I am trying to deal with that in my post, hope I am able to do justice to it

      • I agree with what Monika had to say about why boys/men are not dominating the comment section here with their stories. If it helps you in any way let me tell you that I was the only girl in a family of 20 plus boys and I was guarded like a treasure by all of my loving brothers and the irony was that one of my own brother was the one who was abused as a kid. It took him 9 or so long years to open up and tell me what he had gone through. He was the unusually quiet and moody one among us and all that time we siblings used to tease him saying that we believe he was adopted coz he was so unlike us. It took a long while for him to heal but yes heal he did coz we made sure he never ever held himself responsible for what the molester did to him.

  42. Kudos to you MM, You are a courageous lady!! Suffering the pain and trauma at such a young age… I am shocked and angry.
    Such perverts and sick people should be hanged!
    The pointers you mentioned should be strictly followed by all parents, always!

  43. Brilliantly expressed. I just feel lucky that I haven’t gone through anything close to what you write and others write in comments. A couple of dad’s acquaintances tried to feel me up but at that time, I knew it was wrong and I stayed clear of them after their first attempt. Nothing untoward at a younger age when I wouldn’t know the difference thankfully. My only regret will remain that I couldn’t tell my parents about these acquaintances because I was certain -still am – that they’d curb my freedoms even more in order to protect me. That, I would say is not fair. A teen girl is locked up at home by herself so she is protected? Parents see no other way of protecting sometimes sadly, and, hopefully, this blogging initiative will bring to surface the strategies parents can use to help their almost-adult children instead of suppressing them.

    Also, this scares me to bring a child into this world but I guess all of us do our best we can and know. Our parents did too.

  44. Hey, I was molested by my cousin who was much older, married and had a daughter of his own.
    I was 15, which isn’t so young but I had grown up in an all girl’s boarding school and so had never had a boyfriend or many friends who were guys.
    I think the whole thing made me go over the edge, I started having random relationships with men as a way to ‘get back’ at him. I would deliberately hurt any guy who said he liked me…I still do not connect physical intimacy to emotional intimacy.
    I valued platonic friends much more than men I’d slept with and so yes, have had a lot of intimacy issues.
    My family doesn’t know about this, a few friends do and of course my husband.
    The funny thing is, I was alone with the same cousin when I was 7 and I don’t remember anything about the entire visit, it drives me crazy wondering if I’ve just blocked it out or if I’m just assuming something happened.
    Either which way, its difficult to break down walls and patterns that you’ve built up over the years as coping mechanics and I still struggle with physical/ emotional relationships.

      • Yes I did 🙂 and I’m glad I did and yes, it was the husband who suggested it and said I was being stupid by thinking that going to a therapist was something to be looked down upon.

  45. Couple of days back, while travelling with my mother, we saw something that shook me.
    A middle aged man, his hands slipped inside the girl’s frock-who was apparently on a “ride” with him on a scooter, standing upright looking perplexed.
    When our car crossed them, all we could do was give the man a cold stare to which he simply turned his face.
    Something as heinous as this in broad day light and in the middle of a busy road, I felt helpless. My mother wanted to stop the car and confront the man but it would’ve somehow violated the whole issue of “privacy”.
    I don’t know what was the best thing to do then, but reading this I feel it’s the need of the hour-sensitization of sexual abuse against children.

  46. This is going to be one hell of a month. So many creeps abound. Yes, we have to protect our kids to the best of our ability, tune into whatever signals they send us, and speak up as often as we can. I can never forget how moved I was in the film Monsoon Wedding, when the bride’s father tells his brother-in-law that he is no longer welcome in his house and that he needs to leave immediately, because he trusts and believes his fatherless niece who was abused as a child by this man, and who speaks up to prevent him from abusing a younger cousin.
    We need more grown ups to confront the abusers whenever they possibly can. In cases of familial abuse, the abused child is perceived as even more helpless and vulnerable if he/she is fatherless, and the widow and her children are dependents within the set up. So much revolves around perceived and actual power.

    • exactly why i said we need to share this with the older generation. even if its twenty years later, the perpetrators need to be confronted. and our parents deserve the truth. it will protect other kids.

    • Yeah, Dipali, I can’t help but remember that scene from the movie too. We need more parents and adults acknowledging the situation and acting in the interest of the children involved. The neglect affects the victim worse than the actual abuse, because it takes so much for a child to broach the topic and find the courage to confide. If ignored/ blamed in some way, it can have a cascading effect.

  47. This brings back so many awful memories, its hard to read this, i couldnt complete reading it. I can imagine the paranoia, and its so justified. Whats funny is that its so hard to explain this to men, whenever I bring it up with my husband i am just marked cynical.

