A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

CSAAM April 2011 – My contribition

Posted by Pepper on April 1, 2011

From the time I heard of this initiative, I’ve been dealing with a mental tug of war. Should I participate and share my story, or not? I did have second thoughts. Because talking about this has never been easy. I’ve had to throw myself out of my comfort zone in order to write this post. But I have come to realise how common child sexual abuse is. And if talking about it and discussing it is one way to spread awareness,  then I am willing to do it. Child abuse is rampant in almost every strata of society. To end this, we need to join hands and contribute in whatever way we can.

As you can guess, I was sexually abused as a child. I’ve been a victim more than once. In the first case, it came from my own family. I was 5 years old. My dad’s cousin, who lives in Spain, was visiting us along with her son. That guy must have been around 13 years old. The two of us were once playing a board game in the room. There was nobody else at home. This guy had been asked to look after me while my mom ran errands. At one point, he told me the game we were playing is boring. He will introduce me to a more interesting game. The child in me got excited by the thought and willingly agreed. He asked me to lie down. He then flopped himself on me and started rubbing his genitals against me. I told him I wasn’t liking it and asked him to stop. He insisted that we should continue playing this ‘game’. To convince me fully he even told me that this was a very popular game back in Spain. I gave in and let him to do it until he was satisfied. He told me to guard this secret of ours. We got back to the board game at some point. We continued laughing and playing until the others got back home. This incident was never spoken about.

What do I make of this? As a child, I did not think what happened was wrong. Had the same thing been done to me by a strange man, perhaps my instinct would tell me otherwise. But a child’s mind observes and learns from the environment. This guy was trusted by my whole family. So my little mind told me I could put him in the ‘trusted’ bracket. And when you are a child, anything that ‘trusted’ people do is not supposed to be unacceptable or unusual, right? Perhaps that is why I did not mention a word to my parents. Beside, it was the whole new thrill of guarding a secret.

It took me years to really understand what went on on that particular day. I was around 13, when it suddenly hit me like a bolt of lightning. By now, I knew and understood the finer details of sex. Only then did I realise that what had happened was wrong. Very wrong. I was filled with disgust and anger. I considered telling my parents, but it was very hard. I could not get myself to speak about it at all. Not with anyone.

I pondered for days. What made him think he could do that to me and get away? Perhaps because
– We were home alone, and that made me an easy target.
– As a child, you come with added gullibility.
– He knew I trusted him. So did the rest of the family. He was sure no fingers would point at him because of the ‘trust’ factor.
– He thought I was too young to really remember this incident.
– If at all, I did speak up, he could always deny it. I was a child after all, he could just say I have misunderstood a lot of things.

I do believe those are the very reasons he got away. I wish I had spoken up then. I see no point in talking about it now. This happened around two decades ago. If my mom ever gets a clue, I know she will want to rip him to shreds. This being a family matter, things will get extremely messy. Fortunately, this incident did not affect me at a very deep rooted level. I did not stop trusting men. I was not filled with paranoia that came with the male touch. More than being guarded by my own fears, I could taste the disgust and the anger. But I feel very fortunate I could brush aside this one incident and not let my fears consume me and take over my life. But a lot of people have not been as fortunate. When I hear their horror stories, I shudder.

I’ve written these pointers so that we have a better understanding of the precautions we need to take with children. My parents trustingly left me alone with a cousin of mine who lived in another country. I don’t think they ever imagined the kind of stuff he was capable of. I might not be brave enough to leave my child alone with any person unless I really, really know him/her well. Even if he/she is family. More importantly, I would want to train my child in a way where he/she is used to telling me every little thing that went on. Every little secret he/she was asked to keep. I’d want this to be the case at least for a few years, until I feel safe and believe the children are capable of looking after themselves.

I do think after a certain age, the human mind is developed enough to distinguish between right and wrong, good touch and bad touch. I was subjected to some amount of sexual abuse again at the age of 10. We used to live on the 3rd floor of our building. It was an old building with no elevators. I used to leave for school at 7 am. My time used to coincide with a man who used to come by to drop a bag of milk on the 2nd floor. The first time I bumped into this man, he smiled at me. We walked down the stairs together. The second day, he put his arm around my shoulder. I let it go. The third day, the man was touching me all over my back, my ass, and my chest as we walked down. I screamed. The moment he heard me shout, he ran. I went upstairs and told my parents. That is usually an awkward age where talking about such things is embarrassing. But by that age, you are also intelligent enough to understand that it is wrong. I am glad I told my parents. They took up the issue and that man was no longer seen in our building premises.

