One word comes to mind when Amy recalls her childhood: fear.
Amy’s father — the man who was supposed to protect her — beat her and her mother brutally. His violence was so severe that he eventually killed her mother. After Amy’s mother died, she hoped that her father would change.
But instead, Amy’s life became worse than she could have imagined. Her father started sexually abusing her. “I was only 14,” Amy says. “I didn’t know what to do.”
After months of being sexually abused by her father, Amy became pregnant with her father’s child. She agonized over what to do. Finally, Amy decided to give her baby a new beginning with an adoptive family.
After the adoption, one thing was clear — Amy had to escape her father’s abuse. And she needed to take her three younger siblings with her.
A local social worker helped Amy and her siblings escape their home, which was located in a rural community in the Philippines. The social worker placed them in a group home and helped ensure that Amy’s father went to prison.
Soon after that, Amy’s siblings were placed in homes, and she was placed at Happy Horizons Children’s Ranch — a safe haven where she could begin healing.
Happy Horizons Children’s Ranch helps girls who have been abused or exploited. Child Champions partner with Philippine law enforcement and the International Justice Mission to take in girls who have been rescued. Teachers, social workers, and nurses work together to help girls find physical and emotional healing. Girls are also paired with a peer mentor, a girl who is older and has survived abuse too. The girls pray together, read their Bible together, and encourage one another. The home even has a school and vocational training to equip girls and to help them plan and begin to dream about their futures.
At Happy Horizons Children’s Ranch Amy received counseling, mentoring, and spiritual guidance. During Bible studies, one scripture caught her attention: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). “That verse haunted me,” says Amy. “Why would I forgive my father? You’re supposed to trust your father. He’s supposed to guide and nurture you. He did the opposite. But the staff encouraged me to express myself to God. Every night I prayed. I found Jesus and let go of my hatred. My life became very different.”
“Every night I prayed. I found Jesus and let go of my hatred. My life became very different.”
Through the home, Amy also received educational assistance. The staff helped her finish high school and apply to college.
When she was accepted into college, Amy knew exactly what she wanted to do — become a lawyer and be a voice for the voiceless. “I want to help victims like me,” says Amy. “It’s been in my heart since I was a child!”
At the age of 22, Amy entered Southwestern University in the Philippines. Four years later, she graduated with a degree in political science. Next, she entered law school and graduated in March 2019. Today, at the age of 32, she’s taken the bar exam in Manila and is waiting for the results. In the meantime, Amy’s siblings are supporting themselves, and Amy runs her own online business where she sells bags, kitchen ware, and other items.
Amy doesn’t know where she would have been without help from those at Happy Horizons Children’s Ranch and thanks those who support the ranch.
“You give such a good thing to those who’ve been hurt,” she says. “Those who support the home financially — and even through prayers — give great hope!”
She also wants to encourage those who have experienced abuse. Amy has not seen her dad since he went to prison, but forgiving him has been an important part of her journey. “I know it’s hard to forgive,” says Amy. “It took me years to forgive my father. But trust God that He will work a miracle. God will heal you physically, spiritually, and emotionally. You will overcome. You are victorious!”