Friday, April 17, 2009

Incest in India: Victim Talks

P Sowmya* (name changed) was barely out of her college when she got a proposal for marriage from a friend. “I almost jumped at it. We got married even before I was out of college, and left for the United States. Of course, it did not have my family’s consent.”

In the States, life proved tough. Her husband turned out to be an abuser, and it was months before Sowmya could figure out a way to come back to India. “I did not want to go back to my family. I took the help of a lawyer, got divorce and pursued my studies again. It took me a while to get a degree and land a decent job. That phase was nightmarish,” Sowmya recalls with a shudder.

Why did Sowmya choose to accept the first proposal that came her way? “Not because I really liked the guy, but I was desperate to escape my father,” she responded, trying hard not to betray her revulsion.

Sowmya’s father started abusing her sexually ever since she was ten. “When my mother died, it only got more convenient for him. It was sickening, but then he was my dad, who was also showering affection on me and taking care of me…I won’t talk to anyone of that, but at the first opportunity, I left him. I didn’t realize then, the man I chose was worse…”

When prodded, Sowmya confesses to having sexual problems with her husband. “He was just too violent. I could not handle it. I was reminded of my father, again and again,” she says. It is difficult to guess how violent the man was or whether it was the trauma of her childhood that prevented Sowmya from trying to sort out her problems with her husband.

G. Manjula, an activist with a woman’s organization in Chennai observes that Sowmya’s case is typical of child sexual abuse victims. “Such persons are bound to have both psychological and physical problems. If left untreated, they would feel a sense of shame, guilt and betrayal. They would have low self-esteem and feel worthless. CSA victims cannot be comfortable in close relationships. Contrarily, they can also be very dependent and clingy. Physical problems include stomach disturbances, illnesses, aches and pains.

"CSA leaves a deep scar in the child’s mind. Unless healed properly and in time, it would just not be possible for the child to lead a normal life,” adds Manjula.

But Ms.Vidya Reddy, who runs an organization called Tulir-CPHCSA (Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse) in Chennai, asserts that such need not be the case at all and that many can and do summon the inner resources required to get over the trauma and lead a normal life. Of course an appropriate intervention programme and a supportive environment would make a world of difference, she added.

However, she warned,“Most people imagine abusers to be shadowy and frightening strangers with a psychiatric disorder.” In fact, often an abuser is a "regular" person who leads a "routine" life and is known to the victim, but has no inhibition or qualms over having sex with children.” Abusers can range from family members to acquaintances and someone the victim trusts explicitly. Rarely are abusers complete strangers.
Incest in India-How Safe are Our Daughters?



  1. Hi, everything is going fine here and ofcourse
    every one is sharing information, that's in fact excellent, keep up writing.

    Review my page bmi chart for men
    Also see my web site > Bmi Chart for men

  2. Share your information. It might help someone else.