Dealing first hand with sexually abused individuals is never pretty or easy, especially when the victims are children.
It can affect a person emotionally, physically and mentally, as two individuals who have worked hand-in-hand with these unfortunate children for years, can attest to.
Activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi told FMT he had moments when he kept to himself, recuperating after being exposed to the sexual abuse faced by the children he was assisting.
“I have a background in pharmacy so I’m used to dealing with a lot of grievances, old folks, terminally-ill people. I could cope with that.
“But children who are sexually abused… that’s not easy because I can’t wrap my head around how a person can do such things to innocent kids.
“My family noticed how I had changed. They said sometimes I was quiet and more reserved, perhaps because I was keeping everything bottled up inside me.”
Syed said while he could handle most cases, the ones which required him to look at visuals sometimes gave him nightmares. He spoke of a case that affected him the most.
“There was a (teenage) boy who was molested publicly by his friends, and his other friends just looked at him and told him to be patient and to think of something else.
“That affected me a lot because the boy didn’t have a voice and those he trusted did not help him. I hate when that happens because they could’ve done something.”
To make sure he remained strong so he could continue helping others, Syed would shift his focus to the victims, reminding himself exactly why he chose to do what he did.
“I will also talk to my family and friends, but mostly my family. I’m really glad I have a family which notices whenever I act differently and pushes me to talk about how I feel.”
Farah Iylia Fauzi from Protect and Save the Children Association, recently told a forum that the organisation received 38 cases this year alone, but none of the perpetrators were convicted in court.
In her earlier days with the association, the very fact that it was difficult to get justice for the victims used to make her angry. Now, the anger has turned into frustration.
She related to FMT of a case that even after years, still gave her the “goosebumps”.
“There was this four-year-old girl who was abused by a female teacher of hers. The teacher had repeatedly shoved a ruler up her private parts.
“What affected me was the fact that even though she was in pain, she still tried to hide what had happened to her. On the surface, she looked like a normal child.
“But her guardian noticed she was walking weird, and she would go to the toilet herself and lock the door each time.
“It was weird for a child of that age, as they usually still required bathroom assistance.”
Farah and her colleagues took the girl to a hospital where they found scars on her private parts. However, due to lack of evidence, the perpetrator got away and continued to teach at the school for quite some time after the incident.
“It does affect us, especially emotionally. They are what we call triggers. It’s traumatic and heart-wrenching when you see a child in that situation.
“So what we usually do is remind ourselves to take a deep breath because, sometimes, we forget to do that. And we also drink a lot of water as dealing with such cases can take a toll on our health as well.
“We have to constantly remind ourselves to remain grounded and focus on helping the victimised children.
“All of us have our own coping mechanisms. Some of my colleagues use sports as an outlet for the negative energy,” she said.