Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Dressember: Clarisa's Story

Her Innocence Made Her an Easy Target

Clarisa* was rescued from sexual exploitation in one of IJM’s first-ever cases in the Dominican Republic. The team first met her in October 2014, and she shared how she had been assaulted by one man despite her resistance—and then how he sold her to another man, who assaulted her again. Both suspects threatened to hurt Clarisa or her family if she dared to tell anyone.

Clarisa is one of nine siblings, raised in a poor and very dangerous neighborhood in Santo Domingo, the capital city. So many girls are left vulnerable to abuse here, but Clarisa even more so. She’s 14 but, due to a developmental disability, Clarisa experiences the world much like a 6-year-old does.

Clarisa’s innocence made her easy prey for a man who targeted children in this slum. This man cornered her and assaulted her—perhaps many times over the course of a year—and then allegedly sold her to a friend. IJM later learned he has a reputation for pimping young girls, and we have no idea what other plans he was making to profit from Clarisa’s abuse.

Her mother, Alma,* was deeply hurt and confused as she watched her sweet, helpful daughter become angry and aloof. Clarisa would disappear for days at a time out of fear, and Alma had no idea why. When she discovered the horrifying reason, Alma ran to authorities, desperate for help.

IJM partnered with local anti-trafficking police to arrest these abusers just days later. This is certainly a victory—but the case is not over yet.

The days immediately following a rescue can be some of the most dangerous for a girl like Clarisa. If released on bail, these dangerous men could have easily found Clarisa’s family and exacted revenge. IJM worked with police for 48 hectic hours to gather the evidence needed to keep them in custody, where they remain today. (Read more about the arrest here.)

A New Beginning

For the first time in her life, Clarisa is going to school and getting the medical care she needs. She celebrated her birthday this summer surrounded by the staff at an aftercare home as well as her mother and an IJM social worker.

“Not only was Clarisa rescued, but her mother is now at peace,” explains IJM’s casework director Jessica, “Though it is painful for her to say goodbye at the center, she encourages her daughter that it is in her best interest that she is there healing. When Clarisa shared with us what she is learning and doing, her mother was smiling proudly.”

The story will continue, but each visit with Clarisa brings hope.

Jessica says of a recent visit, “When we visited Clarisa this week, she still tells us spontaneous
stories, but now these stories are about how she is doing in school. She showed us her notebook and the homework she has done, all with a beautiful smile on her face.”
*Survivors' names are changed for their protection.
The content of this blog post was provided by the Dressember Foundation.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...