By Crislyn Felisilda; Edited by Leanna Cappiello
My name is Anna*: I’m 37, and a mother of five children. Anita*, is my only daughter. When she was born, we treated her like a princess. She was an answered prayer because it was my wish to have a daughter.
My husband was a taxi driver and served as the main provider of our family. Over a period of five years, we lived in 12 different apartments. It seemed like we’re always running away because we couldn’t pay rent. Sadly, I heard some rumors that he started experimenting with drugs. Instead of bickering with him, I focused on taking care of my children.
One day, I saw blood on my daughter’s underwear, but I knew she was too young for menstruation. My daughter wept as she confided in me: her father had been sexually abusing her. I didn’t believe it at first. When we went to the doctor, she tested positive from vaginal laceration, revealing that her genital injuries started when she was even younger.
My daughter told me that she was forced to cooperate with the things that her father wanted her to do, and he threatened her, saying he’d kill me if she told anyone.
I was horrified, frozen in shock as I heard my daughter’s cries. I wanted to take away those hurtful memories and replace them with happy ones. I wanted to take away all her pain, to protect her.
So, I filed the case. Telling my family and reporting my husband to the police was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was the best decision I could have made. I finally feel free.
Initially, Anita was hesitant at first to share her story, but she was determined to tell the truth. My husband is in prison now and we’re committed to pursue the case until we claim justice for my daughter.
Anita and I joined the healing sessions led by World Vision. I joined the caregiver development class and Anita joined creative art workshop. These have been helpful for us to heal gradually. It also makes us feel that we are not alone facing our battle. We’re not only gaining insight and learning, but we’re also gaining friends.
My daughter is the toughest girl I know. I’m thankful that she has a good support system from our family, school, friends, and other groups who care for our welfare. As a way of coping, Anita has been active in school. She joins dance contests and sporting fest without compromising her academic performance.
I am sharing our story for every mother, sister or child who lives in silence. I hope that people will understand that our life is valuable and worthy of protection.
*Names changed to protect identities
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