In my early 20's I found that I battled with a lot, I was easily overwhelmed emotionally and just did not know how to handle inter-personal relationships. With each passing day I grew more and more impulsive, chasing to fill a hole I did not understand. I accommodated too many people and situations, used other people as a scratching post for many itches I had which landed me with unhealthy relationships, from my mother, my growing daughter and friends. Soon it all came crashing on me like a avalanche, at the age of 25 on a spotanious drive to Eastern-Cape with my best-friend. I had a horrible flash-back of myself as a young child in some men's room, on my knees. That is how I remembered that I WAS a victim of sexual abuse all through my child-hood, by a family-friend and a neighbour. The journey that comes with healing was not an easy one, it has involved many sessions of therapy, a lot of anxiety and tears. It gets better with time. Now at the age of 35, there are still new flash-backs, but the difference is i dont get the urge to run.

My name is Laryne, I am a 25 year old proud Indigenous woman from the Indian Reserve of Gingolx and I am a survivor (I do not say that lightly but with so much power and pride). I had been silenced for 12 years up until now. It was our family secret that my stepfather who I have known since I was 4, who adopted me, raised me with four siblings, raped, molested, abused me starting at the age of 8. The last time I thought would be his last time to touch me was at 14 when I finally told someone who wasn’t my mother, my best friend, or other close relatives. 

From there, he was charged 3 years probation for ‘sexual assault’ . Ultimately, he and I couldn’t be in the same house together, so my mother made a decision—him. I was sent away to live in a city 18 hours away from my family. Throughout those teenage years, I self-destructed with drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, dropped out of school, and attempted suicide. And as hard as it was, I was still struggling to survive; I went to anger management and counselling.

It wasn’t until my 20’s when I finally found peace. I got married, travelled the world, and currently in my second year at the university of saskatchewan while employed as an outreach worker for at-risk youth. But, this past July, I made a visit “home” to my mothers’ for a funeral. I woke up to my stepfather touching me. My life took a million steps backwards and I was left panicked, scared, and feeling just like I had years ago. But the difference is, I did not take responsibility for his actions. I took back my power and shaking, crying and rambling on, I told my story in my rawest form. 

Coming from an Indigenous community, I had no idea what the reception would be, but I did it for me. I broke my silence, I told my truth and I am standing here in the best, broken state I’ve ever been in. I am trying to find peace again and I am putting myself together one step at a time. But, what I’ve learned through sharing my story, is that I am not alone. Unfortunately, there are many just like me. But as I’ve stood up, people started to gather around me, supporting me and sharing with me their own stories. From there I decided that I am a survivor, and I wanted others to find that within themselves too. So, here I am. 

Laryne Gamble

Indian reserve of Gingolx

My name is Thelma Ndwalo, I am 27 years old lady from Pretoria,  South Africa.I have been molested by my stepfather for 11 years (from 1997 to 2008). I couldn’t tell anyone because he always threatened to kill me and my mother if I say a word.

Sometimes he would rape me on gun point, beat me up.  I was afraid of telling anyone about it because I didn’t want my mother to die because of me. I had suicidal thoughts for years, I had a low self-esteem and I hated myself for years. Life never meant anything to me. I felt worthless and useless, I always felt dirty. I would bath 3 or even 4 times a day but still fell dirty. I hated the stepfather, I hated his smell, his car because he once raped me in it, and I hated his voice. I hated myself because I was not brave enough to commit suicide. I asked myself that how can I be that strong to look at the man raping me while I cannot kill myself. My life has been difficult. He told me not to have friends and not to date; he behaved like a jealous boyfriend. This affected my school work very badly. I told my mother about the abuse in 2008 December, I told her I don’t care if the man kills us or not but I was tired of everything . She was pregnant with my brother.  She got sick, she was depressed, she had heart problems. She got weak every day, She went in and out of hospitals. Her life was never the same, she hated the stepfather very badly and sometimes I blamed myself for that. In 2013 she got worse and she passed away.. Life got worse and worse every day. Last year I went to a house where my rape had started, I had a  breakdown, I locked myself in a room for days crying, asking myself why he did it? Why did he break and hurt me like that.

