Child Sexual Abuse can be defined as an abuse where a child is used for sexual activity by an older person. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) defines a child as a person under the age of 18 years. The abuse can take place when a child is in infancy, childhood or even adolescence. It can be of any time period – one-time experience or something repeated again and again.
Incest is also a form of child sexual abuse. It takes place when the abuser is a family member or someone treated as a family member like close friends or others. In such an abuse, the child is not able to understand what is happening to him/her because of trust in the relationship. Incest is not different from child sexual abuse. It comes under the umbrella of child sexual abuse.
Abusers are people who sexually abuse children. They are also known as ‘perpetrators’ or ‘offenders’. It is not easy to identify someone as abuser as they look just like us. They are the ones who live amongst us. They can be anyone.
Committing a crime such as this one is not something spontaneous. It involves proper planning. It is not something that happens immediately. All the calculative risks are taken into account before committing such crimes. The abuser builds trust in the mind of child and sometimes, his/her parents. Next, the abuser takes the child into sexual world through talks or games. Then, the abuser isolates the child from the outside world and shows favouritism to the child. The abuse takes place. After the abuse, the child is blackmailed emotionally or is threatened. In some cases, the child is asked to keep secrecy and is made to feel that whatever happened should not be known to outside world, which confuses the child.
WHY CHILDREN ARE NOT ABLE TO TELL WHAT THEY FEEL ?
Children do suffer in silence but are helpless. They do not have the right words or language to express what happened with them and how they felt. They do know something is wrong but they are confused as well. They are also threatened by the abuser. Moreover, many of the children don’t even know that telling is an option. Others don’t know who to tell. Sometimes, if they do tell, they are not believed and it makes them ashamed, afraid and/or guilty.
HOW IT AFFECTS CHILDREN ?
Children feel shames, guilty and betrayed. They become angry. If the abuse is severe, panic attacks, depression, phobias and body aches can take place. They start believing to have low esteem. They start thinking they are not good enough. They constantly feel that they need to prove themselves. They might get indulged in mutilation (cutting or injuring themselves). They even start over-eating or under-eating. They are either super active or super lazy. They might feel they are lacking power. They experience stomach disturbances, frequent illnesses, gynaecological problems, pains and other physical problems.
It is possible for victims to recover. There are a number of organizations working on making people survive the damage caused to them. It takes time as memories do not wash away quickly. But once victims decide to move on, they turn into survivors who have survived the abuse.
Being able to survive doesn’t justify such acts.
- By Aarzoo Kareer