    • its a rare man that understands unless he’s been molested too. i keep telling the OA who goes along with what i say because he doesnt want to upset me. but i know he doesnt understand the paranoia and if i were absent from the scene, would do things very differently.

  48. I read some comments about people not being able to forgive their parents, thats so relatable. i havent had the courage to ask my parents why they didnt care at all and let things happen and be so ignorant..why they didnt keep a watch? was it just that generation was so ignorant or was it a puppy shame thing for them!

    • they were ignorant babe. forgive them. they are stewing in their guilt. sometimes the brat or bean scrape a knee on my watch and i feel like a shit mother. i can imagine what it does to them to know that their child was hurt in this way and they cant go back in time and erase the hurt.

      • Yamini – my mom even today feels like putting a knife through the man. I have moved on more successfully!! Like MM said they were ignorant but am sure they hurt!

      • I am one of the lucky few who did not undergo sexual molestation. And I would hate it to tell my parents, you could have been more careful for bringing up girls with so much freedom and then had to deal with this! Yes, It happens to boys too and what happened in your case mm, at home and at a tender age when girl freedom and boy freedom is the same! But I am a careful and paranoid parent nevertheless. Thanks to the public awareness and people openly speaking about this. And I guess we have more things coming as our kids grow up what with online,facebook predators!!! Lets gear up and keep this conversation going.

  49. as i started reading ur experience, i could feel the cold creeping upon my heart,mentally reliving my experience, crying silent tears..
    As i grew up i never looked back at the horrors i had faced. I had a regular adolescence.Only after i got married and had kids did i realize what impact these incidents had on my life..
    i realised if my husband sneaked up on me and hugged or carresed me by surprise, i was revolted and the same sick feeling of shame and guilt made me cringe, thats when i poured out my woes for the first time to my husband and he has helped me move past it.and now as a mother i identify with you.I am extremly paranoid.I have quit working to be fulltime mom, i dont regret it one bit.I want to protect my daughter to the fullest.Many dont understand why i cant go back to work, but i am firm on that one, i can never let my child in the arms of a stranger.
    the worst scar i bear is when i look on suspiciously when my husband plays with my daughter…I am sick to my stomach with guilt at whats going through my mind.I hate myself for it and even more i hate the people who have made me do this..
    I have spoken about this to my husband and has been very supportive and ofcourse horrified at my thoughts.
    I fear passing my fears to my daughter, i dont want her to lose her innocence, but as you said its better lost with knowledge than experience…
    I shall blog my experience soon…
    thanks for this platform…i want to help create awareness

  50. Just goes to show that if we were to scratch below the surface, most of us would have such stories to tell.

    One thing I remember thinking, after I had been subjected to something that I was unsure about, was whether I should tell me Mom about it or not. My cousin (we lived in a big joint family), had showed me his thing and had asked me if I wanted to go ahead and touch it. I must have been 9, he about 17. I remember being very embarrassed, and not sure why ‘bhaiya’ was showing me his shame-shame. I don’t remember it as being a particularly painful experience, just very very confusing and disorienting. I decided against telling my mother, as I felt that the ramifications would be further curtailing of “my” freedom, rather than any thing else. I should also mention that I took care to not be with that cousin alone ever again and built my own set of people I could trust.

    As background, let me tell you that my family was super conservative and my parents, grand parents, uncles and aunts were careful about not letting the girls of the house be alone with even their older male cousins. The walls of our house were raised from 3ft in height to about 6ft when my cousin sisters were growing up to keep out the eyes of strangers on the street. I had to fight tooth and nail for every little bit of freedom that I got as a girl growing up in that house. Even today I regret that I never went on a school trip even when all my friends did because my parents thought that it was not safe for me to do so. I wasn’t even allowed to bike the short distance to school but was ferried back and forth by car every single day. That such an incident can happen even when the family is so careful, perhaps goes to show just how prevalent CSA is in the society.

    I remember feeling that if I told my Mom, she would insist that I do things differently, do this or do that, rather than telling anything to bhaiya just to keep peace in the family. I figured that I would try to protect myself rather than let my parents further restrict me from doing things that I wanted to. I am not sure what point I am trying to make here. I guess I am saying that when the abuse is so prevalent, the parents understandably restrict the children to make this constant monitoring a managable task. I am not sure in hindsight, if it was a good tradeoff, but as a child, I ended up deciding that I could live with this one-off incident, rather than be completely protected but closeted.

