“they held me and gang raped me for three weeks.”

It hung there, with no more weight from her voice than when she’d talked about the differences between Nigerian and Liberian palm nuts.

She pointed to the jagged gash on her arm where they broke a bottle over her arm.

“I almost died,” she said of the rape. Of the everything. “but the worst part was that my children knew what happened to me and lost respect for me. “there was nothing. I lost all interest in life – in living.”

And in a seamless moment the intimacy of confession drew a thousand faceless stories into stark relief. one tangible person. One woman. One mother. One sister. One wife.

One of many.

A rape survivor.

She spoke of many things. The rape almost an aside to the reality of raising sons – hers and other’s, the expense of cooking oil, the need to increase teacher pay. And her work-making Liberia better one person at a time.
There are many stories in Liberia. People who fled. People who stayed. Held at knife or gunpoint. Escaped by some miraculous kindness. Camps in Ghana, in Guinea. Flight on  boats, across borders on foot. On foot. On so many feet.
People talk of how long ago it all was. 2003. More than six years. But six years can’t erase a beating, a bullet, a brutality against everything that makes victim and villain human.
She smiles. And laughs easy. She loves big. House open to boys…so many boys…at one point 11. And she is so much bigger than even this biggest of events. But there on her arm the jagged scar that looks like a miniature shark bite, bulging in places, crooked and pale, trailing her wrist and down her forearm. A constant reminder. As if she could forget.

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