Dreaming of living a certain way, imagining and wanting a future, hoping in possibilities are gifts of being human and remaining human. They function as silver linings for dark and heavy clouds that also form a part of life, hiding the sun’s light. The gift of hoping, the silver lining of dreaming is essential for seeing ahead, even if just one step, despite the clouds.
Healing is being able to dream again, to see that one next step again and rejoice in that forward movement, in that step closer to the future.
That is what Revathi found again recently, when speaking to us during one of our conversations, she pensively stated, “Didi, I am able to dream again.”
Now 16, for the last five years, Revathi has been dealing with the legal proceedings against her grandfather who sexually abused her more than once. Besides the incidents of abuse, the experiences that the child has lived through in just 16 years left her mind in the grip of fear and despair.
Growing up, Revathi was beaten up frequently by both her parents, and eventually abandoned by her father. She was then sexually abused by the only other trusted male figure in her life, and soon after she bravely reported this abuse and the legal proceedings started, she lost her mother. The mind and heart of this intelligent, kind and observant child closed down to protect her own self from the harshness of the world around her. Bare survival, sans hope, sans dreams, became the objective and the only way to cope.
Revathi’s only goal at this point became ensuring that she did not experience the grief of abandonment ever again. With her grandmother as her only surviving relative and the ongoing legal proceedings against her grandfather, this fear and her grandmother’s undue influence on the child started showing up in court.
This is where thanks to the vigilance of the courts, this influence and the child’s dire need for help did not go unnoticed. Sensing that the child needed support navigating her life, the state bodies responsible for her welfare, transferred her custody to a protective home (Child Care Institution) for the child to have enough space and distance, and support.
It was at this Child Care Institution that we met Revathi.
Connecting with Revathi
The state authorities, besides moving the child to the Institution, also appointed CSJ as her support person as they recognised that the child needed focused support.
When we first met Revathi, she was still grappling with her fears and the belief that her future held nothing but darkness. It wasn’t that she could not think and plan, but the extreme stress and lack of support throughout that had understandably left her in a state of complete despair.
Initially, the child was distant and was not open to sharing a lot, besides telling us that she was constantly afraid of what lay ahead, leading to frequent headaches. She expressed that even though she knows that for the future she should be studying for her annual exams, she could not bring herself to focus and study, and felt weighed down by the worries of nothing working out for her.
What Revathi needed was to trust that she was not going to be abandoned again, that she had a future and that she had a whole system of people ready to support her and cheer her on to a future of her dreams. She needed to trust that despite her life so far, she could still build a life of her choice and be supported by networks and people in doing that. She needed to believe that without her grandmother too, she will be taken care of with love and respect. She needed to believe in her being worthy of receiving unconditional support. She needed to believe in herself again.
Thinking that this may take a while to happen, we began building a connection with Revathi, there with her to listen to whatever she wanted to share, to acknowledge her grief and to hold her hand when she was ready to take her next first step.
But, this is where we were left stumped by what we witnessed!
We have seen resilience in children despite the trauma of abuse, and it is inspiring each time but with Revathi, we were startled to notice how quickly consistently showing up and assuring her of her worth, her brilliance, her kindness and her pace of things, started to change her. It has been like witnessing a miracle – watching her step out of her shell, sharing with us not just her pains and fears, but expressing real hope matter-of-factly!
From feeling like she could only take a passive role in her life, Revathi has started taking lead in her life – thinking through things calmly, seeing people as they are and being able to still hold space for her own best interests, and most of all, knowing that her life’s circumstances and the abuse was never her fault. Revathi had shrunk in her heart, believing that she was responsible for all that had gone wrong in her life and she began to accept that it wasn’t so.
Today, Revathi is taking life head on, assessing possibilities for her and choosing things with the trust that she is supported by us, by the Institution and every single person working on her case, to build a future full of joy. She has begun to prepare for her exams and confidently identify what she might want to choose as a career in the future.
Revathi was hanging by a thread when we met her, a thread of hope in limited possibilities for her life. Today, the fact that she recognises that she can trust a whole world of possibilities for herself and her life is the biggest joy that we have seen.
Revathi has begun to dream again, and we dream for each child to be able to dream too. CSJ is currently supporting over 200 children like Revathi to access legal & psychosocial support. We believe that we can help many more children like Revathi in their healing process. This is where you can help us help Revathi and others as we seek to raise funds under our campaign, ‘Begin Again.’ The funds we raise through this campaign will go towards providing long term care to more children. Donate now to help us in reaching our goals.
Every act counts. Give now to help children to ‘Begin Again.’