With the highest rate of violence against women in Latin America, 9 in 10 women in Bolivia experience violence at some point in their lives. A survivor herself, Brisa created a safe haven called A Breeze of Hope for other survivors of childhood sexual violence.
“Going through this trauma was horrible, but going through the process of trying to seek help was even more horrible. I found out that there were hundreds of girls and boys going through what I was going through. There was not one place where we could go and say ‘I need help’ without being re-victimized or blamed. That’s when I decided that I would use my life and everything that I have to be to others what no one was for me,” Brisa says.
The center is the first of its kind in Bolivia. Providing comprehensive services for children and adolescents, A Breeze of Hope ensures access to physical and psychological health services as well as legal assistance. With a 100% perpetrator conviction rate last year, Brisa and her team are taking on a broken legal system which has, in the past, only re-traumatized and harmed survivors.
In addition to her tenacity, the secret to Brisa’s success is the specialization of her team. Psychologists at A Breeze of Hope are familiar with the legal system and the standard of evidence for child abuse cases. Lawyers at the center understand how the brain processes trauma and its impact on memory. Best of all, the entire process is survivor-driven and sensitive to their needs.
Together with her partner, Parker Palmer, Brisa is changing the culture of shame and victim blame that surrounds sexual violence in Bolivia. Empowering young people to speak about their experiences, she is working toward creating a safer, more compassionate world for all women and children.
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