Renewed hope for a child survivor of sexual abuse

These are the sketches drawn by Piya*, a survivor of child sexual abuse depicting her journey.

Piya was only eight years old when the sexual abuse started. It is our secret game”, her stepfather told her.

It was such a young age and Piya believed her stepfather. I felt uncomfortable with the kind of things he asked me to do. But it was a secret and so I convinced myself that there was nothing to tell”.

The abuse continued for years and she grew up feeling that something was wrong with her.

In 2019, an educative awareness workshop on ‘good touch and bad touch’ was held at Piya’s school. When the instructor explained that there are some places on one’s body which is private, and they should tell their parents, teachers or any trusted members of the family if they ever felt uncomfortable by someone touching them, Piya felt disgusted by what was happening to her.

“I ran to my teacher and started crying. And, I said something is happening to me at home.”

That was the first time Piya disclosed her abuse. Her teacher reacted in a way that was supportive by telling her that she believed her and it was not her fault.

Her teacher jumped right into action. She discussed this with the Principal of the school and immediately called Childline for support. A complaint was filed at the local police station.

“It was a relief to tell my teacher how I felt. However, my mother was angry and told me that I cannot say anything to the police”, Piya said.

The Child Welfare Committee, the institution which aims to shield children from any threats and ensure protection, approached VIHAAN to help Piya with counselling and legal support.

“With her mother’s constant disapproval, Piya was afraid to talk about the abuse and did not want to proceed further with the police complaint”, our social worker said.

VIHAAN’s care and support team made numerous visits to Piya’s house and helped her understand that she was not at fault.

“I couldn’t trust anyone in my life. I was not ready to talk about anything. However, I felt a strong sense of support when the social worker did not give up. She visited our house frequently”.

Though Piya was constantly pressured by her mother and other family members to withdraw the complaint, VIHAAN supported her and explained the importance of bringing the abuser to justice.

“I cannot imagine what would have happened to me if VIHAAN wouldn’t come into my life. I was so scared about my mother.”

After 34 months of VIHAAN’s intensive counselling sessions, Piya recorded her evidence at the court against the abuser. She gathered the courage to speak about all the horrible things that has happened to her.

The accused was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment. Piya was awarded the maximum compensation amount per the Delhi Victim Compensation Scheme, 2018 of INR 10.5 Lakhs.

Distrust, hurt and fear have crushed Piya. Her healing journey was a difficult one. VIHAAN focused on making her feel safe, seen and heard.

“When I felt, I was never safe, VIHAAN was there for me. They never doubted for a single second. They believed me 100 percent”, Piya said as tears welled up in her eyes.

Piya is 14 years old now and lives with her mother, according to the court order. VIHAAN team make regular visits toPiya's house to ensure her safety and well-being. With absolute grit and determination, she studies hard and wants to help children like her.

Because of donors and supporters like you, VIHAAN continues to support Piya with her educational needs and guides her about the future.

*The survivor’s name has been changed for her protection.

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