That Night in Chittappa’s House

Radhika (11) and Rajani (7) were on a 10-day vacation to their maternal aunt Bhavani’s place in Pune. Bhavani Chitta’s husband Magesh was a senior supervisor in an automobile manufacturing plant. Thus they were staying inside the plant in the official accommodation provided to them. Aditya was their two-year old son. Radhika and Rajani had a wonderful time playing with their young brother.

Magesh was a very religious man and one would always find him reciting shlokas if he is not in his office. A sandalwood tilaka with a kumkum dot in the center of his forehead was one of his traits. He was very helpful to one and all and thus people respected him a lot.

One of those nights, Radhika and Rajani were fast asleep on a mat on the drawing room floor. Radhika felt a touch on her leg which slowly moved upwards. It then pulled her skirt up and reached her thighs. This was it. She knew this was getting dirty. She pulled her skirt down and moved a bit making the man know that she was half awake. His hands then went onto Rajani’s leg and same thing started happening. Radhika who was aware that it was Magesh was now scared for her little sister. She sat up and asked, “Chittappa, why are you not sleeping? If Chitta is awake we want to go and sleep with her. It is scary here.” She didn’t know from where she gathered the courage to say that much. Magesh without saying anything, went out of the room and Radhika bolted the door. As soon as she sat down, Rajani hugged her and started weeping. “Akka, I was scared. Chittappa is bad. He is very bad.

They were to stay for a few more days with their uncle and aunt before they could go back to their parents. Telephone was available but Chitta was always around and for some reason Radhika was not interested in informing Chitta. She just told Chitta that they were scared to sleep alone and that they wanted to sleep with her in her room. Chitta agreed. The next few days in that house seemed the most torturous for those little souls.

Once home, though they wanted to tell their parents about what had happened, they did not. They only spoke about it between themselves and they found solace in each other without disturbing the existing relationship between the families. After that incident there were many occasions when they had to face Magesh. The girls stood together and ignored him as best as possible. But Magesh by now had gained more confidence knowing very well that the girls had not disclosed the incident to anyone. There were a few more attempts made by him, but the girls escaped with each other’s help.

During her college years Radhika experienced an eve-teasing incident which happened in front of their mother Vaidehi. While Vaidehi was telling Radhika and Rajani how to deal with such incidents and how to inform concerned people about it, Radhika informed her mother about the childhood incident in Pune in the presence of Rajani. Vaidehi immediately rubbished them saying it was just a figment of their imagination and that Magesh could never do something like that. She went on to tell the kids that he would have just tried to give them a slight massage. She also told them that it was a sin to blame innocent God-fearing people.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This was a fictional account to explain issues related to Child Sexual Abuse (CSA).

A few questions:

  • Do you think what Radhika did was the best in her capacity?
  • Do you blame Radhika and Rajani for not raising an alarm?
  • Do you blame Radhika and Rajani for not telling their mother the details well on time?
  • What according to you was Vaidehi supposed to do once she was informed?
  • Was Vaidehi’s stand right?

CSA1

1 out of 7 children are abused. How many do you know? 

1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.

One out of every three girls will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18.

A third of sexually abused children are keeping a family secret. 

Child Sexual Abuse is hard to talk about for little children. Most children won’t. So we have to.

First and foremost, be a good listener. Let the child know that you trust him/her and that they are your priority. Help the child communicate with you with ease and trust. The child needs to be told that in case any such thing happens, it is not their fault. They don’t have to feel bad or dirty or sinful. It is the abuser who is wrong and who should be punished. Support them to overcome the grief and get over the incident. Remember CSA has long term affects on the personality of a child. 

Tell you child that anything that anyone tells them or does to them saying they should not inform their parents is something that they must inform immediately.  

logo-child-abuse

Here is a list of things you need to teach your child(ren) at early age:

