BHOPAL: Girls from childhood are taught not to talk to strangers, stay away from unknown persons and be safe from them but nobody warns them to be safe from those who they know. No one tends to accept the fact that a person who is trusted and known to everyone, a teacher, a relative, an uncle or a cousin can sometimes be even more dangerous than a stranger. They also can touch girls inappropriately, try to harass them, abuse them and scare them. No one wants to see the thin line that differentiates affection and care from bestiality. The seemingly innocuous overtures which parents tend to downplay can ruin the life of their girls, the scars of ignominy and injustice haunting them forever.

Hirika Bhatt (changed name), 25, suffers from anxiety attacks, gets suicidal thoughts and often chills out by inflicting cuts on her arms and thighs. When you meet her, she seems like any other girl, jolly and happy but deep inside she fights with her anxiety and blames herself for being in the situation she faced. “My cousin still visits us,” this is all she could say before breaking into tears. She continues, “I don’t remember when exactly it started but I remember that it stopped when I left home for college. I told my mother about it but she said I was mistaking his care for something else. The plight is that I still have to face him when I go home because nobody believes me and he behaves as if he has done nothing.” Hirika is taking continuous counselling from psychologists but there is no respite for her. She has been to Dr Ruma Bhattacharya, Dr Vaibhav Dubey and many other eminent names but she did not find peace. She has now turned to past life healing process and relief through hypnotism and has joined yoga to relax. She says, “I am trying everything, I don’t know what will help me. So this is the only way left, to try everything.”

Ayushi Goyal (changed name), is 21 years old and has just entered college. She has grown up more than her age and shares, “I used to go for mathematics tuition as I was very weak in the subject. The teacher very often used to stop me after class to take ‘extra’ class. He used to sit very close and touch me while teaching me. One day, he stopped me and the lights went out. Suddenly I felt a hand grabbing me tightly. Before I could shout, he closed my mouth with his hands and started touching me inappropriately. I kicked and slapped him and escaped his grip, threw everything I found and ran. I ran till I reached my friend’s house and uncle dropped me home. I told my mother what had happened. I don’t know what my parents did but I was never asked to go for tuitions and was never asked to secure good marks or for anything. I sometimes feel that my parents are ashamed of what happened. Things changed a lot from that day,” she says.

Dr Ruma Bhattacharya, who has been counselling people in cases like these says people who suffer child abuse are very delicate and need a lot of care and patience. “Since, they suffer from such heinous acts at an age when children know nothing about sexual abuse, they initially don’t understand the difference between a good touch and bad touch. It is very important to teach children about good and bad touch through codes and also talking to them about how the day went, what new things happened, what they learnt and everything about them so that they know it beforehand if anything wrong is happening with their child,” she said.

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