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Counseling the Victims of Sexual Violence

Learning how best to be present to women and girls who have experienced sexual violence is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates try to be a healing presence to others today.

In response to the need for counseling skills to help Medical Mission Sisters and others “be there” for those experiencing rape, incest and other sexual trauma, District West Africa hosted a “Counseling the Victims of Sexual Violence” Workshop in June. The nine-day workshop was led by Medical Mission Sisters Associate Sister Marie Ego, a Sister of Loretto, who worked with us in Ghana for many years. She also is a trained psychotherapist.

There were 11 participants in the program, five Medical Mission Sisters and six Sisters from other Congregations. It was a real international group with Nigerian, Filipina, Kenyan, Ghanaian and German Sisters attending. Sister Marie is from the United States.

Step-by-step, such issues as sexual exploitation, rape, victim-blaming, the wall of silence, incest and future trauma in the lives of abused persons were discussed. Participants learned why children are so afraid to tell their parents about any personal abuse they experience and why parents so often do not hear what their children are saying. Sister Marie addressed these often-labeled “delicate” topics using personal sharing and reflection, group discussions, practical exercises and some very illuminating movies. All felt they left the workshop much better prepared to help the women and girls who come to them for help.

August 15, 2012