Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When little James walked into the huge gymnasium of his school little did he know what laid ahead of him; an experience so traumatising and a personality so daunting and intimidating that he would not be able to speak about it for years. What he also didn’t know is that he wasn’t the only one who would be put through this hell; many before him and scores after him will lead a similar life; lives that are scarred for a lifetime.
Sexual Exploitation is the most heinous crime in the entire criminology list and when it comes to physically abusing and mentally torturing a child, the crime attains a whole new level. A young fragile mind is put through a process where it does not know what it is going through, and then constantly manipulated by the molester for not speaking about it and thus being complicit in the abuse. Child abuse and women molestation are heterogeneous in form but homogenous in nature; in both the cases the abuser torments the victims with his reprehensible actions and the victims are scarred for life, both physically and mentally.
As children and people who have been exploited and abused sexually as a child have decided to break open the cocoon of shame and secrecy, there has been a tsunami of child abuse cases that have bubbled to the surface. As the lid is taken off we witness how endemic the disease is; a disease whose roots are not limited to a particular country, region, ethnicity or religion. In Britain alone an estimated of 70,000 cases of child abuse has been registered; an increase of nearly 88%. There are places in the UK where little underage girls are hoarded into the sex trade by force, deception and manipulation. For them it is a one way ticket; exit is not an option. In the city of Thane in India 141 cases of child abuse were reported in the month of June alone. In the state of Kerala, 1375 cases of child abuse were registered in the year 2014. The national capital, New Delhi, has been dubbed as the most vulnerable place for child abuse in the country. Approximately 8 cases are reported every day in the city in the last two years and about 6816 cases were registered cases from November 2012 till March 2015. In New Zealand, Children Homes which are meant to provide safe heaven and shelter for the innocent souls are the breeding grounds infested with the opportunistic vultures ready to pounce on the most vulnerable ones.
The weeding problem is now in the open. More cases are being reported and more people are shedding the blanket of shame and coming out in the open to speak about it. Yet although there has been a significant increase in the number of registered child abuse cases from all over the world, so has been the increase in the incidents. The reporting of the cases has not proved as a deterrent for the pedophilic men at work hawking and targeting potential vulnerable victims for abuse. These savages are seldom caught and if they are then they have an abysmal conviction rate. The reason for this deplorable conviction rate lies in the manner in which this crime is committed. Often the abuser traumatises the puerile mind when it is not in a position to contemplate what is happening to the body. More often than not the abuser is someone who is known to the victim. So when the pedophiles say to their victims, as they all do in one form or another, “If you ever speak about this, unimaginably bad things will happen to you”, what they are doing is perhaps on one level even worse than the physical act of abuse itself. They are manipulating their victims into being complicit in the abuse; forcing the victim to take responsibility for protecting the abuser. This means that every time you smile, shake hands, speak with and act normally in front of the abuser; as you must, because he is your teacher, father, uncle, brother, friend or priest; you become a little bit more complicit. It is the most toxic and vile form of manipulation possible. And adding to the misery is that ingrained and very real fear that ‘if you speak out, then the world will end’ takes hold of you at a cellular level and rarely, if ever, leaves.
The little James is now James Rhodes, a renowned concert pianist based out of London. Very recently he wrote a book, ‘Instrumental’, based on his tormenting memorabilia of sexual exploitation in the hands of his gym teacher. He narrates in the book how his teacher molested him as a pre-pubescent boy relentlessly over a period of five years; and how good he was in ensuring that little James doesn’t speak about it for years. There was even a stage where James wanted to commit suicide because of his constant abuse and his inability to say anything to anyone about his incessant agony. He slipped into depression and tried to commit suicide multiple times. He was hospitalised a number of times and the hospital authorities ensured that nothing which might be of potential danger to his life would be there in his room. Then one day a close friend of James smuggled an IPod Nano for him. That day James found refuge in music. As he listened to the melody by Glenn Gould, a renowned Canadian pianist who interpreted the keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach, James realised that if something so good does exists in the world then is death the only option left for him to grab. So when the ghosts of the past tormented James, James found sanctuary in the 88 keys of the piano, letting the voices and the time disappear. It was the period of solace where he could just switch off and float with the music.
The question now arises how do we protect our children from these scavengers? A recent video on You Tube showed how despite constant tutoring, monitoring and educating small children how quickly they can be molded into undressing in front of complete strangers; how gullible and innocent their minds are; how easily they trust people; people who might tarnish the way they look at the world through their unsuspecting eyes. As parents we might be successful in protecting our kids from predators outside our homes; but we hit the wall when it comes to protecting them from predators who are present inside our homes; people whom we know, people whom our children know; that unguarded beast to whom our children are the most vulnerable. The best way is definitely sensitisation to good and bad touch. But again this isn’t the fool proof method. I think listening to your child when he/she is trying to say something about someone, whether in school or at home, is the best plausible solution. Yes most of the times they won’t understand what is happening to them but I think one thing they do understand is whether they like what is happening to them or with them or they dislike it. Talking to your child instead of dismissing him/her under the pretext of childish behaviour will be like pushing him further into the rabbit’s hole. Trusting your child is the key to his/her safety. We have to deal with this problem piece by piece before it is too late. Shunning the blanket of secrecy and talking about it is the only way to get to the root of this heinous crime; simply being heard is one of the most effective ways of diminishing the shame and allowing the victim to move on.