Seeing The Signs

‘We had a case here. The child had a learning disability, slight mental retardation, and some disorder which distorts the face, hands and fingers. She is thirteen years old but behaves very much like an eight or nine year old. Her case was brought to our notice by one of the schools training under us. She approached one teacher she is very close to and said “teacher I want to tell you a secret.” When the teacher would ask, the girl would say “no no nothing.” This went on for fifteen days. The teacher was very calm and patient. One day, she asked the teacher, “teacher have you ever had sex with your boy friend?” They were not on such friendly talking terms, so the teacher asked her, “Why are you asking such a question?” Then again the girl replied “no no it is our secret” and then again she did not talk. Again after few days she approached the teacher and asked “shall I tell you a secret?” The teacher said “okay.” The girl questioned, “Teacher has anyone put chillies in your vagina?” The teacher was very shocked because the child started talking about very visual cues, words, and vocabulary which were different. So the teacher got alarmed and she called us. We asked one of the teachers she is very close to, to explore as to what was going on. We told the teacher how to talk, the techniques etc. Because it was first necessary to stop the abuse, else therapy would have been of no use. The child then divulged that when she went for vacation with her father to a different house (since the father and mother had separated), the father did a lot of things including touching her and putting chillies in her vagina. Then she stopped and said that “nobody should know.” The sad part was that when this was revealed to the mother, she was in complete denial. She was like “it is not possible, I know my husband. This girl is making up stories. Possibly she is imagining things because she doesn’t have things to explore around or because she is not like other children.” We were trying to tell the mother, that even imagination would require substance. The mother then argued that may be the child must have over heard something somewhere. I could see that somewhere the mother was aware of something but she would not accept. Possibly the mother was very scared of the damage to the reputation. Then in my one to one session with the mother, I told her, that whatever the child is saying or doing or imagining is not okay, so may be we could therapeutically see if this is okay or not. The mother agreed for only that much. At least I got the permission to work with the child. At least the mother agreed to take care. She said that hence forth I will see that I am there with her when anybody is around. She didn’t agree for the abuse, but at least this. The sessions were conducted with the girl. The girl has serious self esteem issues with regards to her looks. She feels she is not worth it, she feels that she doesn’t deserve love. So we concluded that these are the vulnerable areas and if someone supports her in these areas, they can really take advantage of the girl. She doesn’t even feel that anyone should love her simply because she has a very distorted face. Slowly the girl started confiding in me, initially with the teacher. The secret part of it was very strong. Whatever we could find out was through games and puppets, so I had to become the daughter, she had to become the father. Then she would do to me what a father does to a daughter. We had to do this also because somewhere the expression was lacking. There were lots of things for her to explain, and most of the things she herself didn’t understand or didn’t have the vocabulary for that. This went on for a few sessions. Then it started becoming evident that the girl was missing her father. The grooming was very well done. For her again sex became love. The girl loved that particular teacher a lot, so the girl would go to the teacher and touch her breasts and then try to touch the vagina part properly. The way she would do this the teacher understood that this cannot be imagination, because it is very clear traumatic sexualisation. When the child missed something and wanted to express love, the child would do this. Slowly with rapport building, I was also able to see traumatic sexualisation with me. Because again I know that there was a sharing of understanding, love, and affection. So now she has to unlearn everything and relearn the appropriate behaviour. Right now she has to deal with a lot of things – the betrayal, the confusion that she is okay with something, but the society is not, the safety rules, why is it a secret. Then I again had a session with the mother that whether you agree or not, whether it is the father or not, be sure that the girl is sexually abused. There were strong symptoms, so she had to decide and tell me that she had to work on it or not. The mother was shocked. She hasn’t accepted that it is the father, but she has accepted that her daughter has been sexually abused. What I understood from talking to the mother is that she had to struggle a lot for bringing the child to this level. The child has had around eight surgeries till date. And the mother did all this single handed. So the mother has always been very possessive, but at the same time she has had strong notions of right and wrong. So expression is completely missing, there is no space for it. Even non verbal expression is missing. Since the mother has specifications of how her daughter should sit, stand, and behave, the child knows that this kind of touch will not be liked by my mother. So the mother was completely baffled when the teacher and I shared about the sexualised behaviour and kind of touch. She said that her daughter never did that to her. But the statements the child was making and her behaviour were clear evidence that she was imitating someone, and it was traumatic sexualisation. The mother recalled that the daughter had got epileptic attacks twice. Both the times when she was with the father. So I told her that epileptic attacks could happen because of extreme stress and confusion. We are still working the child and the process is on.’

