Monday, September 24, 2012

Article: It Happened to Me: I Was Sexually Assaulted While in the Peace Corps

Another brave survivor of sexual violence in Peace Corps posted her story on  Read the beginning of her piece here and continue to the site to read more.

In March of 2012, I was a Peace Corps volunteer and I was falling apart. In case you don't know, Peace Corps is an organization that is funded by the US government to send volunteers overseas for two years. During their time living abroad, volunteers are assigned projects to help the communities where they live. They live in cities and small towns, by the ocean and in the mountains, with host families and by themselves. The variety of experiences are as varied as the volunteers themselves.
I first heard of the Peace Corps when I was a freshman in high school.  A visitor spoke to my US Government class about his experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in eastern Europe and I was hooked. From that moment on, I knew that I would graduate from college and join the Peace Corps. As cliche as it sounds, it was my dream.
After an 18-month application process, in March of 2010 I received my acceptance letter and was told I would be leaving for Peru on June 10, 2010. I was elated. My dream was finally coming true.
In August of 2010, after 10 weeks of training, I moved into my home for the next two years. I was living close to Huaraz, in the department of Ancash. Huaraz is in the Andes mountains at approximately 3,000 meters (10,000 feet). My town consisted of approximately 500 people and electricity and running water were luxuries. I didn't have a toilet, just a small hole at which to aim. Transportation to the city was hit or miss and a trip to get groceries usually started with a 45 minute hike. I thought it was perfect.
Fast forward 19 months and my dream had become my nightmare. My host sister was stealing money and jewelry from me. Peace Corps refused to let me switch towns even after I told them I was severely depressed due to lack of work. I was showering once every two weeks. Two of my close friends were barely talking to me. Rats were slowly taking over my bedroom. I was cutting (again). Someone was spreading rumors that I was trading sex for cocaine. Peace Corps had told me I could only leave my town once a month and, subsequently, I could only get groceries once a month. I was barely eating.
I was damn near suicidal.
So I decided to do something for myself. In Peru, I had discovered that I loved hiking and, even better, getting lost. I relished the feeling of trying to get to Point B from Point A with no directions, no maps, no ideas. I loved walking and getting lost in the music and my surroundings and, for once, not thinking about my problems and stress.
So on March 9, 2011 my Golden Retriever puppy, Gulliver, and I hit the trails and tried to figure out how to get from our town to the town of another volunteer. I didn't even know if it was possible, if I could make it in one day, or if I remembered the name of their town. But it was an adventure.
Continue reading this story at

1 comment:

  1. Sister,
    I applaud you sharing your story with the world. It is unacceptable and many more words I won't write here that the Peace Corps did not call you for 10 days after you reported this. It is wrong of anyone to tell you "At least you weren't raped." No one should have to go through a harrowing experience like the one you went through. Being in the middle of the mountains and lost adds a lot of trauma to your experience, I think.

    I hope that you are able to find the support of a different therapist.

    Sexual assault is not something you should have to "learn a lesson" from. I do hope that your pain lessons as you say that is your dream. I do believe it will.
    Healing Blessings,