I had no one to talk to until a friend arranged counselling for me. I am in a process of healing, it is difficult but I am trying. I am in a process of starting an organization that deals with rape victims/survivors and offenders. And I am also writing a book about my past that I would like to share with offenders and victims/survivors. Below is a something I wrote when I was very weak and depressed which I want to share with other survivors.

My dear brothers and fathers
Before you think of forcing yourself in that poor little girl
Before you think of undressing her
Before you even see her as your sex object
Put yourself in her shoes, think of the pain that she will go through when you are done with her
Think of all the wounds that the poor girl will be forced to live with for the rest of her life
My brother can you take a moment to think of the pain as if your own mother, sister or daughter is going through it
How will you feel if your own daughter or sister is raped or molested?
it is sad that no one thinks of the consequences we just act
my brother how do you feel when you done raping her?
Does rape make you feel like a man?
She is crying day and night because of the pain that you put her through
And what are you doing, how are you feeling
Does that little girls image even cross your mind?
Let me tell how it feels to be raped let’s see how feel about it
Being raped takes away an innocent smile, it takes away the happiness
It turns laughter into tears, it tears apart. It kills happy souls
It makes the poor being  feel useless, hopeless, helpless.
To hate themselves, feel dirty. To have problem with men
To have suicidal thoughts, some even commit suicide
To have low self-esteem
My brother how do you feel about that?
You left your daughter with her mother, The mother gets married and the husband uses your own daughter as his sex object how will you feel?
Will you be angry, disgusted, I guess you want to sort the guy out yourself?
Well what you are feeling is nothing compared to what that poor girl that you raped is going through
I don’t know how it feels to rape but I know how it feels to be raped
My dear brothers before you think of raping someone’s daughter, mother or sister
Think of your mother, daughter and sister that you left at home
That poor female is someone’s daughter, mother and sister
being raped is the worst thing that I don’t wish anyone to go through

I had a relationship when I was 13 years old. He was the person I was in love with and we used to have great time together. But it didn’t go smoothly after a year. I hadn’t shared about my relationship to my mother. Later, after getting some suspicious questions from our neighbors, she asked me if I had any guy in my life.  At that time I went through one of the biggest dilemmas of my life. I was afraid of being punished after the revelation of the truth. But at the same time, I didn’t want to lie to her anymore. So, I told her the truth. However, it turned out to be my worst decision. She was very angry to hear that and the reality of him being from non-Brahmin family made the situation worse. She told me to end the relationship right at that moment. I was threatened to receive the worst punishment if I didn’t do so. I stopped meeting him but we were in contact through phone calls. One day our maternal grandfather came to visit us and he found me chatting with him. He complained about it to my mom and strictly ordered her to take me out of the city. Mom told him that my studies will be disturbed but he convinced her that I had committed a crime of loving a guy. She couldn't afford for me to study in other cities so they decided to take me either to my maternal or paternal house. Before I could defend they took me to my maternal house.  It was a village with no phone connections. So I couldn’t contact him.  I cried a lot but none of them were ready to hear anything I had to say. My life was bound within the walls of that house. Mom dropped me there and returned back to her place. My tears did not mean anything to her. So, I concluded "She is a Brahmin woman bound with oaths and bondages of society." Motherhood was just a single word there. I could see love for me in my mother's eyes but her ears had not been able to hear my voice. 

