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Archive for the ‘M-Health’ Category

MYTHS AND FACTS ON SEXUAL ABUSE


Believe that Knowledge is Empowerment.

TABEER and ZMQ , we believe in dealing with the issues at their source and attempting to ‘nip it in the bud’ before it gets too late.

As part of our vision to see a safe world for all and the mission is to spread awareness about various health related issues.

With the ‘EmpowerSHE’ initiative– a collaboration between TABEER and ZMQ .Inc , we believe in ‘dreaming’ of a safe world for our young girls and kids.

Our mission: Unveiling the veil of ignorance.”
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On the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the International Women‘s Day 2011 we begin with the awareness against the Sexual Abuse..

There are many myths about sexual abuse and the perpetrators take advantage of these myths in pursuing their beastly acts. Many of these myths and realities one may not find documented in the literature but one learns through a number of years of experience in the field.( Though most of the facts presented are evidence based).

And here they are:

MYTH: Is due to inappropriate dressing/flirting/ seductive talking/going out with friends/drinking/smoking/drugs are the main cause of sexual abuse among adolescents.

FACT: Sexual abuse can NEVER  EVER be justified. No matter what. PERIOD.

MYTH: Good and protective parenting can protect the children from abuse.

FACT: Every parent is a well meaning parent and wants to shelter his/her kid to the maximum But the perpetrators are excellent manipulators and make the parents believe that the kids are safe in their care. The only near ‘sure’ way to protect the child from abuse after he/she has attained reasonable understanding is to empower them with the knowledge about Sexual abuse and that they should not be afraid to speak up if anything happens or was about to happen.
They should be told to realise the difference between the ‘good touch’ and the ‘bad touch’ and should believe in themselves even if they get bad vibes from the closest of relatives or acquaintances.
They should be taught how to remove themselves from the vulnerable situation and to contact parents or whoever they trust the most, as soon as possible

For the parents: They should calmly listen to their children’s complaints and believe in them. The guilt of not being an effective parent often leads them to deny if such a thing to ever happens.

MYTH: Most abusers are strangers:

FACT: On the contrary most abusers are people who the parents or they know and trust. It is important to teach your child of the difference between an acceptable and an unacceptable touch be it anyone unknown or known. In simple words to specify the ‘unacceptable bad touch zone is anything that would be covered by a bathing suit and face.
The kids should be told to report if they get any weird vibes from anyone known or unknown and be it touch, talk , look or even the body language of the person. And for the parents they should listen to the child and believe the child. The perpetrator could very well be an uncle, cousin, friend or even a first of kin (hard to digest but it is a FACT). But, children need to know that we can’t always trust people that we think we can. They need to know how grown-ups can manipulate children.

MYTH: Sexual abuse is limited to intercourse.

FACT: No, even  fondling, touching, rubbing, French kissing, mouth kissing, lewd talk, pornography exposure, exhibitionism , or voyeurism are all acts of sexual abuse and can be extremely damaging to the psyche of the person going through it.

MYTH: Children or girls make up stories of make belief about sexual abuse:

FACT: True, kids of certain age do indulge in make belief. But the research has proven that children DONOT ever make up stories about sexual abuse. They should be believed in whatever they are complaining about. Many times young kids say about the abuse but then retract. This is mainly either due to the fear from the perpetrators or fear of losing the loved or due to the sudden panicky reactions they receive from their parents or loved ones.

MYTH: Sexual abuse is always violent.

FACT: Sexual abuse is a violent crime. But it is not always that it requires the use of force or threatening or weapons. If the perpetrator is a known person, manipulation and seduction could be the modes used for submission of the victim. The child or any person for that matter may be lured with treats or rewards for by complying to the demand. And many a times in dysfunctional families, sexual abuse may be the only form of touch and love that the child gets.
Incest( sexual abuse by close relatives) can involve the subtle seduction of a child, through what amounts to brainwashing.
Some perpetrators get the sexual gratification by passing inappropriate sexual comments or exhibitionism or making the victim view pornography.

