Sexual abuse real and serious

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 24, 2003

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

A variety of programs have been taking place in our area to illuminate the issues for both women and men. Much of the discussion has attempted to explain how the abuse can scar individuals for the rest of their lives and how the damage can be physical, emotional and mental.

According to Karah Chandler of the Selma and Black Belt Regional Area Sanctuary, the majority of sexual abuse occurs in the victim’s home usually by someone who is known and trusted and who has been invited into that home.

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Equally as disturbing, according to Chandler, is that a large portion of the sexually abused victims are barely in their teens &045;&045; 12-14 years old.

What’s particularly frightening about all this, is that the emotional trauma sometimes doesn’t manifest itself until the teens have grown up, until as adults they become angry, depressed or anxious &045;&045; and aren’t sure why.

Many times, their symptoms are the result of sexual abuse that may have occurred 20 or more years before. For these reasons, it’s advisable for sexual abuse victims to seek counseling immediately after the incidents.

According to social worker Mattie Walker of the Dallas County Department of Human (DHR) Resources, children who grow up in abusive environments &045;&045; even if they aren’t necessarily sexual in nature &045;&045; can lead them in some cases to abusing their own children.

And things don’t seem to be getting any better. More cases over the years have been coming DHR’s way, Walker says.

Her solution?

Be good parents. Watch your kids. Ask them where they’re going and with whom. Share their lives with them and take an interest in their activities. Be there for them when they need you, and be stern when you have to be.

And to the young rapists or abusive parents, we have this to say …

Keep your hands to yourselves.