He loosened his grip. I was glad that he did. My wrist was paining. He leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes as if relieved after a long time. I was hurt, disgusted, anxious, scared, shameful, angry and confused. All at the same time. I looked on with curious eyes. Grandpa slowly and stealthily cleaned me up with his dhothi underneath the blanket even while mom and granny sat in the same room watching television. And then he would give me a Parrys toffee rolled in a translucent green wrapper saying, “Shreya to Daadu ki pyaari bachhi hai.” (Shreya is grandpa’s lovely baby).
At three I didn’t know how to react or whom to tell what. So, I kept staring into nothingness.
Dad’s distant cousin from Jhansi used to visit us often during business travels. I hate pethas because they remind me of him and the ugly sticky feeling he left me with every time he stayed over. Till I was nine I didn’t know how to react. Then on I started hiding and avoiding him completely. I even stopped attending family functions just to escape him.
When I was about eleven, I started responding rudely to grandpa and this uncle. In fact I was rude with everyone. Especially men. And those who asked me to help these men with anything. Dad, mom and other elders termed me as discourteous, ill-mannered, rude and stubborn. They labeled me as a rebel.
I regret not having told Mom or Dad about these incidents. But then, would they have believed me? That’s the thought that stopped me from sharing anything with either of them. They never told me or made me feel that they would believe me. Sometimes when I look back, I realize it was my fault that I didn’t react the way I should have for whatever reason. But then I also wonder that was it not my parents responsibility to drill down on why I was behaving in a certain manner. Instead they chose to blame me and letting me be the way I was. Alone and cocooned in the darkness of my fears. And masking it behind the rude behaviour.
My dear daughter, I’m telling you this because I shudder at the simple thought of someone misbehaving with you. I want you to know that no matter who says what or who reacts in what manner, I’ll be there for you. You can count on me. I’ll listen to you. I believe you. I trust you more than anyone else. You can tell me anything that is bothering you at any hour of the day. I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to regret later. Speak up. Speak with me. I’m all ears for you my dear. Speak up even if you have committed a mistake. I promise you that I’ll not punish you. I would rather help you correct your mistake or teach you how to avoid it in future. I’ve been sent as a guardian angel and I promise to protect you in every way I can. And all you need to do is to believe me, trust me and share with me.
- Approximately 5 children die every day because of child abuse.
- 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys will be sexually abused before they reach age 18.
- 90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way. 68% are abused by a family member.
- Most children become victims of abuse and neglect at 18 months or younger.
- In 2010, 1,537 children died of abuse or neglect. 79.4% were under the age of 4 and 47.7% were under the age of 1.
- Boys (48.5%) and girls (51.2%) become victims at nearly the same rate.
- 3.6 million cases of child abuse are reported every year in the U.S.
- Abused and neglected children are 11 times more likely to engage in criminal behavior as an adult.
- About 80% of 21-year-olds who were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
- 14% of all men and 36% of all women in prison were abused as children.
- Abused children are less likely to practice safe sex, putting them at greater risk for STDs. They’re also 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
This post is part of the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts program where the aim is to post at least once a day based on the prompts that they have provided. Today’s prompt is, “Childlike: Explain your biggest regret — as though to a small child.”
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