Homes of Hope believes that every victim has the potential of becoming a leader and an advocate for others. For a victim to turn survivor, for a survivor to turn leader - all is part of the healthy process of healing from sexual trauma.
Recently, Homes of Hope was invited to speak to several government officials who were under-going training regarding trafficking of human beings. We brought a couple of our staff members to speak, and we also brought along one of our residents who wanted to speak on behalf of others who were still caught as victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking. Please read below this resident's speech (that she powerfully and boldly delivered!):
"As a peer mentor, representative and champion for Homes of Hope and all it stands for, I am privileged to have among my audience those at the front line of combat against social crimes and also those who are tasked to assist its victims and the unfortunate.
I am just one voice for the many, the “we”. “We” make up 34% of women in Fiji who have been sexually abused at one time in their life. We will be divided into 3 groups, groups which HoH assists in different ways. One way or another, we have the same stories, only with different names and different faces.
#1) Stereotyped from the beginning to be a failure because of our social status, we are just another statistic in the growing trend of incest, rape and CSEC; we are the VULNERABLE.
#2) from a young age, our needs are neglected, innocence stolen and voices silenced. We might also be adults, mentally, physically or not sober enough to voice/act out that “No” we are, the VICTIMS.
#3) we have fled from the encroaching grips of forced sex, seeking love, protection and meaning in life; we are the SURVIVORS.
The abuse we have faced has impacted and wounded us deeply. This impacts our education and limits our career choice to working the streets as demonstrated to us by lifelong friends/family.
As victims, we can be very defensive and rebellious. We can continue to accept abuse from future relationships viewing it as a normal way of life and can result in unplanned pregnancies, domestic violence and juvenile crimes.
We do not want you to just see, but to also understand. To not just know, but to realize our abuse does not define us. To not only hear our stories, but to listen to our hearts cry. We simply need LOVE. Love that is built on trust, empathy and care; that does not discriminate or judge.
To conclude, I would like to ask each of you to be patient with us, to understand the trauma that we have faced, and to look not at who we were but who we are now."
Quite powerful, don't you think?
Our prayer is that at this Christmas season, you will "look not at who people were, but who they are now". Christ came to restore and redeem mankind. Let's honor Him this Christmas by looking at one another through His glasses - those of forgiveness and hope.
Merry Christmas from all of us at Homes of Hope!
Would you consider giving to the work of Homes of Hope this Christmas? Every dollar given is used either for direct care of victims or the training of leaders.
Please visit our website, Homes of Hope Fiji, to give today!