My point is, even children understand that some things are acceptable and some things are not. But that understanding comes with age. The initial few years are extremely vulnerable. You don’t have to be a parent to understand that. Look out for all children, not just your own. Be vigilant and alert. Every child is precious. Do all you can to keep them safe. Once the child reaches a certain age, they learn to defend their bodies, at least by asking for help or speaking up. For that, we need to cultivate an environment that encourages open talk. Sexuality should not be treated as a taboo.

Will child sexual abuse ever come to an end? I don’t know. It is a long and hard battle. But I am glad the journey has begun..

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58 Responses to “CSAAM April 2011 – My contribition”

  1. revsjoiedevivre said

    *hugs* baby! I’m glad you wrote this. I’m proud of you!

  2. Scribby said

    glad that you were not deeply hurt or affected but such memory/ies stay with us for life and one way I think it’s good so that we know how to smell it when it’s happening with someone else !

    Yes,it’s a long battle but then at least it has started at this level and looks good when it’s spreading it’s arms so fast…we shall overcome,may be some day soon !

    HUGS peppy 🙂

    • Pepper said

      These memories stay with us for life. Is it a good thing? I don’t know. Yes it does make me a lot more cautious. But it also takes away a certain part of me that was carefree and trusting. It comes with a loss of freedom, in some way. I think that is sad.

  3. bikram said

    You are so right majority if the time its someone very near who does this. It can happen to any child male or female.
    I have another story which has changed me bit and now my profession is such that I see a lot of horryfic things.

    We cant stop it happening but by talking and rwporting we can at least save another child. There are a lot os sick people out there and I have big problems with them.

    It takes guts to sy it out and proud of you to have come out with it pray that others tooo tell and not just bottle it in.
    God bless.

    • Pepper said

      Absolutely Bikram. It can happen to any child, male or female. I do believe young boys are as much at risk as young girls.

      I’m sorry to know you’ve gone through a bad experience that changed you. This world is so full of predators. It is time we take matters in our own hands and do all we can to save the children of the world.

  4. Saritha said

    CSAAM is good initiative by these bloggers…….

    Most of the time it is the close relative who does this.My uncle (mom’s bro) who didn’t leave his kid sister and his brothers daughters.Everyone knew about him but they all used to run away when he was there in the room but no one asked him.I remember by granny got him married much before his elder brothers and sisters so that he won’t touch other women and kids in the house….My cousins who are much elder to me used to say that he should have been left on a island without food and women alone as punishment….

    How can that milkman thought he will go away with the crime,sick people….

    My heart cries for the kids and i pray that no child should ever face these perverts.

    The only thing we can do is take the child into confidence from the beginning and let them tell their parents everything.My child who is 7 years tells me everything,i keep on telling her to tell me whether good or bad and don’t be afraid that i will not agree to what she said nor i ignore she said.

    • Pepper said

      Oh my God. That must have been awful Saritha. Everybody knew about him but nobody questioned him? I think that is the problem. We need to stop ignoring the culprit. Getting the person married with the hope that he will stop touching other women and kids is not the solution. It only puts more people at risk. But in that day and age, talking about such things must have been more difficult.
      I am glad we’re all more alert now. Such behaviour should not be tolerated by anybody. I am glad you’ve trained your child the right way. Parents do need to know what has been going on in the child’s life up to a certain age.

  5. UmaS said

    I am just glad u opened up today, for the sake of CSAAM !! Pepper, so many ppl harbor such secrets in their hearts, unwilling to let it out. But, if talking abt it is going to benefit the others, its always good. Thank God, u came out of both the incidents, without hurting ur heart and soul.
    Parenting is no joke…along with it comes a lot of responsibilities and hard work. And I want every parent I know or dont know, to read the posts in CSAAM….it sure will make them warned and help them to provide a better life to their kids.
    Hugs dear…I can understand how difficult it would have been to open up after two decades.

    • Pepper said

      You’re right Uma. Most people just bury these memories. But that does not solve the issue. It’s one of the reasons it keeps surfacing time and again.
      Being a parent is such a tough job. You have to be responsible at every stage and in every way. There is no question of being lax even for a moment. Especially during the formative years. Just a little short coming from your end can leave the child scarred for life. The responsibility is scary. But I hope most people are aware of what they are getting into when they decide to have a child.

  6. Deboshree said

    Oh my. Horror stories is right… I cringe whenever I hear about such incidents of child abuse. It’s absolutely horrid and leaves an indelible mark… worse, the reasons you cited make this such an easy-to-get-away-with crime. I do hope awareness spreads about the issue so that we can do away with this ill of society for good.

