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Mother, writer and daydreamer. Also chocoholic and chick-flick lover. But mainly mommy. To two boys, at that! When not escorting my Elder One (EO) to karate class, I'm trying to get in as many cuddles as possible from my Younger One (YO). And when not doing either, I'm hard-at-work trying to maintain a steady relationship with my laptop. And as for the Man I Married (MIM), well, let’s just put it this way – even though we share a bedroom, our most meaningful conversations are held over the cell-phone!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

CSAAM -- April 2011 : A Few Thoughts

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??

What? What?!?!

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.

Monday, April 4, 2011

CSAAM -- April 2011 : A Survivor's Story -- Mine

For years I have wanted to talk about this. I didn't know how. This initiative has given me the space and the courage to do so. If my story can help even one person, my effort will not be in vain...

The Repercussions of Abuse

A paying guest. My father’s friend. And a blood relative – my own uncle. What do these three men have in common?


All three of them are guilty of sexually abusing me.

All three of them are guilty of robbing my childhood.

Growing up in the States in the early 80’s and in Bangalore in the late 80’s and early 90’s, CSA wasn’t really talked about. Probably because people didn’t think it existed. After all, monsters like that belong in hell. Unfortunately, they take a stroll through Earth first.

What were the repercussions of my abuse?

Well, the first time I was abused, I must have been around six or seven years old, and it was by the paying guest we had at home in the States. It was a few times, but it was blatant, disgusting, rough and enough. And I was not alone. I know the monster pawed at my friends and at my parent’s friend’s children too. I didn’t understand the full import of it, but I do remember feeling terribly, terribly dirty. I felt unclean for a long time and I hated that feeling, so I did what I thought best...I blocked the memory out of my mind entirely. I forgot it ever happened until...

I was fifteen, living in Bangalore and an uncle abused me. It was just the one time, but it was all the more devastating because it totally shattered my self-esteem. He didn’t just sexually abuse me, but he played sick mind-games as well, commenting on my body, my puppy fat and my propensity to put on weight.

And a few years later, when I’d finally shed the fat and turned into a decent looking bird if not exactly the beautiful swan, my father’s friend tried to kiss me...a big, fat, slobbering smooch which I couldn’t wash off me for days.

The effect of each abuse was severe to the point of being extreme. As a result of the first episode in the States, there’s is a huge gap in my memory. I just can’t remember what my childhood was like. Yes, there are a few hazy memories, but nothing which stands out like a bright light; nothing that comforts me. I don’t even remember our trip to Disneyland. When the second episode with the relative happened, it brought all the terrible memories rushing back...along with other sad memories.

Today, I am severely, emotionally crippled as a result of this. I can only remember sad and unhappy things that have happened to me. My happy memories are non-existent. It’s almost like nothing good ever happened to me in my life. I am constantly depressed because of this.

It kills me to hear my family and friends reminisce about their childhood as they back-slap, guffaw with raucous laughter and hold their sides from laughing too hard. And there I sit like the harbinger of gloom; a person so mirthless she can only remember being teased and taunted throughout her childhood; a person who so looked forward to her wedding, desperately wanting it to be the happiest day of her life, except now when she thinks back she can only remember an aunt making her cry and other cringe-worthy episodes; a person who tries to write down every little moment of happiness she shares with her sons in the frantic and desolate hope that at least the written word will help her recollect the sunshine moments her boys have given her.

The other damage that is a direct result of the abuse, especially by perpetrators two and three, is that I have a terrible image of myself. I have a distorted body image, I have never felt pretty enough, I have always been on the plump side with no intention of trying to correct in my younger years and I have a depressingly low sense of self-esteem. I’m not worthy of anything good. When my uncle told me that I was too fat and that I needed to lose weight, I deliberately chose not to do anything, thinking that if I was fat, I would be too repulsive for him to want to touch me again. When the puppy fat finally shed of its own accord and boys began to give me a second glance, it felt nice. More than nice actually – it was a huge ego boost. So I started to take a little interest in what I wore and how I looked. But then that old man had to go and kiss me – and it shattered me once more. If looking pretty and having a sense of worth about oneself meant inviting the lecherous paws of men old enough to be your father, I wanted no part of it.

I’m in my thirties today. I don’t have any friends from my school days. I have just one bosom buddy from my college years. I am closer to my virtual buddies than I am to the people I socialise with. And it’s all because I have nothing happy to talk about. I have scared away many potential friends because I unburden myself way too quickly and share episodes from my life which should probably be reserved for the 100th meeting or so.

I want my childhood back. I want my happy memories back. I want to be that sunshiney girl that I knew I once was.

Those bastards stole more than my innocence. They stole the very essence of happiness from my soul and everyday is a living hell.

Friday, April 1, 2011

'Flame & Grill' and other such memories

  • Took the boys out for lunch today. The MIM also joined us, he just wasn't in the mood to work. The EO had been talking about a place called 'Flame & Grill' for the longest time. The last time we went there was over two years ago and yet he recalled every little detail; right down to the chair his brother was sitting in and the food he ate. Sometimes it amazes me what they remember and what their 'happy memories' can be.
  • My three 'boys' loved lunch today. For the MIM, the impromptuness of it made it all the more special. What I won't forget is how the YO wolfed down piece after piece of fish tikka, asking for more -- yes, the same boy who sometimes needs to be force-fed most kinds of fish preparations at home! After a sumptuous dessert of ice cream and bite-sized gulaab jamuns, he actually sighed!! Now, I've seen him enjoy meals before but this was the first time I'd ever seen him actually sigh with delight after a meal well-devoured!!
  • After lunch, the EO decreed that all future lunch outings are to be conducted in 'Flame & Grill' and only 'Flame & Grill'. The YO declared that the food was the "mosht delleechioush ever". While leaving, the EO patted his stomach and in all seriousness said, "What a feast!"
  • The YO is still experiencing a happiness hangover and as I type this, he is fawning all over me. He has showered me with fifty "I laabh you's" and remarked what "byutifull nail polish" I'm wearing, what "byutifull handjj" I have and also "such byutifull face" I have. I have obviously melted into a puddle of much mush.
  • The piece de resistance however, came while he was hugging me. He looked up from where his head was nestled (my chest region) and inquired about the purpose of my now defunct pouches since I didn't have babies in them anymore. He wondered whether Takur (Bhagwanji to some, Godji to others) would put another baby back there anytime soon. And FYI, the 'pouches' he was referring to are in fact my boobies!

CSAAM -- April 2011, Kicks Off

And the first post kicks off. A truly moving, first person account by a victim of CSA. Read it and discover why we, as parents, need to educate ourselves.

This is followed by another victim's story. Read the powerful post written by one of my favourite bloggers ever -- The Mad Momma.