Some of the girls who are sent to Courage Homes come to us not because of
having been trafficked into a brothel, but because of abuse by their father.
This is heartbreaking to me. The way I imagine it is that when the girl was
born, the father was a proud father. As she grew into a small child he
might have carried her to the local store with him. She probably crawled
into his lap at home and snuggled. To her, he was the strongest and most
wonderful man in her world. Then one horrible night–or many nights after
that–he came to her and did the unthinkable. The girl may be too confused
to know what to do. This man, her father, isn’t suppose to act like that.
We are told that being abused by a father is harder for a girl to understand
then being abused by a stranger. Trust is broken. The confusion of what to
do with the love a girl has in her heart for her father is unbearable. Her
whole world comes crashing down. Many choose denial at first. But the
abuse continues. A girl dies inside.
If a girl chooses to speak out about the abuse there are consequences. Many
times the father will be arrested. Or the mother will leave him. A family
will be broken. But suppose the mother believes she does not have skills to
provide for herself and her children…you can see how this would prevent a
woman from leaving a bad situation. True, some women are strong and do
leave. Some mothers stand by their daughters. But more often we have seen
mothers who beg their daughters to deny what happened. “Just say it didn’t
happen and we can all be a family again.” A girl is pressured to lie.
Sometimes a family member will tell the girl that they are suicidal and that
the only solution is for the girl to drop the case and say she lied. And
sometimes this is what happens. Then, even though she may have earlier
claimed abuse, if a girl later changes her story and says, “I lied before,
and now I want to go back to my family”, there is little that we or Social
Services can do to stop it.
I get angry. I get sad. And my heart breaks again. This poor girl has
gone through the loss of so much already. And now she has to kill whatever
fighting spirit she had left in her. The hope that she had to be safe is
gone. Now on top of that she has said she is a liar and made up this
horrible story against her dad. She is the bad person now. As she leaves
us to return to her family I want to tell her that we will always believe
her–I will always believe her. At least there will be someone who knows
that she is not bad.