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The power of counselling: Vin’s story

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The power of counselling: Vin’s story

Children who have experienced sexual violence urgently need professional support to heal. We’ve seen that, with specialist trauma-informed counselling, children like Vin* can recover even from the most brutal abuse.


Vin’s happy childhood in Kenya was turned upside down just days after his fifth birthday.

Vin was walking back from school when a trusted neighbour invited him into his house, pretending that Vin’s mother had asked him to give Vin a snack.

But once Vin was inside his house, the man sexually assaulted him. He told Vin that he would kill his mother if he told anyone what had happened.

Vin’s mother remembers the moment she discovered the truth: “When I got back from work that evening, he was in a lot of pain. I found him crying. He mentioned the perpetrator's name and stated that he had hurt him.”

Heartbroken, she rushed Vin to the hospital and reported the crime. The police arrested their neighbour – only to release him on bail just two days later, free to move about their community.  

Vin's mum didn’t know how they would ever get justice. She couldn’t afford the court costs and the perpetrator’s family began threatening her.

Meanwhile, Vin was struggling to sleep and talk. He became afraid of men - even his own brothers. In his mum's words: “I watched his condition worsen day after day. I was devastated.

His teachers would write letters to tell me that I should take him to a school that caters for children with special needs,

"The comments would hurt me because I knew my son was just traumatized by the abuse.”

The situation seemed hopeless – until a friend introduced Vin’s mother to IJM.

Thanks to the support of people like you, IJM immediately stepped in to provide urgent counselling for Vin and free legal representation.

The support from IJM counsellors helped Vin rebuild his trust in people. He gradually began to feel safe at home and school again.

“The counsellor was really patient with Vin and allowed him to move at his pace. Vin was able to resume his education. He was able to interact positively with others at home and at school.

“Additionally, Vin's mother received a lot of psychoeducation from us, and as a result, she was able to better understand Vin's needs.” - Esther, IJM Kenya aftercare worker (pictured below)

While social workers helped Vin to heal, IJM attorneys supported the state prosecutor in court to ensure Vin received justice.

Eventually, with our support, Vin was able to face the man who’d abused him in court. Vin pointed at him and said, “It was you who hurt me.

Vin’s truthful words helped obtain justice: the perpetrator was sentenced to life in prison.

The trial magistrate said there was no doubt he assaulted Vin and that his conviction, “should serve as a strong warning to anyone who preys on innocent children.”

Today, Vin’s relationship with his mum is as strong as ever: he loves helping her after school and dreams of buying her a house one day. Vin’s mother believes that Vin is where he is today because of the counselling and support he received.

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