Why Victims of Sexual Abuse Often Don't Come Forward - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Why Victims of Sexual Abuse Often Don't Come Forward

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

Sexual abuse and sexual assault can be uncomfortable topics, but talking to your kids about it could help protect them and end up saving someone who is in an abusive situation.

Lutheran Community Services deals with thousands of cases of sexual assault and abuse every year, but there are still thousands more that never get reported.

“Sometimes people tell and nothing happens,” said Erin Williams the Director of Advocacy and Prevention at Lutheran Community Services. “Sometimes we need to trust survivors to know that if they're not telling, it's for a reason.”

Williams says there are many reasons people do not come forward. In cases where the abuse is happening at home between a child and a family member, it is usually the hardest for kids to speak up.

“First of all, often they love the person that's abusing them,” Williams said. “Outside of that, they may be a loving parent, they might be the only kind of parent they know.”

She says the abuser will even tell the child lies to keep them quiet.

“Nobody will believe you or you'll be homeless, you’ll go into foster care, you know, I'm going to kill myself if this happens or I’m going to kill your mom or your pets,” Williams explains.

It can be scary for a victim to share their story, so the most important thing you can do if someone approaches you is listen, take them seriously, be kind to them, connect them with resources to get help, and then keep checking on them to make sure they are doing ok.

“Just start by believing their story,” Williams said. “You'd be surprised how often people aren't believed when they share about child sexual abuse or adult sexual assault.

Talking about this with your kids could end up helping a victim become a survivor.

“It's maybe not so comfortable to talk about with kids, but they might have a friend that shares with them too that something bad happened to them,” Williams said.

There are also warning signs to look for in a child if you think they are a victim of sexual abuse. Advocates say to look for behavior that is drastically different than before. For example, if a child starts isolating themselves, starts to have behavior issues, begins using alcohol or drugs at an early age, or all of the sudden is getting bad grades.

If you need help there are resources available. Advocates will help a victim from the beginning of the process until the very end.

For more information visit: http://www.lcsnw.org/spokane/safet.html

Or call: 24 Hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line: (509) 624-7273 or 24 Hour Crime Victim Crisis Line: (866) 751-7119

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