The courageous children

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FR. SHAY CULLEN, SSC

Who says children are destroyed for life after being sexually and physically abused? Yes, they are hurt. It is hard for them when their abuser is not punished. They can live a more peaceful and happy life if they can remove the pain and hurt from their hearts. That’s the benefit of the emotional release therapy at Preda homes for abused children.

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Those who receive help and therapy, affirmation and care are empowered. They overcome their anger and pain and are healed. They pursue justice too and get their abusers convicted. The victims – survivors are resilient and strong and can testify in court. With help, encouragement and emotional expression therapy, they can recover and challenge abusers in court. That is the inspiring story of the courageous Charisa.

She was only 10 years old when one day in January 2017, while she was bathing in the river, Ise Agayaoy, a neighbor, called her to his house to share a meal. He brought her to a small room, threw her on the bamboo bed and began to sexually molest her with his fingers. She fought back and pushed him off her, pulled up her shorts and managed to run outside.

Julie, a neighbor, saw her bleeding and then called her mother who took her to the hospital. She was confined for two days. On January 6, 2017 she was admitted to the Preda home for girls. Charisa was traumatized and needed help and therapy and support. Besides, the abuser was in the vicinity of her home and a serious threat to her.

In a few weeks, Charisa began to recover and regain her self-confidence. After expressing her anger and pain in the emotional expression therapy room and with daily affirmation, counseling and the acceptance and care in the Preda home, she had the courage to pursue a court case against her rapist.

She bravely gave her testimony to the prosecutor and filed her complaint of rape in May 2017. The accused failed to submit his counter affidavit or deny the accusation and Bernadine S. Santos, Associate Provincial Prosecutor, recommended that he be charged in court for rape. He went into hiding and the judge, Ma Christina Pizarro, issued a warrant for his arrest.

On Sept. 5, 2017, a Preda social worker learned from a contact that the accused had returned to his house under cover of darkness. She immediately contacted the Subic Police warrant officer. She and the officer, backed up by police, arrested Ise Agayaoy. Charisa, now empowered and with self-confidence, will testify in court. She continues with her schooling, safe and comfortable in the Preda home.

This is another victory for justice and more children will be safe from abuse.

Then there is the story of Caesar. A little more than a year ago, a social worker brought Cesar to the Preda home for boys. He had bruises all over his body from beatings by his own father and grandfather who mauled him for the slightest misdemeanor. Because of this, he left home, afraid and traumatized by the adults in his life that should have shown understanding and love instead of brutal beatings. He stayed most of the time on the streets, dropped out of school. Then the beatings became worse. A concerned neighbor reported to the local social worker what was happening to him.

Cesar felt rejected by his own family. At the Preda home, he was initially nervous, shy and distant from the other boys. He slowly learned that he was accepted, felt understood and came to trust the staff and some of his fellow residents and became friends with them. He participated in most of the activities and had the Emotional Release Therapy and this helped him overcome his fear and anger at his uncaring relatives. He joined the non-formal education (NFE) sessions and loved to learn in the new accepting and supportive environment of Preda. The staff enrolled him at Nagbayan Elementary School. He studied with great attention and interest.

The Preda social worker invited Cesar’s father to the Preda home to attend the family therapy sessions. During the first session, the father had nothing good to say about his own child. Then, through a series of family therapy sessions, it was pointed out that children are born innocent; they become unruly and rebellious when they are not loved or are abused. He also learned about children’s rights and responsible parenthood. Eventually, he realized that he had a lot of shortcomings to Cesar and was ready to make amends with his son.

Soon after his graduation, Cesar was reintegrated back to his family. It was a great success. The family accepted him and realized that they were the problem, not Caesar. They had the goodwill to change. Cesar now has a happy family.

There is always hope and help for those in need. We can all do our part to make our families more loving and caring.

www.preda.org

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