It should never be too late to speak up and break the silence on child sexual abuse

Purnima Govindarajulu
Posted March 3, 2018 from Canada
Child sexual abuse rips children apart
Child sexual abuse destroys childhoods and leaves traumatic impacts on survivors for life

I am a survivor of child sexual abuse.

Like most children subjected to this horror, I imagined that it was my fault and that this happened because I was a bad child. It was not until I was an adult that I realized that what happened to me had a name and that there were laws against it and that I could have called out for help.

As an adult, I have been trying to break the silence and taboo around talking about child sexual abuse. The first circle of silence that I broke was within my own family and friends. I did this to protect my nieces and other children within our immediate social group. But I then realized that I was already too late as at least one other cousin had already suffered abuse by the same molester. Since most child molesters are family members or friends, it is difficult to take a strong stand against them. This reluctance to face the criminal within the family gives child molesters social license to carry on abusing more children.

More recently, I realized that in the face of family reluctance to take action, the only way a survivor can prevent the molester from continuing to abuse other children is to take legal action. However, when I tried to do this in Chennai, India where the abuse had taken place, I ran into the "statute of limitations" - this is the time limit on filing complaints of child sexual abuse for adult survivors like me.The offences against me fell outside the limitation period, and so charges could not be brought forward.

So, I launched a campaign to change the law in India: https://www.change.org/p/stop-repeat-offences-by-child-molesters-allow-a.... The petition has now been signed by over 169,000 supporters. Some of those who have signed may be silent survivors of child sexual abuse. Please support my petition as our voices are now being heard by society and by decision makers.

On January 29th, 2018 I was able to meet with the Indian Minister of Women and Child Development, Ms. Maneka Gandhi. The Minister has promised her support to have the statute of limitation amended so that there will be no legal time limit to when child sexual abuse can be reported.The meeting was also widely reported in the media, and is gathering support worldwide.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/nishitajha/india-child-abuse-statute-of-limitat...

http://www.bbc.com/hindi/india-42942884

I also met with the Chairperson of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and her advisors to discuss the legislative steps that need to be taken to effect this change. I want to petition the Indian parliament to amend the old outdated law that keeps adult survivors of child sexual abuse in silence by limiting the time that they can report the crime. The short time frame allowed for reporting inadvertently protects child molesters and enables them to continue abusing more children and destroying childhoods.

Please support me by signing my petition: https://www.change.org/p/stop-repeat-offences-by-child-molesters-allow-a.... Help me and other survivors break the silence that provides tacit protection to child molesters. Help us prevent repeat offences by child molesters.

Comments 17

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MagiOriah
Mar 03
Mar 03

Thank you for your courageous action and telling your story.  Personally grateful as I am a survivor of childhood molestation as well. I have also wrestled with believing that something is wrong with me or I was bad.  I can truly relate.  Blessings to you.

jlanghus
Mar 04
Mar 04

Hi Magi. Did you ever overcome it? I'm still struggling with this paradigm of not feeling good enough. I feel like I'm slowly getting there but it's very frustrating and I always think about all the girls and women out there that are being subjected to abuse or have gone through it and how this belief is affecting them as well.

Thank-you for sending your good wishes. We know it is not us who have done anything wrong. I am sure you are courageous too.

jlanghus
Mar 04
Mar 04

Hi Purnima. Thanks for sharing your story and petition. I can relate to not wanting to speak up about childhood abuse as well. I still struggle with this. I have signed your petition. Please keep us posted on your progress with it. Also, you may want to submit your story for the World Pulse "You Are a Silence Breaker" story awards currently running: https://www.worldpulse.com/en/voices-rising/story-awards/83055

Thank-you for your support and the information on the Silence Breaker stories. Speaking out is something we do to support each other.

jlanghus
Mar 07
Mar 07

You're very welcome. I totally agree:) Have a great day!

Olutosin
Mar 04
Mar 04

Thanks so much for sharing your story and breaking the silence surrounding this issue. Love to you.

Thank-you for responding to my story...all my best to you.

Tamarack Verrall
Mar 07
Mar 07

Hi Purnima,

You have not only provided a story which helps others recognize how difficult it is to speak out within the family, and how rare support comes. You have taken what happened to you right to the Government, and convinced them to work with you to change laws. What a victory for you and for many who need that legal channel that was a hurdle for you. You are an inspiration that we all have the right to demand that our governments change to protect us. Big congratulations!

We all do our best to take small steps in the hope that we can make a difference. Thanks so much for you kind words.

Lily Habesha
Mar 08
Mar 08

Purnima,
It's never too late to uncover your childhood story to brake the silence.
Thank you for sharing your story.

Lily

Thanks Lily

Wendy Stebbins
Mar 08
Mar 08

Yay, Purnema! You are amazing

Thanks Wendy. We all do what we can, when we are able.

Hello, Purnima,

I was molested as a child, too, but the three incidents took place outside our home. As an adult, I also had been molested in my grandma's home. So I feel you and the rest of the girls who are survivors of this trauma.

I already signed your petition. Thank you for spearheading this cause!

We sure are stronger together. Thanks so much for responding and for sharing your story. Hopefully more voices, like yours, will help to protect others in the future.

Harris Namutebi
Aug 11
Aug 11

This is great work.