It was quite difficult for me to adjust with that family but I had no choice. I just cried for him and my mom. People who loved me were not there with me. I kept crying but couldn’t get any solution. After a week, my maternal uncle arrived there during his job holidays. He used to visit me in my room when I acted like sleeping. One morning he asked me, "Do you like him so much?" and suddenly he touched my hands. I felt uncomfortable. I tried to pull my hands but couldn't succeed. I asked him to leave my room but his hands were approaching my cheeks. I was not feeling good. I told him, "Uncle, please leave me!" He replied, "I will love you more than him and buy you more gifts." I had no idea what was going on. He touched private parts of my body. I felt some kind of pain but couldn't do anything. I kept silent. Later this was regular with me. He used to visit my room almost every night and put his hands inside my t-shirt and played with my breasts and I felt pain then and even now. I was abused every night but my mom had misconception that I was in a safe place. Every time I prayed, "Please not today, not again with me." I tried to share it with my aunt but could not. I did not know how to share it and what could be the best words to say it properly. I tried so many times to share it with the family but couldn’t do so. There were so many members in my family who were literally dedicated to care for me but each night I was sexually abused.

However at a point, I gathered some courage and told part of these things to my grandmother. But the reactions were the opposite from what I had hoped. She scolded me as much as she could. I still remember her words: "I can't believe you are my daughter's daughter. Look at her she doesn’t talk to men even though she works in an office and you are a whore. You loved a guy who was not Brahmin and we gave you place to live in but you have started to ruin my family." She even threatened me that if I tried to share it with anyone then I would get severe punishment. I was punished each night so I did not have courage to receive any more punishment. I kept silent. My silence and my tears were my best friends those days. Almost after a month, mom came to take me to Kathmandu where she was transferred for 5 years. She brought some gifts for me. I did not accept a single gift because gifts had different meaning in my life those days. Gifts meant pain to me. My uncle used to bring chocolates for me each night and leave it there after his entertainment. Just a month of my life made me understand the relation between men and pain for girls. So, when I see any men near me I just associate it with pain. I have tried so many times to share it with my mom but still have not been able to. I feel good that there are no men in my family. 
After the incident I am even thankful for not having a father. Also it’s a relief for me to be a student of a girls’ college.


(Name Changed)


I was 16 when I made my first male friend. 
A couple of years ago, I was preparing for my final exam for Junior High School and invited him to join me so that we could learn together and so he could assist me in Mathematics. One Sunday I came to his house because he still needed to get ready before we could go study. When I arrived, he was in hisliving room working on some questions for an assignment. All of his roommates had gone to church and he was the only one there. I told him I was on my way to study and I had come to see if we could walk together as we often did. This time, he wasn’t as prepared as usual. He let me in and invited me to come and wait in the room while he took a bath. I could see he wasn’t ready for the studying this time. I thought it may have been the other class assignment that he was writing, or that maybe I was offending him by asking for his help every time, I wasn’t sure. All I knew at the time was that he was not ready to go and I didn’t want to lose time that I could spend studying so I felt I could help him get ready faster. Instead, he convinced me to skip group studies in the school nearby and spend the afternoon together in the room so that we could focus better. We sat on his chair with some music on in the background. I was wearing a pink sundress with a sweater. He started to touch me in some un-offensive ways like caressing my hands and legs. I thought he was being friendly.  He then decided to lay next to me on the chair and I didn’t think anything of it. We had already agreed that our friendship was in no way romantic and had even used examples saying that giving pegs and hugging was ok but that no touching of private areas could happen. As we were laying down working some questions on fractions, he started to get closer and closer until I started feeling uncomfortable. But I did not want to embarrass him so kept quiet. Then all of a sudden, he said he was tired and asked me to continue working on the question. He knew how lazy I could be with mathematics especially when instead of closely monitoring me, he let me work on a problem alone.
Soon enough, I started feeling sleepy too and started dozing. I later on noticed he was trying to put his hand up my skirt and I kept telling him no, moving his hand away. He was very aware of the boundaries I had set before; I laid them out very clearly again. But no matter how much I repeated them, he wasn’t listening on that day and kept on testing my limits. He was different. He was far more aggressive than usual and I was having a hard time keeping his hands where I was comfortable. I finally got up and told him that I was leaving. He then apologized and promised to be good. I believed him. After I laid back down with him and started working on the question he gave me, he tried again. He was being aggressive again but this time was different. The previous times, I could move his hands away but this time he wouldn’t let me. He put his hand on my breast and when I tried to move it he didn’t budge. I remember him pulling my skirt up and thinking “How do I make this stop?” I started crying. I couldn’t speak I just pulled my knees toward my chest and tried to hold my legs together. In this position he was able to pull my panties off and then he entered me. I cried from pain. After two or three thrusts he pulled out and I saw the blood of my hymen on his penis. Seeing that, I just gave up. I thought “I’m not a virgin anymore what am I fighting for?” I just let him finish. I was so ashamed. All of my friends at the time were saving themselves for marriage and so was I and now it was all gone. The whole incident played over and over again in my mind and the only thing I thought was that I did not fight enough. I pulled my legs up and he must have thought it was an invitation. It was all my fault. After that I lost all sense of self-worth. He started hitting me and calling me names and controlling my life and I just let him. I remember him saying things like “If you’d just relax and stop fighting it wouldn’t hurt so much” when he was forcing himself on me. I still blame myself and haven’t told anyone my story before now. But I had to get it out there. I don’t know what Mr Abass said to me that really inspired me to start sharing this story I have keep for over two years. But I just told myself that if this story lived inside me for any longer it was going to destroy me from the within.

