Working with over 5 lakh children and teens in over 23 countries, Ebenezer has heard innumerable stories from children who have suffered sexual abuse. A victim of abuse himself, he founded ‘Beyond Barriers’, a consultancy that imparts life skills to children, including those that will help them overcome the trauma that accompanies sexual abuse.
My neighbour suddenly started showing me porn clips on his phone.”
“A language teacher, who came home to teach me, started doing things to me that were very uncomfortable. My parents were not at home and I was alone.”
“My brother’s friend started sending me vulgar text messages and I am very uncomfortable.”
“My cousin brother began to do things to me which I did not understand. I was afraid”
“My uncle came home and one evening started touching me inappropriately. When I told my mom, she said, just keep quiet. It is your own uncle”
I have been hearing difficult stories in my 10 years of interactions with children and teens across India. My own story is hardly different. Hence it is relatively easy for me to connect with them.
I vividly remember how very early in life, I was sexually abused by one of my uncles. The incident left me scarred for life. I was afraid to share my story, scared that no one would believe me. There was also the fear of being harmed by my uncle. I would dread being left alone with him in the house. After a period of time, I could almost predict what would happen.
Why did I have to live in the house that my uncle lived in? Well, my mom died when I was fifteen months old. So I was sent to live with my grandparents and at that time my uncle stayed with them too.
A breakthrough came quite unexpectedly. In 1984, after a brief period of living with my grandparents, my father decided that I must be sent to a boarding school in South India. I took a liking to the place instantly since it meant I would be far away from my uncle.
But slowly, I found myself trapped again. Older children in the boarding house began to sexually abuse me. Though I loved the momentary attention it brought me, it also hurt badly. During all instances of suffering abuse, there was no one whom I could trust with my story. Neither parent nor teachers nor mentors.