  51. I was wondering what your take is on sleepovers.

    My folks have been quite okay with the idea of us staying over with friends now and then, a break from monotony and all that. We were also packed off to the grandparents’ routinely, on our own. I have loads of friends who were not allowed sleepovers at all. No questions asked. And while I can see why (because except for one time when my mum refused to stay over with my best friend, whose folks and elder brother were friends with mine and my brother – I never asked again), it makes me wonder where do you draw the line in cases like this. When is it okay, when is it not? And how do you lay down rules when your child is too young to defend his/herself? Sleepovers were something I treasured and I’m grateful my parents allowed them, something I would like to pass on to my kids too, but how do you still protect them without being totally restrictive?

  52. Pingback: The murder of innocence « Lonely In Space

  53. Being a victim of sexual abuse by gasp…my own step dad who i loved horribly. I can tell u the one thing that helped was my mom’s undying belief in what i said. Not once did she believe it when he “defended” himself, she not only left the man, she talked my feelings with me.

    What i do want to add to your message is that while we take steps to prevent sexual abuse – in the worst case scenario (which i hope never happens) – You as a parent never once show that you don’t trust your child or check the details to ensure they didn’t misunderstand the situation. They learn not to be cautious but not negatively affected by the incident

    • I meant to say – you counseling your kids teaches them to be cautious but not affect it in any negative manner.

      Today – i think i am fairly sorted, totally trust my husband and know my mom is *always* there for me. COme what may

      • You know what MM i don’t view it as something terrible anymore. Yes i was scared, i was angry,i was hurt..but now it just seems like it happened to someone else 🙂

  54. I totally agree with your point of view: the ones who are molested are not supposed to be ashamed !

    Points well taken of precautions…this sure is going to help a lot of parents around and parents-to-be…

    thanks for sharing MM !

  55. u know MM the thing that stuck most… I lost my innocence, i just know what u mean… i agree with the whole post, I was nodding all thru… I am a paranoid parent too and I have said it before on ur blog… but this hit home, hit home and hurt

    one point I dont agree on with u is this “I only keep female househelp”. u know that females sexually abuse kids too? my policy never leave a kid alone with anyone u can’t trust. the damn problem is with my paranoia I don’t trust anyone

    • yes, females can abuse too, but statistics show that they are fewer in number. since i dont have any other childcare option, i pick the females. and yes, i watch over the kids for days before i am willing to leave them alone with them.

    • Hugs to you two dears! Was thinking of rising the point about women as molesters, which is already done by Monika. I am a lucky woman not abused other than being groped in busy buses and such, when I have always made sure that I hurt the man who did it quite a bit – yay :). And am luckier to have a husband who shares my decision not to have a child! As I have said earlier, I fully respect others’ decisions on procreation – All the best with protecting those li’l ones.

  56. I had tweeted about my problem with aunty/uncle ko kiss karo/hug karo and how this is equated as “good manners”, Im planning to write my post about the importance of allowing children to trust their “own radar” and not confuse them… rather they be the brat that doesnt like hugging aunty than those who comply and have the “disease to please” which is very problematic when it comes to “resisting” unwelcome touches.
    Im just wondering MM why no one has taken up the question of how do we raise children who are not offenders, if you know what I mean, what makes for a person who might prey, that 16 year old for example…they didnt just grow up on a separate island.

    • Yes, that is the question I raised in my comment on ‘just another victim’s post on the CSAAM page. Here:
      You know, after reading this extremely disturbing material all of today, I do realise that in Indian society at least, male children are brought up in a very faulty manner if so many of them are, at various ages/stages of their lives, perpetrators of abuse.

      Popular culture depicts random acts of molestation as romance.

      Female relatives generally indulge the male child.

      Where is the moral training of our sons?

      How do we sensitize them towards other members of the family- the old, the young, the opposite sex?

      How do we tell them that violating another person’s space is wrong?

      Touching someone against their will is wrong?

      Touching a younger person’s body inappropriately is wrong?

      (There are female abusers too, but not as common as male ones).

      And yet we need to trust others. Such a tricky tight rope walk this is.

    • That is an interesting question Aneela, and I am sure there are multiple reasons for some 15-16 year old kids becoming sexual offenders.

      Perhaps there are some that have pedophilia in them, but for most others, I am sure that sexual suppression in our society and lack of socially acceptable avenues for sexual experimentation play some part.

      Also, do you think that somehow they sense that they will not be called out on it due to the “shame” felt by the abusee?

    • Exactly. I am wondering how one turns into an abuser, and look for prey in the family. Sigh! I was one of the victims too. After I grew up to understand enough, I am still thinking what could have caused the man to behave in such a way. And the next thought in my mind was, what if my own breed gets that way..KWIM? Like how MM said, experimenting…I can’t even think of such a situation. And in the same way, have you ever been related to someone who you know is into such acts..Like the one in Monsoon wedding…?