I thank Mr Abass and the CLIMB team for coming to our school and involving us, I am now free of guilt and following the counseling he and the team has given to me, I want to join them and make sure that girls out there are able to open up, speak up and share their stories. I know there are thousands of girls like me out there who are keeping this to themselves and letting it destroy them slowly but surely. Sexual abuse is something that a girl must not go through, is a terrible experience, but today I am confident that you can be healed, that you can still make it through.All the thoughts of suicide, taking drugs to forget about the experiences and being trapped in the anxiety can all go away when you speak out. Girls, let raise awareness about sexual abuse to prevent thousands of others from abuse. 

Thank you Mr Abass and thank you to the CLIMB team.

Allyn Bernkopf



The story, names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this page are strictly the authors/ survivors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of CLIMB against sexual abuse. No identification with the unnamed persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.

We have taken all reasonable care to ensure that the information contained within these pages is accurate. However, no liability can be accepted for any misinformation or for any loss resulting from these stories as told by the survivors. 

Palesa Mompe

South Africa



Thelma Ndwalo

Age 27

Pretoria, South Africa

Nafisah Sumani

Tamale, Ghana

I was a victim of sexual assault in my undergraduate. The feelings that you go through after being completely violated and having your rights as a female and HUMAN BEING ripped from you is massacring. In my situation, instead of turning to therapy, I chose alcohol to fill the void for years. LUCKILY, I landed myself in jail with a DUI and was forced to go to counseling/therapy for alcohol abuse, which turned into therapy for my rape (which diminished the alcohol abuse).

The saddest part of this is that 90% of my girlfriends have also gone through this, right alongside me. This should never happen to ANY human, female or male. We are all people. We are all made out of the same stuff. Treat each other with equality, love, and kindness. And to those who think that because s/he's drunk, s/he's willing, s/he's probably NOT so STOP; to those who use rape drugs, YOU are especially a piece of shit and if I ever came face to face with you, I would, personally, rip out your genitalia and shove it down your throat.

PLEASE DO NOT apologize to me for my experience. That is usually the first reaction people have whenever they hear my rape story, and while I appreciate the sincere thought, you can't really be sorry for something like this. You were not my rapist. You were not there. And, again, thank you for apologizing for the thought, but it doesn't change anything. I was still violated. I was still victimized. The important thing is that I have MOVED ON, which is why I am talking about it in the first place. I have healed. Many have not. 

If you are at a party and you see something that doesn't sit right, you should probably stop it. If you are at a bar and see someone drop something into a drink, you should probably say something. There are many more situations that can happen and you won't be able to say something, but look out for each other. BE AWARE of each other. Help each other. Be the one to save another woman or man from having their basic human rights stripped. We are all on Earth together.

PLEASE SHARE. You can share my entire experience or write your own post, but spread awareness and support.

