My mom died of cervical cancer when I was 3 years old. She was 37. After she passed, I lived with my dad and my grandma.
My grandma sold tortillas, and I rarely attended school because I had to help her. My dad worked the fields, cutting wood and any other odd job he could get. He always came back to the house drunk. Despite his abusive behavior, my grandma told me I should obey him. After all, she’d say, ”he’s the father God’s given you and it would be a sin to disrespect him.“ My grandma always treated him like a king. He was infallible in her eyes.
I hated being close to him when he was drunk. He always insulted me. He would say horrible things about my mother too. My grandma forced me to cook and take care of him – even when he was so drunk and mean.
When I was 8 years old, my grandma went to sell tortillas and left me waiting for my dad to come home. I knew he’d eventually arrive, drunk and angry. That night I made him dinner, and when I took him to bed, he started to tell me "You're such a little whore just like your mom. If I see you with a man I swear I kill you. “
Then he started to touch me. He took off my clothes and he raped me. When he finished, he told me “Now I'm the only one who can ever touch you.“
I was sad and confused after it happen. My grandma was the only one I could tell, but when I did tell her, she became really angry with me. She said you’re a little liar just like your mother and no one will ever believe you. If you ever tell anyone that story again, I’ll kick you out of my house for good!”
When I was 13, I got pregnant - with my father’s baby. I had my first child when I was 14. My grandmother, so angry about how I was “whoring around with all the boys” kicked me out of the house. I lived on the street without anyone's help for quite some time after. I was forced to take care of a baby boy that I never wanted. I was very angry and abusive. I blamed him for the way people treated me - like a diseased prostitute.
When my son grew up and started to work, he left me. I have not seen him again, and I don’t want to see him. Now, I live in another community. Alone. My dad never faced any consequences for what he did, and my grandmother always took care of him. When I heard he died, I felt happy.
Carmen is the name we’ll give to the woman who shared this story at our event in Momotombo, Nicaragua. She told us “I came to get tested today because I'm afraid of having cancer, but honestly, if I have cancer I'd rather just kill myself then to do anything about it.” We share this tragic story as just one example of many women we’ve encountered who have been sexually abused by their parents or relatives. In Nicaragua, most are never punished for the irreparable, generational damages they have caused. It is so common for us to hear these stories of abuse at our health events that I sometimes think it was merely a stroke of luck not to have been raped as well. Its January 2018, and we [women] still do not have the ability to express ourselves, protect ourselves from our own families, make choices about our own bodies. Our rights are not respected and abusers are not punished. They still teach us to treat men as our superiors, and boys are still raised to be kings. This is life in rural Latin America.