      Whenever I thought to tell my parents abt this incident at that time, the only thing that crossed my mind was how will I ever play with the cousins I am so close with again …the abuser being their dad 😦 How will my parents cut off such a good relationship otherwise!!

      Now recently when I told my mom abt all these, she said you should have told us…I know she did mean it, but I could not stand the thought of how severing the ties with her own family would have been if I had told her. Confusions.

  57. I am shocked to see so many women claiming to be victims of sexual abuse very early on in their lives! Have you read the book ‘Bitter Chocolate’ by Pinky Virani? Children as young as 7 months have been raped.Some rapes are so brutal that they victims die.

  58. Hi MM,

    Wonderful write-up. This is a much needed discussion that I think our society has been avoinding for very long. I hope it goes from the internet to local newspapers/magazines and the schools take this subject in their curriculum. Our sons and daughters deserve a safe enviroment to grow in.

    I am very passionate about this topic. I think every young girl growing up in India has been through some sort of sexual violation – be it rape, molestation, groping, indecent exposure etc., I did not experience the rape or molestation but have had my share of groping and indecent exposure by random people at random places. It must have happened only a handful of times, but I hated it and felt shameful and violated.

    I must have been 20 years old, doing third year of engineering school, very outgoing and smart young woman. We were at a huge eye hospital, where we had taken my grandmother for a checkup. There were my parents, aunts with me. This bald, fat old guy was following me for over a couple of hours and could find places where he could expose himself to me. I still can’t believe that 1) I didn’t have the guts to tell my family who was right there with me about it 2) Why I felt shameful about the entire incident 3) How such a thing can happen in a place with so many people around. The guy finally disappeared but even after 20 years I can vividy remember it. That is how powerful these incidents are to us and it still shocks me as to how unprepared I was to handle such an incident.

    I think the main reason this goes on so much in our environment is 1) Sexual starvation in the Indian society. There are perverts everywhere, but seems like we have more than our fair share in India. I don’t know what the solution to this is. This does not justify their actions, but I am wondering if this could be a reason for it to happen so much 2) Lack of awareness among parents and children 3) Somehow the taboo culture makes the victim feel guilty and shameful about the crime. Even me at 20 years of age did not have the courage to stand up for myself 4) The fact that 99% of the perpetrators are not confronted because of the lack of awaress and the feeling of guilt and shame, just encourages them to get away with it.

    As a parent, I never ever want these experiences for my children or any other child. This is a social issue and has to be dealt in many ways: 1) As parents we should teach our kids how to be safe in an age appropraite way. 2) I think most importantly we should teach our kids in school. I believe that when a topic is discussed in the classroom with 30 or 40 kids of the same age, in an age appropriate way then the message gets across better. 3) The local newspapers and magazines should publish articles about the issue and tell people how to avoid or react to such incidents. When the perverts read these articles they now know that there is awareness and are probably going to stop or reduce their actions. 4) Talk to the men in our lives, our fathers/husbands/brothers/sons/friends how to look out for women in their lives. I think many men are oblivious that this is happening to the women in their families, because it is done so discreetly and we women keep it discreet too.

    This problem can be reduced/eliminated only when there is awareness and everyone knows how to prevent such incidents or react to it. There needs to be a propaganda and my salute to all of you women who started this conversation.

  59. Will you please send OA to friends house for 2morrow also, and watch paint dry on walls? Looks like it does wonders 🙂

  60. Not paranoid MM, you’re just being careful. And in the world that we live in, one can’t be too careful. We’re responsible for the well-being of our kids—-and the responsibility shouldn’t be taken lightly. I just blogged about your post because I feel the topic needs to be discussed. Thanks for writing such an honest post– thank god I didn’t have to face this growing up and I hope to god no child has to face this. What icks me out (other than the obvious mental and physical trauma) is also the knowledge that the world is teeming with the yuckiest germs….these creeps can give kids life threatening diseases too.

    After reading your post, I just had “the talk” with my kid–I hate having to, but it is necessary to educate our kids. Thank you again for your courage in writing about this.

  61. Kudos to all of you who are creating this awareness.

    I am an extra paranoid mom like you and never ever leave my 6 year old son unattended. Thank god he has a sensible father who talks to him and makes him understand why his mom walks all the way to his class (yup the brat finds this really irritating).

