Excerpts from…
Silences That Prevail When the Perpetrators Are Our Own
~ © Grace Poore, 2007 ~

Home as Refuge and Site of Violation

In part, the rejection of incestuous child sexual abuse (ICSA) as a phenomenon within South Asian communities is linked to myths about sexual abusers as strangers, maniacal perverts, the mentally ill, poorly educated, and those who troll parks and malls looking to snatch children. The South Asian immigration story makes no room for images of South Asians as perpetrators of domestic violence or child sexual abuse. Instead, members of the community strive for and project model minority status, which for survivors of ICSA, conflict daily with lived reality.

Protecting Dumbness

protecting dumbness is more than the inability to speak because of fear, but also a way to deploy silence for personal sanity, where living inside silence becomes a kind of crucible experience in which to develop resilience and self-reliance. In North America, South Asian women who had to engage in protecting dumbness were faced with an added expectation that was related to them being not only South Asian daughters but also the children of a racially oppressed community.

Confronting Perpetrators

one would think that ICSA perpetrators have nothing to fear and are impervious to the threat of reprisals. Contrarily, most are afraid of being discovered because they too do not want to be ostracized and lose family ties. Moreover, knowing that society views child sex offenders as deviant sick people, ICSA perpetrators are even more secretive. For instance, in South Asian communities, where mental illness and seeking mental health services are still very much a stigma, perpetrators will want even more to avoid the humiliation of being perceived as mentally defective or insane.

Read the whole article in Body Evidence: Violence Against South Asian Women in America, edited by Shamita Das Dasgupta, Rutgers University Press, 2007.


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Modified on June 1, 2007