Child abuse: Silence is never the solution, be a fighter!

Published: December 8, 2012

She felt disgusted with herself and wanted to tear her skin wherever he had touch her. PHOTO: REUTERS

To me she was an ordinary girl ─ every teacher’s favourite, scoring perfect marks in all the exams. Looking at her, I never realised that behind this perfect pretty face lived a tormented girl who held a dark secret.

Behind her inscrutable face was a girl who constantly screamed but to no avail. However, recently she broke her silence and shared her story with me, while we were discussing Sidney Sheldon’s novel Tell Me Your Dreams.

*Humera who belongs to the middle class and is 23-years-old now, was sexually abused when she was 12 by a grocer in his mid-forties. He owned a shop near her house and was acquainted with her father. He molested her on daily basis and it continued for two years. Her mother used to send her for groceries since her brothers were too young to even count properly. She didn’t tell anyone about the abuse because she was scared and felt guilty.

“I didn’t and couldn’t tell about the abuse to anyone because I was scared, ashamed and felt guilty at the time, and I believed that in some way it was my fault. He threatened me and said that if I told anyone, he would tell lies about me to my father. I was scared that my father, who is a strict man, would believe him and beat me. I was naive and going through hell at that time, I had no one I could trust and talk to. I suffered sexual and physical abuse outside and emotional abuse at home,” she said.

Her abuse ended when her parents stopped sending her for groceries. She said her past still haunts her and she suffers from low self-esteem constantly.

“At the time of my trauma, I decided something; I promised myself that I will always try to be happy, and no matter what happens, I’ll live my life to the fullest. Though I have a strong personality and I’m very optimistic, I do suffer like other victims. I have nightmares and I don’t trust people easily; I’m friendly on the outside but lonely inside. My past still haunts me. I am afraid of anyone touching me”  says Humera, the shaken soul inside her beginning to show. “I’ve managed to overcome my low self-esteem many times. Looking at me you would see a lively and confident girl, but in reality I’m a shattered, scared and damaged. I have worn so many masks that it’s difficult for anyone to believe that the reality of my life would be so horrifying. Despite what happened to me, I didn’t lose myself to my demons, I believe I’m a survivor who is still fighting. I know that in the end, Allah (SWT) will ease my pain and bless me with a happy life. InshaAllah.” she added.

Her ordeal didn’t stop when she stopped going for groceries. Her stepbrother who is married and has two children, started to harass her whenever he got a chance. Her younger brothers seemed to have adopted a similar behaviour as her stepbrother. She tried to discuss this matter with her mother but she didn’t pay much attention.

Humera states that her brothers are the centre of her mother’s world, whereas she is grossly mistreated. Her mother always favours her sons over her daughter.

“There is no point in speaking. Who would I speak to? No one cares! I don’t even count as a human being according to my family. My own mother didn’t believe me.”

I could see that Humera was deeply affected by what had happened to her. She felt helpless.

“Whenever I see my abuser and I see that he is still not sorry for what he has done to me, I feel disgusted with myself. I want to tear my skin and whichever part part of my body he has touched. I cry silently at night. I’m engaged and in love with my fiancée. He knows about my past and still accepts me,” says Humera.

I was glad that she had someone who understood her and loved her without judgement.

“Why am I disgusted with myself and my body? That monster did irreversible damage to me. I had never wronged him. Didn’t I deserve a normal life like other girls? Why must I live with my fears and nightmares? Just because a monster wanted to satisfy his sick desires?” said Humera, overwhelmed with anger. “These people should be hanged,” she finally gave her verdict.

I decided to share *Humera’s story because there are other victims all around us who need support but are afraid to break the silence. I am writing hopes that sexual abuse victims will realise that keeping silent is no way to deal with the situation. By telling what happened to you, you are announcing to the world and and to your abuser that you are not weak and that you are a fighter and a survivor like *Humera.

To parents I would like to say, please tell your children that it is okay to tell you when something goes wrong ─ when someone touches them inappropriately or talks to them about something strange. Give your child the comfort zone to open up and let out what is going on, instead of banishing them to a life of suffering.

