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Mumbaiites, speaking up about child abuse can be cathartic, says activist Harish Iyer

Every time I spoke, it helped someone else to speak up too, says the activist

mumbai Updated: May 15, 2017 10:01 IST
child abuse,Crimes against minors,Mumbai crime
Activist Harish Iyer.(HT File Photo)

I am a survivor of child sexual abuse, an activist and a face for the cause. But that is today.

It used to be difficult to remember the abuse. It was like parts of a cryptic puzzle, a maze in my head. I would remember some parts but get headaches until I recollected the complete picture. One incident, one person, one location — they would all trigger memories. It wasn’t easy at all. But it was important that I completed that picture in my head.

It took me many years to complete the picture and to confirm to myself that yes, I had been gang-raped as a child.

As the world celebrated its new millennium, I was cursing my newly found adulthood and the memories that came rushing with the maturity it demanded. I would speak up about my abuse as a means to complete the picture in my head.

Speaking about the abuse can be cathartic and therapeutic. I spoke to anyone and everyone who came my way. Every time I spoke, it helped someone else to speak up too. Soon, I realised listening to others was the best way to heal.

But how did the rest of the world treat me in this most difficult time of self-discovery?

I found all the support I could in my dog. I was very upset with my mom for not understanding me when I told her I was bleeding from my private parts, or when I said my uncle hits my back. I understood later that she never knew that male children could even be abused.

My father asked me – “if you were quiet for so many years, were you enjoying it?” My friends started avoiding me.

And that was when I realised how little people knew about child abuse, especially of boys. It was so important for me to speak up and share.

Today, I speak to 60-70 new adult survivors of child sexual abuse. The fact that I had been through something similar but have my life together gives them hope.

First Published: May 15, 2017 10:00 IST