TW: Sexual assault
“What should I do with them?” Karina asked, referring to the pile of jackets that the migrant women she took in this week had peeled off and thrown away at her humble house.
“They said they never wanted to see them again… because of what happened to them when they were wearing these jackets.”
When we are able to provide these women with a place to shower, and new coats and clothing, it’s not merely a matter of meeting a basic need. Sometimes, it’s the first step in helping them remove an initial, superficial layer of trauma that was done to their bodies as they fled their homes. They traveled here for a better life, but for many that journey gets so much darker before any light can break through.
“I think we need to wash them a give them to others in need,” I told Karina. We simply don’t have the luxury of throwing away warm clothes at the moment.
I saw her face drop, because she knew in much more graphic detail the sexual assault these women had experienced in those jackets.
“They just couldn’t change out of them fast enough. They threw them all into my trash can…”
A majority of the women our shelter will house will have similar stories.
They’re undocumented… vulnerable… invisible, until someone wants to hurt and exploit them and then they become a vibrant glowing target for sexual violence.
Studies show that 6 in 10 women and girls will experience sexual assault on their way to seek asylum.
If only the other layers of trauma were as easy to take off.