(Trigger warning: mentions of rape)
Joy Mendoza is the talk of Facebook after she recounted how she forgave the seven men who raped her when she was a teen nearly 30 years ago in a YouTube interview.
Mendoza, a counselor for sexual abuse victims who is now married with six kids, told actress and vlogger Toni Gonzaga she chose forgiveness to give herself peace.
Raped by seven men
It was a Friday night in February 1992 and Mendoza's parents left home for a Bible study. Ten armed robbers stormed her home in Antipolo, ransacking the house looking for something to loot.
Mendoza, who was wearing a towel to take a shower, locked herself in the bathroom. The gunman had the keys and went inside.
"I thought he was going to kill me because he said something like 'okay, I don't want you to see this.' So I was like 'Oh my gosh, he's gonna shoot me.' But that was when he proceeded to assault me at gunpoint," Mendoza shared.
"I didn't know what to expect. I never had a boyfriend, never been kissed, never had sex. I was 15. I was a virgin... The things that he did to me, it was really vile stuff."
"Pinagpasa-pasa ako, like different guys, different rooms of the house. It's one of those things, 'this can't be real.' It was so surreal, it was like I was not there anymore but I do remember very, very distinctly in my heart I was reciting Psalm 23, 'The Lord is my Shepherd.'"
Two of her friends, both women who were supposed to sleep over, were also assaulted. One of her friends was raped by three men.
"Instead of deciding to kill us, they took my uncle, and his wife and his son. They [gunmen] forced them to drive them out and drop them off.'"
Forgiveness is a decision
Mendoza said it was hard to tell her parents about what happened, but she called it the starting point of her healing. One of the first things she did afterwards was to read the Bible.
"It was more of a choice. I had to say to myself, 'okay, you know what, Lord? I still believe who You are. I believe You're a good God, I believe that You cause all things to work together for good, You are sovereign, and that You have a purpose for everything that I went through so I am going to choose to trust You," she said.
"God reminded me during that season, 'Joy, all people fall short of My glory. Romans 3:23 says that... God reminded me 'Joy, you're just like one of those people. And it's only because of My grace and forgiveness that you're in a right relationship with Me. So can you then extend that same grace and forgiveness I have given you to forgive those people?'"
The family never filed a case against the suspects. Years later, she heard the news that some of them were caught by authorities and that the gang was disbanded. "So it's like justice was served. God's way, God's time."
Now, Mendoza is happily married to financial adviser and TV host Edric Mendoza. She also published the book "When a Good God Allows Rape."
"We've all gone through brokenness -- so either it makes us bitter or it makes us better. We have a choice."
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