shield arrow-simple-alt-top arrow-simple-alt-left arrow-simple-alt-right arrow-simple-alt-bottom facebook instagram linkedin medium pinterest rss search-alt shaper twitter video-play arrow-long-right arrow-long-left arrow-long-top arrow-long-bottom arrow-simple-right arrow-simple-left arrow-simple-bottom readio arrow-simple-top speaker-down plus minus cloud hb pin camera globe cart rotate Group-35 star edit arrow-top arrow-right arrow-left arrow-bottom check search Close square speaker-up speaker-mute return play pause love new-tab equalizer
Back to Stories

Standing with women to stop violence: Lilian’s story


Standing with women to stop violence: Lilian’s story

Lilian* shares in her own words her experience of violence and why she loves IJM’s approach to protecting women.

My name is Lilian and I live in Colombia. I am an entrepreneur and mother of two children.

The story of my family was shaped by the devastating effects of alcohol and the normalisation of violence within our communities.

Lilian 202310 CO Lilian Limited Use2

The physical abuse my mum received from my father forced her to leave the house and raise her four children by herself. That left a mark on me, but it has also served to protect and empower me later in life.

When I was 14, armed groups entered the region. Many innocent people lost their children. Many of my childhood friends died or simply disappeared.

One Sunday, I was working at a restaurant when a man approached me showing a gun in his hand. Grabbing me by the arm, he forced me to walk out.

I still don’t know where I got the strength from to break free and run towards my boss. She confronted and ordered that man to leave the restaurant. She changed the course of my life.

That man was able to abuse another girl that day. From then on, I became very afraid and preferred to stay home as much as possible.  

A few months later, my mum received a threat. She had been signing some documents that sought to improve the security of our community, so her name was on a list of people appointed to be killed.

My stepfather decided that we could no longer live there. My mum was unable to leave by bus with the rest of the family.

Instead, she escaped by crossing a mountain.

How is IJM working to stop violence against women?

At the age of 20, I had my first baby, but a little bit after his birth, the baby’s father became aggressive.

I did not want my child to experience what I did as a girl, so I left and began raising him without his father’s support.

Thankfully, my family was there for me. I was raising my child with dignity.

The Ministry of Women came to our region in 2011 and invited several organisations of women to work together. As a member of one of those entities, I began serving, representing, and leading women in various capacities.

It was through the Ministry of Women that I was invited to participate in an activity facilitated by IJM. The workshop was amazing, and I fell in love with IJM’s approach!

I was so excited about it that I offered IJM Colombia my collaboration with their efforts in supporting and making women feel safe and valued.

Since then, my experience with IJM has been wonderful! IJM has filled critical spaces in our community.

At the personal level, I used to think that I had overcome certain issues in my life, but now I see that I was lacking psychosocial support to deal with emotions associated with the trauma of living in a context of pervasive violence.

IJM has been the only organisation that has cared for the burdens women carry, and for what it means to be a woman living in a violent context.

With IJM’s support, I’ve learned to support women, children, my community, and even my own family. I’ve learned to be empathetic, to listen to a neighbour or a colleague that needs to share what is happening in her life and needs hope.

IJM also helped us build the Women’s Office, which is instrumental in giving women the first attention when they need to report a case of violence. There, every woman receives guidance on where to go next.

The impact has been so beneficial, and I am deeply thankful. We were needing and crying out for this. The support that IJM has given to the women leaders in our community has been essential.

IJM has also brought institutions closer to women and to the entire community. There was a big gap between us, which caused people to have very little trust in government entities. Although there is still work to be done in that sense, the way we are coming together is amazing! 

Lilian jpg 202310 CO Lilian Approved for Full Use

In the future, I would love to contribute with IJM to reach women who live in rural areas with even less access to justice. Those women feel abandoned as nobody offers them assistance.

Many of them even do not know that they are experiencing violence or what they can do to prevent their children from living in a violent home or from being recruited by violent groups.

I know we can generate a change that contributes to bringing peace to our region. We will achieve it by changing the way we think and live our lives. If we offer children a good foundation, we will avoid repeating this history of violence.

I believe that the trajectory can be changed!

*Pseudonym. Images obscured to protect survivor.

You might also be interested in…

About Stories see more
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.

The Global Survivor Network Speaks Out

Three Things Governments & Donors Can Do Now.

Recommendations from Pachaiyammal, Victoria and Jakelin from the Global Survivor Network.

You Can Help Send Rescue Today.

When you give a gift today, you’ll be fighting slavery, violence, and injustice across the globe. Together, we can end slavery and violence in our lifetime.

You can make the most impact as a Freedom Partner today.

Your generous monthly support will help send rescue to vulnerable children and families at a moment’s notice, stand with them as they rebuild their lives in freedom and have perpetrators held accountable.


Donor Portal

Review your giving, tax statements and contact info via the IJM Donor Portal.

please sign in
Email Sign Up
Get updates from IJM on stories from the field, events in your area and opportunities to get involved.
sign up