Picture of victim of sexual of violence from DR Congo

Back from Hell

How Florence Is Overcoming Abduction and Sexual Slavery

Dear Family,

Though this story is difficult to read, it gives a clear picture of the horrible reality many young women in Africa face.

Florence and four others trudged on foot, their backs loaded with heavy charcoal ready to sell back at their homes in Goma, DR Congo. This was to be a two-day walk, but they were ready for their journey and knew they were strong enough to walk the whole way.

But on the first day, a group of armed soldiers forced the women to drop their charcoal and carry food and ammunition that the soldiers had recently looted. If they wanted to survive, Florence and her friends had no choice. They began the seemingly endless walk to their unknown destination. One woman among them had already been abducted, and her swollen feet could carry her no longer—she was pregnant and exhausted. She pleaded, “Please let me rest!” The soldiers strangled her on the spot.

Fearful of being murdered in cold blood, Florence and her friends submitted to their captors and walked all night. Their destination turned out to be an underground shelter, the makeshift home of these ruthless men. A nightmarish existence began: They fetched water and cooked food as commanded, and all of them were forced into sex by countless men.

Five days later, while they were going for water, a “wife” of one captor urgently told Florence and her team to run! Her traveling companions were afraid, but Florence was determined to get away. Her insistence persuaded them, and they ran until dark. Far from those who had violated them, they slept safely at night, though they had no idea where they were. After three long days, they finally straggled into the village of Mushaki, 69 kilometers from home. Suffering from exhaustion, and with great hunger and thirst, Florence fainted upon arrival and was discovered by a woman who kindly cared for her for the next three days.

Florence now has a two-year-old son who was conceived during these horrific five days of captivity. But because of you, she is beginning to move forward from the trauma and pain she endured to a future filled with hope in the Lord. She is grateful for her new skill of sewing—which you helped provide—that will serve her for many years!

Thank you for being used by God to write new stories in the lives of women like Florence. You are greatly treasured!

For the least of these,

Director of the Victims of Sexual Violence Ministry

Patty Forney
co-Director, Victims of Sexual Violence Ministry

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