Why are children reluctant to share abusive incidents to their parents? by Surbhi Agarwal

After having a telephonic conversation with my college friends, I got these reasons why they as a child (or children in general) don’t talk about the sexual abuse they face with their parents and other elders in the family. I am also sharing the incidents along with the reasons.

1- Body shaming– One of my friends was fat from her early childhood. While moving to teenage, she faced harassment many times. Derogatory comments on her changing body parts and getting touched by random strangers (especially on the buttocks and breasts) while walking happened many times. So, she was a fat child and always used to look more aged than she actually was.
So, when she tried one or two times to share(unfortunately not with parents), she became a victim of judgemental thoughts, her friends stated that it is because of her body size that she gets harassed because she looks like a 18 yr old in the age of 13, her body attracts men and this doesn’t happen with us. This is the fault of your body.
So, yes people do body shame the child in such cases which results in lowered self esteem and no proper counselling can lead to serious effects.

2- Reaction of parents (especially mothers)- So here, 2 types of reactions exist.
First, when one of my friends being a child faced sexual abuse she told her mother and her mother said that “we women have to face/be victim of such mentality of men, because we cannot control everyone’s thinking and in such this world 1000s of such men exist we can keep hiding from them, fortunately you did faced only lower level of abuse just forget it and continue your life. These things won’t stop, so we should not stop our lives as well”. We all can understand the fear of her mother, can relate. Parents sometimes suggest their child to be quiet especially when the level of abuse isn’t so high.
Second, another friend of mine shared with her mother the same at the age of 12. She made her wear all long dresses, salwar suits thinking that she will be able to roam more freely hiding her body parts and something like this won’t happen again. So, freedom can be restricted especially in the case of girls by some parents.

3- Negligence– One of my friends got abused by her own uncle. He used to come on vacations and gatherings, and she being a 10 year old then didn’t realize it’s abuse, though felt uncomfortable. While growing up, this continued. There were times when she told her parents that she doesn’t like her uncle, he is not good to her and used to hide in the room when he used to visit but her parents considering this as her shyness/childishness never took her seriously, also because this time it’s a close family member who is the abuser. But as she was growing up, it got worse and she decided to tackle it by her own and warned her uncle with her full confidence that if he will try to even touch her she will tell everything to her parents (though she was not sure that they will listen or not) but this warning helped her and the abuser uncle stopped himself. Now she meets him without any fear because she has changed the game and is proud.
So, negligence/ awareness of parents is a reason. In such cases, parents are passively wrong as well.

4- Because there are bigger problems in life- Again about a girl, so this friend faced sexual abuse when his father was admitted in the hospital from last 4 months and had financial problems and many more problems going on. She was abused by the tuition teacher. That teacher started taking advantage only after her mother started leaving the girl with the teacher alone because she had to go to hospital everyday to look after her husband.
This continued for the next 3 months. But the annual examinations were approaching and knowing that her mother won’t be able to take out time to teach her or find another teacher at such time and seeing all the problems her parents are facing, she never thought of telling them.
The annual exams came, she performed very bad, we can’t expect a child to ignore all this especially when it’s happening everyday and concentrate on studies. She cried so hard for weeks for three reasons that her father’s health isn’t good, she had been abused and her marks were so dull. This gave me tears. So, this is one of the reasons.

5- Mentality– This friend of mine is a boy. I don’t know how many male friends went through this but I felt that it was hard for them to share such incidents with anyone because they get tags of being weak, soft and fragile. Boys are more exposed to the world than girls, at least in India. But when it comes to hearing them, our society ignores them the most.
He, at the age of 9 was told to keep the watch on the electrician working in his home. Mechanic’s helper boy was not there with him so the mechanic told him to hold one or more instruments for him and pass whenever asked. But those 4-5 hours were tough for him, though he thought that it is a matter of this time only, he didn’t complain. But that day impacted him badly and he became reluctant to be left with strangers and fear grew in his mind badly. But he never shared this to anyone, fortunately time passed and he forgot all this. Many boys like him don’t share the feeling s because they fear that they will be not taken seriously and people will consider them weak and will be told “ladke rote nahi h”.

That’s all I am able to gather as information. I shared the incidents with the permission of my friends. If this post can bring any change it will be their pleasure.

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