|A Gateway to the Future of Children?|
When a child is abused it is a lot more than bruises, violation or broken bones. While physical abuse might be the most visible, other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse and neglect, also leave deep, lasting scars. The Delhi incident and incidents across the country continue to haunt me. Just sharing my experience of having traced,punished and healed many such victims. All I did was invest one hour a week! When it comes to rape, so much emphasis is placed on what girls should do to protect themselves. This feeds the illusion that if you just do/don’t do the right things you can be safe from rape. And conversely, that if a girl/young woman has been raped she must have done something wrong! How do I Prevent Abuse or Rape? This question is very important to me having spent nearly 20 years treating child and adolescent victims of sexual assault and abuse. Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar told a news conference Monday that the rise in the number of reported sex crimes in New Delhi was a measure of how much more seriously police are taking such reports since the gang rape of a medical student in December had led to widespread protests and the enactment of a new rape law. In addition to a sharp rise in the number of reported sexual assault cases, cases of sexual harassment have risen more than sevenfold, he said. I quote from http://www.startribune.com/world/204200831.html Manoj Kumar and Pradeep Kumar have been arrested on suspicion that they used chocolate to lure the 5-year-old into Manoj Kumar’s apartment, where they raped, tortured and tried to kill her. The men are alleged to have fled shortly afterward. Two days later, her parents found her in the apartment after hearing her crying, according to reports in the Indian media. We all heard what the silly Politicians and so called Keepers of law had to say! The 5-year-old’s family said the police did not take their complaint seriously, did not search adequately and then tried to bribe them into silence after she was found. What has happened in the past cannot be changed unless we start DOING lots about a malice which is centuries old. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of rapists end up in prison. The rest are free to repeat their crimes. According to the most comprehensive, representative survey in the United States–the National Violence Against Women Survey: (unfortunately I own no authentic published Indian Data as most of the so called Commissions are famous for merely giving Statements on TV.
1. 1 of every 6 women (17.6%) and 1 of every 33 men (3%) have been raped at some time in their lives.
2. The majority of the victims were younger than 18 years old when they were raped (females – 54%; males – 71%).
3. Most disturbingly, many victims were less than 12 years old when they were raped (girls – 21.6%; boys – 48%).
4. Girls under the age of 12 were most likely to be victimized by relatives. The girls ages 12 to 17 were more likely to be victimized by intimates and acquaintances. Women were more likely to be raped by intimates.
5. Boys and men are more likely to be raped by acquaintances at all ages.
It all starts with Awareness my dear Friends! Some myths that I have come across: whilst conducting Awareness sessions on “Preventing Acquaintance Rape/Abuse” – I would like to share with you all:
MYTH #1: Only Bad People Abuse Their Children. Fact: It is NOT only “bad people” who abuse their children. Some people who abuse may be struggling with mental health issues or a substance abuse problem. Not all abusers are intentionally harm, some might have been victims of abuse themselves, and lack good parenting skills.
MYTH #2: It’s only Abuse if it’s Violent and Leaves Visible Injuries. Fact: Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Neglect and emotional abuse can be just as damaging, and since they are more subtle, others are less likely to intervene.
MYTH #3: Most Child Abusers are Strangers. Fact: While rarely abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or others close to the family. People have this STRONG stigma of being socially ostracized or distanced once the issue gets into the public domain.
MYTH #4: Child Abuse doesn’t Happen in “Cultured” “Good” Families. Fact: Child abuse doesn’t only happen in poor families or bad neighborhoods. It crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors. It is surely sad but the BITTER truth!
MYTH #5: Abused Children Always Grow up to be Abusers. Fact: It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents. It can be either or as is the case. So what can YOU do?
- Continue to educate yourself? Help raise awareness?
- Just one more person YOU can make more AWARE, HELPS!
- One way to increase convictions is for more law enforcement officers and prosecutors to receive specialized training in sex crimes.
- Media attention and community pressure can help push local authorities into pursuing this training if they have not already done so.
- Teach potential victims ways to protect themselves in a manner in which they understand.
- Another method of prevention approach is to reach teen boys and young men before they commit rape. Providing high school age and college age young men with a structured and supportive space to empower themselves about healthy masculinity and redefine male strength.
- A lot has been said about how young women should learn self-defense. They should lock themselves in their houses after dark. They shouldn’t wear short skirts. They shouldn’t leave drinks unattended. Perhaps they shouldn’t dare to get drunk at all. I would prefer not to add anymore to this phenomenon.
- Educate potential perpetrators through anti violence programs. If you are a parent, talk to your children and teens about safety and healthy dating relationships.
I appeal to all those who go through this blog, PLEASE do not be stuck in cycles of protests, violence, blaming and misplaced responsibility and just watch in deafening silence. Only by putting responsibility where it really belongs, on those who commit acts of violence and abuse, can we start to break this cycle. Help raise Awareness. One more person you can make more aware —HELPS! Let us NOT perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control over or responsibility for your actions. You can, too, help yourself!