This post is written by the five awesome women who started this initiative. Read more and support the initiative.
The CSAAM blog was launched on April 1, 2011, with over 40 bloggers (and more coming in as we write this) posting on various topics related to CSAAM on their blogs, survivors sending in their stories and experts in the field posting on issues related to CSAAM.
The CSA blog which gets updated every day, has a survivor story, a cross-posting from the blogosphere and one expert post every single day for the entire month. Apart from these, we are also initiating twitter chats on the issue with experts like Anuja Gupta from RAHI, and director Onir whose movie ‘I Am’ deals with one of the characters being a CSA victim.
Through this concerted effort we hope to bring Child Sexual Abuse out of the closet and teach parents how to educate their children about predators, preventing their children from being abused and knowing how to deal with such a situation should it occur.
We are a core team of 5 people now working on Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, handling the CSA email id, interacting with NGO’s to take the initiative offline and handling PR. But that’s not all, there are hundreds out there supporting us. Below is an account from each member of this team.
It started with a casual discussion between two bloggers and parents during a long drive back to Mumbai, from a nearby hill station, about how common child sexual abuse is in this country and outrage that it was one of those topics which never ever gets talked about. And from there came the idea to use the blogosphere as a medium to spread the message of Child Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention.
Details were quickly hashed out, and April was announced as the month wherein interested bloggers and parents would post their thoughts on CSAAM and the plan was to cross post these on a special blog, dedicated just for this purpose. Survivor stories were invited. NGOs working in this field, and having credible work to their name were approached and asked for inputs. The rush was incredible, the revelation that almost everyone had a story to tell, scary.
It has been an exhilarating experience, for the catharsis most victims experience when writing down their stories, from the responses we are getting from people who assumed the figures weren’t that widespread and that it didn’t happen to ‘people like us’. The fact of the matter is that CSA happens across SECs and geographical divides, and even genders. Boys are as susceptible to abuse as girls are, in fact more, because parents are mistakenly not as alert about boys as they are about their girls. Through the first week that the CSA Initiative has been on, we’ve got bouquets and brickbats, well wishers who are plunging in to help spread the word and trolls who have been attacking us for talking about this ‘non issue’. We have three weeks to go, and we know, this is going to be something we’re going to be proud that we took up.
As a subject Child Sexual Abuse is really close to my heart. I have been abused when I was a child and I know how traumatic it is. I have known some victims who were severely abused and it affected their life badly as an adult. And the worst part is that it’s one of those things which is hushed under the carpet. Good people don’t talk about the S word please. Now that I am a mother myself the subject and the lack of information and awareness on the same haunts me. So when in a general conversation an idea came up to do something about it. I instantly knew that I have to do this. I have to do this for my own healing, I have to do this for my son and I have to do this for anyone I can save.
We first shared the details of this initiative with a close group of friends and it was heart breaking to see how many of us were victims ourselves and since that time there has been no looking back in the support which is pouring in from everyone, survivor stories coming in one after the other and each one more depressing and scary than the one before. But these are stories that need to be told, need to be shared. Not just to give the victim much needed outlet but also to make everyone else around us realise that it could happen to anyone of us. The abuser is a just normal person lurking around ready to pounce if we are not careful.
We are just in the first week of the initiative and I think I have felt all degree of emotions possible and gone into a state where I am numb but whenever I see despair overpowering me, I look at my son and I know I have to do this. Our kids deserve a world better than this. Our kids deserve a safe world. They are more precious than the so called shame and we have to speak up for them.
In the end I would say even if I am able to make a difference to the thinking of one parent I would say the effort was worth it.
When Monika first mentioned the “Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month” initiative, I knew I had to participate. CSA is among the few things I feel very strongly about. And the very fact that people don’t talk about it, is responsible for children getting victimized and abusers walking free. More than 50% of children have confessed of some degree of abuse at some point or the other in their growing up years. And in most cases the abuser has been someone they trusted.
So whether we like it or not, whether we talk about it or not, CSA is rampant and it needs to stop. Creating awareness in our view is the first step towards prevention. The social stigma has long been associated with the victim. The burden of shame has long been on the tender shoulder of the abused. The families in most cases ignore the signs and even if they notice they try and hush the matter.
Through this initiative we wish to create awareness about the issue, alert parents on the signs, inform parents on how to educate their children about good and bad touch. The response we have received since this initiative went on air is heartwarming. A number of survivors have come up to tell their stories. From anger to disgust to helplessness, we have gone through all these emotions while reading these survivor stories.
The tools we have used so far are blog – for expert opinions, resources, and survivor stories. A number of bloggers are writing about CSA on their blogs as well. We will be conducting Twitter chats on the issue. We are also talking to NGO’s who have come forward in support of this to conduct workshops etc.
Iya Bhatia Malhotra
I was brought up by a mother and aunt who were paranoid about my safety and made no bones about it. When they thought I was ready for it, they taught me how to protect myself. I have tried to replicate the protection I enjoyed for my own child and I hope to help other parents and care-givers form their own circles of protection, through our initiative. Even more strongly, I hope to activate more adults to recognize and punish CSA so severely that perpetrators will think twice before attacking another one of our children. My dearest friends and relatives have suffered various degrees of abuse as children and I am in this initiative for them as much as for my son and his peers.
Child Sexual Abuse Awareness has always been a topic close to my heart. Only that I had never shared it with anyone because the subject is too sensitive and everyone I knew acted as if it happened only to other people. When the CSAM initiative began, I immediately knew this was my call. And hearing the stories from the CSA survivors broke my heart and at the same time made me stronger. And I knew we were going in the right direction. Parents play the most important part in preventing CSA and also in the healing process. I will be very much content if this awareness drive educates even one parent. Because it means – one child saved.
You can reach out to the team through any of the following mediums:
Blog – http://csaawarenessmonth.wordpress.com/
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
We are on Facebook – the FB page
Twitter – @CSAAwareness
You can support us and spread the word by writing on your blog about CSA with the badge and “CSAAM April 2011” in the heading and link it to the main blog