  1. Warn your girl child never to sit on anyone’s laps no matter the situation including uncles.
  2. Avoid getting dressed in front of your child once he/she is 2 years old. Learn to excuse them or yourself.
  3. Never allow any adult refer to your child as ‘my wife’ or ‘my husband’
  4. Whenever your child goes out to play with friends make sure you look for a way to find out what kind of play they do, because young people now sexually abuse themselves.
  5. Never force your child to visit any adult he or she is not comfortable with and also be observant if your child becomes too fond of a particular adult.
  6. Once a very lively child suddenly becomes withdrawn you may need to patiently ask lots of questions from your child.
  7. Carefully educate your grown-ups about the right values of sex . If you don’t, the society will teach them the wrong values.
  8. It is always advisable you go through any new Material like cartoons you just bought for them before they start seeing it themselves.
  9. Ensure you activate parental controls on your cable networks and advice your friends especially those your child(ren) visit(s) often.
  10. Teach your 3-year old how to wash their private parts properly and warn them never to allow anyone touch those areas and that includes you (remember, charity begins from home
    and with you).
  11. Blacklist some materials/associates you think could threaten the sanity of your child (this includes music, movies and even friends and families).
  12. Let your child(ren) understand the value of standing out of the crowd.
  13. Once your child complains about a particular person, don’t keep quiet about it. Take up the case and show them you can defend them.
  14. Show them this following animated film ‘KOMAL‘ (an initiative by Child Line), which explains Safe Touch and Unsafe Touch in an easy to understand manner.
Hindi Version
English Version

 

It only takes one question, one conversation, one moment to make a positive change in the life of a sexually abused child. Know the signs (Child Sexual Abuse Warning signs). Ask questions. Get help.

 

Remember, we are either parents or parents-to-be.

Care for your Child…Please pass on!

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26 Replies to “That Night in Chittappa’s House”

  1. To answer your questions:

    1, 2 and 3. Radhika handled the situation as well as she possibly could have.
    Ideally, she should have raised an alarm, but if she had done that, nobody would have believed her word against the word of the religious, respected Magesh. (There is a remote possibility that Bhavani Chitta knew about her husband Magesh’s tendencies, but she would most probably have defended Magesh so as not to disrupt her family’s life.)
    The same holds for Radhika and Rajani not telling their mother the details in the first instance. As happened a few years later, “Vaidehi immediately rubbished them saying it was just a figment of their imagination and that Magesh could never do something like that.”

    4 and 5. Vaidehi’s stand was incorrect.
    Vaidehi should have told Radhika and Rajani that she believed them, but she wanted to ask them some details to be absolutely sure that they had not misunderstood. This would have served the purpose of letting her daughters know that she trusted them, but would also have enabled her to explain to them that, while it is possible for anybody to indulge in child abuse, an allegation against any person should be made only after being reasonably sure that that person had indeed indulged in abuse.

    Despite all precautions, CSA can and does take place. In such situations, it is most critical that the child trusts her/his parents completely and that the child knows that her/his parents trust her/him completely.

    1. Well said Pro! But in most cases, either the parents do not get to know of it at all since they are unable to read the warning signs or they simply do not trust their child. A third category which I hate the most are the ones who give more priority to the abuse because he is from family and they do not want to ruin the relationship. What kind of relationship do you want to continue with an adult who is responsible for abusing your child? Shame on them.

      It indeed has become very necessary to talk openly to your children and make them aware of what worst can happen and how to avoid or respond to such situations. Yes, trust is the keyword here.

  2. Nice post Rekha, I am glad that you put the things in such a nice manner. I won’t blame the girls for not raising the alarms as others will never believe on them, but then whatever they did is also appreciable. They helped each other to fight against all these things, which is also very much required.
    At the end the points which you made as the list of the things, is truly awesome and informative.

  3. Hello there,
    A great initiative. To answer you on the fictional story, the girl was brought up in a way where she couldn’t trust her parents with such details. No one in our generation did. So probably the kid did the best, though her mother could have done better.
    During my days, I used to visit and stay over at my cousin’s place a lot. Not one but every cousin’s but by the trend now a days there is nothing like sleep over’s at cousin’s and all. plus today’s kids are super smart and super bold. So I guess it’s getting better but socializing and communications are getting a beating.
    About the points towards the end, the govt has to impose strict laws, or else whatever you do or whatever you train, it’s not going to help that much. I feel bad because I like hanging out with kids, but I don’t know how much I will be able to now.
    Thanks for sharing, Rekha 🙂
    Cheers!

  4. The mother ought to be slapped. No wonder her daughters didn’t confide in her. Had they said anything, they’d probably have got slapped.
    I know many children who were abused. Too many… 😦
    Very powerful post Rekha! Thank you!

