Appa my Perpetrator

The more I got involved with the Tamil community, the more I heard about personal stories of childhood sexual abuse. It was as almost as though every Tamil woman* had a story. I didn’t even have to search much for these stories, they just fell onto my lap effortlessly.  

For the longest time, I have wanted to work on a project of childhood sexual abuse and trauma within the Tamil diaspora community. I first came across a story from a friend of mine when I was 17, then another story from a cousin and then was told that this was a problem within our community, as it is all around the globe.Is there something wrong with our society? Why are there so many perpetrators and why are they victimizing our children? Were they once abused as well?

I believe that this is a vicious cycle and it’s scary to think that the perpetrator who once hurt you was once also a child who was abused by an adult. Due to lack of knowledge and lack of psychological help available, the abuse cycle continues. This is also commonly the cause with domestic violence.

As Tamils, we obsess over “Tamil culture.” What is our culture? As I find more and more doors opening into the once hidden stories of CSA, I find it harder to not think this may as well be our culture. Our culture isn’t that we’re so modest or yearn to be modest. I’ve heard and witnessed many abusers being protected instead of the victim who’s is often blamed for the abuse. How does that child grow up to cope with the trauma, while thinking and feeling that he or she wasn’t protected by his or her parents, guardian or the society that fiercely advocates for cultural preservation?

The stories of Jenny and Tharshiga are just one of many stories I fail to bring out. I wanted to highlight on this particular issue to tackle many things we, as Tamils, brush under the rug. The pile has gotten so big that the dirt is starting to seep out of our small but mighty rug that we call “Tamil culture.”

When attending and partaking in the Tamil Studies Symposium at York University, Toronto, I came across A.N.B.U. (Abuse Never Becomes Us), and the stories of the co-founders, Tharshiga and Jenny. I was immediately moved and pulled Tharshiga aside to praise her for bravery. I told her that we must work together.

Jenny and Tharshiga
The word for ‘love’ in Tamil is “ANBU.” Co-founders Jenny at the left, and Tharshiga, right.

Almost a year later, here is Episode 1 of the co-founder, Jenny Starke on her own story of childhood sexual abuse by her biological father; her perpetrator.

*As mentioned above, Childhood Sexual Abuse is a common experience for Tamil women, and many Tamil men as well. I haven’t sought out these stories, as they automatically came to me. Most of these stories were told to me by women. I am aware that there are many men who are equally affected by CSA. I am, however, unaware of the statistics.

Listen to the story below:

If you are a survivor and/or loved one impacted by childhood sexual abuse within the Tamil community and would like to seek support, please contact A.N.B.U. at, (289) 801-2628 (ANBU) and/or send an anonymous message through

It is our moral and legal duty to report any incidences of childhood violence. For any questions, concerns and/or support, please contact