One of the catchphrases we’ve been using around the Girl Rising offices and in our recent literature is: Girl Rising is a film. Girl Rising is a movement. Girl Rising is what the future for girls can be. And, every day, we see examples of the truth and potential behind those three simple sentences: nowhere more meaningfully than in the case of Alexis Gonzalez.

Girl Rising began as a feature film at the heart of a campaign for girls’ education. As more and more people are exposed to the film, the movement has taken off - grown beyond our hopeful expectations – and people are engaging in diverse and powerful ways. Some are inspired to act, organize or speak out on behalf of girls; some, like Alexis, are moved to come forward and tell their own stories.

Alexis saw Girl Rising in her home state of California. The teen was so touched by the film, especially by Suma’s story, that she felt the time had come to go public with her own painful past. Suma, from Nepal, was virtually enslaved from age 6 in a kind of bonded servitude called kamlari. Now a young woman, Suma speaks out about her childhood and works to free other girls trapped in the same situation. Alexis’ story is different, but the shame and the secrecy surrounding it are painfully similar. Alexis was sexually abused from the time she was a young girl, at the hands of her own grandfather. She kept silent, in fear and confusion, for many years as the assault continued. Eventually, her devastated parents learned of their daughter’s victimization, and supported her through the painful accusation and trial process. Her grandfather was convicted of molesting both Alexis and her cousin, and is now serving 13 consecutive sentences — 195 years to life in prison.

Read more here.