Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma

by Lotus Outreach
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma

CW: Story contains recounts of Sexual Assualt.

 

In the last 3 months, 21 survivors and 2 relatives received legal counseling through CTC. Legal counseling services are an important resource for survivors to feel empowered in taking on their cases with a supportive and knowledgable team to help them through the process. In offering these services, we hope to break the stigma surrounding sexual assault and abuse and hold perpetrators accountable for their offenses.

Sreyneang is 14 years old, living in Banteay Meanchey Province. She is the eldest in her family of six siblings, and only attended school through sixth grade. Sreyneang lives with her aunt and uncle, as her mother does labor work in Thailand to support the family. One day, when Sreyneang was at home, her Uncle came into her room. He sexually assaulted her, telling her that he loved her and would buy her things as long as she didn’t tell anyone. 

Sreyneang’s Aunt saw her husband as he was leaving Sreyneang's room and immediately asked what he had been doing in his niece’s room. He said he had gone to check on Sreyneang and dismissed his wife’s questions. Not trusting his answers, she went to Sreyneang and asked her what had happened. Sreyneang told her aunt the truth. Her aunt was upset and went to complain to the authorities immediately. Her uncle was arrested and sent to the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Police.

Sreyneang was brought to the CTC safe shelter by her aunt and social workers to consult with the program's legal aid officer. She decided to stay in the shelter with the consent of her aunt in order to continue the case. The legal aid officer, in cooperation with the police and a lawyer, filed a complaint with the court. Currently, Sreyneang is waiting for a summons to the court, where her case will be heard. Until then, she will continue to stay in the shelter, where she receives counseling and support from peers and staff. Through group and individual therapy and making meaningful connections with friends who have gone through similarly challenging experiences, the shelter has proved a supportive space for Sreyneang’s healing. 

Thank you for supporting CTC. We are committed to supporting survivors to heal and move forward. 

*Sreyneang is a name given by the writer to protect identity of the survivor. 

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Women and young girls who are living in our target area of Banteay Mean Chey province, an isolated and rural area, are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses. Often, the survivors of rape and domestic violence and exploitation are afraid of reporting the identity of perpetrators to police for security reasons and social stigma. 

Beginning this year, as part of CTC, in addition to counseling and reintegration support, LO has been able to add the routine provision of legal assistance to survivors in our safe shelter. This is a huge support for the women and girls residing in the shelter- as they recover and heal from their trauma, legal assistance works to hold their abusers accountable and ensure that they re-integrate into a safe environment. 

This year, a second wave of Covid and subsequent lockdowns in Cambodia have limited the ability to implement CTC activities fully. Currently, the shelter is hosting 13 survivors and two family members. Riya* is one of the most recent residents to come to the safe shelter, we share her story below. It is a heartbreaking account and one that sounds all too familiar, as many of the survivors in our shelter are young girls aged 8-13.

CW: contains sexual assault

Riya is 10 years old, studying in the third grade. Riya’s father left her mother soon after she was born. A few months later, Riya’s mother remarried. Early on in their marriage, Riya’s stepfather showed abusive tendencies and often used violence against her and her mother to control and dominate their actions.

Riya’s mother supported the family with her day labor job, making barely enough to get by while the stepfather remained home all day, unemployed. Riya helped out with housework and took care of her younger step brother while her mother was away at work. In her mother’s absence, Riya was left alone with her stepfather. During these days at home, the stepfather raped Riya and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. This continued for several months. Trapped in an impossible situation, Riya remained quiet as her stepfather continued to abuse her.  

In April, as her stepfather attempted to rape her yet again, Riya tried running out into the fields where her mother was working. He chased her into the fields, attempting to ensure that Riya wouldn’t say anything to her mother. However, when he felt assured and returned home, Riya found the courage to speak to her mother about the abuses she had endured. Riya told her mother everything that had happened to her and her mother immediately went to the village chief and the police to make a complaint. Her husband was arrested and taken to jail. 

Riya was brought to the safe shelter by her mother in June of 2021. She has recieved comprehensive services while staying at the shelter, including medical treatment, mental health counselling, and legal assistance to take her court case forward.

With increased support to hold perpetrators accountable, survivors feel more ready to speak up and the cycle of abuse and stigma surrounding it can be broken. CTC is committed to creating a safe and supportive environment for young women and girls like Riya to process trauma, with the right support and encouragement we hope that they will be able to move forward and heal. 


Riya* is a name given by the writer. Her real name is hidden to protect her privacy in accordance with the child protection policy of CWCC.

 

Meeting with government volunteer lawyer
Meeting with government volunteer lawyer
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Content Warning: Report contains sexual assault

Srey Nuch* is 12 years old, in the second grade. When her parents recently divorced, she chose to live with her mother. Soon after, both of her parents were remarried and her stepfather came to live with Srey and her mother. Srey Nuch immediately felt uncomfortable around her stepfather, she found him staring at her frequently and he would make physical contact that she was uneasy with.

One day, Srey Nuch’s mother went to work and she was left alone with her stepfather. He forced himself on Srey and raped her. This happened three times. Srey was helpless and terrified, but each time, he threatened to kill her if she told anyone.  Scared for her life, Srey Nuch hid the incidents from everyone, including her mother. A few weeks later, her stepfather had a dispute with a neighbor. Srey, witnessing his behaviour and unable to endure another attack, decided to tell her mother about what had happened. Srey Nuch’s mother immediately reported her husband to the police, and the family received an intervention from local authorities. He was arrested by the police and sent to court, while Srey Nuch was sent to our safe shelter for protection and healing. 

