“I am brave so children can be safe”: A personal experience of violence in school

Suresh is an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse working to help other victims of abuse to heal from their trauma. He explains, through his own story, how education can be pivotal in preventing sexual violence on children and adolescents, and how everybody can help.

April 21, 2022 by Suresh Chhetry, Healing Together Nepal
4 minutes read
Children playing in the school's courtyard in Nepal. Credit: GPE/NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati
Children playing in the school's courtyard in Nepal.
Credit: GPE/NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati

My history of abuse

I am an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse. At the age of seven I was sexually abused by a father’s friend, and then by my teacher, for several years. I thought that it was normal, as it was happening to each and every friend of mine in the village.

Even recently in my adult life I have come across someone who grew up in a nearby village that was sexually abused by the same teacher.

Nepal is a beautiful country with its natural blessings and the land of Buddha but it has a traumatic history and systemic issues which enable environments where violence against children is often allowed to go unchecked, including within the education system.

I have been a teacher for 8 years and my experience is that the education system in Nepal is more teacher centric rather than students centered.

There are efforts to address this and put children’s safety and learning at the center of their educational experience, but more must be done: now.

I want to make sure that what happened to me does not happen again, to my children, or any other children around the world. This is why I am so happy to be a part of the Brave movement to end the sexual violence against children and adolescents. We need movements like this and our children deserve it.

My healing and becoming a survivor

After and through my time of abuse I also experienced poverty, malnutrition and disease. I was afraid of people, I was in a dark and lonely place, I felt like a victim. So, when I left my village to study, I felt relieved. I started to learn martial arts, dancing and acting, they helped me to feel a sense of myself, and to build my self-esteem.

In time, as I started to heal and receive mental health support, I was able, more than 20 years after my first experience of violence, to start talking about what had happened, and to start being compassionate towards myself.

From then I went on to become a healing advocate in Nepal through Healing Together Nepal, where I have been training teachers and community leaders to support survivors, as well as to break cycles of trauma and violence. It is through this work that I’ve learned how much opportunity lies within school communities to end violence against children.

The universal nature of violence in schools

The issue of sexual violence in schools is a global one, and one that effects both boys and girls, everywhere around the world. It is estimated that 246 million girls and boys experience violence in and around school every year.

In some countries, up to 54% of children report experiencing physical and/or sexual school-related violence.

And according to UNICEF, “One in 10 girls under the age of 20 have been forced to engage in sex or perform other sexual acts”.

Role of education system in preventing violence

Situation of the sexual violence on children and adolescents can be prevented when schools are safe when teachers and children learn about sexual violence. School education is crucial to change the society and to end child and adolescents’ sexual violence.

If the schools are safe, if the children are taught about their rights and are treated with respect, I believe this will change the face of sexual violence. It is critical work with not just teachers, and school leadership, but parents and communities who are aware of stories of childhood violence and its consequences.

It is because of my belief that education can be the solution, despite my experience at school, that I teach and that I am joining the global initiative to end violence in and around schools as an advisor, Safe to Learn.

Safe to Learn is an initiative dedicated to ending violence in and through schools so children are free to learn, thrive and pursue their dreams.

Join the movement and the Survivors Summit

Now, is the time to act to end sexual violence on children and adolescents. So, we are coming together as the Brave movement, with allies and supporters, to take bold, brave actions.

The Brave movement is led by 15 survivors leaders around the globe and we are convening our first Global Summit on 27 April, 2022 to discuss how we can all come together and take action to end childhood sexual violence.

Now is the time to sign up and make your voice heard against sexual violence on children and adolescents. Let’s come together to end this most inhuman, silent pandemic of all time. Let’s all be Brave now, so children can be safe. #BraveMovement

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I believe that such kind of amazing story of survivors of violence will help to build the resilience of other survivors who are suffering in silence with stigma and shame as though they are the perpetrators. Yes children need to be protected and interventions related with awareness, life skills, organizing school clubs, educating parents primarily in school and home is so important for a generation of free from violence. We need to be there for children , always, we should not fail them !

In reply to by konjit kefetew

Thank you so much for your kind comment and support!

Chantal / GPE Secretariat

In reply to by konjit kefetew

Thank you so much for the comment. My hope is to inspire more people to speak so that we can end violence in and around schools and at homes.

Thank you for your kind comment. As you have written, I believe to inspire more people to speak up and childhood sexual violence which is one of the silent pandemic of all time.

Thank you, you have shared very good information. Is very informative and quite interesting

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