Three young girls found support and care from a World Vision trauma recovery center in Cambodia after being sexually assaulted by a leader in their community.
By Ratana Lay. Edited by Elisa Casey, World Vision U.S.
Chan,* 12, knocks on the counseling room door of the World Vision trauma recovery center. She is from a province not far from Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
She’s been through a personal hell. Chan was raped by her great-grandfather, Ta.
“I was hurt and afraid of what was happening,” Chan reveals. “When I was with my parents, I pretended nothing [had] happened to me, I stopped my tears from flowing.”
Chan was afraid to tell anyone about what had happened to her. Ta is a village elder and highly respected. Two of Chan’s friends, Le and Lin, were also sexually assaulted by Ta.
Chan’s friend, Le, was the first to tell her own mother that she had been raped. Le desperately needed help and told the truth. Le also disclosed the secret that Chan and Lin had been raped.
After discovering the truth, a report was filed with the local authorities in hopes of seeking justice. Chan, Le, and Lin wanted to ensure that other children would be protected from their traumatic experiences. They feared that other girls would become victims.
Because Ta was an elder in their village, the mothers had believed that their daughters would be safe in his home. The perpetrator had lured the three girls to his home with food and cash.
Chan, Lin, and Le warn, “All parents with small daughters should not allow their daughters to sleep in other people’s houses without your presence because I don’t want them to face problem like me.”
The girls have been living in a World Vision trauma recovery center for three months. During this time, they have learned to be strong.
They receive help in the form of counseling, medical examinations, vaccinations, and education. They also participate in creative and skill-building activities, such as weaving, planting vegetables, dancing, and sports.
Though the girls miss their families, their parents occasionally come to visit, and they talk on the telephone.
“My father told me not to miss him,” says Chan. “He told me to be patient and to study hard.”
As a result of the counseling they have received from World Vision’s staff in Cambodia, the three girls have learned how to love and encourage each other.
Their teacher also is a source of support. “Our teacher said, the three of us will be outstanding students in the class,” she says.
*To protect the identity and safety of these girls, names have been changed.
Thank God that these girls were able to find the help and counseling that they needed. Pray that Chan, Le, and Lin remain safe and continue to heal from their experiences, and pray that other vulnerable children are protected from vicious exploitation.
Make a one-time gift to help provide hope for sexually exploited girls like Chan, Le, and Lin. Your donation will help us provide assistance like education, trauma recovery counseling, medical care, education, safe shelter, and more.
Contact your senators today. Ask them to support renewal of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a crucial legislative tool in the fight against child exploitation that already expired on September 30, 2011, and must be reauthorized immediately.