When Srey Nuch arrived at the shelter, she felt uneasy in the new environment and told her mother that she wished to return home after getting her health examination results. Her mother persuaded Srey to stay at the shelter with other girls rather than being home alone while she was away at work. Srey Nuch agreed to stay at the shelter but was understandably downtrodden and missed her mother. 

After a few sessions, counselors began to notice a change in Srey Nuch’s behavior. She started to connect more with people around her and attended group counseling and weekly meetings. She started opening up about her past with her peers. At the court date, Srey spoke in front of the judge and all present for the trial. Her case closed with her stepfather, the perpetrator, being sentenced to nine years in jail. Srey Nuch is staying at the safe shelter, continuing to heal with the support of counselors and other community members and has enrolled in a public school nearby as well. We are confident that Srey has the support she needs to move forward in a healthy environment.

 

Thank you for your support.

 

Srey Nuch* is a name given by the writer. Her real name is hidden to protect her privacy in accordance with the child protection policy.

 

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International Women's Day celebration
International Women's Day celebration

Content Warning: Sexual Assault

Chenda* is 12 years old and lives in Banteay Meanchey Province. She was born into a low income family and has not been enrolled in school since she was much younger. Chenda is the 3rd child among 4 children in her family and she was always helpful around the house and kind to her siblings.

Chenda currently resides at the CWCC safe shelter for survivors of abuse and other trauma. Chenda came to the shelter after she was raped by her father 3 times when her mother was out of the house. Her father threatened to beat or kill her if she told anyone, especially her mother. Some time later, Chenda’s Uncle noticed that she was acting strangely and looked frightened and pale, so he asked what was wrong with her and why she was acting like this. At first, she didn’t want to tell her Uncle the truth and tried to avoid him, but her Uncle persisted and asked her again and again.

Chenda finally decided to tell the truth about what had happened to her. Her uncle immediately filed a complaint against Chenda’s father to the local authorities for intervention. Shortly thereafter, Chenda’s father was arrested by the police and sent to prison while Chenda was sent to CWCC safe shelter in Banteay Meanchey to await the trial.

When she first arrived at the safe shelter she was fearful and didn't get along smoothly with other people at the shelter. The counselor worked hard to build trust and confidence with Chenda. She encouraged her to take time for self-reflection and connected her to other girls in the shelter. After a while, Chenda felt more comfortable and started to find it easier to get along with other girls through group counseling and participating in shelter activities.

Currently, she’s still residing in the shelter where her healing and support are the priority. Her overall health is fine, both physically and emotionally. She is also attending vocational training inside the shelter, participating in sewing and fashion design classes. CWCC staff will continue to assist her and support her in her healing process in all the ways that they are able.

Thank you for supporting the wellbeing of survivors like Chenda. With the support of a safe and caring community, we hope that they may all heal and move forward into bright futures with confidence and determination. 

*Chenda is a name given by the writer to protect her privacy in according to child protection policy of CWCC.

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Beauty Skill Training
Beauty Skill Training

When Borey[1] was 13, she got drunk with a group of girlfriends and some boys at one of the boys' rented home. After some time, the boys shooed Borey’s friends away so they were alone with her. Two boys allegedly raped her while the others made a video.

Borey’s parents were divorced, and she lived with her paternal grandmother and her two siblings. At the time, she was in ninth grade. When she returned home she didn’t tell anyone. Soon after, however, the video had been uploaded online and her face was visible, clearly showing her identity. She was worried her family would see the video and blame her so she decided to tell them what happened from her side. The family decided to make a complaint but rather than going to the police, they went to our local partner Cambodian Women's Crisis Center (CWCC) to ask for advice.

Sokny, the project counselor, involved anti- trafficking police and showed them the video. Police interviewed the boys involved and they did a forensic exam on Borey. They decided there were no grounds for a criminal case as, in the video, the girl did not seem to resist in any way. They suggested monetary compensation, but the girl was defamed and was only seeking to protect herself against being blamed by her family for the incident- Borey felt all of her friends and society blamed her, she stopped going to school and felt humiliated due to the shame and discrimination that followed.

In December 2019 Borey entered the safe shelter. At the beginning she was very angry, embarrassed and suicidal. Initially, counseling reduced her anger and shame but she was still not willing to discuss her story, instead telling other shelter survivors she was there for a different reason. In the first month at the shelter, she decided not to return to school. She requested to pursue beauty skills training instead and entered into the training program in January.

It has been several months since she joined the shelter, and her behaviour is beginning to change. She's learned to accept her experience and has developed a sense that she can start over. She's been doing chores and cooperating with others and seems overall less angry. She has become a nice and cooperative person. Her family, who felt that she was wild and had brought all this upon herself, are very surprised at how quickly she has moved forward. She has recently changed her mind with respect to schooling too and  wants to continue with her education in the new academic year November 2020.

Thank you for giving. Your support provides a safe and healing space for these girls to move forward.  

 

[1] Borey is a name given by the writer. Her real name is hidden to protect her privacy in accordance with the child protection policy of CWCC. 

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Lotus Outreach

Location: Ojai, California - USA
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Twitter: @lotusoutreach
Project Leader:
Maya Norbu
Ojai, CA United States
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