  5. Whew! Nice post Rekha. Vaidehi is so completely to blame. The girls were simply too young. The disbelief is possibly what they’d feared and that’s what they got.

  6. Thanks for this post. And answering to the questions, it totally depends on what kind of family the kids belong to. We need to be in their shoes to feel what it is to be and face the consequences of raising the issues and shout out for justice or simply avoid that culprit from their rest of their lives.
    Mostly avoiding the culprit becomes the choice for many. Our society is not matured enough to handle abused kids. We do not have the right kind of laws and environment to deal with those who lose their minds to abuse kids.
    Only solution I see is, teach our kids the values about living and let them be responsible adults in the future. It all starts with us, individuals to take care of ourselves, our kids and our family. Ensure we teach them the same thing.

  7. 🙂 Nice post didi..
    I was a victim of child abuse and that too, to a person who is apparently very close to our family. I suffered for quite some time before i could muster courage to inform my Mom. Guess what happened. Mom told me to forget about it. It is not as if she did not believe me, but she asked me never to tell anyone else about this. We continued interacting with this monster for years after that, though thankfully, the mishaps never recurred after that. Though i was more than thankful about it, I hated the fact that my Mom did not stand up for me.
    It is years later that Ma told me she had actually given the person a whack on his face for what he had done. I think i felt better when i heard that, but you know, the damage had already been done by then. As a result of the trauma that i underwent as a child, i could never believe that i could actually feel secure with a man again. Not only was my confidence affected, but even years later, i used to flinch with disgust and get scared out of my wits when i reminisced about the past (frankly, i think i still do!).
    There came a time, when i decided that a person is a victim till she allows herself to be. I was no more being physically assaulted, but in my mind i was letting myself be! berating myself and feeling sorry for myself and all. I decided that i should get over all of it and start to look at life afresh. And i think i was able to, well.. to an extent.
    For the sake of letting you relate with my present stance, let me tell you… The person i talked of earlier is still very much there around us. He is older now, of course, and more dependent on people around him. I obviously dont have anything to worry. I feel i have become a stronger person now, with so many events having happened in my life – Papa got transferred to the South when i was in school hence i became the ‘eldest son’ in the family. I got married to a wonderful person who has only made me feel more beautiful and more stronger, then amma fell ill only giving me the chance to mother her instead and grow up in life and now im a mother myself which makes me feel like i can battle the world in order to protect my child.
    But the trust that i had on people around me is gone forever. Thank God, i have awesome people around me. But this one bad thing which happened in my life, took something with it that i could never get back. Even now, i am terrified and extremely paranoid about my daughter. Sometimes, it becomes impossible foe me to overcome the fear and suspicion i felt towards the world as a child. I try to let go, so that i do not compromise on her independence and inner confidence, but the mother in me.. and mostly the child in me.. pleads me not to. Even now.. years later when i am safe and secure and have nothing to worry about.
    Sexual abuse, no matter how short stayed it is, stays with you the entire life. I found out ways to grow out of it. But even now, it lurks somewhere inside me and peeps out during some low moments of my life.
    Sometimes i think, if my mom had flared up the issue and stood up for me IN MY PRESENCE, i would have been a different person today.. maybe a better one.
    Sometimes i think, i still hate her for not having done that.

    1. Lekha, I completely understand what you are trying to say. I understand because I have been through it too. And my mother’s response is what Vaidehi’s response here is. I completely understand Amma’s take because she was scared as Dad wasn’t here with us and we were dependent on many people for lots of things. But as a child, I lost my mother that very day. My confidence and trust in her broke that very moment. I distanced myself from her then on. She need not have to confront that person, but at least she could have made me feel that she trusted me. I know there is no one on this earth other than Amma who loves me so much, but a part of me, as you rightly said, hates her for that very statement. I guess that’s one incident which made me move miles away from her. I was far more closer to my Dad who was physically miles away from us. Post that incident I always felt insecure and under-confident. I always blamed myself for all the wrong happenings around. It was only post my marriage to my husband that I rediscovered myself and started respecting myself. In one of my earlier posts when I wrote that it was my husband who made me grow and see the world in an altogether new way, one of my best friends took offence stating that I was disrespecting and offending my parents by saying so. But the truth is that nobody, and I repeat, nobody else has ever listened to me as patiently as he did and nobody else has ever made me feel that it was never my fault. He is the one person who has made me what I am today. A mentally stronger person and an assertive woman. I am 100% sure that if Dad was with us during that time I would have gone to him and him alone. He would have stood up for me right then. Amma had her own reasons and didn’t do it. What irritates me and angers me is the fact that Amma is still in touch with that guy and she still disbelieves me. Someone who offends or hurts me or my people in any manner can never be family to me. For that if she disowns me, I am ready for that.

