Letter: Article was harmful to victims | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Article was harmful to victims

As the executive director of our local, community child advocacy center, I was extremely saddened by the content of the article printed in The Aspen Times on Dec. 18. The article written by Andre Salvail, titled “Judge: Enough evidence to pursue molestation charges,” showed complete disregard for the children involved and embodies the ignorance around child sexual assault that our community and our nation struggle against.

While I am sure that Mr. Salvail had every intention to only report the facts, he lost sight of common human decency when The Aspen Times made the decision to include direct quotes from child sexual assault forensic interviews. This is a perfect example of why it is so hard for victims (especially children) to report abuse.

National research tells us that most children do not tell of abuse while they are still children. In fact, only 10 percent of children disclose while the abuse is still happening (Sauders), 43 percent of children initially deny allegations of abuse (Lawson & Chaffin) and 75 percent of children don’t tell within the first year (Elliot & Briere). There is a long list of reasons why children don’t tell, including but not limited to: threats, shame, self-blame and fear of getting in trouble. Unfortunately, our community has just added to this list with the fear of your intimate disclosure ending up printed in the paper in a very small community.

This article was not only harmful to the very brave children who were involved in this case, but also the many other children and families that experience sexual abuse and are still living in fear and confusion. I deeply hope that these children also have the opportunity to hear this message: Sexual abuse is wrong, it is never your fault, and when you come forward there are people and resources in your community that will support you, respect you and help you heal.

The good news is that we have the resources in our community to help children and families and assist investigators to prosecute offenders. River Bridge Regional Center is your local child advocacy center, providing collaborative services to child abuse victims and their families in a supportive environment that reduces trauma and promotes dignity, justice and healing. In addition, we provide community based child abuse prevention and education. You can reach professionals at River Bridge at 970-945-5195. Or visit our website at: http://www.riverbridgerc.org.

Blythe Chapman

Executive director, River Bridge Regional Center

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