Tag Archives: child sexual abuse

Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month: CSAAM 2014

31 Mar

Would you believe how the first three months of the year ganged-up against us, racing right by and paying no heed to our gasps?

Reluctantly or otherwise, this brings us to April, and another year of Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month on the blogosphere.

CSAposter

Again? Yes, again. It hasn’t gone away, has it? Neither should your attention.

Please direct it to this page, and learn about our partners, the problem, and the crying, aching, screaming need for AWARENESS.

Share the URL with your friends: Facebook, Twitter, email, your own words over a cup of coffee. Whatever your method, get talking.

Join Twitter chats that address the issue from various professional angles (I will be doing one and will update time and date details on this post).

We want to hear your stories. If you have none to share, lend us your ears because the world has far, far too many.

Thank you yet again, lovely readers, for sharing with me this month of personal experiences that break our hearts and make us want a better world for our children and their adult avatars.

Advertisements

CSAAM 2013

31 Mar

April is almost upon us, and it is time to turn our attention to child sexual abuse awareness. Yes, yet again. Today and everyday, to keep all our children as safe as we humanly can.

I’ll make this short, I promise:

Please head to http://csaawarenessmonth.com, where you will see personal testimonials, expert advice, twitter chats, information sources and resources, workshops, an iPhone app and plenty of posts across the blogosphere, all centered around child sexual abuse awareness.

You can choose to be an active participant in conversations, a channel of information through your own social media feeds, or a recipient of material you need–the choice is entirely yours–but any valuable input/support would be appreciated.

For more on how to contribute to this effort that is now in its third year, please go here.

Feel free to link to this post, tweet about it, put it up on Facebook, or email it to anyone you think will benefit from knowing more about CSA.

Thank you for reading. Spread the word. May we protect our young ones from this scourge.

Another Year, Another April: CSAAM 2012

31 Mar

Last year, in an outpouring of stories, recollections, support and awareness-building, a very successful and necessary movement was established across the Indian blogosphere: Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month 2011 brought survivors, parents, bloggers, readers, professionals and responsible citizens together, in a bid to spread awareness about child sexual abuse–the existence, the denial, the impact and the knowledge about how to prevent it and/or heal those already scarred.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why people–survivors as well as those fortunate enough to have been spared–were so impassioned about protecting the most vulnerable demographic in society–our children. And unless you’ve hibernated in a cave all your life, you will know/know of someone who has been through an experience of forced sexual interaction even before they reached adulthood.

Presenting:

Another year, another reminder that the movement needs to push on, networks need building, children need protection, survivors need to know they are not alone. The www, where we share some pretty intimate details of our lives, couched in the relative anonymity it offers, is a wonderful tool for sending these narratives into the world, for us to support, learn, prevent and heal–and, simply, offer a virtual hand that says “I have/ may not have been there, but I will walk with you.”

So how will you join us? Here are the ways you can:

1. Share a story on the CSAAM blog. It could be yours, it could be a friend’s–it just has to be true and requests for anonymity will be honored.

2. Share tips for survival, prevention and awareness-building. Your two cents could help someone immensely.

3. Pass around a video, a link, an article or an e-book.

4. Offer professional expertise if you are a mental health therapist / educator / psychiatrist / doctor/ lawyer /allied health professional.

5. Spread the word on your blog, if you have one, with the words “CSAAM April 2012” in the title. Put up the logo (you can copy the image above), link back to the CSAAM blog.

6. Tweet!  @CSAawareness is the Twitter handle, #CSAAM is the hashtag.

7. Put up FB notes linking to the Facebook page.

8. Write to csa.awareness.april@gmail.com and tell the folks working so hard behind the scenes what a great job they’re doing. Nothing like a line of appreciation to make someone’s day.

9. Show support by displaying the Picsquare badge on your site/page/profile. Here is the code:

<br></p><p><div data-badge-id=”2528851″ data-orientation=”right” data-hover=”false” class=”pb-badge-widget”></div><br><script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://static.picbadges.com/static/widgets/w.js”></script>

10.Participate/ask questions/ just listen in to tweetchats and podcasts by professionals and parents. Details will be shared on the CSAAM blog. I will be taking questions during a tweet chat in my capacity as a former mental health therapist for sexually abused children. Now how many of you knew that about me? Drop by, say hi, let’s talk.

11. Bring up the subject with your friends and family–the topic in general, this effort in particular. You may be surprised by what comes up when you share.

 

The movement this year will introduce a CSAAM app and sensitization workshops (Dilliwalas, first one’s for you!) that aim to take it offline and reach out to a wider audience.

Thank you for reading this.

Now, are you ready for April 2012?

April for Abuse Awareness

8 Apr

All through April, Indian bloggers from several countries have come together to raise awareness about child sexual abuse on the blogosphere; sharing survivor stories, debunking myths, listing red flags, answering questions and providing guidance from parents and individuals/organizations who work in the fields of mental health, child development and media.  