Ellen Galupo

Age 20

Ontario, Canada

I have been a survivor of four different sexual abuse. I had always blamed myself as the first one happened when I was only 11 years old. I was told to be hushed against the abuse as my abuser was a close family friend and a respected member of the church. This affected my self esteem and I felt I did not have the voice to speak out against sexual abuse. I felt alone against it. The second time it happened, it was a fellow schoolmate in the large refrigerator in the school cafeteria where I worked. My sister, who is also a survivor, (and was told to also be quiet about the abuse which was done to her by our own cousin) called the police. The police let the boarding school where I was staying deal with the problem and they ended up letting him stay for the sake of his education and they hoped they could help reform him. I was always scared and I could not join the school clubs as he was always signed up for them. The third time was a social worker/minister whom I confided to about my past sexual abuse history. He took advantage of me outside of the Greater Toronto Area in an isolated farm. The fourth was an Uber driver who molested me in a parking lot. I have started to blame myself. But I came to realize that I should have not been quiet the very first time it happened. Because I was told to hide it, it happened again and again and again because my self-esteem was so low that the predators could sense that I could be easily taken advantage of. This is why it's so important to speak out about it. Speaking out about something rather than hiding it in shame is empowering. It gives the power to the survivor rather than the predator. I would like to be a part of CLIMB because I am passionate about this cause and I am now a strong believer on speaking out against sexual abuse as a way of empowering survivors and to raise awareness on the impact sexual abuse has on victims. 

I am Prabha (name changed) from Bageshwori V.D.C. of Banke district. I am 23 years old. I am a person with intellectual disability. I belong to a household with poor economic condition. In order to support me my family members need to work every day. Since they are working all day, I am left alone at home. During this time, I have been raped over and over again. But since I cannot prove it and because of the fear of judgment from the society I am not able to come forward. I have been raped continuously and so my family is scared that I might get pregnant. So now I have to take birth control shots which have been taking a toll in my health. I have been raped not just physically but mentally as well. These rapists are running free and not being brought to justice. I am afraid that I will go through this turmoil again. My family is still looking for ways to get me justice. But at the same time they are also worried about the society's perception of me. They are worried that we won't be able to provide enough evidence against these rapists. I am worried that instead of justice I and my family will suffer humiliation.
Source: Nepal Disabled Women Association, 2013


South Africa

I'm a rape survivor and this is my message to all the other victims. I know what you're going through is painful with so many mixed emotions, self blame being one of them but just know its not your fault. Not to mention the anger and feeling useless. Pray about it, cry about it, scream if you have to but never push away people who want to help you and never lose hope. Each day will get better and these are just words but they have a way of soothing the pain. It'll be a long road and a very bumpy one too, but trust me you will survive. There's a reason you're alive, never doubt that. You're strong and beautiful, don't let a mans weakness take your strength away. Don't let what happened to you stop you from living your life. Don't allow yourself to direct your anger towards all men because they are good men out there. Give yourself time to heal it won't happen overnight. Stay strong, you are a survivor, believe it. Here's a poem I wrote after I was raped and I wish every rape survivor would read it. Its titled THANK YOU.

You invaded my privacy

You violated my rights

You made me cry

You made me think I was worthless

You made me hate myself

You abused me

You hurt me

You had your moment of pleasure I had my moment of pain.

You thought you took my power

You thought you took my pride

You thought you took my womanhood

You thought you destroyed me


I'm not less of a woman because of what you did

In fact I'll tell you what you did:

You made me stronger

You made me realise I could make it through anything

You made me realise I'm a fighter and not only that but I'm a survivor too


You are weak

You are hurt

You are in pain

You feel worthless

You are crying out for help and no one in this world hears you

So you hurt others because you're angry

You hurt others because it makes you FEEL stronger YOU

You need HELP more than I do

I don't hate you, I pity you And I want to say THANK YOU!!!!

Thank you for raping me!!!

You brought out the best in me, I'm the best me there can ever be and its thanks to you!!!

Ps hope you get the help you need.



