We mentally prepared ourselves to be met with a family experiencing unfathomable grief, and knocked on their front door of the office. Our meeting point for the first introduction to this family.
An officer welcomed up, and started to introduce us. We met with the mother of the victim, who was at school.
The more she talked, the more we were surprised. A single mother, who now faced every woman's worst nightmare. Her daughter had been sexually attacked. Her neighbors all buzzed with excitement and gossip in the otherwise sleepy town. The press were constantly surrounding them, and the mother's mind was reaching it's limit. She decided she had to take action to protect her child.
She had taken steps to remove all rumors and threats. She worked with her daughter's teachers to ensure they would mentally support her, and she met with her daughter's friends to explain to them what happened, so that they would not tease her, or abandon her in her time of need. She even went to every family in her neighborhood and remind them to take care of their children, and to stop their nosy curiosity, a nasty habit in rural Asia.
She isolated them from the press. She allowed the authorities to interview her daughter only once, and any further questions would be through her.
"We can't add insult to the injury," she said matter of factly, "I respect that you have come to visit, however I am still able to take care of her, and I don't want her life to be disturbed any more". She smiled, with hopeful tears running down her pale face.
We left, feeling great respect for this woman. She may have felt insignificant as a mother, but all her actions were of great significance. Even after the horrors endured, she was able to be a branch for her daughter to cling onto to avoid falling into a black hole, in hopes that in the years to come, this nightmare would just fade away.
Indeed, we needed more rescue branches like this mother. We hope for victims are able to reach out to the branches of their relatives and communities to save them from the abyss.
And eventually, we hope that we'll be unemployed, because that just means there are no victims of sexual harassment left in need of rescue.
N.N.D September 27 2017
Translated by Jacequeline Huynh and Mr. Phung. The original version in Vietnamese entitled "Nhành Cây Nơi Vực Thẳm"