  62. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for spreading awareness about one of the most immoral/criminal acts around.
    I was abused, by multiple people, from the age of five. Till the age of 8-9, when a chance transfer of my father severed all those “trusted contacts” in one fell swoop. I was a bright, outgoing kid with a zillion interests and while my mother was around during the nth dance/art/swimming class, she wasn’t particularly hawk eyed.
    I survived by suppressing all the memories as long as I could. I never talked about it till college. It took me a while to get past the conditioned reflex of feeling ashamed/contaminated,and now I’d cheerfully murder every last b*****d that stole my innocence.
    It took me a month (and tears) to get through Bitter Chocolate(I think I would’ve preferred knowing my experience was more of a one-off thing rather than what that horrifying book suggests). While I am comfortable with physical intimacy, I simply do not seem to be able to place emotional trust any guy (I am 23), and I flit in and out of relationships without being able to commit. Somehow that feels like an even bigger tragedy to me.
    And I could never tell my parents. I thought about it, but knowing my mum, she’d blame herself for something even I don’t hold her responsible for.
    I have been writing this comment in piecemeal, going back and forth, deleting and adding bits here and there. I did think about remaining anon, but what the hell, *I* am not the guilty party!
    oh, and someone here talked about watching kids when interacting with adults? that’s what I do, too. Unconsciously so. Some paranoid mother I’d make! 😛

    • hey… i’m sorry… really sorry. we’ve all been there. so many of us. so many more who are reading and not commenting. its okay. we’re stronger than the men who did it and we’re not going to let it affect our lives. i’d suggest counselling. sometimes it helps to be able to talk this out of your system and move on in life. its not easy – no one said it was. but its important. hugs

  63. Hi MM,
    Its nice that these things r being discussed so much in our society now. While we had a class of sex education in our school in the 8 or 9th std. no one discussed this like selsen just mentioned in the comment above it shd be a part curriculum in school.

    When I was around 12 yrs an old creepy man put his hand in my T-shirt in a crowded place where i was alone, i was shocked how can someone my grandpas age do it and embarrassed but did not tell anyone at home about it. A few months after this incident another thing happened and I am happy I reacted differently this time . There was a road leading to our school which was a little deserted sometimes in the afternoon when my friends and I came home for lunch. We saw a young man who used to undress and stand facing us a couple of times and did not understand why he has to pee facing us, he was stupid according to most of my friends. But I felt it was wrong and decided to tell my parents about it. As we lived in a colony and the school was in it too my father reported the incident and a watchman was posted thereafter. Once when the watchman did not come for a few days, the colony aunties kept a vigil and caught the bastard and thrashed him in public. I am so happy I told my parents about it I now shudder to think what would have been his next step otherwise if some girl was passing by alone.

      • I’m so glad N had the courage to do this and happier that he was beaten up. I remember a guy standing everyday with his thing exposed in front of our hostel. We were very perplexed that our superitendent would not take any action against him. When it happened for 7-8 days in a row, all of us complained and a peon was duly made to go to the police station to lodge a complaint. When I asked this peon in the evening about the same, he said ” Didi, I had been to so and so thana and a sub inspector came out to write the complaint. I immediately came back as the SI was none other than the pervert himself”. I cannot tell you how unsafe I felt at that moment.

  64. The mindset that a girl must be wearing provocative clothes which is why she is “abused” is absolutely pathetic. More than anything the guys responsible are disgusting perverts, and it’s rather sad that our society seems to question the girl.
    I did not deal with any trauma and I was brought up in a overprotective environment. I had so many complains about it, but today as I read this I’m grateful.
    I don’t plan to ever get married, but if I ever take the step, and have kids. I’m going to be STALKER Mom.

  65. Thank you for sharing your story (this goes to every single comment posted here).

    You have certainly changed one life.

  66. You seem to take precautions only against the help. Which makes it seem as if you’re implying it is only them who have sexual offenders.

    I’ve had a rotten experience with a family-friend. The man is a well educated, and married with two girls who are similar in age to me. And still, when I was only 15, he chose to behave in such a deplorable manner that even thought of him makes my blood boil.

  67. You are not paranoid, you are careful and that’s what all parents need to be. My mother was paranoid, sometimes embarrassing us and that is why nothing untoward happened when I was in her charge. Apart from the pawing on the streets that happens to every girl in small town north India, the one time I got molested was when I was visiting an aunt (who brags about her child rearing, girl upbringing skills all the time)left me alone on the porch with the man who exchanged old clothes for new vessels for 5 minutes. Yes 5 minutes, he knew my aunt was just a shout away and could come any second but he was emboldened by his previous experience with other kids. I must have been 8, I ran inside, my aunt kept asking me to go back, I went again and then came back inside defiant and saying I don’t want to go back in. This would have never happened had my mom been around. She would have never left me alone with that man, so don’t feel being paranoid is a bad thing.
    The second time was when I visited a neighbor whose children were 4-5 years elder to me , I had gone to visit the daughter she was not around, only the son was at home alone. I stayed back, he lifted my shirt and started talking to me about my stomach and showed me where my intestines were, and told me not to tell anyone about this conversation. I came back, did not tell my mother about the conversation, but how he was the only person at home. My mother said “you are never to go there when he is alone”. I must have been 7-8 I guess. Had he not done what he did, I may have resented what my mother said but I knew she was right and was relieved at her diktat.
    My story is not as horrific as some of the other ones, the ones that just break your heart and want to go and hug that child of many many years ago, but I shared it because the point I want to make is parents being paranoid, careful, opening up conversation with children is what I think can prevent such things from happening.

