How To Deal With Your Child’s Disclosure- Child Sexual Abuse
It was an atypical day in the month of May as it never rains at this time of the year and it was the first time that I scored a 40 on 50 in my maths test. Never knew this day would hold such an important event for me because I was broken to never be the same again. She was my cousin sister, 7 years elder to me. I looked-up-to her as she always protected me from bullies. She was my idol.
Let me walk you through my broken pieces. I was an 8-year old chubby-innocent boy at the time it first began. She called me in, saying it was a game which she would play only with me. I felt proud that I was the chosen one among all my competitive cousins. She took me in the room. Put me on the bed and touched me in places and in ways which made me uncomfortable. Though it lasted for only minutes I guess, but it felt like hours. I felt disgusted and proud the same time. Disgusted because I was naked in front of my sister and proud because she chose me, she told I was the special one and it was our little secret.
The happiness of having a secret with my special sister made me feel unique. I kept my promise to not share it with anyone. But whenever it would happen I felt my heart race, tingling in my body, sweaty palms and weak legs. Initially, there was no sensation of pain as she use to rub her against me but then it started to hurt, then it started to bleed and burn but I had promised not to scream. It lasted for almost 3 years until my sister shifted to Delhi. I was upset, I cried and I begged her not to go. I did not want our bond to end. I was desperate. It was after many years that I realized she was wrong, the secret was wrong, the act was wrong. I realized that I was sexually abused. Yes, I was a boy who was sexually abused.
Isn’t it shocking to know that how can a boy be sexually abused? But it happens. It happened to me. It happens to the 53% of our children around India.
What is Child Sexual Abuse ( CSA )?
Let me first tell you what is considered Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) before shooting the unbelievable facts at you. According to the study in the report of 2007 of Ministry of Women and Child Development sexual abuse is classified as severe forms of sexual abuse and other forms of sexual abuse.
Some Forms Of CSA
Assault, Rape, Sodomy
Forcing a child to exhibit his/her body parts
Touching or fondling
Photographing the child nude
Exposing a child to pornography
Is CSA prevalent in India?
According to the 2007 survey by Indian Ministry following were the results obtained –
53% of children are sexually abused in India
57% are boys and 42% are girls
21% have faced severe forms of abuse that included sexual assault, making the child fondle private parts, making the child exhibit private body parts and being photographed in the nude
50% of abusers are known to the child
72% do not report the matter to anyone
Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest percentage of sexual abuse among both boys and girls.
The number of cases registered for child abuse raised by 8,904 in the year 2014 to 14,913 in the year 2015, under the POSCO Act.
Parents look out for these warning signs
Often due to lack of vocabulary and the inhibition of discussing something sexual with our parents (thanks to our culture) children often depict the signs and not share verbally. Below is a list of possible distress signs through which a child might show signs of CSA.
Ø Decrease interaction or in some cases excessive.
Ø Refusal to be left alone or with certain people or being excessively clingy
Ø Might bedwet or have nightmares
Ø Decreased academic performance or truancy from school
Ø Unaccountable fear of certain sounds or smell or colour or objects
Ø Excessive anger outburst or mood swings
Ø Acting out in a sexual manner with toys
Ø Physical signs of soreness of genital or bruises on private parts.
Does CSA have any Long-term effects?
There is a reason why a person who is abused is called a survivor and a not a victim. It takes immense strength to stand and face the abuse, not to succumb to the fear. However, child sexual abuse does leave its impact forever, like the boy at the start of the article mentioned: “never to be the same again”. It takes away a part of you and creates a black hole in you.
The survivor may show fear or anxiety with people who share the same characteristics as the perpetrator.
May face issues with Depression, sleep issues, eating disorders, panic attacks and PTSD.
Signs of low self-esteem may also be prevalent. Guilt and shame arise due to the anger of not being able to protect self from the abuse. At times self- blame also develops as their might have been arousal during the act.
“Damaged goods” syndrome. i.e. negative body image due to self-blame that he/she was unable to stop the act.
May have difficulty experiencing or expressing their feelings or be dissociated with
Develop a personality of being isolated from others or extreme efforts to mingle.
Have trust issues in a future relationship as suspicious that the individual might use them. Also might have developing sexual intimacy with their partners.
Self-destructive behaviour such as substance abuse or suicide attempts.
Sexual difficulties such as fear of sex or intimacy, indiscriminate multiple sex partners or difficulty in reaching orgasm.
Parenting problems such as fear of being a bad parent, or fear of abusing the child or being overprotective.
How can I help my Child?
It can be one of the most heart-breaking experience to have for any parent to discover about their child being abused. However, it is very important that a parent knows how to deal with it. Following are the steps that can you follow to provide a safe space for your child.
Attention– It is very important that your child feels trusted and his/her expression of discomfort is not dismissed in one go. Hearing them out immediately is very important.
Empathize– Understand and convey to your child that their discomfort is valid.
Appreciate– Provide comfort to your child. Boost his confidence by saying he took the right step by coming to you. Your child may have been fearful to disclose. He showed courage by coming to you, make him feel safe.
Listen– Avoid judgment or shame when talking to your child. Keep a calm tone and keep encouraging the child at every step to express.
Convey Responsibility- Express to your child that you would ensure their safety and their comfort is important to you.
Stay True– Do not promise your child on things that you cannot follow through. Being inconsistent with words and action may aggravate trust issues in your child.
Act– Act immediately if the perpetrator is someone in the family. Move your child into protective custody and inform the authorities. Make a call to 1098- child helpline number, even if it is not your child who is abused. If you come across a child being abused you can inform here anonymously as well.
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Disclaimer: Please note that we are not a crisis intervention helpline. Should you have severe symptoms or have thought about harming yourself, please seek immediate medical help or call suicide prevention helplines such as
Aasra 24x7 Helpline: 91-22-27546669