Identified only as Rose, she hopes her story will empower other abused victims to break the silence and help others
Editors NOTE: Rose is not the woman’s real name as her real identity has been suppressed by the Court
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 13 JUNE 2017: A19 year old woman (Rose) living under the protection of the Samoa Victim Samoa Group (SVSG) said her love for her mother remains, despite her mother’s effort to offer her to a man for money.
Rose is an abused woman, and her mother is currently serving time in prison for her part in the assault on Rose.
At the time of the incident, Rose was 14 years old and attending one of the Government high schools.
Rose said her mother never apologized for what happened, “but I want to get my siblings together and visit her in prison, even if she doesn’t want to see us,” Rose told Talamua.
Rose’s story revolves around two incidents, one with her stepfather, and the other with a man whom her mother was “trying to sell me off to.”
Rose has 9 siblings from her mother’s first marriage, and 4 young siblings from her mother’s second union.
Rose has gone public with her story in the hope that it will influence and encourage other girls that have been abused, that there is hope. She also wants to send a message to all mothers, to love and cherish their daughters.
Rose was raped twice by her step-father. At the time, Rose and her younger sister were staying with their mother and step-father.
She told her mother what happened but was brushed aside.
“My mother did not believe me and she said that her husband was not like that,” she explained.
Rose then shared her fears and frustration with a neighbour who told her about the shelter operated by SVSG.
“The neighbour asked me to decide if I and my sister want to live with my mother or the shelter,” said Rose.
Rose and her sister talked about it and decided to take the offer of the shelter.
At the time, their grandparents returned from Australia and she approached and told them what happened.
“My grandmother was angry and called my mother for an explanation,” said Rose.
Since then, Rose stayed with the grandparents, until her grandparents left for Australia again, and Rose remained with her grandmother’s sister in the village.
Things were good until Rose’s mother turned up to claim her daughter.
“I did not want her to cause trouble for my grandmother’s sister, so I left with my mother.”
Rose said things got from bad to worse after that.
“My mother tried to sell me off to a man for money,” said Rose.
The first incident happened when the man came to their house and he tried to rape Rose.
“The man was trying to force himself upon me, and I cried out to my mother, but she ignored my call for help,” said Rose.
Rose said all the time she was struggling with the man, her mother was sitting at the table playing with her mobile phone.
Rose said her mother was getting $100 and sometimes $50 from the man.
On one occasion, Rose’s mother told her that they were visiting her aunt in one of the villages. “But when we got to the bus terminal in Apia, I saw the same man that came to the house.”
“He gave my mother $100 and I was forced to go with the man to Savai’i, but I refused,” said Rose.
Rose said her mother was angry and used all sorts of abusive words against her and when they got home her mother used a carrying pole – amo to beat her up.
The next day when Rose got to school, “I called the SVSG helpline, and Mama Lina answered the phone.”
That same night, police arrived and took Rose.
“As I was leaving with the police, my sister called out that she did not want to stay because the same thing might happen to her,” said Rose.
Rose then pleaded with the police to take her sister too, and both sisters have been residents at the SVSG House of Hope since 2014.
Message for abusive women and girls
Living under the safe haven of SVSG, Rose said she has been blessed and she has a message for abused women and girls out there.
“If you have been abused, speak out and get help early,” she said. “There is hope.”
“Find a solution early, and choose where you feel safe to go to, SVSG or police.’
Rose’s younger sister has already left for Australia, and Rose will soon follow.
She said all her traveling papers and documents have been finalized for some time but the delay was due to the court case against her mother, step-father and the man who offered money for her.
All three have been found guilty and were sentenced last month to serve time in prison, clearing the way for Rose to fly off to her older siblings in Australia. She looks forward to starting a new life there.
Samoa Victim Support HELPLINE Call: 8007874