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In the name of filial piety

My name is Mia and I grew up with my Chinese grandmother. At a very young age, I was introduced to prostitution because my grandmother was herself a prostitute in her younger years. My grandmother was also a leaser of prostitution rooms and “mahjong” dens.

When I was 12 years old, I ran away from my grandmother’s house. I then lived with my godmother who lives in an island. Unfortunately, my godmother’s youngest brother who used to work as a soldier abused me. My godmother accused me of seducing her brother when I told her about the incident. I went back to my grandmother’s house after what happened to me.

Then the time came when my grandmother offered me to a willing customer. I was not able to do anything about that fateful event. I only endured the pain of losing my virginity and I deflected my attention by thinking that this could be a way of winning my grandmother’s heart.

With the help of the Sisters, my life changed after the birth of my second child. They taught me how to care for my son and save money for my son’s future. I learned to restrain myself to go back to my vices for the sake of my son. I also learned how to keep my money and learned how to scrimp and budget.

I knew my grandmother didn’t really love me. I usually received from her beatings, harsh words, and there were nights when I was not allowed to sleep. Later on, my grandmother went to a home for the aged to work as a maid. This was a home for the aged Chinese. My brother and I were left at home. My grandmother would only send for my brother’s food while I had to content myself with hot water. Grandmother only came one day when the landlord asked us to leave the house. I was so infuriated with my grandmother that I took the knife and I shouted to her, “I’m going to kill you,I’m going to kill you!” Then I pulled her to scare her. I was then sent to the police station. When they saw that I was just a child, the police even nudged me at the back of my head telling me, “You idiot!… And I thought it was some adult who’s causing havoc here!”

My grandmother asked the station to put me in for safekeeping. I ended up as an errand girl for the policemen and I was treated mischievously. I could have ran away if I wanted to, but I did not because I had nowhere to go. My uncle eventually bailed me out of prison. He took me to his home but my uncle’s wife treated us badly. We were allowed to study, but we were made to stay in the garage. I left my uncle’s house and worked as a waitress in my godfather’s canteen. Again, I experienced abuse in the hands of my godfather. So, I left again the house where I stayed and found work as a nanny and tutor. I was later told that there is a center for runaway children in Manila. I then worked in a bakery to save money enough for transportation to the said institution.

I went around trying to find the center. I relayed my story to the social worker in the center but I didn’t tell them about the rape case at once. I stayed at this center for a week while the social workers searched for the most appropriate institution for my needs. My former center found out that I was a rape victim and figuring out my needs, I was turned over to a girl’s center run by the Oblate Sisters.

For two years I was very rebellious but later on I behaved because I aspired to study again. My struggles, personal transformations and strong desire to continue to college were all nursed and cultivated in the center. While I stayed in the center, I was able to finish high school. I also had the chance and the challenge to meet up and confront two people in my family whom I think had hurt me most. We had a family therapy. I met with my father and eventually discussed with him how my grandmother abused me. I was also able to meet with my grandmother before she died.

After I stayed in the center, I went to college and eventually finish my degree in Education. While still in college I was given the chance to travel to Germany to advocate for children’s rights. A poem that I wrote about my ordeal with my perpetrators was even included in a book published in Germany to advocate against child sexual exploitation.

I may have gone through a series of sexual abuse but I am determined to succeed in life. Today, I am finishing my Master’s degree in a prestigious university in the country while I juggle my time working as a call center agent and Informatics instructor.

I know I have survived commercial sexual exploitation through the help of many people. I hope others who have experienced sexual abuse can also survive from their traumatic experiences. I know they can with your help!