25 July, 2012

I turn 26 today; I have but one regret

(This blogpost won the Women's Web "I Stood Up" Blogathon Contest. Yay!)
I was six when he came to stay with us. He was a relative, close & trustworthy enough to be allowed to share my bedroom. He was sixteen, an age when hormones are usually playing havoc with a male's sanity. But that does not absolve him of his heinous actions.

He was fond of me, quite affectionate in fact. He would buy me candies & would never hesitate to give me piggyback rides. (In retrospect, my mum should have got suspicious right then. You see, I was almost double the normal weight for a six year old :P). Whenever my mum would leave us home alone, while she ran out for   an errand, his favourite game was "tickle-you-tickle-me-everywhere". This game would be played only when no one was around, mind you.

The first night I remember, was a hot & muggy one. I was a sound sleeper then, I am one still. I was jolted out of my slumber by a particularly unpleasant nightmare of being piggybacked on a horsie that had a prickly saddle. "Night"-"mares" have had a different meaning altogether for me since then.

I drifted back to sleep only to be woken up by a searing pain. I lay awake & aware of him lying next to me, his cold hands seeking crevices in my body. I did not know what he was trying to do. He was hurting me. He knew I was awake. He tried to lull me back to sleep. I did not go back to sleep that night.

The next time he woke up, I ran crying to my parents' room, but stood sniffling at their door, not knowing what to tell them. I walked back to my room, hesitated at the door. I knew he lay awake, his prying fingers intact. I went back to my parents' door.

I was six when I had my first bad secret. Though I did not know that I'd been sexually abused, I knew that something bad had happened to me. I did not tell my mother anything, except for vehemently protesting against sleeping in my own bedroom. My mother never prodded any further. She did not know any better. I was just six after all.

I was six, too young to have stood up for myself. Too young to have brought into open his actions.

But I'm twenty-six today, in fact writing this just after cutting my delicious chocolate-snickers birthday cake.  I know that 53.22 per cent of all the Indian children face one or the other kind of sexual abuse. I know that 79 per cent of these children choose to keep quiet. I know that 50% abusers are persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility.

I might not have stood up back then,but I stand up today for all young six year old children, girls & boys; boys too. I want parents to face this elephant in the room. Sexual abuse of children is prevalent, maliciously so.

I watch my nieces, six & two years old,like a hawk. I know that there are dirty old men and women lurking around, I have clearly spelt out to the elder niece the difference between a bad touch & a good touch. She knows she can come to me & share anything that makes her uncomfortable.

He thinks I was too young when he did what he did. He knows he left no proof. He's right. There are no tell-tale fingerprints & the likes left all over me. To that, add the fact that I kept quiet all these years - it was the perfect crime.Welcome to the world of sexual abuse.

He may or may not stumble upon what I've written. But this is not for him. I'm writing this to let those who read this know that in a room of twenty people, ten would have been sexually abused in their childhood by close relatives or friendly uncles or lascivious teachers. Teach your children, nephews, nieces, younger siblings to speak up, to stand up & raise their voice if they feel they're being exploited in any manner.

Writing this for catharsis & as a part of the  "I Stood Up" Blogathon by Women's Web.


  1. Beautiful post. And thank you for standing up for other children. children are so beautiful and vulnerable - those who abuse their trust are the worst kind of scum, and they need more of us standing up for them.

    1. Dear Anonymous

      Thanks you:) And you're absolutely right. We're not aware of the number of scumbags lurking around us, eyeing the little ones..makes me shudder every time I think about it..

  2. I'm sorry you had to go through something like this at such a young age.. Not gonna say that I understand, because I don't..

    But what little I do know, mostly from having been groped and felt in public transport, is that we should not remain silent and suffer through this.. We shudn't enable them...i always felt ruined and unclean.. Dirty and wrong.. I washed my top 3 times scared his DNA was still on it.. I clearly remember suspecting and scrutinizing every male suspiciously that entire day.. I never sit at the border seat btwn gents and ladies.. I stick to the female coach in the subway.. I did nothing to stop them...

    Later tho, i realized I couldn't just do nothing.. Once i was travelling in the bus.. Winter time.. Twas cold.. I wore a heavy jacket.. The bus was packed.. Both my hands were up, searching for a railing to hold onto.. Thats when I felt a hand in MY pocket.. First i wondered if i lost hand-eye coordination.. Looked up at both of my hands.. Knew for sure it wasn't mine..

    Soo.. Screaming as loudly as I could, I yelled "Anyone lost a hand? Seem to have an extra one my pocket..." and held it up for all to see..and he got hit and thrown off the bus!!

    Sure.. He'd probably get on the next bus and do it all over again, but I voiced it.. I got my satisfaction..i didnt feel defiled and dirty.. And I think all of us should be able to voice ourselves..

    Go Cleo.. for making a difference.. :)

    1. Dear Liz

      Your bus experience, experienced something eerily similar & well as something much worse. Have seen friends in the same boat. Perverts in buses are most common in Kerala I feel. I've been groped by conductors every time I've gone to Kerala during my school days.

      But loved the way you reacted! Hilarious & brave! We need more brave young girls like you around!

      Cheers to you & me :P

  3. Amazing post, Cleo. You've shared so powerfully and painfully. I wish I could meet your little six-year-old self and help her vanquish that horrible, cowardly cousin. Good for you for reaching out to your nieces.

    1. Dear Jo

      Thanks for the appreciation! Means a lot! I guess truth always rings out powerfully :)

      I wish I could meet my six yr self myself! Would have made the following years better!

      You're too kind! Thanks :)

  4. I agree. I wasn't a victim of child sexual abuse ever thankfully but something in me has always made me keep my eyes open. I am so concerned about young girls and my young cousins. I really hate when someone try to snuggle them unnecessarily. I stand up and protest.

    Good post. Congratulations for winning.

    Hope you will bury the bad memory soon and forever.

    1. Dear Numerounity

      You're lucky,you really are! Half my friends, and I'm not exaggerating, have been victims of child abuse of varying degrees. But I'm glad you're always wary. Keep looking out for the young ones!

      And thanks! Really didn't expect to win!

      Have put those horrid memories behind me for good :)

  5. sorry you had to go through such a traumatic experience; however I am glad you are standing up for other children and that makes a difference

  6. Dear Priya

    Thank you for the appreciation. Wrote this down to make whoever reads it aware of the prevalence of such perpetrators in our society. Do watch out for the young ones around you!:)

  7. It takes a lot of courage to share stories like this one. Thank you for sharing so honestly. As a woman I wish this had never happened to you, and I am truly sorry for the scar you carry with you.

    A big hug. From one stranger to another.

  8. Sick people! We have to be very vigilant these days. I am just like you, like a hawk. I think kids in my family think I am way to protective and a bit crazy. But I can handle being that than being a careless aunt.

    And YAY! Congrats on the winning!

  9. whoever that is...he deserves a royal kick right on his b***s!!

  10. i can kick well. seriously. take me along. . shinto

  11. Well....i really loved your article ... i agree with you that child abuse is much much widely prevalent than most people are aware of.
    I myself have gone through a similar situation when i was around 6 or 7 years old...luckily enough my mom was always used to tell me that i should'nt be scared to talk to her if anyone behaved "inappropriately" so i informed her before the matter became too serious and the problem was taken care of.

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