It was spring. The season of change.
The moment of birth, of renewal, of hope
Secret Survivors México, 2017
Today I write this important letter as a step in the healing process that I started when I joined forces to help other people who went through, and still go through, similar situations as I did.
My name is Mora Fernández and I was sexually abused by my uncle Miguel, my father's brother. The first time he raped me, I was only four years old. He went on to abuse me so many times that I lost count. He also made me a victim of sexual exploitation and child pornography, he rented me out to his friends in hotel rooms.
The years of terror lasted until I was 13. Finally, somehow, I was able to say "NO MORE!" – before he got me drunk and strangled and raped me for the last time.
I was a child with a broken soul. But over time, with therapy and the abiding love of my friends - my chosen family - I have been able to re-build the life that was snatched from me at age four.
I have turned my horror into strength. As Miguel Cane wrote in his wonderful article, “Escucho" (“Listen”), "That darkness is part of you, just like your luminous side.” Some things are so hideous that we instinctively avert our gaze. But NOW is the time to stop looking away. If we act together, then my story does not have to repeat itself in the lives of other children.
In 2000, after years of healing and searching for ways to help, I founded La Casa Mandarina AC a non-profit devoted to ending gender violence by using the arts for social transformation. My role there is to head projects that focus on ending this silent epidemic.
Mexico ranks first in the world in sexual abuse and child pornography, (ODCE & UN) and yet it budgets the least to fighting them (only 1% of national budget dedicated to children). Statistically, one in three persons you know was sexually abused as a child.
I was one of those children.
And I am one of those survivors.
I am not ashamed. And I no longer feel guilt.
Don’t get me wrong. This letter is not a plea for pity. On the contrary, I write it to bring hope. We are working on creative and innovative strategies and artistic projects to create awareness and break the silence about child sexual abuse. We are also addressing the roots causes of gender violence and oppression The first step to prevent this crime is putting it out. Did you know that 90% of abusers are family members or people the child trusts? Most victims never tell anyone out of fear, shame or guilt.
ONE IN THREE CHILDREN YOU KNOW WILL BE SEXUALLY ABUSE BEFORE
THE AGE OF 18.
We can do something to change this terrifying number. We do not have to have other children with my story.
Today I ask you to join me - and so many other voices that are already part of this movement - to change this reality. Together can fight against this crime that destroys both infancy and souls.
Indignation is not enough; ACT now with me to end this silent epidemic.
And to you, who survived:
I believe you, it is not your fault
and you are not alone.
Founder and CEO
La Casa Mandarina AC
In March 2018, Mora Fernández was awarded the Honorable Mention of the Recognition Hermila Galindo 2018 granted by the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City (CDHCDMX) for her work and career as an advocate for women and girls.
I felt very moved because I never had a voice but now my work is helping to make victims of child sexual abuse visible.
I thought things would never change but today I could stand here and not feel guilt or shame about what happened to me. That horror is part of my strength. Something is changing in the world. Little by little. But it is changing. I hope my voice helps to keep breaking the silence. I dedicate this award to the little girl inside who survived and who brought me here, in spite of everything.