GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA – Last week, a man was sentenced to 52 years in prison for a brutal sexual assault. For the survivor, 8-year-old Lucía,* the sentence was another step forward on a long and difficult road of healing.
“We hadn’t seen this level of physical violence before,” said IJM psychologist Miriam Cruz. “Lucía was the most physically injured of any case we have had. She suffered severe trauma.” Lucia’s perpetrator broke into her family’s house during the night last year. He raped her and beat her so violently she fell unconscious, then left her nearly dead.
Lucía’s family rushed her to the hospital, where the girl would spend a month recovering from the brutal attack. A pediatric social worker familiar with IJM Guatemala’s work called for help.
While Cruz counseled the family and offered Lucia initial crisis care, IJM Guatemala’s legal team developed a case against the man to ensure he would be held accountable for his violent actions. The forensic medical examination provided irrefutable evidence in court, and the panel of judges delivered the significant sentence of 52 years in prison.
Lucía has been left with permanent physical injuries as a result of the attack. The court ordered that Lucía receive additional needed surgery, and IJM is helping the family identify the best doctor for the procedures she will require. However, even with surgery, medical experts do not anticipate she will be able to fully recover from the injuries inflicted by this brutal attack.
After so much has been stolen from this little girl, the team is committed to continuing to support her. Incredibly, Lucia is making great strides through trauma-focused therapy, walking through the difficult process of healing with the support of IJM Guatemala social workers.