    • Pepper said

      I cited the possible reasons so that we are all aware of the kind of precautions we need to take around kids. Most instances of child sexual abuse have some common elements. I don’t know how we will do away with this ill of society. Honestly, I don’t see a solution to this problem that does not involve paranoid parenting. We are turning into a paranoid society, which is sad. But if it is the only way to keep kids safe, then be it.

  7. Jzt4me said

    Uhmm..U r lucky that the incident never affect ur mental/emotional stature…Did u ever confront that boy, who is now a grown up man…U should…At some point of life…ask him on his face, if HE remembers the day…Do it in front of ur husband…

    I too have gone thru many much worser incidents in my life…Maybe, it even made me too much strong also…but I know, I have a weaker me inside me, who get petrified whenever my child is in the hands of a MAN…As I have gone thru situations that none could eevr imagine, I can also find the most secretive move too by such an abuser…I can read such eyes and distinguish his movements…Its bad in a sense, that I lost the trust factor that I should have had in people around me…

    Ur post took me through many such pages of my life…I would pray hard that not another child would go thru the least amount of abuse…be it from another man or woman…

    • Pepper said

      You know I never had the courage to confront that guy. In fact, in all these years I’ve seen him a grand total of two times. Considering neither of us live in India, meeting him now is a rare possibility. I met him last about three years ago. And I was polite and cordial with him. I feel quite ashamed for letting him get away with it so easily. But like I said, this being a family matter, it makes it so much more difficult.

      I really don’t blame you for getting petrified when your child is in the hands of a man, especially if you have haunting memories yourself. But again, do not assume your child is safe in female hands either. We do need to pray for the safety of all children.

      • Jzt4me said

        Oh yess…u r right…today children are not safe in anybody’s hands..not even in their father’s or mothers…I have had the most horrifying experiences myself, which I could never get to jot down into my blog completely ever…(eventhough the reason for me starting to blog was to open up myself..somehow, I still don’t feel comfortable on those issues that I have faced…)…Still I have posted something…U should read that…(http://jzt4me.blogspot.com/2010/01/that-day-made-me-strong.html)

        But yes, I have opened up to my hubby atleast…so that he understands me, if ever I act weird…and also I keep my eyes open if ever any female goes anywhere near the Villains of my life…uhmm…

  8. That is one scary experience… Makes me want to write my experience too, but I need to calm my nerves first.
    I think 99% of us girls will have at least 1 such experience. And yet, nothing seems to change.

    • Pepper said

      I do understand it isn’t easy to calm your nerves when it comes to such things. But I still urge you to write about it. Even if it helps one child by making the parent more alert, then it is totally worth it.

  9. Hugs.

    I think we all girls have experienced it in one way or the other.

    • Pepper said

      That’s true. And that is why it is so scary. Almost all of us have had some nasty experience, and yet we haven’t been able to put it to an end. This kind of abuse continues.. Hugs.

  10. Ashwathy said

    Big hugssss to you for actually writing this

    It makes one paranoid as a parent, but u’d rather be safe than sorry. And yes, most of the time the culprit is someone close to the family rather than a stranger…

  11. You’re very very brace for coming out with this story. Most girls, I guess, go through abuse of some degree or the other. Your post made me think a lot. Hugs.

    • Pepper said

      I didn’t think I’d be able to be brave enough to share this story CC. I was surprised I could. Like I said, if it helps even one person, it is worth it.

  12. Another Day In Paradise said

    It took guts to break free of harboring this internally, Pepper..kudos..

    first time I am writing here..very nice blog..

  13. Titaxy said

    hugs.

  14. Sands said

    It takes courage to experience something horrifying and come out stronger. It takes more courage to talk/write about it. You did both and I tip my hat to you. Raising a soon to be 14 year old, stories like these scare the living daylights out of me. Hugs!

    • Pepper said

      Parenting is tough Sands. I wish you all the luck. But although 14 is a very impressionable age, it is still an age where the child understands things well and knows what is good and bad and will not take such behaviour silently. It is good to know you’re on the guard. She’ll be safe. Hugs!

  15. Tanishka said

    Most of us have gone through something or the other of this sort but not everyone is brave enough to write about it… Proud of you gal…

    Tender minds never understand what they are going through… Its only after they understand what happened, they are filled with disgust and anger and then it gets really difficult to gather the calm…. It feels really pathetic…

    You said that absolutely right… Kids can never be left alone with anyone not unless he/she is really a trusted person and kids should always be encouraged to tell the smallest detail about there day at least till they reach an age where they can decide between right and wrong…

    • Pepper said

      That is the thing most of the time. Child abuse is so common, because children up to a certain age have not learnt to recognise danger. By the time the mind is able to comprehend all that has been going on, it is too late. That is why the precautions we talk about become imperative.

