“I was trash….” Lawan told me.
Every survivor of sexual exploitation deserves to tell their story in their heart language. The word that Lawan used to describe herself while telling her story is the lowest word for garbage in her language. It’s what you throw away after you’ve sorted through the trash and what’s left is worthless to family, neighbors and even to feed the animals. In her culture it’s the kind of trash you don’t bother to bag up; it belongs in the community dump.
Lawan believes that after sexual exploitation her life was not worthy enough to even be thrown out with garbage. She was useless to any person in the community and “empty of value” since her virginity had been taken.
“I understand what you do with trash…” were her next words. She held no one responsible for the shaming ramifications after her rape because she agreed with their judgment of her worthlessness.
What Lawan believes about her value will dictate the choices she makes for her future. Rape trespassed over her identity and clouded her vision so she can’t see her permanent worth. If this lie is so deeply ingrained that she can state it unflinchingly, then we know it may take 5, 10 or 15 years of daily speaking truth to Lawan until she believes in her own value. Regardless of how long it takes, we will be there every step of the way.
Thank you for making it possible for Lawan and other child survivors to understand their value before they make choices based upon the worthlessness they feel. Because of your consistent giving to Rapha House, we are able to tell these rescued girls day after day how worthy they are until this truth resonates within them, no matter how many years it takes.
- Written by Ashlee Walter
Rapha House Education Specialist