On March 29, a former military sergeant who used his position of influence and economic power to sexually abuse and rape his stepdaughter for years was declared guilty and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Bolivian court – the survivor was 9 years old when he first started abusing her.
At first, the survivor’s mother was hesitant to ask for help or bring the case to local authorities because she feared her daughter’s aggressor. He was a former military plane mechanic, a person of influence and physical strength. For years, the family suffered in silence and fear, as the mother and her three daughters relied on his income.
In 2017, knowing the family could not afford legal or therapy services, local authorities referred the case to IJM. For three years, IJM walked alongside this survivor and her family, providing her with therapy to help her achieve health and wholeness and representing her in court.
Local authorities restrained the aggressor with pre-trial detention – meaning he was kept under custody until his trial was completed. In the meantime, IJM staff provided the family with the support they needed to bring the case to court. After three long years, the court finally ruled in favor of the survivor.
With tears in her eyes, the survivor’s mother thanked IJM lawyers after hearing the court’s verdict: “If IJM wasn’t involved in the case, I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own.”
A positive ruling in favor of a survivor does not only bring relief to the survivor and her family, as they rest assured that the aggressor will be held accountable and not able to hurt them anymore. It is also a key step in the survivor’s restoration because it validates her story and reassures her that what she experienced was wrong and not her fault.
Nine years after the first time she was abused, she received justice. The survivor is now 18 years old. She graduated from IJM’s aftercare program last December and continues to live with her mother and sisters. Our staff helped her find funding to pursue her education by connecting her with a local partner organization who will finance her 4-year study plan to become a P.E. teacher.