MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES – Carissa* woke up sweating from her dream. It had seemed so real. Her little sister Jacqui* had been crying out for help. That's when she knew she had to tell someone about the abuse.
16-year-old Carissa has been living at a government-run children's shelter since she was rescued from her abusive home earlier this year. She meets regularly with her IJM social worker, who is helping her process the abuse she endured from her step-father. An IJM lawyer is helping build a case against the man.
On a recent visit to Carissa's shelter, she told her IJM social worker and lawyer that she had something more to share. She said she had seen her step-brother sexually abuse her 12-year-old sister Jacqui. It was the dream, Carissa said, that gave her the courage she needed to speak up about what she had seen. She wanted IJM to help her sister like they had helped her.
IJM immediately reported the alleged abuse to the local government, then went with officials to Jacqui's school. At first Jacqui was quiet, but she eventually confirmed everything her older sister had said. Her school guidance counselor assured the little girl that she was no longer alone: "This team was sent by God to take you out of this abuse," she said, adding, "We'll be here to support you every step of the way."
Now both Carissa and Jacqui are safe in shelters, where they can get the critical care they need. IJM social workers are planning to help Jacqui transfer to the same shelter so the sisters can be together. Jacqui is also a very bright student at the top of her class, and she will be able to keep up with her studies at the government shelter.
IJM Manila attorneys will work on both cases against the step-father and brother, to make sure the girls receive justice and the closure they need. The attorney handling Carissa's case commended her bravery for speaking up and said, "Jacqui's rescue is a testament to her sister's great love for her."
*Pseudonyms have been used for the protection of these IJM clients.