  68. Hello MM.

    I just got to your blog today. It was a delight reading about your children. But this post moved me. And has inspired me to share my story.

    I think your blog is brilliant.

    God bless your family.

    Regards

    TM

  69. Glad people are talking more openly about these things. And I hope that will someday translate into swift actions against abusers.

    Child abusers are everywhere, yet, it’s difficult to police a country with such a population. It has to start with citizens not ignoring the issue and doing some constructive work. The best way I can think of reducing this at every level is to educate about proper behavior throughout the school system. So children know when they are being taken advantage.

    I really admire everyone who has come forth to share their story.

  70. Wow what powerful stories from you and all the women who shared here! It is a sad sad thing that so many women have gone through this. Is there any Indian woman who has not been molested in some way… the horrifying thing is that we live in a society where we can be relieved to have “only” been groped/molested in the street and not “more seriously” abused at home by someone we know or raped. We need to introspect about what’s rotten in our society instead of getting defensive and glorifying Indian culture at every turn, or trying to find excuses like “it happens in the North” etc.

    I know someone mentioned that it happens in every society but I get the feeling that it is more prevalent in India. Can every country in the world boast that every single one of its women would have been molested/sexually abused at some point in their lives?

    Just today, I walked down the road in Hong Kong and there was a group of construction workers on the pavement. The Chinese workers were normal, the one Indian guy started singing as I walked past. This is not a stray incident – my friends here also have experienced that they are only creeped out by the Indian guys behaviour, otherwise we never have to think about safety in HK. Isn’t it sad that we only feel afraid and uncomfortable (with good reason) of our own countrymen even when we’re abroad?

    Also, noticed a couple of things:
    1. Many people here said they didn’t tell their parents even later because they wanted to spare them. Do you think it would help in terms of catharis or just creating awareness of the problem to tell our parents, even much later?
    2. Many who told their parents still had to run into the abusive family members at social ocassions. For a society that places such a primacy on “protecting” girls, why is it that when the culprits are identified, they are allowed to go on as they please while the girls have to adjust their lives so they don’t run into them.

    Thanks a lot for your tips. My son is still a baby and I wonder what might be the right age to broach this topic with him. As you said, maybe when they are too young to understand, we just have to be the watchdogs ourselves.

  71. Pingback: CSAAM–U need not worry | Monika's World

  72. As soon as I read this post..i wanted to share my story…but I needed to take the time to write..and that’s why it’s so delayed.

    Hmm..u know how I often debate about the necessity to bring things out in the open and the good that comes out of sharing one’s story to oneself or the community at large?… well in this case…I agree 100% with you..Everyone MUST talk about their stories…so they can reassure themselves that they, the victims have nothing to be guilty of and to spread the word to other victims…that they are victims and have nothing to be ashamed of.

    Here is my story :

    So I can’t recollect the exact age..but I’m thinking I must have been 13 or 14 and so my sister would have been 15 or 16. My sister and I have always shared a bedroom and we had separate beds that were put together. My sister had the bed that was on the wall-side and me the other one. When we were small and my parents’ house had only 1 bedroom, all four of us would sleep on those 2 cots. That’s how big they were. So, when we had relatives like g’pa, g’ma, uncle, aunt over, we would share the bed with them.

    I am not and have never been close to my dad’s parents. Never felt any love for them or from them. My pa used to often complain to my ma about how we never showed much respect or attention to his parents.

    One night I felt that my g’pa…yes..my g’pa..do something wrong to me.. I was super sleepy and remember waking up feeling uncomfortable with someone’s hands on my thighs under my pajamas..i woke up shocked…moved towards my sis’s corner and fell back asleep very disturbed. The next morning I told my sis what happened n she was freaked out.. we both together told my ma.. and my ma asked us if we were 100% sure and sure I was not imagining things just coz I don’t like him. I told her I was sure that something wrong happened but couldn’t explain ( I can’t believe I was so naïve in my teens! Today’s teens will laugh at me!)..so my ma told my pa..and of course..my dad was beyond shocked and only half-believed us. That nite..i took the wall-side and my sis slept in between g’pa and me. Now my dad is a very very light sleeper as it is..and of course that night he hardly got sleep..he woke up sometime arnd midnite and apparently saw that our room door was kinda closed..so he opened the door wide ajar and went back to sleep. And then again when he woke up (mabbe an hour) later..he saw that the door was again 75% closed.. our room door wasn’t the kind that swung itself shut. So my dad, w/o switching on any lights…slowly opened the door and saw what I said had happened the prev night. My sis and I were sleeping oblivious. There was major drama after that and of course…no man is ever allowed to share our bed with us since that day.

