Support Group Diaries: M & A bring a new member

Mousumi and Ananya are both 15 years old, neighbours, and members of the same support group. They noticed a man who often visited their neighbour, 16-year-old Tani’s house. He would stay for a while, and after he was gone, Tani would look upset and dishevelled. They also noticed that Tani was withdrawn; she didn’t talk to anyone and always stayed at home. All this looked like the warning signs that were discussed at the group meetings. M & A reported this to the youth mentors, as they wanted to proactively do something to confront the family.

The mentors felt it was necessary to look into the matter, but before taking any direct action, it would be necessary to hear Tani's side of the story. But she wasn't a group member yet, so the first task would be to invite her to join the group. M & A reached out and made friends with Tani, and started by sharing group activities with her. Then one day a few weeks later, they invited her to the group meeting. That day the topic of discussion was 'Good and Bad Touch, and How to Stay Safe'. After attending the cluster a few times Tani felt comfortable enough to share her experience with some of the support group members.

It transpired that Tani had been sexually abused a few months ago by her mother’s friend. She first told her mother about it... 'that man makes me uncomfortable', but her mother had ignored her. She then tried telling her father, but he had responded by beating her up. After that she decided to withdraw. Tani said she was relieved that support group members believed her, and taught her how to protect herself. She is now an active member and participates in all group activities.

Though the exact nature of the sexual abuse is still not clear, and Tani is still ambivalent about what she wants to do about it, the group is standing by her to support her in any way she needs.
Extracted from YRC report to the Case Management Team, October 2019 - March 2020.
Names have been changed where appropriate