Dirty Secrets, part 1
As I stood at the door, watching the kids spray each other with water, running and screaming with the carefree, no worry days only summertime can bring ...my thoughts drifted to... kids are so amazing and resilient.
Sexual abuse and victimization is a subject we don't like talking about, yet 1 in 5 children today are targets for predators. Unfortunately of those over 50% are assaulted by a family member before the age of 6. This dirty secret destroys not only the child's life but the family structure around it. The true stories I have heard from my own foster children would make your skin crawl.
Lydia, like so many children in a fostercare today,(name changed to protect her) came to our home before Christmas that year. The 7 year old beauty with a toothless smile and glasses that fell to tip of her nose had a sadness in those big brown eyes that spoke volumes. I looked at her knowing, this little person carries the weight of the trauma she experienced as a huge backpack of hurt and pain. As she settled into our surroundings and began to feel safe, she would speak of the terrible things done to her. Dale and I would sit and listen as she poured out the secrets of abuse she had been forced to endure.
In my research for this column I ran across an article in Foster Focus magazine written by a dear friend of mine Sandie Morgan. In it she outlines the correlation between drugs and the sex trade. "In a world where opioid addiction is epidemic the two go hand and hand. Where you find drugs you will find children sold for sex, period" she states. The downward cycle of drugged out parents who have sold everything possible for 1 more hit, make the unprotected children the next target. Parents so strung out are oblivious to what or who is around and the children are left being fed to the wolves. This is happening in our own communities and neighborhoods. Don't be naive to think it isn't.
So what can we do? Tell someone who is a mandatory reporter; a teacher, counselor, police officer or call the hotline, in Colorado the number is 844- CO-4 -KIDS. You can call and be anonymous. If you see something or a situation that doesn't seem right, use your voice.
I can't tell you the times, I have talked myself into believing what I saw or felt wasn't really happening, so I walked away from it without speaking up, now I'm left with regret. If I'd just said something, in the best or worst scenario lthe child would be safe.
Lydia is getting therapy, happy most days, still suffers nightmares and can't sleep without a light on. She talks like most kids about silly, funny, girlie things. She will get the help she needs, because we will see to that. What I can't give back is her lost innocence. Someone stole that, it wasn't theirs to take, yet they did.
Next week we will talk about families left in the wake of this abuse and how it affects those around them. How speaking the truth out of the darkness into the light is healing for everyone.
Please look beyond your white picket fence,
use your voice, you may save a life!
Colorado abuse hotline 844-264-5437