One in three girls sexually assaulted



ONE in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they reach 18.

It's a frightening statistic that can lead to long term emotional and physical effects for the victims.

But for a group of local victims the only way to deal with the stigma surrounding the issue is to discuss it in an open forum.

'It really affects your self-esteem, people don't feel comfortable doing normal, everyday things like going out and getting jobs,' one victim said.

The woman, a victim herself, has talked to many others who have been in a similar position and heard many stories of betrayal.

'When a child is abused by another person, the emotional scars are there for life and it robs a child of their childhood as an open, loving person,' she said.

'You are made to feel dirty, there is something wrong with you and you're blamed and feel it is your fault, you live in fear and this has a massive impact on your self-image and self-worth.'

The woman said victims of sexual abuse often felt they were on their own and withdrew themselves from society.

'It involves secrets, being secretive, feeling alone and shutting yourself off from the love that (you) need and deserve,' she said.

The woman called on parents to look out for the signs of abuse and listen to children.

'It is about time parents or carers listened to the child when they don't want to be with someone in particular, look for signs of a child withdrawing from what is normal behaviour for them.'

The woman said some of the stories she had heard involved a family member being the abuser.

"Sometimes the parents even know, but do nothing about it, which makes the child feel they are on their own,'' she said.



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