Nayana* and her family had their fair share of troubles. Nayana’s elder sister lived with a disability and the family could not afford a home of their own due to their financial difficulties. As a result, Nayana’s family moved in with her uncle and aunt. Trouble seemed to follow them there too as Nayana’s aunt moved out soon after this shift. This however did not trouble Nayana as she loved the company of her three cousins. Her uncle too was very caring – he worked in a city far away from home and would come home only once a month. This monthly homecoming was an event the children looked forward to. Nayana’s uncle was everyone’s favourite!

Nayana does not know why there was a sudden change in her uncle’s attitude towards her. The loving uncle suddenly turned into a monstrous predator as soon as this 13-year-old reached puberty. Nayana could never understand how this adoring father figure could turn into the dark shadow that sexually abused her. Nayana had so many questions that she could not find the answers to. She lived 2 whole years with this secret because she was afraid of her uncle’s threats and because she wanted to protect her family. However, the weight of this burden grew with every passing day. The fear, guilt and shame were too heavy for Nayana to bear any longer and so she let her secret spill from her lips to the confidence of her family and her teacher at school. A police complaint was filed shortly and Nayana was directed to the care of LEADS.

Sadly, Nayana’s problems were far from over. Even though this brave girl had battled her demons in secret for 2 whole years, there were still more obstacles that lay along her path to restoration. Nayana’s family did not know how to respond to the incident that had occurred and as a result, Nayana became a victim once again to the misunderstandings that took place within her home. Her mother did not want her to go to school any more even though school was Nayana’s only safe place. There was also the deep-seated fear that Nayana lived with even though her family moved out of her uncle’s home into a newly-constructed place of their own. Her parents left the children alone at home during the day as they had to earn a living to upkeep the family. Nayana would always look over her shoulder in agitation as her uncle’s home was just next door.

Nayana slowly unravelled her troubles, griefs and anxieties to her caregiver at LEADS where she found a new safe haven. Her counsellor helped her understand that what she faced was not her fault and slowly Nayana rebuilt her hopes for the future. Understanding that Nayana’s journey to restoration goes beyond psychosocial counselling, LEADS has helped Nayana’s family to build healthy relationships and reach financial stability as part of a long-term family strengthening plan. LEADS also ensured that Nayana resumed schooling and they gifted her with a back-to-school stationery pack to encourage her in her studies. Nayana also receives legal aid from LEADS to guide her family in the ongoing court case. Though Nayana and her family have an uphill journey ahead of them, LEADS will continue to be there for them, contributing its fullest to help Nayana have that bright future she deserves!

*Name has been changed to protect her identity.

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