Since we began 9 days ago, many, many stories and insights have been shared, along with pointers on how to shield future victims. If you hop over to the CSA-Awareness blog  (and I strongly encourage you to do so), you’ll notice a large chunk of the material consists of survivor stories. CSA, you see, isn’t just about children who were/are abused. It is as much about children who grow into adults, carrying the scars and trauma with them for a lifetime. There’s guilt, there is anger, confusion, pain, vulnerability and shame. Some move past it and cope the best they can, others struggle with their emotions every day. But everyone, with the exception of those who have entirely repressed the experience or those not old enough to consciously remember, can recollect the denuding of themselves in meticulous detail. And I say this not as a victim/survivor, (for I am blessed to have been spared that horror), but as a therapist who has worked with sexually abused children. Therapy can help retrospectively, but prevention, without a doubt, is the option we’re looking to exercise.

Here are a few home truths that can help us all:

When it comes to child sexual abuse, there is no stereotype. Not for victims, not for perpetrators. You cannot look at a person and know. Destiny experienced vaginal penetration at 9 months from her mother’s then boyfriend. Christina at age 3, from her own mother, who in turn had been shared by her father’s friends at 13. A much-loved uncle groped his 12-year-old niece at family lunches every Sunday. A teenage cousin experimenting with his sexuality, the household help who saw his wife annually, the mother of an affluent classmate. It is true, however, that in a majority of CSA cases, the child/adolescent knows and trusts the perpetrator.

Abolish the culture of shame surrounding the victim. If a friend’s home were burgled, would you be ashamed and think s/he should hide the fact? Admittedly, sex is more complex than robbery. Which is why the sense of violation is that much deeper. This is a crime, a very serious one, and it’s terrible enough that a child has to be at the receiving end of it without having to process additional feelings of shame, mortification and blame. No child invites sexual abuse, no child asks for it, no matter how “well-developed” or “mature” s/he looks. I will interject with a disclaimer here: it is not unnatural for children to express curiosity about their bodies and feel flattered when showered with the physical attentions of an older person they like. That still does not justify touching their bodies inappropriately or making gestures, suggestions and/or remarks that are graphic and sexually inappropriate.

Children need to be given a sense of personal boundaries, even in a casual, everyone-is-an-uncle/aunty culture such as ours. Talking about good touch-bad touch, naming body parts appropriately and keeping channels of communication open without showing embarrassment or disgust will go a long way in helping your child say no or tell you if someone is making him/her uncomfortable. If this means you need to get comfortable with your own body and learn to talk about touching and anatomy, please do that right away. You don’t have to launch into the how-precisely-you-were-born spiel. Keep it simple, age-appropriate and positive. Your child needs to know you’re willing to listen and that s/he is strong and important enough to say no and have his/her decision respected. In the event that the abuse has already occurred and you are in the know, don’t gloss over it, ignore it or disregard your child’s feelings. Some children will talk. Others will act out. Some will wet their bed and still others will show you through play. Don’t expect them to spell it out. It may be as subtle as “Can X drop me to music practice today instead of Y? Y laughs at me/is mean/doesn’t listen.”  

Pedophilia is typically not a one-off instance. People who use their power over children to gratify themselves sexually don’t do it just once for a lark. If it has happened to you or your child and even if you are absolutely certain you’ve done all you can to ensure your own/ child’s safety, remember the world has other vulnerable children and we’re responsible for each other to some degree. Raise an alarm, get help from appropriate authorities, but do not shove such an instance under the carpet no matter how much you want to forget about it and move on. Survivor stories frequently mention childhood victims confronting their abusers once they had children of their own to protect.

Know where your child is and with whom. If you feel more comfortable calling your child’s friends over rather than have him/her go to their home, go ahead and do that. Better paranoid than sorry in this case. Taking him/her with you is a better option if you don’t have a trusted person you can leave him/her home with. Even when your child is older (late childhood and adolescence), you still need to know the people in his/her orbit.  

The fact that you’re reading this online should tell you what’s coming next. Predators don’t just come in the guise of sweet neighbors and favorite teachers.  Monitor your child’s online activity and know what sites s/he is spending time on, the friends s/he is making via the internet and whether there is offline contact.

If you’re not sure, don’t ignore your doubts. Get professional help. Consult your pediatrician, ask for a referral to a therapist working with children, read up on the subject.  (If you want a culture-relevant book, try ‘My Personal Safety Workbook’ by Tulir Publications. It costs Rs. 25 and is interactive and informative.) Share your suspicions and information with your partner/family and remain watchful. Even if an episode of abuse has occurred, if you deal with it appropriately, it will not hamper your child from having a full, happy and healthy life.

Yes, this is a murky topic, but know that there are many well-meaning folks out there, committed to keeping a watchful eye and spreading awareness. It’s not all bad, there is much love in this world and may you and/or your child be at its receiving end.

***

If you wish to discuss this subject further, I will be taking questions from readers/parents/anyone interested at CSA-Awareness’ tweetchat site:   http://tweetchat.com/room/csaam   on Wednesday, April  13, 10.30—11.30 pm Pacific Standard Time, which is Thursday, April 14th, 11 am—12 noon Indian Standard Time.  You will need a twitter ID to log in. See you there.