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Trauma lingers long: Horrors of child abuse don’t end with culprit’s arrest

Dr Mahour, who is in the child and adolescent unit of the department, says that victims of up to 90% child abuse cases are girls.

lucknow Updated: May 13, 2017 13:14 IST
Gaurav Saigal
Gaurav Saigal
Lucknow, Hindustan Times
Child sexual abuse,Counselling,Child abuse
Doctors say there’s no specific treatment duration for counselling victims of child abuse.(For representational purpose)

Although it’s a relief for a victim of child abuse when the family reaches out for help and the culprit is put behind bars, experts say the horrors are hardly over. According to doctors, it’s a long journey for children, as terrible memories can come rushing back any minute, impacting their mind and recovery.

Sample this. A middle-aged woman turned up for treatment at the King George’s Medical University (KGMU). She detested men, even those in her family. “Her hatred was such that she was unable to live with her husband. When we counselled her, physical abuse during childhood emerged as the root cause of her problem,” said Dr Pooja Mahour, assistant professor at the department of psychiatry, KGMU.

Dr Mahour, who is in the child and adolescent unit of the department, says that victims of up to 90% child abuse cases are girls.

An eight-year-old patient who came there had been abused by her neighbour. Although the “dirty uncle” was caught and her parents supported her, she couldn’t muster the courage to go out and play. “The physical abuse had caused behavioural problems and anger outbursts towards everyone she met. The culprit was caught and threatened not to repeat the act but the girl continues to live in trauma,” said Dr Mahour.

“For her, school became a problem as she could not concentrate, had dissociated with her with friends, and didn’t respond to teachers. An overall personality change was observed in her,” she added.

Doctors say there’s no specific treatment duration as far as counselling victims of child abuse is concerned.

Dr Devashish Shukla of the department of psychiatry, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, said, “I have a case where the child came to me as an 8-year-old. He’s a 12 now.”

“The mental trauma not only affects the mind (of victim) but impairs physical development too,” he added.

There are those who are brutally assaulted and need multiple surgeries and hospital visits. Prof JD Rawat of the department of paediatric surgery, KGMU, said, “Often the smaller kids (below 5 years) ask why they are made to visit the hospital. Such kids need anywhere from 9 to 12 months for complete surgical treatment.”

Other cases

Case one: An 8-year-old girl told her parents that her neighbour was physically abusing her. The child didn’t understand what was happening with her but was able to talk about the “bad touch” of the “dirty uncle”. The abuser was given a warning. He is free now but the child continues to be under psychological treatment. The family did not lodge a police complaint as they had no proof against the offender.

Case two: A suspected family enmity is the reason why a 10-year-old boy is living with needles in his body. A native of Lakhimpur Kheri, the child was brought to KGMU for treatment when his parents found wounds on his body. Doctors said needles had been inserted in his body, even the skull. They informed the police but no action has been taken in the case so far. Now, neuro-surgeons are discussing how to take the metal out of the boy’s brain.

Case three: A 4-year-old girl is under treatment after being physically abused. The abuse was so savage that her private parts were extensively damaged. She had to be provided with an artificial passage for passing stools for two months. Doctors are waiting for the internal wounds to heal after which they will perform another surgery to remove the artificial passage and construct a natural one.

First Published: May 13, 2017 13:14 IST