Maria glared at her, letting the words seep in, she had never wanted to get married, not then, for she was quite young. In fact, she had decided long ago that she would never ever get married. But listening to her sister talk about her lawful husband like that seemed so wierd. Were men so violent with their wives too? She had been afraid of men for many years now. Each time, any boy/men had tried to talk to her, her heart would skip a beat, she would feel the heat under her ear-lobes, on her cheeks and a current of chill pass through her bones, she would try to find some ways to escape, making an excuse to walk out, or else shift his attention to some other interesting stuff. She could never take a compliment in her stride, especially not from men; she knew men had only one thought in their mind and that all the conversations would finally lead to sex.
During her school years too, she was a loner and had a very low self esteem, she hated long lunch breaks during which while her school friends laughed and played, she would prefer to sneak down to the nursery section of the school and watch the tiny tots in their activities. Children were real time-pass and they gave her all the pleasure and happiness, she believed that only children’s smiles were innocent and pure; the adult world was too cruel for her to adjust.
Nobody had told her about good/ bad touch when she was barely five years old. With father always in and out of hospitals, mother was too occupied nursing and taking care of the house. “Go out and play, there is too much work to do, you are making too much noise at home, go to the stairway and play out there.” Her mom would scream each time she took out her dolls to play.
So, most of her time she played on the stairway which had long veranda, enough space to run and scream and came home only to eat meals or to sleep, there were four more girls of her age in the same building, with whom she would play and they were her friends. They would play hide-n-seek, or slide down the railings of the stairway or walk down to the building compound to play some out-door games. The building had many men visitors. They were dhobis, watchmen, postmen, plumbers, hawkers, electrician, etc. with whom they often inter-acted. Some of them would offer lollipops to them and then sit with them on the staircase and relate to some expressive fairy tales or songs. The five-years-old never understood that good touch from a bad touch and thought it was the part of the game.
A game that affected their performance at school and they were listed as ‘duffers’ and ignored by teachers who had no patience with them. The teachers punished them for their stupidity and their inability to understand simple explanations during school lessons.
When Marie’s father passed away, they moved away from that neighborhood and migrated to another town. She never went back to meet those friends, never had an opportunity to keep in contact with them. But the fear of strangers clung on in the Meta of her life and subconsciously, she developed the hatred for men.
“All men are like that only” she said to her sister, Annie.
World is unsafe, especially for girls who are little and don’t understand good/bad touch which comes to haunt them later in life as it shapes their life to adjust in the ‘perfect’ world. Read the bloggers’ stories, survivor’s stories and advice from experts who have come together under one umbrella to talk openly during this Child sexual abuse Awareness month.
more resources on Child abuse at
Sexual abuse in India
Enfold Proactive health trust
Child protection in India
Practical advice to parents
Centre for prevention and healing of sexually abused child