Rape victim speaks out

A 16-year-old girl, raped by a former pastor of the Methodist Church, has shared her story in the hope that it will empower others to speak out against all forms of abuse and violence.

The incident occurred last year; the case concluded last month with the Supreme Court sentencing perpetrator Tugia Tuliau to four years and ten months' imprisonment.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, the girl, who has asked not to be identified, said that after everything has happened she found it in her heart to forgive Tuliau.

“God has helped me forgive the person that has hurt me and also only Jesus can forgive our sins,” she said. 

“My story began when Tuliau’s wife asked my mother if I can stay with her so I can assist with the chores hence why I stayed with them. 

"At the time I was in Year 9 but I was in Year 10 when the incident occurred.

“It has been more than a year that I stayed with them then the incident occurred around September.” 

On the day of the first offending on 16th September, Tuliau had instructed the victim to come go into a room as he had a gift for her 16th birthday.

“Usually when Tuliau’s wife leaves my mother comes and stays with us but my parents left for New Zealand.

“Before the incident occurred I started to notice how he acted differently towards me but then I thought maybe not.

“But my fears came into reality when one night while I slept together with his children, he came into the room and asked for me to come with him for something.”

The 16-year-old told the Samoa Observer that when the incident occurred she was in so much fear and consumed with sadness.

“After urination I experienced pain, I began to lose my appetite and became ill more often.

“I know that in some cases of victims from sexual abuse they would have suicidal feelings but I did not have any thoughts.

“It is because my life was a gift from God and if I were to kill myself it would also mean that I did not love my parents and God.”

My uncle reported the matter to a representative of the Methodist Church.

“The good thing is that my uncle reported the matter on Friday and Tuliau was removed on Saturday.

“During the times when my case was in court I had no peace of mind, there was so much sadness inside me and I chose not to speak to anyone but I kept my faith, prayed and fasted.

“I wanted to share my story in the hopes to empower others who are victims to speak out against abuse or violence.”

She added that despite how hurtful of she went through she has the heart to pursue her dreams.

“I aim to become a lawyer to help protect other victims of any form of abuse and not forgetting to care for my family.

“I also want to be a professional martial artist because I want to better protect myself when being attacked by someone.”

The victim is under the care of Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.).

As Samoa hosts the historic 84th Extraordinary Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child this week, there are more than 80 abused and abandoned children are currently sheltered at the Campus of Hope under the care of S.V.S.G. 

S.V.S.G. was set up with a vision to ensure that victims of crimes and those in need are well supported to be safe and in control of restoring their lives through quality service,” says the President of S.V.S.G., Siliniu Lina Chang.

She added that to date, S.V.S.G. continues to aspire towards achieving this vision above and beyond the call for action and it is a service from the heart.

“This is due to the fact that it is a service beyond the provision of shelter, clothing and food for the rescued children,” she said.

“It is a service inclusive of the rehabilitation and restoration processes for each child.

“It is from dealing with the mental health of a girl child impregnate from a sexual abuse experience, to the wellbeing of a girl child attempting to abort a pregnancy from the same.”

There are new born babies with health complications from attempted abortion which required 24-hour care at the hospital. 

Siliniu also raised questions such as, “How about the mental health of the girl child who abandoned a child due to the stigma associated with being sexually abused?  

“The intergenerational effect of trauma on these young girls is one of the inherent risks.  

“And through these young girls experience as child violence survivors, there pathways in life are basically hopeless.

“These are some of the ugliest effects of children’s rights violation that grows darker by the day, yet as a child protection agency, we deal with these on a daily basis.”

She added that as family to these children, we give them hope. 

“And as survivors, we have seen some of them become child rights advocates themselves.

“Fighting for a more just world for children, therefore is not just a single organisation’s responsibility; it’s a collective responsibility. And as with any movement, the power is precisely in the collective.”

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