This article was written and shared with full consent of the victim and name has been changed to protect the victim’s identity.

Follow Tehniat on Twitter @Tehniat08

Tehniat Waheed

Tehniat Waheed

A student pursuing an MBA degree, Tehniat likes to write about child abuse and topics of social awareness. She likes to read and tweets as @Tehniat08 twitter.com/Tehniat08

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Pessimist

    Child abuse is horrible and disgusting. What makes it worse is that it’s considered a ‘taboo’ topic and there hardly any mainstream media awareness about the crime. I know about one or two hotlines, that’s about it.
    Speaking from experience, most young people fail to realize that they are being molested, or have been victims to this crime. Once they grow up, they blame themselves for not realizing and not doing anything about it. That is the worst thing. Parents need to do a better job in educating their children about such matters.
    It’s sad and unfortunate really. I hope your friend finds the peace that she deserves. It’s very sad….Recommend

  • Parvez

    Good of you share the story and write on a subject that needs to be exposed.
    Crimes like this must happen in all societies both developed and developing. I feel the difference is in how these societies react and address such issues that grade them as progressive or regressive.Recommend

  • DR AFREEN

    jazakaallah khair for this wonderful article.
    mother is someone with whom who share n trust her with everything but sadly Humera is a child with a mom who is like a step mother or no mother sadly .to whom can a lil girl turn to if something happens………………….didn’t she have her grandma or aunties whom she could have trusted n punished those bastards?Recommend

  • ummara Ramay

    if parents creates the friendly atmosphere in house then this type of horrifying things never happens. 1. Gender equality at home shown by parents at least.2. Educate the kids about the things going on in society. 3. Enough space should be given to girls so that they become healthy and brave individual.Alas! when our society grow up.. Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/896/ayesha-pervez/ Ayesha Pervez

    @ummara Ramay:
    Excellent comment by you :)Recommend

  • BachelorBoy

    Read this article heavy-heartedly… The story of Humera made my heart pump twicely more than its regular speed, and totally it flowed emotions instead of blood in my body, but later my mind screamed vividly by denying all sentimentalism created in the story and questions keep coming like if some petition has been lounge against emotionality in me.. With the reference of a girl with medium beauty to whom had proposed with Big Italian Red-Rose, so that her little heart would feel my love instantly but on next day, she arrived there in Uni. Along her 4 Big brothers in order to convey me her humble reply effectively,though I’m still in my twenties contemporarily of that 40 above person who misused Humera. As in my opinion a middle- class girl is observe to b bold enough in defending herself against any kind of situation, where as can’t say if any below the average society belonging girl would have least morales preventing herself to discusses such issues with her mother and other siblings…
    To be really frank, this story is seeming to me a stereotype and creation of hallucination suitable for story-magazines..As it is’nt match able with my social hypothesis. So this court on some factual grounds is dismissing this case till any other flawless story iz’nt being brought against….Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/896/ayesha-pervez/ Ayesha Pervez

    Excellent blog, Tehniat! Ive never been a victim but I feel for those whove been through this vile ordeal. I really dont understand why people do such horrendous things to children, dont they have any kind of regret, guilt or fear? Its crazy, infuriating and deeply saddening at the same time.Recommend

  • Nimra Khalid

    @BachelorBoy:
    So, even if the above written story is a work of fiction, and thats a big “IF”… are you implying that this isn’t happening in our society..?Recommend

  • Tahir Zain

    Umm is it just me. or did any one else fail to understand just what the (perennial) bachelor boy just said?Recommend

  • Fawad Saleem

    And all this end up in the dark. Nobody really cares in the end , moreover : guts to tell anyone at this point of your age is just a pinch of sand in the jar. At that time you feel like as if it was you equally involved in all this and having fun but it’s always late to realise that you were sexually abused and used many timesRecommend

  • Insaan

    Humera who belongs to the middle class and is 23-years-old now, was sexually abused when she was 12 by a grocer in his mid-forties. He owned a shop near her house and was acquainted with her father. He molested her on daily basis and it continued for two years…..only stopped when she stopped going to the store……… Her stepbrother who is married and has two children, started to harass her whenever he got a chance. Her younger brothers seemed to have adopted a similar behavior as her stepbrother

    I am Just trying to understand how it could continue for 2 years and on a daily basis…..Then her step brother and younger brothers started harassing. How long did the brother thing continue?