Hi My name is Terri and I am a survivor of Rape. The night of the 16th March 2014 I attended a family member's birthday party where I met a lot of long distance new family members. I left my partner at the time at home and was due to stay over the night. One of the first people I was to meet was my attacker, a 17 year old cousin and his girlfriend. I spent the night celebrating; drinking;dancing;singing.It was a really good night. Towards the end of the night at the club the discussion of jobs came about and how several of the members of 'his' family including himself needed a job; we spoke a lot and agreed that he would attend an interview with me. After leaving the club I went back to the family members house where we were staying we drank until 4.30am! At the time I danced a lot so drinking was not something I really did a lot, It hit me hard. At 4.30am I retired to a room alone fully clothed... I woke up in the morning with my uncle next to me ( he innocently spent the night) what I also woke up to was my pants removed and DNA covering me. I shuffled consciously to get dressed being woken by Nanna shouting; every move I made was suffering beginning to realise what had happened. 'He' had ran away ! he decided to leave 3 hours before I woke and run down country lanes out of panic. We rang the police. The process began the intensive DNA swabbing, police questions and process to court. I returned to work 2 days later... RTS had shocked me into believing I was coping... through the months I was 'ok' until slowly I declined attempting twice on my life and losing everything around me that I spent so long building up my 'forever home' was gone, my job lost, my finances in tatters and my court case also lost in January 2015. Watching him walk free after substantial DNA circumstantial and hard evidence was presented and the fact he lied on 3 occasions and was proven has and will always be hard to swallow. I can honestly say now today since starting the campaign through parliament to change the UK law on Jurors I am more determined than ever to set my goal to greater heights. I have made a lot of progress through a social media page "Reach the state" in gathering momentum and support. My only advice is allow your process to happen, allow your mind and body to react because it knows what is best. Above all allow time and get support your journey is temporary and in time you heal, never completely, its now a part of you. In time the control you had before will be back and you WILL be stronger for your journey. , Terri 

My name is Sana. I’m 29 years old. Right now I am employed at a travel management company as well as running my online business. My life begun in the right meaning when I was 16 yrs old. That was the age my parents got divorced, and it became too hard to choose from the first love (father) and queen of my heart (mother). All the members in my family got scattered like in a typhoon. And being the youngest and beloved child, I suffered more than my siblings. After this entire situation me, my mother and one of elder brother shifted to another town.

One day one of my brothers had an operation and my mom had to stay with him for a night. I never imagined that there was still more storm to come and change my entire life. Something a girl can imagine.
I had my final exam the next day and was tired of studying as I went to sleep. My brother (the one who was living with us) knocked the door and asked me to go to sleep. I thought he needed something from my room but it wasn’t like that, he came to abuse me. When I got that idea I shouted at him and asked him to leave the room. I quickly called one of cousins to bring his mom and take me to their home. They came and picked me up and I stayed there until the issue was resolved. When my mother came back it was shocking as well as unbelievable for her. We (me and my mother) informed my uncle (my guardian) and he took an appropriate decision to kick him out of our home and send him for the psychological treatment.

This entire incident shook me. On the next day of the incident when I went to university for my final exam my friends were shocked to see my face. One of my friends took me aside and kept her hand on my shoulder while asking what has happened with me. I shouted loud and asked her not to touch me and cried a lot.

Then after sometime one of my friends showed me a business plan. After joining the business and working with a highly motivated team I realized there’s a lot to do in life and so much dreams to come true, if I wasn’t. Otherwise I could have attempted suicide.

After this horrible incident I started hating the relation of brother and sister for couple of years. But then with the help of teacher and mentor I decided not to give up because my mother is my only responsibility now. No matter what has happened, there are so many cases out there in which girls have faced and are still facing incidents worse than mine. I decided to move on in my life and at least try to help others as much as I can.

For all parents I would request not to leave your daughters alone at home even with siblings. Try to keep in contact if you have to stay out and try to leave them at any of their aunt so they stay under a mature supervision. No matter how old your daughters are, an elder’s supervision is must. Same cure can be taken for boys also.

But never give up! God always examine people whom he loves the most.




