Closing Note CSAAM 2014

And with this, ladies and gentlemen, we, the CSAAM team take a bow. It is the end of a very fulfilling month, the fourth month of its kind since the time we began in 2011. Over the years, we have had twitter chats with experts, blogathons across blogs re CSA, survivor stories, and this year we’ve moved forward with two full days of a twitterthon and an offline event where experts on the subject came together on one panel to speak to parents about CSA and the ever present danger and how they can equip themselves with knowledge and information to protect their children. We would like to thank all the wonderful organisations that made this event possible, yowoto.com, Arpan, Podar Educational Trust, special mention to Janice Goveas and Meera Warrier, Majlis and Dr Avinash D’souza. We would also like to thank Blogadda, Arpan, TULIR , The Alternative, for their unflinching support this year, as always.

The CSAAM team is made of volunteers from diverse backgrounds, mothers, professionals, survivors and more. Every year this team works diligently behind the scenes to make sure that we reach out to a maximum number of people.

Here is what our team members have to say about this month and their experiences:

Supriya Maulick Mahajan, a lawyer by profession, currently on a sabbatical.

I have been associated with CSAAM since 2012. I’d like to think I’m helping to save the world one child at a time. If CSAAM has helped even one person in all these years, I’d say we have been successful. Though I’m not a parent yet, I keep telling my friends with kids to be careful, direct them to read the blogs. Sometimes they ask me if I had a ‘bad experience’ as a child and if that’s why I’m paranoid, but when a friend recently got suspicious of a watchman in her colony because of what I’d keep telling her because he’d keep giving them toffees & sweets, being over-friendly with them. I also did get a big thank you later and a promise to pay more attention henceforth.

 

PS – The watchman claimed to be missing his children who were in the village but he was warned from being too friendly with kids or giving them anything to eat. At her insistence, and at the insistence of several other parents, the watchman was also moved to a night shift so no interaction with kids.

 

Ruth D’souza, work-from-home content writer mom

This is my second year of contributing to CSA Awareness Month. It is a subject that I am honestly terrified of, considering I have a 7 year old daughter. I sometimes run the risk of being the paranoid parent… I have always tried to face my fears and overcome them and through the articles I wrote this year for CSA Awareness month, I have learnt the importance of legal recourse, the necessity of emotional support and the fact that there is help around, even if not always at the right time. Awareness, I believe is the first step to helping solve an issue of this magnitude and I am just glad I got a forum of this nature to do my bit.

Uma Nigith

It had been only a few weeks since my uncle passed away and I was really, really sad. He was the only brother of my father that I was close to. It was a very difficult time and life as it was started to feel meaningless. I felt what did he achieve when he left all of us all of a sudden. It was kind of a shock for me and tears were just not drying up. That’s the time when Rashmi, my dear friend, in fact I would call her my soul sister, told me about CSAAM. She
had volunteered earlier since it is close to her heart. She told me about it and asked if I would like to volunteer. I am a survivor and I was more than happy to since I was in a place where I dint find any meaning to life.
In my introduction, I think that exactly how I described myself as a person who is lost. The first few days with the team were like okay, there are a group of ladies who are doing some stuff to promote awareness of CSA. Not knowing what to do, how to do it, every one
from Kiran to Sunayana helped. Then the stories started coming in. Some were personal experiences, some were news articles, some were information about the various aspects of CSA.  Experiences of men and women who underwent abuse as children. Victims of CSA who were abused once or through a span of years together. News of people abusing children as young as 18 months. News of people being arrested (that would make me feel a little better).The aspects of CSA ranged from physical and psychological effects of CSA to legal implications of being a perpetrator. It was truly an overdose of information that would leave me in tears most of the days. I would not have a peaceful day. I even contemplating just
disappearing from the group but then I realised it is so hard for me since I have not got closure myself.  I spoke to someone and she helped me to tell my whole story and finally find peace after more than 25 years. Yes, we do carry them for quite some time. Now I feel
like I can walk with my shoulders straight not drooping.  I don’t have to please everyone. I am not a bad girl. And my husband and any other man who knew me was lucky to know me and not the other way round. I have finally found peace. And I know what I want to do with my life now. Me and Rashmi plan to do something about CSA Awareness in schools. We are
looking to do the base work and once I am back in India, we will start with the actuals.
I also realised that I am lucky.
Compared to the many abused children trapped inside the bodies of adults, I am lucky to have been able to release the little five year old and tell her it’s not your fault.
So while I may not have done much for CSAAM, being a part of CSAAM has
done a lot for me. next year I will be able to do much more than this year.

 

Rashmi Balakrishnan, full-time daughter, sister, wife and mother. Instructional designer by profession.

I cannot really remember how I arrived at the CSAAM page on Facebook, but there I was. And I felt at home. It is surprising how I have a family with the CSAAM team now. Relationships formed entirely through emails, tweets and stories.

