When I was a kid, a few people always made me feel agitated and annoyed. I never liked meeting them. Due to this, my guardians often thought I was an ill-mannered and mischievous child. The truth, however, was something else. I could never consider them as my relatives or family friends because they were predators. Back then, I didn’t know what the word Pedophile would mean but now I do.
Today I can’t forget all those people who laid their dirty eyes on me while I was a kid. Let’s start with my first ever child-abuse experience. I was perhaps four years old, give or take a few months. One of my neighbors in my village used to play with me. We used to play hide and seek together with other children. While we were hiding, he used to touch my thighs and knees. Being unaware of what good and bad touches were, I used to giggle as the touch felt ticklish to me.
Soon I left to stay with my maternal family. I met him after a few years during one of my visits to my village. At that time I was 6 or 7 years old. During playtime, he would find opportunities to kiss my face and neck. This is when I felt uncomfortable for the first time. The kiss never felt as warm and affectionate as those of my parents and grandparents. It felt dirty. I stopped playing with him and often threw tantrums if he ever came to play with me. He was perhaps 15 years older than me.
When I was in 2nd or 3rd standard, my maternal aunt arranged a home tutor for me. My maternal aunt and uncle were my guardians as I used to stay with them. So the tutor was intelligent and would often help with my subjects. He helped me score good marks and grasp all my lessons. But the price wasn’t just the tuition fee that he charged. For the entire session he taught, he used to touch my back, thighs, and neck. There were times when he would slip his hands beneath my short-sleeve tees and sleeveless tops.
Though I had no bosom then, he still used to touch them. When I asked him to stop, he would say, ‘every time you contradict or disobey me, I will do this.’ Many a time, I asked my maternal aunt to stop him from coming to our home. On the contrary, she thought I was finding excuses to avoid studying.
Once, he hit me on my chest with his bare hands just because I couldn’t recall the lessons he had taught. That day I decided to stop sitting on the same sofa he sat on. I began sitting on a chair while he insisted on sitting on the sofa as it had enough room for four people. One day one of my aunts saw this, and she strictly asked the tutor to avoid touching me. That was one of the bold moves, and I could see him feeling uneasy and restless. Still, he never stopped his maneuvers and I had to endure the abuse till the 5th standard.
Then, I decided to stay with my parents as I thought I would be safer there. How childish of me!
I was admitted to a good school in my hometown. The school was 17-18 KM far, so I had to commute by school bus. The bus driver initially, wasn’t interested in me as there were older girls too. He started noticing me after I hit puberty and underwent natural physical developments in my body. He often asked me to sit on the seats in the cabin. His constant gazes never allowed me to have a nap while we commuted by the bus.
Now comes the teenage abuse part. Once I was traveling with my parents. I remember I was in 7th standard. We were on the train and were headed to my maternal home to celebrate a festival. At a station, a man boarded the train and sat next to me. With my parents being right on the next seat to me, I thought I was safe. It was a huge misunderstanding. While I was napping in my seat, I woke up suddenly as I felt a cold hand on my waist. The man was touching my waistline. I gave him a stern look, and he withdrew his hand. But again, I felt his hand crawling on my back. Yes, he was touching me.
This time, his hand was behind my left arm. He was trying to touch my breasts. Trust me, this was it. I asked him to sit straight and told my parents I was uncomfortable on the seat. To my surprise, my father scolded me to remain seated. Poor me, my father couldn’t see my helplessness in my eyes and restlessness to get away from that predator. Maybe because he was unaware of how cunningly the man was touching me. Since I have never been close to my parents, I couldn’t explain to them what was happening. However, I once again asked the man to stop disturbing me.
These were small incidents of good and bad touch, I have been through during my childhood and teenage. One of my distant cousins abused me to a great extent. It destroyed my childhood and teenage years. There were times when I would fear being alone in the house with him. Even today when I think of all those child-abuse experiences, I feel a chill down the spine.
The point is, children aren’t safe even in their homes. Sinisters are everywhere, lurking in disguise. As an adult, I try to ensure none of my nieces, nephews, and baby cousins go through the same. I believe, as adults, we need to listen to children, especially if they are uncomfortable around certain people. We need to make them feel comfortable to confide in us.
Children are innocent. Even the slightest of bad experiences can have lifetime damage to their personalities. Take it from me. They are not aware of sinister and pedophiles roaming freely in society. Rather, they need to be kept safe.
If you ever come across child abuse situations, please handle the matter as any responsible adult would do. Do not let the child endure the dirty experience. For that reason, children look up to us for their safety and comfort, and we owe them this.
Also Read: The Separation I Couldn’t Accept
Prerna loves to write and shower love on animals. She enjoys reading and exploring places. Though sweet in her pictures, at times, she is difficult to understand. Being a strong believer in hard work and karma, she loves solitude and peace. Apart from this, she loves petrichor and harmony and wishes to achieve her one and only ataraxia for a lifetime.