My story is not very different from the millions of survivors of child sexual abuse. I was abused by my uncle from a very early age.
It began when I must have been between two and three years of age since I don’t have any collectable memory of it, or maybe I buried it so deep that I can’t remember it. And it continued for well over a decade.
Of late, I have been seeing so many cases of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) reported in our various news platforms. Also a large government of India study found that as many as 51 percent of children who were respondents were victims of Child Sexual Abuse. The study was done by Women and Child Ministry in 2007 and the sheer scale of the problem and the continuing cases of Child Sexual Abuse ticked me off.
I decided to do something about it and I realized that millions of victims of CSA have kept quiet about it for years and have therefore never been able to deal with their pain and hurt. They have never been able to tell their stories of horror and to deal with it either through counseling or from help from a support group. So they live broken lives and hidden pain.
Simultaneously, awareness needs to be created on a large scale among children about good touch and bad touch which has proved to be a successful way to protect children stop CSA.
For this, teachers, parents and child care givers need to be trained so that they can educate the children in their care. There is a lot of ignorance about CSA, like it is not known that boys are as much at risk as girls are to CSA.
The website, named SABFree- Speakup And Be Free, will be an interactive website which offers support and help to survivors of CSA and to create a network where CSA survivors can support and help each other. It will also contain all information pertaining to CSA and will inform and help train teachers, parents and child caregivers about CSA.
The Women and Child Ministry study also found that around 52 percent of the perpetrators of the crime were uncles and cousins and more than 90 percent of the molesters were known to the victims.
However, the problem remains under wraps due to multiple reasons. One of the main reasons is cultural where sexual violation means family shame.
The other is that a high percentage of CSA victims, (as high as 80-90 percent) remain silent about their abuse. A majority have never told anyone about being violated. So victims keep getting molested for long periods of time without anyone finding out about it.
Lack of awareness that the problem exists very much at home is also one big issue in trying to stop CSA and added to this is the lack of awareness amongst children who have not been taught about good and bad touch.
To address the issue one needs to adopt a two pronged strategy. One is to deal with the healing and deliverance of survivors most of whom have never shared their ordeal with anyone else.
The other is to stop abuse of those children who are still being abused and to ensure that Child Sexual Abuse stops completely by bringing it out of the darkness of silence and shame into the light of knowledge and awareness.
The website SABFree will also help survivors network and form a support group to address their issues and seek each other’s help and encouragement.
The responses which will be given on the website will be documented and also analysed to understand the scale and the complexity of the problem so that the data will help in finding ways to prevent CSA.