Victims of sexual abuse face years of pain and trauma

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Wednesday's arrest of a man charged with multiple charges of possession of child pornography is one of many stories of sexual abuse involving children.

The victims of sexual abuse face long-lasting trauma. The abuse the victims endure can creep in during different phases of their lives.

Advocacy groups said their hope is through counseling the victims can find the strength to cope with their trauma.

Alyssa Johnston, Child Appointed Special Advocates case supervisor, said, "It would be the most gut-wrenching thing to find out your child has been sexually abused."

Johnston said the victims suffer from body-image issues, depression, and mental health issues.

Chantel Grant, First Step Program Director, said victims usually blame themselves in order to make sense of it.

"With a crime, that takes away your right it degrades and humiliates a human being."

That mentality may develop from the response of others.

"In our society, we tend to blame victims when it comes to sexual assault," Grant said.

Johnston said, one young girl, she worked with suffered from years of sexual abuse before she even turned ten.

"It's probably the worst case I've had since I've been here," Johnston said. "She endured a lot of abuse and a lot of trauma."

The girl found it difficult to trust her adoptive parents.

"She didn't know why they were interested or what their motives were," Johnston said. "The young girl did not understand why they wanted to adopt someone her age with her issues."

Three years after reporting the abuse, with help from her new parents and counseling, the young girl was able to persevere.

"They constantly laugh, she likes to smile a lot and now we get to see the smile a lot more," Johnston said.

The advocacy groups said they want victims to understand there is light at the end of the tunnel.

They want the victims to speak with counselors because the pain will not go away if they stay silent.

First Step has a 24-hour crisis hotline victims can call 1-800-658-2683.

Some signs to look out for if you suspect sexual abuse is occurring are: bruises on sensitive areas like the abdomen or bottom, if a child knows more about sexual acts, than is appropriate for their age, fear of being alone with an adult and if a child starts using drugs or alcohol.

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