Let's just call him Ajay.
An ordinary Indian name for an ordinary Indian boy.
When he was 5 years old, his dad was posted in a small town in the Arabian Sea coast. Like all ordinary boys, he loved to play on the beach, kick some ball with his dad, and fish.Or at least he pretended to. He could never handle the slimy bait and hated holding the wriggling fish. The mother generally sat a little far away, smiling indulgently at the father and the son. An ordinary family, doing ordinary things together. Can you see them? Walking hand in hand?
They lived in a nice house in a quiet area. Though they lived far away from their family, they had many good friends and they had fun going on picnics and long drives. Ajay was very happy as he was the only child there and everyone spoiled him terribly.
One day, his father brought a nice young man home. He must have been around 23. He had just got a job there but he was yet to find a place to stay. Being a good person, Ajay's dad thought the young man could stay with them till he found a suitable accommodation. Ajay was ecstatic. He was yet to start school. This man, whom he called 'Bhaiya' ( elder brother) was his new play mate. They would play cricket in the lobby, fly a kite on the streets and just chat sometimes. The young man would often bring some books for him and read out those stories to him. Ajay had not yet learned to read. The family of 3 gradually became a family of 4, without anyone realising it. Perhaps you can see them now, walking on the beach, laughing and talking and flying kites.
Then one day, the young man bought a new story book. In the evening, when the mother was cooking, the man started to read to Ajay. The book at first did not make any sense to the little boy. It talked about men and women doing strange things. In the book, which had some pictures, ( Ajay loved stories with pictures) the men and women did not wear clothes. The man became strangely excited reading the story and asked Ajay to climb up onto his lap so that he could see the pictures better. Ajay did not like this story at all, but he kept quiet. Bhaiya was his friend and he did not want to disappoint him. And since bhaiya trusted him to keep this their little secret, for the first time, Ajay did not tell his mother what the story was all about.
Slowly their games changed. Instead of playing football and cricket, bhaiya started playing with his body. He would ask Ajay to sit on his lap and touch him at shameful places. He would often ask Ajay to do the same. The little boy was confused. He did not like these new games anymore but was too scared to say no. He wanted bhaiya's love and approval. And what if his parents came to know? Will they think he wanted to play such games? May be he did... may be he was a bad boy who deserved what bhaiya was doing to him . If his parents came to know his shameful behaviour, surely he would be sent away to a hostel.
He would now panic when the man called him to read out a story. But on those rare occasions, when the young man would play cricket, he would also cautiously but trustingly reach out to hold his hands. And some days, that same man, would smile and coerce him to do things which made him feel dirty. He now started washing his mouth and hands rigorously with soap when he bathed.
Some days, when things became too painful, he would just curl up on his bed and pretend to sleep. There were so many things going on in his mind. He wanted to tell his mom and dad what was happening to him. He wanted them to make him feel better. He wanted to tell them that he was feeling broken, just like that superman figure with a broken limb that he had. But his parents never noticed any thing. He felt enraged and often burt out in tears, but his parents just dismissed his outbursts as a normal temper tantrum of a 6 year old boy. He hated his parents. And he hated the world. He no longer laughed when he walked on the beach. And he no longer wanted to fly any kites. He withdrew to his own isolated world, with his guilt, shame and confusion. His parents, who never dreamed someone could ever damage their little angel, who never thought such predators even existed in their normal, happy world, were blissfuly unaware of their little boy's trauma and sorrow. They never came to know the reason for their precious child's sudden abnormal behaviour.
Ajay exists. He is my friend from college. Although he is no longer prone to violent outbursts and depression, he continues to believe that he played an integral part in this abuse. He blames himself for any physical contact between him and his abuser, although he knows he was only 5. And the man was 23. I always thought, perhaps like a lot of you, sexual abuse happens to only girls. His story changed my belief. Our children, both boys and girls are equally vulnerable to sexual abuse. Everyday, some child below the age of 10 falls prey to such despicable behaviour and does not know who to turn to. Most children know their abusers. They are simply unable to cope with such repeated sexual offence by someone they trusted and end up with long lasting scars.
Please believe your child if he comes up to you and reports such behaviour.Teach him the difference between good touch and bad touch. Tell him his body belongs to only to him and no one else. Nobody has the right to touch or harm him. Never take it for granted that the child will come and tell you anyting. Tell him that you are there to listen about any behaviour of an adult which he finds uncomfortable. Please be alert.
And most important, please do not blame him. It was never his fault.