Anupriya, counsellor, Arpan (a NGO to fight child sex abuse)

Good Touch / Bad Touch

‘A nine-year-old child use to live with the grandmother. Both the parents were working, and the grandmother was pretty old. By old I mean that she wasn’t active and had a problem with walking around much. So she was a caregiver who falls in the category of disabled. This child was an independent and happy child. There was a twenty year old boy, and he used to stay in the same locality, who knew the child but never had been to the place. They lived in the chawl kind of set up were everyone knew everyone. So one day he comes and visits the grandmother. He talks to her, tells her that he stays here. Gives food to the grandmother, makes a connection. Mostly these kinds of connections are made through food. There is a relationship that is being built. In the evening he meets the girl’s parents. Everything is good. The child has understood that okay, he is somebody who is known to the family and everyone trusts him. He sees and notices that the grandmother is having difficulty in taking care of this girl, so he offers his help by saying that you know I am around the same area as her school in the evening, so I will get her home everyday at four pm. He asks are you okay with that? The grandmother was happy. The grandmother says thank you. So every evening he brings the girl back from school. Very nicely he would bring her back, give her eatables or something on the way. So she make the connection that yes this is a nice uncle a happy uncle gives me food and all. The connection is made. There was lot of pleasantness involved and then he would leave the girl at 4pm. That kind of situation continued for a month or so. Nothing happened. After a month, he started patting her on the head. For a child the head is a very sacred touch. They feel good. It is not a back or something. The girl had no idea about the feeling and touch connection. The difference between a good touch and a bad touch. The boy was getting gratification out of it. Then the touch increased one step at a time. It went to the shoulders. Everything while coming back from school. After every act, however small the act may be, he would give the girl some food. That time a child’s neurons are developing, so the concepts start getting crystallised. You have some questions, you get some answers, and you say, okay, this is what it is. So this girl started feeling that touch is love. Touch is affection. And food also got associated with that. And one day he took the girl to one of the lonely corners of the colony and tried to touch her breasts. The girl did not like it, but she couldn’t understand what was happening, the girl only said, “I am not liking it.” So the boy said “okay okay, we’ll go. But this is our secret, this is our game.” So they went, had some food, and then went home. Next day same thing happened. By this time the girl was comfortable, because this thing was not new for her. She had accommodated that part. Then once she was used to this, something extra [further] happened. This continued for quite sometime. One of the NGO working in the community was having an awareness session around that area, with elder women. The girl overheard everything. What is contact abuse what is non contact abuse. She came to the social worker she said “everything is happening to me, but I never thought that this is so bad or something.” When the social worker brought her here, the boy had reached the point where he had inserted his finger in her vagina. Then we counselled her, took other steps. They shifted because the boy was a big politician’s son. Finally even after the abuse stopped, the impact was so strong that the girl would run out of the house at 4 pm. The girl would get so restless. Because there were a lot of things connected to that. There was affection connected, food connected, and something suddenly got missing because the abuser was not there. This is the impact of grooming, which had continued for around a year.’

Anupriya, counsellor Arpan (a NGO to fight child sex abuse)

From The News: Teenage girl accuses neighbour of rape

‘Three days after a case of assault was lodged against a neighbour on her parents’ complaint, a 16-year-old girl, who is speech and hearing impaired, alleged on Sunday that she was raped by him at his house in Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar. The girl’s father, a farmer, told the police that he came to know about the rape after the girl told his wife about it last evening. The police have sent the girl for medical examination and the report is awaited. The accused, Lallu Yadav, a neighbour, is missing. “We have initiated an inquiry into the new allegation made by the father. The picture will be clear after the medical report,” said Shashi Pandey, Jamo police station officer. The girl is a resident of Katari village under Jamo police circle. The accused lives nearby. The father said that since the girl was speech and hearing impaired, they initially could not understand her properly. “On Saturday, she described the incident to her mother through signs,” said the SO. According to the police, on Thursday, the girl’s father filed an FIR against Lallu Yadav under Section 354 of the IPC.’ From External Website that opens in a new window

From The News: Three CRPF men to face DNA test for rape

‘Three CRPF constables will be facing DNA test in the rape case of a 12 year old deaf, speech imparied and mentally challenged girl. She was an inmate of Sai Vikas School for Mentally Retarded run by an NGO at Bheemaram. The incident came to light here on September 29. By then the girl was seven months pregnant. She was admitted to hospital on November 13.She gave birth to a girl child prematurely and the baby died within a few hours despite being kept in the neonatal intensive care unit. Hospital authorities, as a precautionary measure, collected the blood sample of the child. The school, near Hanamkonda, is running for many years. There is a CRPF camp next to it. Three CRPF constables are suspected to have entered the school premises, threatened the girl and committed the offence. It is also alleged that the school management, despite learning about the incident, kept it under wraps. When the media exposed it all, police registered a case and arrested the school administrator Sitayamma following instructions from district collector Rahul Bojja. The school is run under the supervision of the women and child welfare department. However, it has become difficult for police to identify the culprits as CRPF battalions move out of the camp every three months. Police enquired about the constables who stayed at the camp seven months before the incident and traced them to another location. According to police out of the total 150 constables, police shortlisted 50 as possible suspects.’ From External Website that opens in a new window