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I'm Betzy, this is my story.


I'm Betzy, this is my story.

Betzy from Guatemala shares in her own words how she was abused as a child and why she’s now speaking out against violence.

My name is Betzy, I am 70 years old. I am a survivor of violence.

I don’t remember how old I was when the abuse began. But I know that by the age of five I was sexually assaulted repeatedly by someone at home.

Later in life, I realized that all the girls of the family went through violence at home, because it was “normal”, it was an everyday thing that happens to everybody.

When I was seven years old, my mum decided to leave my father because she could no longer tolerate his violence. She decided to leave me with some relatives. After three years living with them, I started suffering sexual abuse again.

The abuse lasted until I turned 14.

As a result of it, I became pregnant. I was blamed for the situation and kicked out of that house.

Since my mother could not provide for me and I would not return to my relative’s house, I went to look for a job - but no one would give me a job, since I was 14 and pregnant. 

Fortunately, I met an elderly and gracious couple who wanted to help. They hired me and encouraged me to continue my studies. I finished high school and got my bachelor’s in administration. Those years were very exhausting but also worthwhile. My son became my reason to move forward.

In 2018, I joined Mi Historia Importa (My Story Matters) and it changed my life. The group is a movement that brings together people who, like me, have experienced violence.

To me, it’s a community, a safe place where survivors of violence are warmly welcomed into a family where we all understand, motivate and care for each other. Here, I found an emotional remedy I hadn’t found anywhere else and I was able to grow. 

I am no longer a victim but a contributor to society.

The group has trained me to advocate for children in my society and for those around the world.

Sexual violence in my country is taboo. It is kept silent, and wrongly often perceived as “something normal.” People don’t talk about it and society doesn’t measure the impact and the wounds it can have on a girl’s life.

By telling my story, I want to stop this harm; I want to prevent this from happening. When we [survivors] speak up about this issue, we will bring a meaningful change in our country.

My story might be a breath of hope for a victim who is healing. But the most important reason for which I chose to share my story is prevention. I don’t want one more single child going through such pain.

I will do whatever I can to prevent and keep any child from this pain.

Protection comes from knowledge. Only by understanding the risks for children and women will we know how to protect them and protect ourselves from these risks. Regardless of the challenges I face, I will not stop.

I want to tell girls who have suffered abuse and are going through a healing process, Be brave! You will overcome this! To the women who are victims, give yourself grace. Love yourself, know yourself and give yourself the chance of being happy because it is possible.

Since our movement is supported by IJM, we feel IJM has our backs.

I feel confident to share my story and I want to do it to eradicate violence in Guatemala. I'm sure that we can do it.

*Pseudonym. Consent gathered for all images

Learn more about our work to combat violence against women and children

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