    Humera did nothing wrong. She should not feel disgusted about what happened or feel guilty about it. Recommend

  • saif

    what i dont understand is that apart from the grocer even the poor girls stepbrothers harrased her, do these kiinds of things run in families , this is a serious question because i have heard of cases before where someone is harrassed buy their father and late on their brothers after they have grown up. someone capable of answering it ??Recommend

  • BachelorBoy

    @Nimra Khalid:
    Young lady, all that story remind me of a sick Turkish drama serial “ishq e mamnun”, made to sicken ones culture and values…
    For suppose,If all this is happening here in our society than, do u really think us a nation of blind media and paraliZed tounge ladies??what this fictiontale has depicted is an inspiration for we bachelor sort of people inorder to teach them some new ideas of dealing with their sensations…nothing else..
    May I request inspite, avoid imaginary stories on such issues which are encouraging thoughts of fornication in society and stressing people to be more imaginary…Recommend

  • Pessimist

    For Bachelor Boy:

    I was going to give you a response, but your nickname is ‘Bachelor Boy’, I find that a bigger insult than anything I can ever come up with and THAT is agreeing with my ‘social hypothesis’. Recommend

  • Harsh

    Thanks for sharing this story, and considering a ‘taboo’ topic it takes real guts to put all this in writing.It’s an unfortunate event and I hope Allah grants her peace and calm that she so much deserves. It’s very sad…. but its good that she took her heart out for you, a human has to tell his or her agony and sufferings to some one and better she took the road of silence as exposing the truth in our society will result in blaming her only. I have also been a victim of sexual abuse and it really shatters all your self-belief and confidence in life. I pray for her that she comes out of it and be brave and understanding to her children the thing she missed all her life she can part with it to her children. Allah bless you and herRecommend

  • Thor

    I am 28 now and got molested when i was 12 and i have developed a low self esteem. its too hard.seriously very hard to live a life when you have such a burden on your shoulder.i wish there was a button of rest for memories Recommend

  • Jamshed

    But this is a norm in Saudia as well. I have a friend (male) who went through all this in Saudia. The problem is when you endeavour to take women off the streets, like in the case of Saudia Arabia, you have men focus on all other alternatives – even those which are underage or of the same gender. Also, since I did my bachelors at a university in KP, I have noticed the “brotherly love” being forced upon by the tandoor guy on the tea boy (server) at the local khoka. Women must be covered up or not seen, but what is in plain sight does not trouble anyone. This shows a bigger problem in our society. Our religious leaders see the lack of women covering up (no purdah/ burqa/ chador/ hijab) as the root of all problems while things have clearly moved to a different, unpalatable, level.Recommend

  • Nimra Khalid

    @BachelorBoy:
    Like you said, we indeed are a nation of blind media and paralyzed tongues..!
    As far as that serial “Ishq-e-mamnun” is concerned..? I would say, have you never heard anything like that..? “this is a story or rather a reality” that happens in every culture, has happened and will happen in future.. That story depicts the truth that can not be denied…
    and same thing goes for the sexual abuse..it is not a new phenomenon, that was just “discovered” now.. this world is way more older then you, me or the writer… you can’t blame the writer to “teach” people of new ways.. peace out..!Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Thor:
    Low self esteem is a very common thing. Almost all people go thru LOW SELF ESTEEM problem. you need to see what thoughts are making you feel like that. You have to see if those thoughts are “TRUE”. How your self esteem is connected with your molestation? A professional may be able to help you to “see things differently”. Recommend

  • BachelorBoy

    @Pessimist:
    Haha…!!
    U r really making me laugh, thanks God I have’nt kept my nick as BachelorOldie, or else it would have made u felt pmore amusement…Btw!!! Needed ur response quite sheerly, n I guarantee that noOne is going to blame u for this…
    So, feel free urself and explicit out whatever u have in ur heart for me, though I know u won’t be having any soft corner for me coz we are contrary for an extent as I’m active by my deeds and thoughts and believe things on scientific proofs while U r pessimist as ur nick shows…Recommend

