A CSA survivor’s friends share their stories of support in dealing with abuse

With friends, CSA survivors have a bigger family to love, accept and unconditionally support your struggle to emerge from a difficult past.


As a part of Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month, Sitara Appukuttan gathered the courage to share her story of surviving child sexual abuse.  The courage, nor the words that it was realized in, would have been possible without a strong support system of friends.

Some of her closest friends share the journey of knowing her, learning about her past, helping her heal from it and the strong friends and people they became.

Representational image
Pic – Vinoth Chandar | Flickr

Shijy Vijay 

Sithara is my friend since 5 years she is more like a little sister to me. We became such good friends because we shared our story of sexual abuse, which I trusted with nobody before. But from then on I knew we were going to have each others’ backs. Once I learned about Sithara, I was shocked that there were other people who went through this horrible ordeal. It used to depress me. Over the years, we have both promised ourselves that we will do something about this so that it doesn’t happen to another kid. Sithara will always be the person who opened my eyes to such a horrible thing that was affecting me with me not realising it. I hope we will put an end to this soon together.

Satins Love

I have known Sithara for more than a year now, and there is always a charming bubbly attitude I see in her, every time we connect and talk. However, as a human being who has been sexually abused too, I found the little girl subduing her emotions. I never realized this at first, but when she continuously volunteered to help people on social networking sites to speak up about child sexual abuse, that’s when it dawned on me that she could be a closeted victim who needed someone to hear her. I wouldn’t say I did much to help her, but yes, I somehow managed to help her come out of the guilt feeling of being abused. It is a gradual journey of healing and moving on, and even I am going through the same. But with each other around to talk to, it gets easier to forget what happened in the past and to tell those who battle the traumas of child sexual abuse, that life gets better. This is what I now see in Sithara: a rising activist and a brave girl, so young but determined to set things right in the male dominated and misogynistic patriarchal society.

Soumyadeep Koel

In my experience with domestic violence, rape, and child sexual abuse survivors, I’ve learnt that when supporting and advising a survivor of child sexual abuse, we have to follow three ways:

Firstly, we have to remember that she has experienced sexual abuse and violence, when her brain and psyche is in the deep course of their formation. So, in most cases, her brainwaves are altered. She’d assess a potential threat as a harmless approach, and associate danger with an innocuous move. She’d be willing to forgive her abuser and show an inclination to fall into the same trap. It’s our duty to make her differentiate the truth from the nuances of a veritable promise and a rosy subterfuge.

Secondly, we should never, ever sugar coat the truth from her. It should be disclosed right off the bat, or by patient counselling, as per the gravity of the situation.

Thirdly, and most importantly, we have to be very, very patient with her. As I’ve already said, the survivor might show altered spectrum of thinking and would associate emotions quite differently from a so-called normal person. We need to have a listening ear, we have to respect her and treat her with ample love.

Kannu Joseph

Sithara and I were introduced to each by a common friend. We mainly interacted on a chat messenger. Sithara has been through various emotional states during the past few months as she prepared to open up and write her story. Being abused as a child or working to rehabilitate the abused is very heavy on the psyche. One tends to reach out to friends rather than family to re-knit the circle of trust and safety. Sithara’s case has followed a similar path. I felt handicapped in offering my help, and not sure which words may have helped her as such scars run deep and the stimuli being present all around. But with every story out in the open, a flower gets a chance to bloom again, to reach the full potential that our creator intended for each one of us.

Mohanlal

Life’s story is nothing but how one finds and arranges the pieces of jigsaw of puzzled life. Before arranging it perfectly, one can never be strong and outstanding. I met this energetic, always smiling, positive thinking girl through a mutual friend. She’s such a charming girl that one can’t keep oneself away. So like any one else, I too became her friend and I was learning her way of spending the life with that giggly face. But deep down I was knowing that one can never be such positively charged unless he or she had that dark shaded piece of that jigsaw. And there came a moment when she shared her pain herself, her story that had the darkest shade like she never wanted to accept that part of life to herself.

She was broken, saying that recalling is dying. She cried every time she share that part of herself. I have never truly understood lonesome, or in the least oppressed by a sense of solitude until I perceived her. I too wasn’t able to bear her pain. I did my part of rectitude. I encouraged her to face the darkest and to learn how to laugh on that with grabbing a lesson; not only laugh but to enjoy sarcasm, though life isn’t a monochromatic depiction. It has to be of lightest prettiest colors now, if she already had that darkest of shades. And fortuitously she agreed on to face her inner fear, to fight. With mine and other friend’s suggestions, Sithara opened up. With all of her will she shared her sufferings with everyone. She had a vision that no other will suffer like she did. She faced her inner demon and slayed it. And I was happy that I did something meaningful to her.

Not only she, even I was content over my part. It was worthwhile for me too. It meant something for me. And by doing so I never realized when she started calling me “momma” and I was acting like one. But every time she calls me “momma” I feel proud; proud to be friends with such a wonderful person, a strong idealist filled with uncanny power; proud to be part of the positive change she is bringing to the society. I am pretty sure that she definitely has searched her strongest pieces and arranged them beautifully.

Oshin, Megha, and Shyma

We met in hostel three years ago, and ever since, Sithara or ‘Thuppa’ as she likes to be called is one girl we have looked upon with utter admiration. One amazing quality of her has been that we just have to call out her name and she will be by our side even if she’s in the deepest of pains. She will be soothing us, charming us and holding our hand. And that’s the way she chose to fight her demons. She is a very enthusiastic friend to any one in need; anyone whose gone through a nightmarish childhood. And the count of children who has been victims of sexual abuse is unforgivably inhumane. She knows she can’t help each and every child out there. But by opening up, telling the tale, she has taken the biggest step against sexual abuse…she spread awareness. All mothers, brothers, sisters out there…do not think sexual abuse is something that cannot happen to your kid. If you see a kid acting abnormally, crying without reason, or who is scared, talk to them. Hold them and support them.

Read other stories of child sexual abuse survivors in The Alternative’s I Survived To Tell The Tale series.


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