I clicked “quit” on my Skype and hung my head in silence. My first thought, “I kind of want to kill him.” Ten girls (that we know of) have been threatened, coerced or given money to not testify against their rapist. The only girls who will testify are the three that are in our Round Home.
Ann Marie was 7 when her parents separated, at 10 her mother left her with an aunt and uncle. Ann Marie wanted so much to attend school but her family had no means. When she was 13 her aunt told her that she would be taken to a place where she could receive an education. Instead, Ann Marie was taken to a cult and given to a “holy man” called “Daddy.” She was not the only child brought him, Ann Marie was told by Daddy and the cult members that she was not allowed to attend school and if she tried to leave the compound her entire family would be punished by God and she would become sick.
For almost a year Ann Marie was repeatedly raped by Daddy in religious rituals, these rituals were meant to “cleanse her of her sins.” After each ritual and rape, she was given a pamphlet on devotional prayer. Once, she escaped with some of the other girls but eventually returned because Daddy and the cult members knew where her family lived and Ann Marie was afraid her family would be hurt or killed.
Eventually she was rescued and brought to a government shelter. There, she had difficulty sleeping because she could always see Daddy’s face and her abuse in her mind.
She expressed to her rescuers, that she wanted to go to school and be a lawyer someday. It was then decided that in order for her dream to be realized, she should be referred to the Round Home.
Ann Marie came to the Round Home in June, she is 16 and excelling at school.
Her decision to testify against Daddy was a major one. Not only did she have to face her rapist but all of the members of the cult that attended each day of his trial. She was questioned, and with her words, she relived the exploitation and abuse. Ann Marie and our staff of the Love146 Round Home were surrounded by armed guards with machine guns for protection but that didn’t keep the cult members from surrounding them after the testimony, it didn’t protect Ann Marie from their words and the fear. She was scheduled to testify again last week, only to be told that the testimony will be postponed until January.
After the Skype call ended, after hearing the news that Ann Marie would again be put through the hell of testimony and that hell was now waiting for her four months down the road, my thoughts began to drift to the man who calls himself Daddy, these thoughts were dark with brutal justice, vivid with vengeful images. Daddy should be a word sacred and loving to little girls, not bastardized and used for control, brain wash and torture. I turned on music to clear thoughts and what came on was a song with the line “be brave dear one.” Over and over I sang be “brave dear one, be brave.” As I chanted, Daddy and his exploitation left my mind and only Ann Marie remained. Chanting may not help the court case or bring justice but it reminded me that hate will not heal and abolition will only come through Love.
Co-founder, Chief Story Crusader – Love146