I just can't help but wonder what it is that motivates these abusers. Is it sexual frustration? Is it the thrill of forbidden fruit? Is it pure carnal lust??
It’s probably for the psychologists and behavioural scientists to study and figure out, but what kind of darkness might one possess in one’s heart to hurt and forever scar an innocent child?
I wonder about these questions very often, but I don’t have any answers. Not that knowing these answers would in any way help me make sense of what happened to me or help me forgive my abusers; it’s all just a very angry, metaphorical ‘WTF?!?!’
But my rants and raves aside, in hindsight do I really think my parents could have done anything? Did I give them any cause to worry about me? Was there ever any reason for them to be suspicious of anything?
The answer to all those questions is ‘No.’
No, I didn’t behave any differently. I was always the introvert book-worm with her head stuck in mountains of books. I was never given to spilling my insides, sharing my thoughts or having long-drawn conversation with either of my parents. I never had too many friends, was too busy negotiating my place in my different worlds, knew that my parents loved me and yet none of us were ever prone to bouts of physical affection.
I understood the feelings of shame and disgust I felt, but didn’t feel close enough to my parents to tell them. Probably because I understood that if I ‘told on’ these men, the repercussions would be severe, and I didn’t know whether my parents or I could deal with them. After all, it was about calling out the true nature of these men that my parents loved/trusted. How could I do that to them? I guess, I did not trust my parents with the maturity to deal with it. Or maybe I was scared of what their reactions would be.
Do I blame my parents? NOT AT ALL. Not even in the slightest. And I am not saying this because I have seen first-hand the sacrifices they both endured to bring my brother and me up. No, I am not saying this out of some misplaced sense of gratitude. I don’t blame my parents because they are not at fault.
The experts have said to watch out for behavioural differences in your child. Now that is an excellent point. But here’s the thing, I didn’t behave noticeably different. It was probably because the incidents of abuse were occasional and not sustained.
The thing is that you need to understand how your child’s mind works, what his facial tics are, watch out for new vocabulary, intense mood swings or any out of the blue behaviour.
While I did not exhibit any external manifestations as a result of the abuse, I did do one thing... After my uncle abused me, I did something that was most unlike me...I took an afternoon nap and that too with my mother, on her bed. I didn’t take afternoon naps and I had stopped sleeping with my mom for a decade! My mother was surprised and she even asked me if anything was wrong. I lied and said I wasn’t feeling well and she took me at my word. And why wouldn’t she?
Now, because this happened to me, I tend to obsess over the slightest deviation from usual, everyday behaviour in my sons’ expressions and body language. No, of course I don’t go all crazy and third-degree on them, but I do set aside some quiet time to find out if anything is bothering them. And I’m glad that I do, because I’m never wrong...there’s always been something bothering them – whether a fight with a friend, or something a teacher said, or even fear of admitting to me that they lost something in school.
So my piece of advice is, get your children to open up to you. A mother’s instinct is one of the strongest things there is. If your gut instinct is saying that there seems to be something not quite right, persist and find out what may be wrong. It could be as simple as a bad day at school. But you’ll feel better for asking, your child will feel better for getting it off his chest and most important of all, you’ll have laid down the foundations of a circle of trust for your child; a place where he knows he can say anything without fear and where he’ll know he won’t be judged, but rather, protected.
It’s what every child deserves.