‘It is important to know that more than strangers, persons known to the child – fathers, brothers, uncles, aunts, teachers, health workers, etc – can be the abuser. It could be anyone. But generally these abusers are intelligent people who know how to manipulate the child. They don’t mark a beautiful or pretty child. Instead they choose someone who has a low self esteem, who can be easily dominated, influenced, or threatened, and who is unlikely to speak up. If you don’t help your disabled child to build his or her self confidence and if you don’t establish a communication with them, then they will grow more vulnerable to abuse.

In most cases, the child the abusers mark goes through a ‘grooming process’ where they build trusting relations with the child and the family. This allows them better access to the child, and gives them a chance either to threaten the child or to blackmail him into the abuse.

If you are unable to prevent the abuse, you can at least stop it at an early stage if you look for the signs. It could be any sudden change – overly pleasing behaviour, completely withdrawn in a shell, increased hostility and anger, changes in achievement patterns, eating and sleeping disorder, anger, aggression, anxiety or indifference, depression and suicide attempts, sexualised behaviour (when grooming makes them believe that love is equal to sex), early sexual activity, sexually abusive language, psychosomatic illness (like fever around the time the abuser visits), pain or swelling in genitals, bruises on the body or sexually transmitted infections. None of these symptoms alone can prove anything, but club them, probe and talk and you may just find out about the abuse at the right time.’