I was one of the over 400 people who were shocked to hear 13-year-old Griselda’s story of horror, but relieved to hear that her story ended up being one of hope and healing.
Thanks to the strategic work of International Justice Mission, Griselda and countless others are now able to live and share stories of transformation, despite the violence they have suffered.
International Justice Mission is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that fights for human rights and provides a voice for the poor who are affected by everyday violence. Founded in 1997, IJM’s vision is: “To rescue thousands, protect millions and prove that justice for the poor is possible.”
Griselda lives in Guatemala. She was walking home with her mother and brother after a Mother’s Day celebration at church when three men grabbed her, drove her to an isolated area and brutally raped her.
“Her mother and little brother screamed in terror,” Sean Litton, Senior Vice President of Justice Operations said. “Despite the arrest of the driver, Griselda’s other attackers remained at large. The police did nothing to locate them. When there is no threat of punishment and no protection, violence rules the lives of the poor. The United Nations reports that 4.8 billion people currently live outside the protection of the law. Conservative estimates are that three million women and children are held in situations of forced prostitution.”
International Justice Mission is changing those numbers.
“Griselda’s family came to IJM’s Guatemala office for help,” Litton explained. “The first order of business was helping Griselda with her trauma and fear. Through hours of gentle, loving therapy, an IJM social worker helped Griselda work through her trauma. Griselda began to recover. She began to smile and laugh again. She began to grow strong again.”
Litton said Griselda testified bravely against the attacker, despite her fear, to help protect other women. IJM’s investigator found the other two rapists and Griselda testified again. She has since completed high school and plans to study psychology and help victims of violence and abuse.
“I would tell IJM that I am forever grateful,” Griselda shared in a video. “I am infinitely grateful to God for each one of them, because I know each one, psychologists, lawyers and all others, allows God to use them in every debate, in every consultation, in every situation that may arise…It would be a great honor, and a great pride, in the future to be able, when I start my clinical psychology courses, to work and be part of IJM.”
Litton shared Griselda’s story at International Justice Mission’s annual benefit held recently at the Balboa Bay Resort. Guests heard how IJM is rescuing victims, bringing perpetrators to justice, providing long-term aftercare, and providing structural transformation in countries where the poor are abused and oppressed. The event raised over $1.4 million to support their work on behalf of the poor.
“We could not have imagined a better night,” said Johanna Tripiano, Director of Strategic Partnerships for IJM. “Not only did we raise more than $1 million for IJM, but we helped to expand recognition and awareness for the tremendous work this incredible human rights organization does all around the world, bringing justice to victims of slavery, sex trafficking and violence.”
“We are overwhelmed by the response and the generosity of the community to help us reach our goals,” she continued. “Each dollar raised at the event will help IJM continue to reach those living in circumstances that no human being should ever experience.”
IJM has 20 offices in the developing world and has been highlighted as one of the 10 non-profits “making a difference in the world” by U.S. News and World Report.
For more information, visit ijm.org.
Cindy can be reached at [email protected]