ANGEL’S mother may have wronged her repeatedly, but Angel has remained a child who always longs for a parent’s comforting embrace, especially in trying periods of her young life.
The 15-year-old Angel is a child of sorrow. Not only was she battered, she has also been raped allegedly by her stepfather for three years, since she was 11 until she turned 13.
The girl was able to testify in court and has tried hard to pursue her case.
Angel is apparently coping with her traumatic experience.
Social workers who attended Angel at the Marilac Hills in Alabang, Muntinlupa, the half-way house maintained by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for victims of child abuse, said that coping is critical because, without it, “no amount of rehabilitation or counseling could help the person.”
“When the child failed to cope from the trauma during her younger years, it’s possible that it would manifest when she becomes an adult,” the said.
Coping up with the trauma, social workers said, varies for each victim of abuse.
Sometimes, the conviction of the abuser sets the victim free. But there are those who still suffer from guilt despite the conviction of the suspect.
A majority of the clients housed in Marilac have on-going court cases. Their ages range from seven to 17 years old.
The brave girl that she is, Angel serves as an inspiration to other abused children at the half-way house for abused children in Marilac Hills.
She advised other children who may be suffering from abuse — or other forms of exploitation — to seek help from elders.
Parents may also learn from Angel’s bad experience, and she advises them to protect and love their children — always.
Terror and trauma
Children need not face their abusers while a case is being heard in court. A child’s testimony in video is now acceptable in court.
There are only 14 so-called “investigation studios” in the country, most of them in Metro Manila. There, the children can relate their experiences without feeling traumatized again.
This is because a trained social worker provides counseling along the way.
Children in half-way homes are taught to be independent until they are ready to face the world at the age of 18, says a social worker at the half-way house.
Other institutions will find a job for these children or train them in income-generating activities.
Social workers are there for as long as the children need counseling — or even just someone to talk with.
This is part of my article “Incest with an Angel” published by People’s Tonight on April 17, 2006.