My name is Ma. Katrina Madriaga, President-Elect of Rotary Club of Makati McKinley Philippines, Sales and Marketing Professional and a Rape Survivor.
My advocacy of helping other rape victims to recover mentally from the tragic incident of their lives is because of my personal experiences and struggles I encountered when I was raped in August of last year. Following the rape, I fought a battle I wasn’t prepared for, mentally and emotionally I was destroyed. I am not even sure if the word “destroyed” will justify the mental and emotional damage to my health back then.
In my experience, aside from legal battle which costs me too much financially, it is hard to get psychological help. Especially considering the cost of services that could give real comfort to a victim like me. I needed a professional who could truly understand how it feels to be a victim of such a heinous crime. A crime that physically and psychologically violates the victim. Meanwhile, reporting this crime and facing trials or just by retelling the story makes the victim feel that they are being revictimized.
In no other crime does the victim undergo so much scrutiny during and prior to a legal trial, where the most likely defence of the criminal is that the rape was consensual. Aside from that, “victim blaming” is one of the most common struggles faced by the victim.
Aside from the support and care of family members and friends, it is vital to be able to get professional help to rebuild the victim’s mental health.
If mental health will not be being taken care of properly, it will be very difficult for a victim to continue fighting for justice, will be impossible to move on and healing is not attainable. A community that supports and understand the victim is vital to encourage them to live their lives again, to be able to attain purpose and, as hard as it is, to still be grateful of the current life they have despite the tragedy forced upon them.
I sought justice as part of my long search of healing, a justice which I thought impossible to achieve as my abuser had already fled and went back to his country. My abuser was my co-manager at work and the son of the owner of the company I used to work for that time, which greatly added to my struggles. Due to the negligent handling of the situation by the HR department, I sought justice through filing criminal and labor cases. While the financial burden was high, I was able to find the inner strength, with the support of friends, to fight this through a legal system, while flawed, was able to bring some justice.
Helping other rape victims will be a crucial part of my complete healing process. I experienced different types of struggles and denials after being raped. Struggles and denials that made it impossible for me to get healing or even start the journey of freeing myself from pain and traumas.
I experienced many struggles on fighting negative thoughts in my head. Despite of my acting tough in front of my family and friends,hey saw me crying, but they couldn’t know that at the back of my head I committed suicides a hundred times, because at that time I can no longer take the pain I have inside.
In my head, it's hard to show even a single weakness to my family and friends as they have known me as a self-made woman, independent, strong and untouchable. Having this kind of perception leads me to denial. I also want to forget the pain as much as possible. Due to the lack of community where I can discuss my problems caused by this incident, I wasn’t able to recover properly. I don’t want to be a burden to my family and friends, I don’t want them to worry. I did all I could to fake it and pretend that I am okay, and that wasn’t right. I can’t blame them; they can’t understand and will never understand my situation. The only people who can understand me are the people who experienced the same thing I experienced. Those who went through the same nightmare as I did. The only thing they can do with my help is for me to be able to make them understand the way I behave, and I can only do this by getting enough counselling and communicating with rape survivors. Talking to rape survivors enables me to open up without holding back from fear and shame.
The journey to my own healing started when I became more open about what happened to me. It took courage and along search for me to be able to find the right people to surround myself with and to whom I can freely share my story without holding back. Today, after travelling a long and hard path, I can tell my story without fear and shame. Of course, telling my story forces me to recall painful memories, but I don’t identify that person in my story as me any longer, so the pain doesn’t drag me back into my previous deep depression. The pain that I am feeling now is for that woman I used to be after the rape incident. Until now I couldn’t believe I made it, that I am here now seeking continuous healing and with great hope that I can inspire more rape victims and lead them to a path where they can get healing and peace of mind.
I’m requesting that you help me build an organization dedicated to help the mental health of rape victims by creating an organization that supports victims through an online community where they can find the comfort to be completely honest about their feelings, without any fear and shame. Help me to provide them to find their purpose of living life again, and like me, I hope that they will be able to find the beauty in their brokenness. Your generosity will help me build a platform wherein participants who seek help can have interactions with other rape victims, are able to access therapy sessions from experts and professionals without paying an expensive cost of per hour rate.
Access to mental health professionals in the Philippines is not possible for most people, especially when compared to other countries. The Philippine justice system gives rape victims a hard time to achieve justice. If we can help the victim with their needs on mental health, we will at least lessen their burden and give them the strength to continue fighting and living their life with purpose. This community will remind them that they are not alone on their fight, that there are people who are willing to listen and care for them and are available whenever they need them. A community where rape victims can come together and can support each other while expressing themselves without being judged.
I am planning to start this project and launch the website before August 3, 2019. This will mark 1 year of my own heart-breaking experience. Yet, I am able to take some comfort that I am to turn this tragedy into beauty by launching a platform that will surely help other rape victims. The online community will give them security and convenience on their way to healing. They can get help anytime and anywhere in their most convenient time and place.
My psychologist once told me that the best advice a rape victim can have is from the rape survivor themselves.