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Stand together against child sexual assault

It is a horrible commentary on our society that we must carry reports nearly every day about cases of sexual abuse that victimize our area’s children. For their own perverse benefit, adult men — and sometimes women, too — steal the innocence of society’s most vulnerable, leaving them to deal with the physical injuries, along with mental and emotional scars that linger long after any physical injuries heal.

The horrors of sexual assault can affect relationships and day-to-day lives of survivors. It can take years to learn to cope with the proper support and treatment — and longer still without it.

These acts are disgusting and repulsive. Undoubtedly, these adults are well aware this vileness is wrong. Yet, we believe these monsters never consider whether what they are doing is right or wrong. We believe, it’s more likely the only conscious decision these offenders are making is whether or not they will be able to get away with it without ever being caught.

Studies have shown the average age of adults who step forward to pursue a case against someone who abused them as children is 52. Often the abusers are trusted authority figures, making it difficult to confront them.

So, when we report on the many, many cases of child sex abuse that move through local courts, it only stands to reason many, many other instances never will be reported. These victims still live with the memories and probably are emotionally distraught and angry. We urge these victims to come forward. To seek mental or emotional help, even if they aren’t prepared to pursue legal avenues. Our community’s advocates for survivors of sexual assault do wonderful work, but they cannot do it alone.

We, as a community, also must take responsibility to help stop these assaults. We must make clear, both publicly and privately, that we will not tolerate sexual assault or harassment in any form, and we must stand up to it when we see it. Each of us also must stand up for survivors. We must listen to them. We must support them. We must believe them. We must make it clear that survivors have a place to go when they need help and support. These crimes affect our community, and our community must stand up to stop them.

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