    What my dad went thru after this is is hard to xplain in words..he was guilty and shocked and got into severe depression. It took more than a year for him to get back to his normal self. He has never forgiven himself. He used to go off to Chennai very often and cry to my naani. He is very very close to my naani. I felt sorry for my dad. Luckily it didn’t scar my sis or me in the long run and we have moved on with our lives.

    Here is the thing..we love our nanaji..he is the one to press our legs after a day of playing. N touchwood, we didn’t lose that kinda trust in him even after this incident with the other g’pa. It would have been terrible if we did ‘coz he is one of the most loving people I have ever known. Where does one draw the line? Who does one trust and not trust?

    Chid sexual abuse is as worse as it gets. And yes boys are at risk as well. My mom’s colleague’s son was kidnapped (in blr) and molested at the age of 9 or 10 and left back in his home after 2 days. All this is so disturbing and in most cases leave behind very bad scars. We as a society MUST do something about it.

  73. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for writing this and sharing what is such a personal story. I was also molested from the age 6-8 by my step uncle. Even at such a young age, I knew that the dynamics of my family were a lot different than regular families. Growing up in Pakistan where everyone’s expectations of hatred between stepmother and stepchild were unbounded, we were a family that was broken beyond belief. I knew that if I was to even suggest the idea that the my stepmother’s brother had sexually violated me, it would tear my family apart.

    The part in the blog where you talk about the perpetrator making the victim feel like a willing player in the sexual molestation was the definition of my story: My uncle would make me dismiss the maid from the room when he babysitted me so it was like “I” was sending her away instead of him. He would then constantly ask whether stuff felt good in a way where I had to say yes and that made me feel as though since I was “enjoying” this, there is no way I’d ever be able to tell anyone about it.

    I have never shared this story with my family and my reasons are exactly what they were when I was 6-8—it would tear my family apart. But now there’s the added component that they just plain will not believe me since I have been silent for almost 13 years.

    I think that when I have kids, I will probably be borderline paranoid with whom they interact with. You sharing your story was very helpful since I’m a regular reader of your blog and to see that this happened to someone whose writing is such a constant presence in my life instead of a complete and total stranger’s story is very disorientating and at the same time, in a strange way, comforting *?*

  74. I have been numb and in a state of despair since i read your post yesterday. I am coming back today to write my first ever thank you on any blog post i have read.
    I totally support your cause. I have posted a link of your article on fb. I just hope more people get alert and paranoid if necessary but protect their young one at all costs.
    The situation around us is such that you are better-off being paranoid.
    Thank you once again.

  75. Dear Mad momma,

    Reading your article brought back memories of my experience. Yes, I too have been a victim of CSA.I was consistenly abused for about 6 plus years between the ages of 6 to 13. This creep happened to be my dad’s student and came from a poor background. He belonged to the same community as ours, so my dad gave him shelter in our house. My mom thought of him like her younger brother.

    Initially all was well, then slowly he started sleeping next to me at night once all were asleep. Then he went a step ahead. He lay his filthy hands on my sister also. We are just a year apart. He kept telling us that it was our secret. But, mostly I was his target since I was more docile.
    Once, both me and my sister ganged up and decided to tell our parents. But we were really young and naive, so he convinced us that they would never believe us.And when we were persistent that we would tell them, he threatened to harm our parents. We both bought that threat, and let him continue with his horrible deeds. Over the years, I have been abused by several people, again all of them trusted by my parents.Like you said, getting abused felt like a part of life, and, somehow I was always targeted. They all could probably sense my vulnerability.

    This continued till I turned 13 and the creep got married. Thankfully, then he had his wife to satisfy his urges. And around the same time,he got a job abroad and went away. I was relieved, but the scars remained. I was painfully shy as a teenager, with extremely low self esteem. I had a lot of problems dealing with the members of the opposite sex, infact till date I take a backseat when it comes to interacting with them. It pained me each time my mother spoke of him fondly to our relatives and praised him to the skies. I had kept this hidden from my parents for a very long time, and decided that I would never get married. Everything was ok till actually I completed my education, and there was pressure building up to get married. I kept avoiding it and telling my parents that I didnt want to get married. They couldn’t understand why I was refusing. Initially they were gentle, but then they started persistently pressurising me, which is when I broke down and told them. The instant reaction was disbelief! My dad was quiet throughout, and my mom just refused to believe it and trust me that hurt like hell! I just couldn’t take it that she chose to trust a stranger over her own daughter. I cried a lot that night, but it didnt help. That creep continued to visit our house in his annual vacation. My dad was more protective of us, but my mom behaved as if nothing happened at all! She spoke to him animatedly about everything under the sun. And luckily, both me and my sister were old enough that we could avoid being around him. Though even then he would try to corner us alone and talk to us lustily and say “Now that you are all grown up, it will be more fun”. God! I wanted to break his jaw right there. Luckily, since then life has moved on, and by the grace of god he hardly ever visits.

