November 15, 2013

“Is it my fault??”

This happened in one of the city schools where Arpan’s Personal Safety Education Project was being implemented. It was the last session for that grade and the trainer was teaching them about the last and one of the most critical rule ‘It is not your fault if somebody has broken Personal Safety Rule 1’. It was then that one child approached the trainer in an overwhelming state. The child shared that she was being sexually abused repeatedly and in spite of knowing the abuser’s intention of calling her alone she was not being able to stop the abuse and hence deduced it to be her fault. In order to stop the ongoing abuse and help the child overcome the deep rooted belief and taking onus of the abuse, Arpan’s Psycho-Social team and the Psychotherapeutic team worked together along with the PSE team. The psychosocial team made home visits to understand the family dynamics and brought the sexual abuse to their attention. The family could identify the offender, the behaviours that he was showing namely isolating the child and giving expensive gifts (which they earlier thought to be driven by love and affection). Being empowered the family could stand up for their child and keep the abuser out of their home. The Psychotherapeutic team simultaneously supported the child’s healing by working on her self-esteem, shame and guilt around the abuse.

Personal Safety Education Project is one of the core interventions of Arpan that focuses on empowering children with adequate knowledge, attitude and skills to prevent instances of child sexual abuse as well as to seek support when such an incident has occurs. Arpan conducts this module with children in privately owned and government schools as well as with highly vulnerable groups of children referred by NGOs, and in shelter homes and orphanages. The PSE project also involves awareness building and skill enhancement of adults (like parents, teachers and institutional caretakers) who are the primary stakeholders and caregivers in a child’s life in order to create strong safety and support networks around children in their respective environments.

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