  • Anum Talat

    A Horrendous reality. Child abuse is the most gruesome reality prevalent in our society, it not only effects a child’s self-esteem and confidence but also plague the entire society in every way.Recommend

  • Hana

    @BachelorBoy:
    My advice to you: please take English lessons so you can express yourself sensibly.Recommend

  • BachelorBoy

    @Nimra Khalid:
    Are you serious about ur predictions ?? ComOn young lady have some real thoughts, we are after all human beings and Muslims AlhamduliAllah, how could you proposedly think so insecure!?
    Nevertheless, we are having several problems in our society and culture, people here are turned to be bestial and opportunist by nature, they could commit serial crimes like murders, robberies and adulteries but the domestic-ethical crimes like shown in “ishq e mamnun”, or dipected in above articulated story on several places….Nay, Not at any cost I’m goin to believe U…
    N one thing more, if a story emerges on fake basis just to boost the sale could be made, than why Media would go toungeless for real incidents??
    N would rehearse an old saying for U, “a lady can’nt bare any secret in her stomach, for long”, so equation is solved.. If anything had ever happened like that no lady shall keep it hindered….Recommend

  • BachelorBoy

    @Hana:
    For God sake, stop becoming English-conscious.. Come out of this nutshell.. It does’nt need any special training rather to speak freevalantly in order to learn a language and if somewhere u see any mistake do’nt judge it as an international crime instead one could be lack of practicing it in his/ her daily usage…
    And a free suggestion for U as well, abandon this ages old attired slavery n think positive, conceive any foreign language just a source of communication plus a tool for approaching quality knowledge than to install it as a pertinent belief in urself….Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/I-Battle-Every-Second-For-My-Existence/169634173109760 Survivor of sexual abuse

    @BachelorBoy:
    Firstly, No one is here to make you believe either the blog is reality or Fiction. Such articles are written to show who aren’t abused that Yes! it happens and we need to do something about it. As for those who are abused to tell them that they are not alone. Are you trying to say that writer is teaching you new ways to satisfy your desires? Seriously? And being Muslim doesn’t mean nothing bad is going to happen to you… Women in Hijab do get rapped. Your presence is appreciated but don’t spam article with nonsense comments related to “Italian roses” and “ishq e mamnun”.Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/I-Battle-Every-Second-For-My-Existence/169634173109760 Survivor of sexual abuse

    @BachelorBoy:
    I have a free suggestion for you as well. Only talk when you have something meaningful to say.Don’t talk Goofy!. your comments are full of idioticy!Recommend

  • BachelorBoy

    @Survivor of sexual abuse:
    Look, pitty pal, what I was trying to convince U all was just do not ever tell forklores about such sensitive social issues, which could be contra effective to those victimized people, who might had suffered harshly due to story-elaborated stagmata…
    N I can understand the reason behind ur being harsh enough, accept my sympathies…Recommend

  • Hiraa Nazir

    A very awesome write up, I must say. The topic is sensitive and it is very much justified by the writer. Child abuse is disgusting. It spoils everything. The victim’s life, sentiments, feelings, world, peace of mind.. Everything. I don’t understand the reason behind this. Those who do it, aren’t they humans? Don’t they’ve guilt and conscience? It is very much disgusting. I feel for all those who’ve been the victims. Their lives are spoiled at the end of the day. All they live in , is a vibe of disguise and melancholy. No matter how much they try to come back to the track, this always prick them.
    A very good approach to shed some light via words over this issue. Great effort! Commendable write up.Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/I-Battle-Every-Second-For-My-Existence/169634173109760 Survivor of sexual abuse

    @BachelorBoy:
    Right now your comments are contra effective to those victimized people and again such articles are not posted to gain sympathies… they are posted for awareness.Recommend

  • gp65

    Sorry to hear about what happened to you. If you are able to get some professional help, do consider it. They cannot ofcourse change what happened to you but they can rframe the situation so how you feel about it is different. Good luck

