Woman aims to turn her trauma into an agent of change for survivors of sexual abuse

ByCrystal Cranmore and Eyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, January 19, 2024
How one woman is turning trauma into agent of change survivors of sex abuse
Crystal Cranmore has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- One woman is turning her trauma into an agent of change for others by attempting to bring healing to survivors of sexual abuse.

"He took me to a motel and proceeded to break me the entire night," Maria Trusa, founder of Yo Digo No Mas, said. "I ended up having surgery because my right ovary got twisted in my fallopian tubes."

Trusa was nine years old when she says her father arranged for a man to sexual abuse her in the Dominican Republic.

Nearly 50 years later, the emotional trauma still lingers.

"My father went to jail one day, the man that abused me went to jail. Three months," said Trusa. "I wanted to die."

Trusa has now chosen to illuminate her shadow of a past to help victims of sex crimes.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 21% of domestic sex trafficking victims are Hispanic, and roughly 40% are Black.

Her organization, Yo Digo No Mas, or I Say No more, is on a mission to raise awareness of the "silent pandemic" that is sexual abuse and violence.

Trusa hopes to help other survivors heal.

"The message is to forgive to live," Trusa said. "You see, when you forgive, you stop being a victim."

She has partnered with Goya to end human trafficking through the company's Goya Cares initiative.

As part of the program, Goya and the Center for Safety and Change host school assemblies throughout January, for Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

"There are many red flags of human trafficking," Leslie Rodriguez, a therapist at the Center for Safety and Change, said. "If the victim has an older boyfriend or girlfriend, you know, all of a sudden coming home with expensive gifts, physical abuse."

The head of Goya says the company's outreach is working.

"Children are coming forward that they are being abused or that they are in a situation that's abusive," said Bob Unanue, CEO of Goya.

The NYPD is also taking action this month, rolling out posters at all precincts throughout the city. When people scan the QR code on the poster, they are connected to helplines, healthcare, legal services and more.

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