  16. Seena said

    Ah I am so glad that you published, I don’t know whether I can still write mine. Hugs to you, so proud of you.

  17. A very courageous post Pepper..

    Tight {{Hugs}}

  18. binpin said

    You are a brave girl ! You also realized that a bunch of sickos were not worth losing your mind over. Though the scars remain, you have fought your emotions and people like you give the rest of the survivors hope!

    • Pepper said

      I really don’t know if I am worthy of all that praise. I have no idea why it was so easy for me to get over it. The incident probably didn’t touch me very deeply, and thank God for that! I do hope every survivor is able to move on..

  19. R's Mom said

    Hugs Pepper…It takes a lot of guts to overcome that fear! Proud of you

  20. Pixie said

    It takes courage to talk about it and even more courage to step out beyond the lines to talk about it…

    {{[hugs}}}}}]

  21. Hats off for mustering the courage to write about this!!! I can imagine how difficult it must have been!!! I am yet to write my post!!!!! As for your last question – will it ever end – I don’t think so. But I do believe that movements like this will help us be more aware and take every possible step to protect our children!

    • Pepper said

      You should write your post Pal. I agree, I don’t think child abuse will come to a full stop. But we can certainly try and protect our kids as much as possible.

  22. Mahes said

    Lots of Hugs!!! I remember one incident when I was 7 or 8, someone pinched my back in a crowded place, I was terrified. As a mother of a 11 yr old and 7 yr old, I am very paranoid. My hubby is worse than me. These perpetrators are everywhere and let them rot in hell! Just makes my blood boil. Hugs again.

    • Pepper said

      Oh. Being a parent to a 11 and a 7 year old is difficult. But then, at least you are aware of the dangers that lurk around. Being paranoid is essential in a way. It is sad but true. It helps you keep your kids safe. Try your best to be cautious and beyond that, don’t think about it. Hugs!

  23. Comfy said

    Hugs to you. Though I was the lucky ones to never have to go through any of this, every time I read what someone went through I have shivers down my spine. We all need to more aware about the issue so that we can protect all the helpless kids around.

    • Pepper said

      You are definitely amongst the fortunate few Comfy. Most of the people I know have undergone sexual abuse at some level as kids. We need to be aware to protect our kids, yes. Initiatives like these go a long way in spreading awareness.

  24. […] Pepper shares her traumatic story and writes a few pointers to keep our kids safe. Teach her to say No and to stand up for herself. For someone who forever has to deal with people pulling her cheeks, she has nows learned to turn around and say loudly don’t touch my cheeks. I have told her to scream loudly if anybody gets too close and tries to touch her. Honoring her No is very important. It starts with saying no to trivial things and when you acknowledge it, they know its for real. Yes, children test their parents. Imp’s Mom writes a very informative post on Precautions that Parents can take to ensure their kids’ safety. […]

  25. abha said

    thank god you had the security to tell your parents when you did understand that a touch was wrong. must not have been easy.

    and your pointers make a lot of sense.

    • Pepper said

      You’re right Abha. Having that security is very important. If I never had the courage to speak up, I could have greatly suffered at the hands of that man. Telling parents such things is never easy, but it really needs to be done.

  26. dipali said

    I’m glad you are pretty much unscathed by these incidents.
    What is so upsetting is realising the extent to which CSA is rampant in our homes. Damn scary.
    Good to get your point of view- a very matter-of fact account.

    • Pepper said

      I feel so glad I remained unscathed too. I guess that is why I can speak about it in a very matter of fact way. Also, I think it is best if we all learn to push past these incidents and move on. Only then will we able to think clearly and take better precautions.

  27. JLT said

    Hugs, Pepper. This must’ve taken SOME courage to post, esp. since the person involved was in the family. Am glad that his visits were limited,….Glad too that the milkman didn’t get away. It galls me that people dare to do such things in full public view- just happens cos they’re so sure they’re goong to get away with it…

    • Pepper said

      I know.. I really wonder how people dare to do such things in full public view too. It shows how confident they are they’ll get away. This post did call for courage. But like I said, if people hear about it and become more cautious, then it is totally worth it.

  28. angie said

    Hey i truly admire your courage ,to come up with something like this. I wish all others out der cud do the same,and we cud ensure a safe and happy childhood to all oyr kiddos.

  29. Bravely-written, Pepper. Thank you so much.

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