    BTW, you may have low self esteem but I do respect you for 2 things:
    1) Most of your posts which are level headed and well thought through
    2) Courage to actually say what happened to you.Recommend

  • Insaan

    Though I have a strong personality and I’m very optimistic, …… I have nightmares and I don’t trust people easily; I’m friendly on the outside but lonely inside. My past still haunts me. I am afraid of anyone touching me” says Humera, the shaken soul inside her beginning to show. “I’ve managed to overcome my low self-esteem many times. Looking at me you would see a lively and confident girl, but in reality I’m a shattered, scared and damaged. I have worn so many masks that it’s difficult for anyone to believe that the reality of my life would be so horrifying

    Life is a struggle for almost all human beings. You seem to be doing much better then MOST normal human beings in my opinion. I hope you are not trying to be perfect.Recommend

  • Jasmine

    Thanks for sharing your story. It is hard to write about this sensitive issue and even harder to experience the abuse. Please don’t get me wrong when I say people don’t know how if feels when you are not sexually abused. For me it is like yesterday. I am 31 year old and can never forgot what happen when I was 7 or 8 years old. Yes!!! I was I was sexually abused and molested for a long time, from someone my parents trusted a lot. Till today my parents have no clue about it. I never said a word about it to anyone, why … I don’t know. Actually the interesting part is I didn’t wanted to remember what had happened to me so I decided not to think about it, until I was 20 yrs old and it hit me back. I can’t run from my past.
    I just want to request to all the parents please have a talk with your kids. Don’t wait for your kids to be teen to have this talk. Majority of the child abuse is done when are 7-8 yrs, as the kids have no clue what is going on. Kids think it some sort of a play.Recommend

  • BachelOrBoY

    What happened to you…??Recommend

  • jasmine

    I was molested and abused over the period of time continuously. I am not sure how and when it stop. As i said I was only 7yr old. It still hurts a lot. It is very hard for me to talk about it. I normally like to Skip this topic or move to different room.Recommend

  • BachelOrBoY

    @jasmine:
    It is making me quite preflex, how people could do such abnormalities against kids, in our Pakistani social Middle-class.. As par my social observations are concern, more deprived OR most magnificent classes of society are apathetic to recognise their criminal acts on several places just because of their extreme unsocial behaviour. But if u’ve spent a middle-class living during ur childhood which is observable from ur writing as u’r sounding bit shy in revealing that criminality against U… Than it is staggering me in recognising the factors, as if it has really happened to take place…
    If u could become more explicitable about ur circumstances, it would provide more evidences in reasoning beyond the scene…!!Recommend

  • jasmine

    As i said I don’t remember much. I myself want to remember how did it started. May be one day I’ll remember. We used to be in upper middle class section of the society. Just wanted to tell someone. I have no intentions to talk more abt it this issue. Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/tehniat08 Tehniat waheed

    @jasmine:
    Most of the survivors forget about their abuse by time, but psychological scars never heal. And yes one can never run from his/her past. You may move on but will always be a part of you. Recommend

  • http://www.alaynasmusic.com Alayna

    Humera’s story is really inspiring. I am so glad this article was posted. The first few sentences really struck me: “To me she was an ordinary girl ─ every teacher’s favourite, scoring perfect marks in all the exams. Looking at her, I never realised that behind this perfect pretty face lived a tormented girl who held a dark secret.” SO true. I myself was abused, though not sexually but verbally and physically. I was the girl in the first few sentences…OCD, perfectionist, star student, etc.
    Thankfully that part of my life is over…the abuse is done. Humera seems to be out of it too, though the past still haunts her. I still have trouble dealing with the past too….I turned to music to deal with it, and started writing songs. I wrote a song with an awesome songwriter in Nashville, TN named Kirsti Manna. The song is called “Top of a Dream”, and it’s about overcoming the negative and continuing to push forth in your life for your dreams.
    If anyone would like to check out the music video for some inspiration, you can.
    I’m donating a portion of the proceeds from the download of the song (itunes, cdbaby etc.) to the Kempe Foundation and Break the Cycle to support abuse education and awareness. I hope that my experience with the trauma can help somebody else….Recommend