Aditi's parents were divorced when she was very young and she lived with her mother who soon remarried. Their family was very poor. Aditi's step father was abusive and demanded total commitment from the mother or else he would leave them destitute. He would demand the mother do the house work plus bring in money to help the family. At 10 years old, *Aditi became a victim of sexual abuse by more than one man - being pimped by her own mother. Through Aditi, the mother was able to make enough income to appease the step father. As a result of the mother trafficking Aditi, she became pregnant at age 11 and was brought to Homes of Hope by the Fiji Police, bringing a lifetime of trauma with her. She was always quiet and shy. It took nearly a year for her to open up after attending counseling and therapy sessions and being lavished upon with love, safety and acceptance. Aditi gave birth and her baby was given for adoption; at age 12 she returned to formal education. She was flourishing in school, had new friends, and was gaining ground in dealing with her trauma - then she absconded from Homes of Hope.
Because of the compound and complex trauma that Aditi experienced during the early years when her brain was forming, her life ahead will be filled with challenges. In essence, her brain has been damaged.
"Starting in infancy, the brain is in an intense learning phase as we experience the world around us, and our brains continue to develop for many years. If trauma from sexual abuse occurs during childhood and teen years, the brain’s development can be hindered. Specifically, trauma can cause the limbic system to get stuck in perpetual survival mode and see the world as an unsafe place even after threats of danger fade. The instinctual limbic system will overpower the rational prefrontal cortex and make a child feel unsafe constantly, whether there’s something to be afraid of or not. In his book The Body Keeps the Score,* Dr. Bessel van der Kolk explains that “trauma produces actual physiological changes, including a recalibration of the brain’s alarm system.” These feelings of danger and alarm can lead to many negative results for the child."
What Does Child Sexual Abuse Do to the Brain? a blog written by Pam Davis
Aditi's story should be a call to action to each of us. Broken families, selfishness, greed, ignorance, poverty - just a few of the factors that push children into trafficking and exploitation.
Call to action:
If you are a parent: work on your marriage and protect your children.
If you are a sibling of someone being abused: speak up to someone who can help.
If you are a person in leadership: pastor; chief; teacher; police; health care worker - take notice, look for signs of abuse, and report.
If you are a friend, neighbor, acquaintance: take notice, look for signs of abuse, and report.
If we each don't do our part to stop exploitation and abuse, the "brain damage" within our young people will only increase and strengthen the cycles of abuse and exploitation and destruction.
Please visit our website, Homes of Hope Fiji, to join our team through prayer, giving, educating others, visiting, or volunteering.