Getting to know the team helped me empower myself. Two months of CSAAM has been therapeutic for me. I’ve healed…I’ve arrived …I’ve become a better human.

I do not aim to change the world. I hope to change a few lives.

CSA is very close to my heart and it means the world to me to be a part of this team. While juggling the various roles of that of a daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend and employee, it’s during the few hours I spend for CSAAM where I meet myself. And I like the ‘me’ I see.

Thank you, team!

Proud to know such beautiful and strong souls.

Suhasini Rao, Lawyer, amateur philosopher, an eccentric traveller and a lifelong bibliophile.

This is my first year making a conscious decision to support CSA awareness.

 

I have spent time understanding the phenomenon of heinous sexual offences while I worked in Africa. The horrors of war leave scars far beyond those that actually carry them. So it was a much needed break for me when I chose to professionally move away from the world of criminal justice three years ago.

 

This year, a chance conversation with a fellow thinker opened up the thought process once again. Being a part of the CSA Awareness Team has been nothing short of a reaffirmation of the strength of the human spirit!

 

While I haven’t been particularly hands-on with the 2014 project, I have been watching and listening and learning. I find there to be a very great need for awareness of the more functional aspects of dealing with CSA – for instance, knowing your rights, access to the justice process and medical assistance.

 

I hope to contribute far more in tangible outcomes in the year to come by. After all, every child has the right to a safe, healthy and happy childhood.

 

Rajni Arun Kumar, part time author and amateur photographer, full time mum and traveller. Occasionally good for a few laughs. 
When I first heard about CSAAM, I thought, ‘Wow. Finally a group of ladies who’re doing something about the problem.’ And I promised myself I’d do something when I finally move to India. Then, when Kiran asked for volunteers for this year’s CSAAM, I jumped at the opportunity. I mean, I had no clue about what was expected, but I really wanted to help.

The bunch of ladies I was introduced to, were nothing short of spectacular. I’m still in awe of most of them and the work they do. And why wouldn’t I be, here they were, each with their own busy lives with a million things to do, yet they felt strongly enough about Child Sexual Abuse Awareness to make the time for creating and publishing posts, researching articles, organising twitterthons and arranging for interviews with counsellors, CSA survivors, medical professionals and legal eagles. I didn’t think I was contributing much, but I was just happy to be involved.

What I didn’t realise when I signed up was just how much I would learn. And this is what it taught me: Awareness. A key factor to stopping instances of Child Sexual Abuse is awareness that it happens, it happens everywhere and it could happen in your home, to your kids. I spoke about CSA on my blog, in the Whatsapp groups I’m a member of, to parents in my son’s school. And the more I spoke about it, the more I hoped I was helping people spot signs of abuse, encouraging parents to talk to their children about good and bad touches… making sure their children are protected.

Most of all, there was awareness in my home. We had chats with the children about good and
bad touches, what to do in case they feel unsafe. In a way, empowering my children to make safe, sensible decisions. Thank you CSAAM team. I hope I can be a part of this wonderful effort every single year.

 

Rekha S Nair – Management Professional and Cat Mommy.

This is my first year of association with CSAAM and although I have played a miniscule role in the larger scheme of things, this past month has been an incredible eye opener. My role was to collate data for the CSA In The News segment. Every single morning, I would get down to my task, hoping and praying that, for once, I would not get any new reported cases of CSA. Sadly, there always was at least one that popped up on my screen. Mondays were the toughest because there would be a plethora of reports of children being sexually abused and raped.

Although, I have had a couple of friends who were brutally abused sexually as children and have mentored CSA victims, the magnitude of the problem had never hit home as it did this month. I do not have kids but there are kids in my life that I love and when I think of them and so many million others who are horribly at risk, I feel that not enough is said, not enough is known and not enough is being done about CSA.  I hope to continue being a part of this group in the months and years to come because, mother or not, I would really like to have done my bit towards making a better world for our kids.

 

KAMiNi GOPAL – ex-ecologist and wildlife biologist leading a conservationist lifestyle by passion; presently: baker, citizen, fellow human.

I was posting some links about a celeb CSA case which shocked me for the way the abused child (now adult) was vilified just because the accused abuser was a well loved person. At that time Sue asked me if I’d like to volunteer for this year’s CSAAM work. I have been following it each year and somehow assumed you have to be a blogger to be a part of this effort. Once it was clarified that I didn’t have to be one – I was happy to be a part of this. Unfortunately, work and other problems meant I contributed little, but being with this amazingly dedicated group of women who are doing so much to create awareness has been wonderful. The stories, despite years of reading about CSA, continue to shock and horrify me. If they didn’t we’d have no business being here.

Being so closely involved has made me more aware of my role as a parent too. I’m far too trusting and this keeps reminding me that vigilance is important and abusers are just about EVERYWHERE.

What I’m most proud of for this year is getting my cousin to tell her survivor story. Her telling it has led to her helping a few other women and I’m happy that this has made a difference in people’s lives. Isn’t that what we’re all working towards here?

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