      You have actually seen a lot and as I have told you previously I respect you a lot for the same. It isn’t easy and you’ve done it with all you had. God Bless you!

    2. Lekha,it is quite a trauma you have gone through. it may help to use EFT(Emotional freedom technique) a tapping technique founded by Gary Craig. to tap away the unpleasnt memories once & for all from your mind & being..
      May like to google EFT & find out the practitioners in your area

      1. Thanks Rajeev! That was a very fruitful suggestion. I hope more and more people are made aware of this. In case you have written anything on this subject or are aware of any relevant links, please share them here.

  8. Sexual abuse thrives and the perpetrator of the crime goes scot-free.
    What Vaidehi did was wrong. She need not have created a scene but should have made the girls feel safe and better.

  9. No, they were just kids.. what could they do beyond what they did? 😦 The mother should have listened to them… a daughter will never make up such stories about her childhood… it was so sad reading this Rekha.. indeed a very powerful post….

  10. It is sad but so many parents react the way this mother dod especially when it is a person known to them or a relative. Most times the perpetrator takes advantage of this very proximity :(. The girls did the best they could. Children get frightened. Very good tips there, Rekha!

  11. Thank you for creating this post and spreading awareness on an issue that seems so hush-hush and should not be. You wrote it beautifully and asked pointed questions we all need to think about. The children who endure this, oh my how my heart breaks for them. The perpetrators? Shameful and unconscionable.
    Thank you for writing this. Very important piece.

  12. they were just kids.. poor kiddos.. and they handled the situation as best as they could.
    how I wish her mom had reacted in a better way rather than rubbishing the child’s claim.
    Parents have to listen to their children. empathy and sensitivity are necessary.
    Powerful piece Rekha. Thank you for the tips as well. It will surely help parents to deal with CSA in a much better way.

  13. Pleasure pursuit always ends in vain:

    In 2004, two economists looked into whether more sexual variety led to greater well-being. They looked at data from about 16,000 adult Americans who were asked confidentially how many sex partners they had had in the preceding year, and about their happiness. Across men and women alike, the data show that the optimal number of partners is one.

  14. They were mere kids..they did their best. But it’s a reality Rekha and you have presented the situation very well. Parents often ignore what their children have to say about someone or something that they find disturbing.Parents should be more caring and sensitive . Only then at least some cases of CSA could be avoided.

  15. How could the girls do anything when their own parent refuses to believe them?! That’s what is so scary and heartbreaking! Thanks for this post to bring this point out so forcefully!

  16. The thought waft chill and anger down the spine. It’s revolting when parents don’t pay heed to children concerns and complaints, blindly trusting relatives. I mean, parents, are responsible in a way if things happen to children. A very well detailed post to spread awareness and the points enumerated below, I am sure and hope, will help parents. Something every parent and teens cum young adults should read. Will share on FB in the evening.

  17. A very thought provoking narration of a real incident. Its so important for parents to be taught parenting to bring about awareness of such nocturnal and related issues.
    Regards.

  18. This is the saddest part of the story – when your parents would rather disbelieve you than risk their relations.
    And this is the norm rather than exception.

  19. The saddest part is of course the mother not believing her daughters. Just to maintain an appearance of a happy, proper, moralistic extended family. This kind of hypocrisy can unfortunately lead to some horrendous problems like the ones you speak of here. Thank you for writing this post.

    1. The even more sad part is I still see parents (especially mothers) like this who believe in shutting up their child. I can’t belief the grief and confusion of the child for having to live along with such attitude. Child abuse somehow I feel is the greatest sin a human being can commit.

  20. I agree with Beloome. That pretense doesn’t help, but I know many mothers do that; as if to say that it didn’t happen will make that true. I hope that doesn’t happen to any child. To abuse one who trusts you, and at times one who doesn’t know that you are abusing, that’s a sin, absolutely. And one of the greatest a human being can commit.

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