“All people here on earth have their own hardships in life, happiness, and chaos. I didn’t know who I could get courage from because the people who were supposed to be helping me were hurting me. But in that storm, Love146 became the wall around my life. I am appreciated, loved, and accepted in a way I have never felt before. I will never lose hope.” -Ann Marie
Ann Marie joined our Survivor Care in the Philippines several years ago.
Before coming to Love146, in her early teenage years, Ann Marie lived with extended family. At 13, she was brought by a relative to a compound that housed a religious cult. She was horrifically abused regularly to “cleanse her of her sins.” It was three years before she came to Love146’s Survivor Care, at age 16. Here, she blossomed back to life, making huge strides in her personal life and in school until she made it to the top ten students in her high school class. Outside of school, she learned guitar and piano, and also studied beauty and hairdressing techniques so that she could support her continuing education in social work or law.
And she sought justice in her own life, too: Out of the ten known survivors of this particular cult group, Ann Marie was one of three who testified in court against the leaders behind the abuse. The cult leader was a powerful man. When Ann Marie chose to testify, he and his followers followed her with threats and intimidation. Her brave journeys to court required Witness Protection and a crew of armed guards. “I don’t want any more children to go through the bitterness I went through,” she said to us later. “Because of your help, we are strengthened and we are strong. I have obtained my justice.”
No one could hear this story and think any one but Ann Marie deserves credit for her accomplishments and recovery. The road behind Ann Marie was messy. We do all we can together to give children, like Ann Marie, clear peaceful paths to journey on as they do the hard work of recovering from exploitation, reclaiming their lives and dreams. Thank you for believing in children’s futures, no matter their pasts.
Name has been changed for protection and privacy.