No More Shame
Meeting women who have found that being raped no longer defines who they are
Last summer I sat in a somber meeting and listened as young women shared the nightmares that had brought them to Women of Wellness Center in DR Congo. My ears had to strain to understand their stories as three languages were spoken simultaneously, with the last being barely audible English whispered in my ear.
Soft-spoken voices cracked with raw pain as difficult words were uttered. A dark shadow of shame hung in the air, in sharp contrast to the atmosphere we’d enjoyed as we celebrated their completion of the center’s vocational program the day before.
Story after story told of heart-wrenching poverty, fear, and loss, and one young woman had to sit down without finishing due to her inability to speak through her sobs.
All of them had been mercilessly raped.
Though the village, time of day, and type of assailant—civilian or member of the militia—varied among them, they had each experienced violation in the fullest sense of the word. That which is most precious was taken without permission, and the unfortunate label of victim became their nightmarish reality.
Let me tell you about Crystal, one of the women I met.
Crystal told me her father was a soldier when she was born in Butemba, but he died before she ever got a chance to meet him. Years later she was sent to live with her grandmother in the city of Goma. While in Goma, she was assaulted and became pregnant. Her attacker ran away, but Crystal tracked down his family in hopes of finding compassion and care for the child she was carrying. Instead she was treated very poorly. (This is not uncommon in Africa!) “I was too weak to stay there,” she sobbed.
After Crystal’s baby was born, a woman from her church recommended that she go to the Women of Wellness Center to receive ministry, healing, and tailoring instruction so she could support herself. Desperate, Crystal decided it was worth a try. In the weeks that followed, a newfound sense of hope grew right alongside her new skills. And she found healing in the camaraderie of her fellow students.
Crystal represents just one of so many who have received help and training from the Women of Wellness Center in DR Congo. All glory and honor to God, who cherishes the weak and fragile of this world.
Together for the “least of these,”
Director, Victims of Sexual Violence Ministry