sex abuse scars
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Sex abuse survivor: scars take time to heal

By Paromita Pain Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - 01:43
"He sat me down on his lap. My mind went blank. Even at age eight with no experience of anything sexual I knew I had to get away and fast.” Pranaadhika Sinha Devburman says life was cruising along until she was sexually abused by her caretaker.

Pranaadhika's parents separated when she was five. She spent her weekends at her dad’s place. That's where her caretaker abused her sexually. Driven by her own experiences of abuse, in 2004 Pranaadhika set up Elaan, a Kolkata-based organisation to help survivors of sexual abuse.

Abused again “I still remember the colours, smells and everything so vividly. I also remember running to my aunt, the only adult in the house. She didn’t take me seriously. “I didn’t know then that this would be the same tone counsellors would adopt when I looked for professional help. I didn’t speak to anyone else. “At age 13, I was abused again. This time it was an older girl – one I considered a friend. Sonya, age 15, was prone to behaviour we often termed ‘weird’. She would look suggestively at girls. It took a Sidney Sheldon novel to make me realise that she had no business trying to take my underwear off. Healthy sexuality “Why didn’t I speak to my mother? I thought she’d react the same way as my aunt. Then in a discussion came up at school about how trauma can happen to anyone. Finally my teacher helped me speak out about my abuse. And in the end, my parents turned out to be very supportive.

“Reclaiming a healthy sexuality has meant understanding that sex is natural. What is disgusting is when people use sex to manipulate others, especially the young and vulnerable.

Trust “One survivor once asked me, ‘Have you healed completely?’ With the formation of Elaan, I can safely say yes. I respect the past. Maybe the scars will need some more time to disappear but now I know I am not alone. “Forming relationships has sometimes been difficult. It took time for me to trust people and understand that not all people were out to harm me. Today I have two tattoos on my wrists. They are my best reminders that my past is behind me.” Read more about Elaan's fight against child sexual abuse and Pranadhika’s advice on preventing sex abuse. Read more about unwanted sexual behaviour.

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