Joy Mendoza, on forgiveness after being raped by seven men

Published May 26, 2021, 8:48 PM

by Jane Kingsu-Cheng

This mom also chose to be honest with her husband, and now, they are blessed with six wonderful children

Forgiving isn’t easy, especially when you’ve been hurt more than you could every imagine. But mom-of-six Joy Tanchi-Mendoza, who has been raped by seven men when she was only 15 years old, chose to forgive.

In Toni Talks You Tube channel, Toni Gonzaga had Joy as her special guest. Toni’s introduction of her rings true, one wouldn’t think that Joy had gone through an ordeal at such a young age. Joy recounted the story of when, her parents were out on a bible study, seven men followed her uncle who was delivering rice inside their house. She thought they were going to kill her, “and that’s when he proceeded to assault me in the bathroom floor,” she retells what happened. Barely 15 years old, “I never had a boyfriend, never had sex, no sexual encounters… the things that he did to me, I can’t even talk about it.” Everything happened at gun point, and she was later on brought to her room where the other men, who she assumed were high and reeked of alcohol, and took turns.

TONI TALKS Joy shares the blessings behind forgiveness.

The aftershock
Joy still found blessings in light of what happened, including her older brother who wasn’t present at that time. “He would have protected… he would have died for us,” she says as she tries to contain her tears “It was so hard for him, as a brother. I remember when he found out, he ran all the way down out of the house to the basketball court and he cried there, because it was so hard to accept that he wasn’t there.”

Her parents, on the other hand, got home to police cars everywhere. “I felt so embarrassed to tell my parents. I would hurt them.” But she did tell them that night, and her mom stayed with her while her dad cleaned the house that was ransacked. The next day, her parents asked her to share more details. “I didn’t know those things, but that’s the beauty of that moment… when the Bible says when you bring things to life, it reduces the power.” She believes that talking about it was “probably one of the best things, as a starting point to healing.” It also helped the family moved on together, “When tragedy surrounds one person, everyone goes through that trauma and everyone has to go through healing. Everyone has to make choices on how to move on.”

On moving on
Toni proceeds to ask Joy how she was able to forgive and move on. The first was when one realizes that we’re all no better than the other person. “You start to compare yourself horizontally with people. If you think there are people who are worst than you are, then maybe you are really a better person,” says Joy. But God reminded Joy during that moment that all people fall short of His glory. Joy is reminded that she is like those people who sinned. It is only because of God’s grace and forgiveness that she is in the right relationship, so God asked Joy if she could extend the same grace and forgiveness that she was given by God.

And so she did. She forgave them and ended up not filing charges against the ones who assaulted her. But others questioned her decision, to which she replied that God is the ultimate justice giver. “I will have to trust that God is bigger than the justice system.” And true enough, some were caught, some were killed. “Justice was served, God’s way, God’s time.” Though there is a fine line to forgiving. Joy says that if you’re stuck in an abusive environment, you should file, you should get out. Toni affirms the next topic—forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling.

Forgiveness is a gift
Meeting her husband Edric was also another blessing, “It was magical. The first moment when I met him, I instantly felt that he will protect me… He made me realize that not all men are like that. Just the lost ones.”

Having a strong faith with God, coupled with a loving support system from her family and her husband, Joy was able to move one and help others who need to get out of the “dark.” “God can use your tragedy, your experience to be a blessing to so many if you want to share it.”

“When we go through hardships, it’s not because God wants to break us. In the end, He wants to bless us.” This has given her a platform for ministry so that others can speak up—no need to suffer in silence. “When you share your story and choose to help others, there is victory in that.”

She ends the talk with a reminder that bitterness will only make people ugly, and it translates to the outside. “Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, it’s the freedom you give to yourself.”