Story by Chris Graham
Nobody wants to talk about it, much less admit that it is something that any community of people would need to address.
But child sexual abuse is a fact of life – and acknowledging that fact is the first step to doing what is necessary to protect children from being victims.
“It is a topic that is not talked about very often – and it can feel taboo, and it can be incredibly uncomfortable to talk about any behaviors directed toward children, especially that might be sexual. One of the reasons that we have this dialogue is just to raise awareness about the issue,” said Cory Davies, the outreach coordinator at The Collins Center in Harrisonburg, which is hosting a community dialogue on child sexual abuse that is set for Monday morning beginning at 8:30 a.m.
“One in four women and one in five men will be the victim of sexual assault throughout their lifetime – and that’s certainly a lot more prevalent than you would like to think that it happens. But that is the reality of the situation – and that’s why it’s important for us to involve the entire community in addressing the issue,” Davies said in an interview on this week’s “Augusta Free Press Show.”
The Collins Center is teaming up with the Virginia Department of Health and Stop It Now! in the dialogue – which will feature a panel discussion including two survivors of child sexual abuse, a family member affected by familial sexual abuse, a recovering sex offender and a treatment provider.
“This event has the potential to change our community’s entire perspective on child sexual abuse,” Collins Center executive director Gianna Gariglietti said. “In addition to it being emotionally powerful, it will provide the knowledge necessary to recognize and respond to warning signs before there is a victim to heal or an offender to punish.”
WHAT: Community dialogue on child sexual abuse
WHERE: Lucy Simms School auditorium, 620 Simms Ave., Harrisonburg
WHEN: 8:30 a.m.
MORE: Registration is free; a continental breakfast will be served
INFO: Register at www.thecollinscenter.org
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.