Founder, Show me your hands


My name is Elisabetta and I’m the only child of a very religious couple. I lived half of my early childhood with my aunt, her husband and my cousins. My uncle was an alcoholic. He used to beat my aunt and one day I went up to him on a chair and I said “Stop making aunt crying!” She grinded my arm and said “It is not your business!”. My uncle was a pedophile too. I just remember the cellar, I remember the heavy, wooden table, I remember asking for the light to be turned off. One day the light was turned on by my aunt. She started to scream and I went out in the sun, warm and so bright I couldn’t see the trees. It hurt my eyes. My aunt, instead of calling the police and talk to me and my parents, started to treat me like a whore. She told me that I wanted to “steal” her husband, “You little bitch will never have my husband. He is mine!” She started to beat me. She spread shit on my face because I poo on my underwear. She said I was narcissist and full of myself. I was 4. I was 6 when my mother decided to quit her job and stay at home with me. My uncle never touched me again: I ran fast. When I was 12 my mother started to suffer from obesity and, as a consequence, depression. I had to take care of the house, the garden and the little field we had. And, of course, I also had to take care of my father, who is blind. She cried every single day and got addicted to sedatives: I had to tell her thousand times the same things because she couldn’t remember anything. I had to wake her up for dinner at times she fell asleep on the kitchen table. Even if I told my mother I dislike my uncle especially when he told me “When you come to visit me, you must put on that little short dress!” we continued to spend our holidays with them. When I was 15, we went to another city for a few days. We were in a museum where kids could take a picture with a poor man in a bird costume. I didn’t want to but they insisted (still have that picture and my face is not very happy). So I took the picture and my uncle went to take it and pay for it. The man in the costume and the photographer started to talk to my uncle. Nice day, how are you and other conventional sentences. One of them said “You have a beautiful daughter!” so he said “She my niece!” “Oh! Well, you have a beautiful niece!” “It’s a pity she is my niece…otherwise…”. The two men turned pale and stopped talking. I felt humiliated. When I told my parents what happened, my mother told me “He always preferred you to his own sons”. I vomited. I got sick of anorexia. I was 42 kilos when I was supposed to be 53 minimum. My bones hurt, my stomach, my soul. My mother told me I wanted to kill her. She told me: “If you want to die, die!” and slammed the door. I was addicted to laxative, I could sleep just supine otherwise my bones hit the skin and hurt me a lot. When I was 16 I had a boyfriend. After few months he started to insist we must have sex. I didn’t want to. He decided for me and tried to rape me in his room with his parent in the living room. Naked, scared and, again, humiliated, I looked up at him. He said “So now you know that if I want something, I get it!”. I ran away again. At 18 I decided to move in another city to attend University. I met a boy. We had a relationship for one year. Till he raped me because he just want to. I felt on the wooden floor and I get up breathless with a hole in my back, close to the spine. He ran after me in our apartment, I was breathless and I fainted. I went away, away from my family and everything I knew. Till now. My mother got sick again and I helped my family. Despite everything happened to me and everything I did for them, three days ago my aunt told me “You are just a big, big, whore!” and my father told me I should die. I cried my heart out. I finally quit… my family, not my life! I want to live more than everything. I want to laugh, read, talk and dream. Despite everything I’m here. I am MORE than everything that has happened to me. I am ME.

I am a mother of three children, living in Manchester, UK. I was born in North Korea and grew up not knowing anything about the outside world. In the mid-1990s, North Korea experienced a devastating famine (referred to as the Arduous March) which killed 3 million people, including my uncle. My father became severely ill and other members of my family were unable to eat. My father’s last will was for me to leave the country. I was unable to see my father’s passing and left for China with my brother. Even today, I do not know where my father is buried.

When I left for China, I had not even heard of the term trafficking. I simply left to survive.  In China, brokers told me that if I wanted to save my brother I would need to pay them money, and that I would be able to earn money if I married a Chinese man. It was a marriage only in name; in reality North Korean women were sold like products in a market.

