Sexual Abuse: It Is Definitely NOT OK To Turn A Deaf Ear To Your Child’s Complaints

5 minutes
This is for the kids who know that the worst kind of fear isn’t the thing that makes you scream, but the one that steals your voice and keeps you silent.” Abby Norman (Author)
The following is a summarized case history of a client I met during my second month of training as a clinical psychologist. I remember this case particularly, because Ms. S tried too hard to appear nonchalant and rude. She walked into our clinic on a bright Thursday morning with her mother who bore an expression of heightened irritability and suspiciousness – like someone who had sucked on a rather sour lemon. Ms. S stood away from the other clients seated patiently in the waiting area. What was rather interesting about her appearance was that even though it was 10 degrees outside and certainly chilly, Ms. S was dressed in a mini skirt, paired with a low hanging top and high boots. 
An hour later, she entered the chamber chewing on a gum with her mother who still bore the same expression. Initially into the session, Ms. S complained of increased irritability, fluctuating mood swings, and severe stomach aches. After the preliminary information was noted down, her mother who now appeared nervous was asked to exit the room leading to an imperceptible change in Ms. S’s demeanor. With her mother no longer hovering around her, she appeared to be relaxed and at ease. Slowly as her words unravelled,  an entirely new picture was unfurled before us. 

For a period of eight years, she was repeatedly molested by her father’s best friend. Ms. S made several attempts to inform her parents about it, but lost all hope when her mother asked her to ignore these things, while her father brushed it odd as “normal”. Thankfully, the abuse stopped sometime close to her 18th birthday and 6 years have passed since then. Presently, she complained of experiencing heightened sexual arousal throughout the day and the need to engage in sexual intercourse (with either gender) at any cost. All these years as she was forced into sexual participation, for once, she said she wanted to experience what it felt like to be a willing partner. This intense urge prevented her from studying, going out with friends and enjoying life in general.

Subsequently, Ms. S was assigned to a series of therapy sessions, and her bewildered mother as well as her father were called for family counseling. To begin with, the counselor first helped the client narrate her past experiences which bought about a lot of negative thoughts in her and left her with the feelings of uneasiness and insecurity. As she re-lived those moments through counseling it helped her make peace with them. Although it was a difficult task as those were deep scars of her life but eventually she overcame those negative emotions and was able to leave them in the past. Now that she was able to move on, it was time to help her sustain it. With constant encouragement Ms. S learnt techniques that worked on her thought process and helped her cope better in the situation. It was a long journey of struggle and pain but it helped her become self reliant. Towards the end as the focus shifted in getting her a strong social support, her family and friends were involved to be her strength and help her recover from her childhood trauma. 

The latest follow-up revealed that she was doing a lot better and that her parents gradually understood the gravity of the situation and the impact it has had on their daughter. The sessions showed their positive impact on Ms. S, as she is slowly moving towards complete healing. 

We all have heard and read about such similar incidents in our lives, but what is disturbing is that so many of us are still so ignorant about the issue of sexual and physical abuse of a child. Painful, as well as traumatizing, it is important to understand that it is NOT ok to ignore these incidents. It is NOT ok to consider these incidents to be normal. And it is definitely NOT ok to turn a deaf ear to your child’s complaints. For a child to go through such a horrendous experience, and to not have anyone to turn to, makes him/her, frightened and ashamed. There is a pressing need for more awareness about this issue and help more people like Ms. S. This case is a short insight into what really happens and how we can help our children as well as others overcome this abhorrent act.


Angana is your special friend from YourDOST team. She has done her Masters in Developmental Psychology from University of Durham, UK. She is currently working under the guidance of a reputed Psychiatrist and Psychologist in Kolkata. She has a special interest in dealing with childhood and adolescent related issues as well as sexuality counseling. Through YourDOST she wants to reach out to those who need little support and understanding.