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LILY'S STORY

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

This is the story of *Lily, a teen from Aucayacu, in the region of Huánuco. She was born into a dysfunctional family—an alcoholic father and an authoritarian mother. During her childhood she was physically and psychologically abused by her mother who favored her younger brother. At the age of six, she was abandoned by her mom and remained with her father and maternal grandmother who both took care of her.

At the age of 11, Lily’s mom called her to tell her that she really missed her and would like to live together. Excited by her mom’s words and thinking that she had changed and they would finally have a mother-daughter relationship, Lily got her dad’s permission and decided to travel to the city of Aguaytia, Ucayali in search of her mother.

Upon reuniting with her mother, Lily realized that she had not changed like she had hoped and her mom really just wanted to be with her daughter to lessen the guilt she felt for abandoning her. Lily was left alone in her room while her mom went to work only taking her younger brother with her. One day her Uncle *Tom (her mom’s brother) had visited and took advantage of Lily being alone, sexually violating her for the first time. Crying, Lily told her mom what had happened and she was told that they were to never speak of it because her uncle and aunt would separate and it would destroy their home. These words were so devastating to Lily that she eventually escaped and returned to live with her father, keeping quiet to hide her secret.

She continued studying in Aucayacu and her dad would leave her by herself in a rented room while he went to work with her grandmother at a farm, returning on the weekends to be with his daughter. The following year, Uncle Tom arrived with his family to live in Aucayacu where they rented a nearby house. Lily’s dad, unaware of what happened, thought it would be helpful to have family living close by.

That month Uncle Tom asked Lily to forgive him for what happened in Aguaytia and said that what happened between them is normal, that she shouldn’t be afraid, and that he wants to stay by her side to protect her. With these words he gained her trust and continued to sexually abuse her until the age of 13.

When she realized that her menstrual period stopped, she told her uncle who took her to the pharmacy to get a pregnancy test that resulted in a positive. At this moment, he told her not to worry and that he would care for the baby. Two months passed and a teacher at school realized that Lily was pregnant and took her to the school’s director who transferred her to government authorities, through which she was brought to the Casa del Buen Trato shelter.

The following week her mom visited her at the shelter to offer her help on the condition that she would eventually give her baby up for adoption, to which Lily agreed. When her baby *Mina was born, Lily held her beautiful daughter in her arms and decided to raise her even though it meant her mother would not provide any support and she would have to rely solely on the support from her father and the shelter. Lily had her quinceañera (15th birthday celebration) at the Casa del Buen Trato Hovde shelter with her daughter in her arms, marking an unforgettable day in her life.

Lily continued studying while living at the shelter and graduated from high school in February 2017. Lily created a new plan for her life, trusting in God to help her move forward. She is grateful for the Casa del Buen Trato Hovde shelter and the support she receives at the shelter where she has learned to value her body, the importance of loving herself, the importance of showing her daughter affection and caring for her with love.