Working relationships

Working relationships

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The story of one woman’s journey with Rahab.

“He would al­ways keep load­ed guns in the house, even in the room where he would rape me.”

Nilda Bondoc—56 year old, brown haired, soft faced—is one of the Salva­tion Army/Rahab partnership success stories. Rahab is a campus ministry made up of female students that fo­cus on reaching out to the sexually ex­ploited women of Vancouver’s down­town East Side, to give these women care, a voice, and an opportunity to promote awareness and change.

During Rahab evenings, students put on events such as baking parties and spa nights. Each event is always centered around fellowship and rela­tionship-building. “The activities we plan are just a way to break the ice, a way to connect over a similarly en­joyed activity,” says Victoria Wilkin­son, a Rahab volunteer. “The real intention of us going downtown is to build relationships—to let the women know that we are willing to be a con­sistent presence on the downtown Eastside for them.”

In a 2006 UNICEF study, it was reported that 85,000 to 362,000 chil­dren were victims of domestic abuse, and global estimates suggest 133 to 275 million children were victims of domestic abuse just that year.

Bondoc recounts her own abuse starting at age eight, a year after her father won custody of her and her brother and sister. At age 15, when Bondoc started to resist the abuse, her father would threaten to kill her and emotionally abused her; manipulat­ing her and calling her stupid. Bondoc confessed, “It took me a long time to realize that I truly wasn’t stupid.”  Bondoc found herself in many abusive relationships over the years; her husband even jokingly condon­ing the abusive behavior her father inflicted upon her while growing up. Bondoc soon left the marriage, after her husband claimed to hear a voice telling him to kill her. Following the incident he was taken by police and hospitalized.  With the support Bondoc has re­ceived through the Salvation Army program and her friends from Rahab Ministries, she’s found peace and ac­ceptance for herself. Additionally, far more than just the women seeking treatment benefit from the relation­ships formed through Rahab.

“I wouldn’t call what I do down­town ‘working’ with women. Each Friday or Thursday when I go downtown, I’m going to meet with friends—friends who I care deeply about, and who care about me,” says Wilkinson.

These relationships continue to expand and impact residents in the area. Though she is still recover­ing from addiction, Bondoc herself has passed on some of these values: “As a mom, which is my proudest achievement,” she says, “I know that I influenced my kids to grow up into amazing individuals, even though I was struggling.”

For more information visit twu.ca/life/min­istries/

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