MYTHS: Children can stop abuse by just saying no or telling another adults

FACT: They do often pick a child or a person who appears more vulnerable. This child is less likely to be assertive and more easily deceived. Often the abuse escalates over a period of time. The perpetrator tricks the child. The perpetrator also may threaten the child with physical harm, family abandonment, abuse of a sibling or belief that they are bad and he/she would not be touching them unless they had not asked for it.  Teach children to say no and keep telling unless the adult listens.
Perpetrators are powerful and they generally do not take a NO easily unless it is a firm and a repeated no.
Don’t be angry at the child for not having said NO. Focus anger at the perpetrator, not the victim. Sometimes the child tells a parent and is not believed, or the parent confronts the abuser and believes the abuser when told “the child is lying, it was nothing, I won’t do it again.”
Parents should always take action to remove the child from the abuser.

MYTH: You can spot an abuser by how he or she looks. They may look bizarre or mean.

FACT: Unfortunately, there is no tell-tale mark of abusers. they come from all professions and have a vast array of different appearances. They could be a friend, uncle, neighbour, relative, religious preacher, even a teacher, and even a sibling or a parent. (A fact very hard to digest but is very true).
That’s why it’s important that children and teens know that it’s not just strangers that may hurt . At times the children, young girls or even anyone can get ‘weird vibes’ about a person and feel uncomfortable. One should believe one’s inner judgement and remove oneself from such situation or people.

MYTH : Incest( especially the sexual abuse by the parent) occurs when he is not satisfied by his wife?

FACT: Incest –Oh dear it is very hard to even think about it what to talk of discussing it. Incest is a universal taboo, but it exists in nearly all societies. And it is very much existent in our society too.
The most commonly reported by the survivors is the Father-daughter and has nothing to do with his sexual life. It is more of an issue of power as the perpetrators have a history of psychological problems and emotional deprivation. Often the mother is aware but feels powerless and at times colludes for reasons for family or personal reasons–fear of being abandoned by the husband or for daughter’s reputation.
Abuse between siblings should also not be overlooked.

MYTH: Only men are abusers and only women are the victims:

FACT: True, in 90% of cases the perpetrators are men and the victim a woman, but that isn’t always. Young chubby boys are a target of the abusers and especially in closed societies where the access to any form of interaction with the women is limited. The perpetrators may not necessarily be gay.
Women too can be perpetrators though such number is very tiny.

MYTH: It could never happen to me.

FACT: Oh yes it very well could. I could be a man, a woman, a child, of any sexual orientation, young, middle aged, old, a disabled, poor, rich, outgoing, reserved, a hijabi, a moderate.
This is a protective shield we all wear out of fear and denial.
But the fact is anyone including you and me can be assaulted or abused , no matter what. And if some one out there is really out to get you, they can. And it doesn’t matter if the perpetrator is a stranger or a known.
There are no 100% guarantees.
The best is to reduce minimise the risk levels by safe habits example– not allowing anyone you feel awkward with to be alone with you, never let any one known or unknown inside the house if you are alone and uncomfortable with ( especially young girls), Not leaving your young kids, infants and toddlers out of your sight in the care of others especially when they are alone with no other adults around, keeping your doors properly locked, not going out alone at night.

But MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: trust your gut and stay away from those who make you feel awkward, creepy or unsafe with. USE YOUR HEAD and KEEP YOUR EARS OPEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE.

The world is certainly beautiful, but it is evil too.

Kindly click this link to play a Quiz online to check your understanding of facts on Sexual Abuse:

http://www.metrac.org/game.html

The Quiz was developed for METRAC  http://www.metrac.org/  by ZMQ.Inc  http://www.zmqsoft.com/

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My statement on M-Health at M -Health Summit 2010, Washington D.C.


ZMQ PRESENTATION AT USAID