Trigger warning: Sexual abuse.
Sadly, sexual abuse is a reality many people face, including children. In the United States, about one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday, and 30% of these children are sexually abused by family members. These children may go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. Their ability to trust adults to take care of them may also be jeopardized. In Sikhi, where respect, service, justice, love, and discipline are pillars of the faith, there is no place for such heinous acts, yet many in our community still find themselves trapped in a cycle of sexual violence.
The hope is, as more survivors speak out, perpetrators can be brought to justice and sexual abuse can be prevented. Ultimately, we can create a safe environment for everyone. It can be very challenging for survivors to talk about their experience; it can open up old wounds and they may re-live the emotion trauma. What these survivors need is compassion and understanding yet many of them face shame and blame. Thus, when survivors do come forward, it is our duty to support them and to acknowledge their bravery. Click here for tips on how to support survivors of sexual abuse.
Survivors speaking out is a form of social justice. They are exposing injustices and promoting a just society by challenging the status quo. They are advocating for a “right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights, and a fair allocation of community resources.” Speaking out against personal sexual violence is also a form of seva; these survivors are giving voice to the thousands of other children who were sexually abused and they are calling for justice to be served. As Guru Arjan Sahib wrote, “Do seva – selfless service; follow the Guru’s Teachings, and vibrate the Lord’s Name, Har, Har,” (Panna 176).
Below is a poem by Jas Kaur, who recounts the feelings she had a young girl while being abused. She writes to heal and to expose the terrible crimes that silently riddle our community.
“I Have School Tomorrow”
by Jas Kaur
Every time the door knob turned my heart dropped
Every time my heart dropped he laid in my bed
Every time he laid in my bed his hands went up my shirt
Every time his hands went up my shirt he took off my pajamas
Every time he took off my pajamas he inserted himself in me
Every time he inserted himself in me he finished
Every time he finished I asked, “Can I sleep daddy I have school tomorrow?”
We went to Guruduwara Sahib every Sunday, and there I questioned Wharguru Ji, “Why me?” “Why couldn’t he come to my rescue?”. I begged him everyday of my life to help me, while I lay there every night for my soul to get stained. I asked him of forgiveness of any sins I committed to deserve this punishment. I asked and I begged, and one day he answered my Ardas with the news of the man I called dad passing away in a car accident. Kids go to the Guruduwara Sahib and ask for the well being of their parents, but I didn’t. I asked Waheguru Ji to free me of the torture and he did.
American Psychological Association