(This is just a rant blog!)
One thing which really stood out for me over last weekend was that I had become a secret keeper... And yet, my dream had been to help abused children someday reveal secrets. At which point did I choose to betray the children and my dreams by being a party to their silence, and in so doing, being a party to the turmoil and abuse never stopping?
Another thing that stood out for me was when a lady at our table, in discussing the measures that we could take after the workshop on child sexual abuse, said very loudly and confidently, "We should target children in the rural areas... The children in KL and places like that are very confident, they will surely tell someone if they are abused."
I protested, but she is a very confident person... She wasn't moved from her stand. It was as if she was saying that the only thing stopping children from revealing that they had been sexually abused was a lack of confidence. As if, it is so easy.
Sometimes, I feel frustrated because it isn't so easy as all that. Sometimes, I worry because I know that just telling a child, "You can always tell me." and "No one has the right to touch you." doesn't make a difference. The reason for their keeping secrets lies so much deeper than that. And until that worry-reason is removed, they are not going to tell, no matter how confident they are.
I wonder if this lady knows that the children are not 'weak'? They are not weak people who lack confidence and therefore are unable to tell. They are strong, because they can withstand so much pain and trauma and still not break. Of course, those who dare to tell someone and break free are stronger still.
I liked the video that they showed during the workshop, because it was of a typical 'good girl'. I got a bit frustrated when they shared a story about a girl who acts up, because I wanted to say, not all victims of abuse will act like that. I think of those I know - you cannot always tell from the outside that they are abused. Some are 'naughty' and some are 'good'.
Can I just say something about the quiet ones? This is what I want to say...
"You can't tell that they have been abused
They're not the ones who are dressing in short skirts, wearing loads of piercings, flaunting sexuality...
In fact sometimes, they wonder, how come the other girls
Are able to be sexual.
All they want to do is to cover up; and they do
In layers of clothing, long and loose
Wearing huge jackets on top of oversized t-shirts
In the vain hope that they will not appear sexually appealing;
And yet, the abuse doesn't stop.
You can't tell that they have been abused
They're the overachievers! They get the A's
They're the leaders, the team captains, the ones who sign up for every extracurricular activity there is in school...
You don't know.
They just don't want to go home.
In the school, they're safe.
In the school, they don't think of home.
In the school, they disassociate; as if they're two separate beings.
Do you think that's crazy? That's okay.
Their whole world is.
You can't tell that they have been abused
They are more than fine; they're shining stars and examples of 'normal'!
They don't act up and rebel.
They don't stand in the school corners and smoke.
They pass by unnoticed.
Their very whole being is used, proudly, as an example by their parents to say, "Look how 'good' and 'normal' we are."
Lean in a little closer... Look just beneath the sleeve...
Do you see it?
Do you see the faint red lines streaking downwards on her arm?
That's not the cutting of a normal teenage girl whose heart has been broken in a teenage relationship.
That's the cry of a girl who is frustrated because her voice cannot be heard.
Do you see that beneath the long loose sweaters and t-shirts
She has lost weight?
She's so fearful of what will happen later
She can't eat properly, because her stomach is always tied in knots.
Do you see that she's always volunteering somewhere
Always caring about other people around her?
She's anxious all the time that you will be safe.
She never is, but she's real good at taking care of everyone else.
It's her 'job'.
I wonder, will you ever see the quiet ones
Before they die?"