October 29, 2015
Lourdes couldn’t step foot outside. But she was neither being held against her will nor living in a war-torn country; instead, she was becoming a prisoner in her own home because of the hurtful words and actions she persistently received from her next-door neighbors.
Lourdes had four children with her husband and was happily married. But when her husband, hard up for work in Tegucigalpa, moved to the United States seeking greater income to send back to his family, Lourdes became prey for her gossiping neighbors.
Every day, when Lourdes so much as ventured outside her home, her neighbors started rumors and accused her of looking for other men. They even called up her husband in the United States to tell him their false stories about Lourdes’ supposed infidelities. Lourdes’ husband had great trust in his wife and didn’t believe the neighbors; he told her to simply ignore the spiteful comments. But each mean-spirited word ate away at her more.
“She stopped eating, taking care of her children, going to church—all the things that used to fill her life with joy,” commented Narzaria Romero, a psychologist who works for the AJS-supported Gideon Project. When Lourdes arrived at the Gideon Center she was struggling with deep depression and had attempted suicide.
“I began realizing that the damage being done to my life was too much,” said Lourdes. “I wouldn’t even leave my room for fear of having my neighbors hear me!” With the steady help of Gideon counselors, Lourdes through each therapy session began to work toward regaining her self-worth and seeing the truth behind her neighbors’ false accusations.
“Leaving my house isn’t a problem anymore,” she says with a smile. Her neighbors noticed a difference in her attitude and ceased their belligerent behavior once seeing it no longer kept her down. Now, she confidently waves a morning greeting and they simply return the gesture.
Thanks to the support of the Gideon Project, women like Lourdes are regaining their sense of self-worth, thus becoming empowered to make their neighborhoods better places.