Recovering from physical, sexual and emotional abuse is a delicate process, one which our Consoling through Counseling (CTC) psychologist, Sokny, knows all too well. There are currently 96 women and girls receiving trauma therapy at our safe shelter in Sisophon, Cambodia for domestic violence, rape and human trafficking. Twenty of our rape and trafficking victims are under the age of 18—with a few as young as four years old—underscoring the need for qualified counseling in a safe, nurturing environment where girls can receive the love and affection that was denied to them up until a few short months ago.
Srey’s* story underscores the immense need for quality counseling service, and her transition illustrates the tremendous effect that trauma therapy can have on an individual’s life. Thirteen year-old Srey was taken by her aunt to Thailand to work as a domestic servant for a businessman promising a lucrative job opportunity. Instead, Srey was repeatedly beaten and raped by her employer and never given a single penny. She eventually managed to escape to a neighbor’s house who took her to the local police station. Srey was then referred to our partner, the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, for assistance and psychological evaluation at our safe shelter.
In her first few weeks at the shelter, Srey was aggressive and anti-social. She was filled with anger and often provoked arguments with other clients. She showed no respect for her elders (a cultural norm in Cambodia) and snapped angrily when staff tried to assist or talk to her. Her personal hygiene suffered and she refused to bathe or brush her hair.
In the course of a few months at the shelter, Sokny managed to convince Srey to attend regular counseling sessions and over time was able to build a sense of trust and comradery with the young girl. Srey gradually began to open up in individual counseling sessions and was shortly after sharing her story with other victims in a small group setting. She began to talk to Sokny about her past, drawing pictures and reminiscing about her younger years while opening up about the abuse she had endured while in Thailand. Soon her wall of isolation crumbled away and she began to communicate more positively and get along with her peers.
Today, as a result of her time with Sokny and the close bond they developed, Srey has completely transformed. She now takes care of herself, gets along well with others and actively participates in learning activities at the shelter. With continued love and encouragement, we hope to help Srey put her past behind her and eventually enroll in school and rejoin her society.
Our CTC project is a boon to young women and girls who would otherwise allow their anger and shame to consume them and sully their prospects for a health and happy life. Programs that supply professional counseling for victims of sex crimes are known to reduce related concerns like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction and suicide. From one year to the next, our small team of qualified Cambodian professionals provides hundreds of girls and women with individual and group counseling.
Thank you for making this initiative possible!
*Name has been changed
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