    Years passed by and I met the guy of my dreams and got married (he is aware of what all I have been through). When I was expecting my first baby, I wanted a baby girl but was paranoid that she shouldnt undergo a similar experience. I delivered a girl, but now I keep worrying all the time about her safety. I don’t trust anyone, and not for a moment do I leave her uncovered. She is really young, and people would think why am I so finicky that such a young child has to be covered all the time, but that just what this experience has made me! Paranoid!!

    And what irks me the most is that even now, whenever my mom visits, she speaks to my inlaws very fondly about this creep. Its frustating.Hope she realises some day that her so called “brother” has given her a life time of pain!

    I can understand and completely empathize with you, but how can you protect your children all the time. I am already paranoid that someday my baby will grow up and go to school. She will be exposed to a lot of creeps who may be floating around in the school complex like the peons,security staff, cleaning staff etc. What should I do then? How will I protect her?

    A worried paranoid mom!

    • Its okay… we’re all as worried and paranoid as you. You are right, nothing hurts as much as your family not trusting, believing and standing by you. I know of an older man who forced a kiss on a teenager at a party, in the garden. She went inside and told her parents and family and many of them simply said – why were you out in the garden with him? insinuating that she led him on. it made me so mad.
      well she was out in the garden with him because she has grown up calling him uncle, and she didn’t think twice about walking outside and chatting while he smoked. its unfair to put the onus on a child when a grown man has no control over his feelings. this is nowhere in the league of what most of us have been through, but its just an example of how society places the onus a young girl to protect herself and not on an adult man to have self control

  76. I was abused as a second grader by a neighbour’s son when we moved to a new city. There was no TV then and the only thing we did was to play with the other kids and read books. As “ugly brown”, non-Hindi speaking children in small town north India, my brother and I had very few choices for playmates to begin with. We were grateful that our neighbour’s kids played with us. I also used to borrow books from them occasionally. The eldest son began molesting me in the summer. Probably hormones, probably just the extra time. It began as a hug for a book, then a longer hug when I returned it. It soon became hugging and rolling on the bed. As you mention in the post, I became vaguely uncomfortable. Thankfully, my pride seems to have kicked in at some point and I stopped doing what I thought was ‘begging’ for anything.

    A few years later, something dislodged that repressed memory and I became confused as to whose fault it was. At a time when my mother and aunts were telling me to be careful about how I sat and what I wore or the things I said, I felt that the onus of protecting myself was on me. Unfortunately, I thought that that applied to the time when I was 5-6 years old as well and that it was my fault that the boy had abused me. In some half-formed way, I resolved to be always careful around boys/men.

    In college, because my parents kept in touch with his, he called me when he visited the city I was studying in. Until then, I hadn’t told my family anything about this. But getting that call unlocked some deep seated rage and I for the first time in my life, I wanted to cause someone physical pain. To kick him and see him crumble would have been therapeutic, I think.

    I told my parents that he had spoken to me inappropriately when he called (he gave me his hotel room number and asked me to drop by. Obviously his days as a sexual and emotional predator were far from over) and they were horrified.

    I finally talked to an aunt about the incident and the confusion I had for a few years. I was very lucky to have someone like her to talk to – she told me that she was a victim of child sexual abuse as well and so she completely understood and sympathised. The most healing thing she could have done.

    I haven’t told my mother yet, because the years we spent in that city have left scars for totally different reasons. She would beat herself up for failing to notice my distress. Maybe some day, if I think that she won’t feel it was her fault. It is bad enough that I felt guilty – I refuse to subject my mother to the same thing. Especially since the perpetrator is wandering around with a doting wife and parents.

  77. P.S. This makes me a _very_ protective cousin. And probably at some point, will make me a protective teacher/mother/grandmother/aunt as well.

    I feel it is hardly paranoia, though, given the number of people who abuse/are abused. I think it is just the same as locking your front door at night. Basic safety and, in fact, responsible behaviour.

  78. Pingback: [CSAAM] How did I teach my child | Monika's World

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