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Many thanks to Chandreyee Chatterjee for this !

Elaan now has a community on www.orkut.com

http://in.news.yahoo.com/061202/43/69xt8.html

It hurts like hell when the pain is intended and you don’t deserve it

It kills when the person who hurts you is someone whom you have placed implicit trust in.

To top it off, Indian society has this brilliant habit of familiarizing every “friend of the family” into the family hierarchical structure and thereby making it really tough for a young member to go upto his/her parents and say ” x uncle tried to touch me”. The most common response to such accusations would be “tut tut darling he’s like family to us..must be your overactive imagination again”.

Respect and regard are subjective terms in this beautiful,potential-filled country. We as children are told never ever to talk to strangers / offer personal information to them BUT with these so-called “family friends” everything is an open book.

A few statistics to shake you up –

In India, 80% of cases of child sexual abuse are categorized as Incest.

What is Incest exactly ?

Incest is a term used to describe/categorize incidents of abuse that have occured at the hands of a family member or “blood relation” as we gory people like to call them. However, in context with the sociology at play with regard to how close we keep our friends and acquaintances, incidents that have involved them have also been categorized under Incest.
A clearer definition is available here.
You could also check this out.

Unfortunately most of the links provided belong to the US and the UK. You might wonder why i prefer international websites to the national ones. The reason is simple – these guys have understood and learned to frame certain definitions more accurately, and i have personally found them to be much more comprehensive and easy to manouver.

Abuse scars people. That by itself is an understatement. To even think of empathizing with someone who’s childhood has been raped by acts so violent and malicious that they literally blind one’s ability to trust is close to impossible, no matter how sincerely we might try to be around.

Knowing that you have been abused and acknowledging the fact that it occured with you is the first step to healing from abuse. My process took 10 long painful years but it was worth it. Learning to trust people other than myself was the hardest part of it.Second to that was dealing with the fact that the battle to heal was a lonely one, with no law and nobody who “really” got the magnitude of how deep the pain ran.

From personal experience therefore ,i have compiled a list of Do’s and Dont’s with regard to communicating with someone who is/might be a victim of sexual abuse.
*This applies to abuse of all natures, it is not restricted to only sexual abuse*

The Dont’s come first for personal reasons :-

Do Not Judge me. I need empathy. If you are incapable of silencing yourself/offering an unbiased opinion, SHUT UP.

If I need help, be it medical or psychological, allow me to make the decision as to whether or not to seek it. Ultimately how i deal with my pain needs to be a self-directed choice. In other words, i need a friend, not superman.

Do not, at any point of your passion to “make things right”, make or take hasty decisions on my behalf. Repeated requests have in the past, aggravated situations because people got pissed off and didn’t listen.

Do NOT try and hold/hug/kiss/cuddle me if i do not wish for it.It isn’t rocket science that non-consensual physical contact constitutes abuse.

Do not, at any point of time, blame either me or my family. Blame the system, that is not only judgemental and non-supportive, but has no law against CSA.

Do not take on the task of informing my circle about my experience.It is my pain to speak of, and if i feel the need to speak out, i will (and have 🙂 ) .

Do not make false promises. React within your capacity. If you are ill-equipped to deal with a disclosure of abuse, acknowledge it and seek out someone who is educated and sensitized with regard to helping people deal with abuse.

Do not do anything that messes with my personal comfort zone. You have NO idea as to how it feels, therefore if i feel that painting,reading,smoking is my outlet of choice in comparison with other more harmful activities, let me be. The last thing a disturbed person needs is a bloody wannabe superhero who talks too much !!

And now for the Do’s :-

DO be around for me without imposing yourself.

Do offer to accompany me to the shrink/lawyer/specialist, i might need some company.

Do research the topic of CSA, Incest and Indian Law in order to educate yourself on what victims of abuse go through.

Do your bit at spreading the word around against CSA and other forms of violence on children by organising discussions and workshops. The International Purple Ribbon Project in collaboration with Elaan, is an excellent starting point. 🙂

Do join the movement to educate yourself,people in your area and your friends on how to deal with disclosures of abuse.

The abuse might have ended years ago. The scars still remain.

The abuse might be ongoing even today. That doesn’t mean it cannot be stopped.

The law might have turned its back on us. I have not.

The Blog

Elaan is an NGO dealing with Child Sexual Abuse issues.

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and Incest are painful and unprovoked acts of violation. In India, where subjects relating to sex and personal safety are not discussed, the issue is shrouded in secrecy as the prevalence of abusive acts increases. The objective of this blog is to encourage reading, debate and constructive awareness implementation methods via the 'blogosphere.'

* Feel free to leave comments or SPEAK-OUT here!