The practice of human trafficking for North Korean women is different compared to other cases of human trafficking. Many North Korean women leave North Korea to earn money for their families back home and unknowingly become victims of human trafficking in China and are unable to see their families again. Children become orphans and must scavenge for food from the streets, often starving to death.

I was housed with other North Korean women. Over the days, buyers including old men, young men or the disabled visited and would haggle the price for the North Korean women. During this period, the women there experience humiliation and lose their sense of dignity. If they do not obey the brokers, they are physically and sexually assaulted.

I was sold for £500 to a Chinese man.  In many cases, these men obtain the money from illegitimate means and then tell them women that it is their duty to pay it off. In my case, I worked at a farm from early morning till late night. I was not allowed to sit at the same table as the husband for meals. I was treated as a slave and was constantly under the threat of rape and being resold to other men.  The men in the neighbourhood threatened me and said they could kill me if I tried to escape. If these North Korean women became pregnant, they were pressured to abort their child. If they did give birth, the babies would not be given nationality or any rights. They could not go to school or the hospital.

My Chinese husband was a gambler. When I gave birth to a son, he said that he should sell the baby to pay back his gambling debts. In a nutshell, neither I nor my son were family to him. We were objects that he could resell at a price. After six years in China, I was separated from my son and was forcefully repatriated back to North Korea. I then escaped North Korea to find my son. I reunited with my son in China and together we made our way to the UK.

Over 100 thousand women and 20 thousand children of North Korean mothers in China are being forced to live in an environment where their survival is constantly threatened.  In recent years, the international community has been showing interest in the human rights situation in North Korea. However, the issue of North Korean women trafficked in China is still relatively unknown. 36 million women are being trafficked. Two thirds of these women are Asian. 90% of the Asians are being trafficked in China. 80% of women trafficked in China are North Koreans.

I wish the international community understands what North Korean women are yearning for. It is not to become rich or to have prestige. They want to be able to eat meals with their family. They want their children to know that they are not abandoned. They need the international community’s support in order to return to their families and let them know that they love them dearly. More attention and support is needed to facilitate discussion on this issue to yield solutions.

Veena Nankani

Life Coach, Nutritionist, Motivational Speaker, Writer, Professional Reviewer and Entrepreneur

​​​​My name is Veena Nankani - I am a sexual abuse & rape survivor.

Between the age of 5-9 I was sexually abused by 8 different people (2 women & six men). At the age of 9 I was kidnapped & raped, got pregnant by my rapist & had an abortion at the age of 9. I spent two years after the rape in silence. I refused to talk & I refused to eat anything other than bread & butter with milk. By age eleven I forgave my all my sexual abusers & rapist & found a joy which has failed to shift despite health battles which have nearly taken my life multiple times.I did not allow my rape to define my identity or to shape my future. I decided I would win. I live a happy life.

Total recovery from sexual abuse & rape is possible. The first step is accepting the atrocity, then getting help to overcome it. For my religious/ spiritual friends, a word of advice: You cannot pray/fast/deliver the rape away - Go & get proper trauma counselling from a trained therapist.

Parents, do not let your children share their bed with your visiting friends, your siblings, your cousins or any other adult. Terrible things happen at the hands of seemingly "good people" when the lights go out & they are in a room with a child. I was a disabled child & my limited mobility was taken advantage of. If I was awoken by groping etc. it was soon followed by threats, suffocation & beating.

Parents, if your child says they are being molested, do not make them feel like it is their fault. Childhood abuse is never the fault of a child. Listen carefully, investigate and act like you believe them. A child will seldom tell a lie of this magnitude.

Parents, if you have a visitor they sleep on the couch, or the floor in the living room, If you don’t have a spare room, your children and their safety are the priority, not the comfort of your guests. Be vigilant- go online and check if there are any pedophiles in your area etc. Though the stats are significantly less, boys get sexually abused too. Even one abused boy is one boy too many. Therefore my statements above apply to your sons.

Some of my abusers went to prison, my rapist disappeared never to be caught & one of my abusers committed suicide. Thank you for raising awareness on this important issue. I hope my message will help someone.


against sexual abuse