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/