Sexual violence should be treated as a medical emergency. In Acapulco, MSF is working to guarantee care to all survivors of sexual violence, ensuring the right of access to health services, and educating the wider community about the importance of seeking immediate help. Our social psychologists and health promoters also evaluate local needs and carry out community activities, including education on prevention and detection of sexual violence.
"When I looked for help, they told me it was my fault because I lived with the violence,” says Marbella. “Then I started going to the MSF health promoters' talks, where I realized that nobody has to put up with a situation like that. MSF's attention came when I needed it most. I had lost hope—I felt ashamed, and I thought that my family was right, that's why I stopped looking for help. So finding someone who would listen and help me was very important.”
But in Acapulco’s atmosphere of extreme violence, reaching the people most in need of care can be difficult. "One of the great challenges of the project was gaining the trust of the people and getting them to trust health professionals enough to tell us [about] their experiences, such as having been the victim of sexual abuse—especially when it happened in the home," says Rivera.