OLYMPIA — Providence St. Peter Hospital is trying to prevent child sexual abuse. They say abusers are not the only problem. They think people who look the other way when they suspect abuse are also at fault.
“Child abuse and sexual victimization is an epidemic, but the bigger epidemic is the silence,” she said Thursday night.
That’s why a few years ago, the Sexual Assault Clinic at Providence St. Peter Hospital started hosting “Darkness to Light” classes. They wanted to raise awareness of just how widespread the problem is.
“It’s estimated one in four girls and one in six boys is sexually victimized by the age of 18. Nine out of 10 never tell.”
Thursday’s class was made up of parents and community members who work with children, like Carrie Heist.
“I work with foster children and lot of trauma is involved with these kids, so I’m always trying to expand my knowledge,” says the court-appointed special advocate.
She says there have been times where she thought a child was suffering from abuse, but she didn’t know how to broach the subject.
Wahl hopes after the class that Heist and others will feel more comfortable stepping in when something with a child doesn’t seem right.
“I want them to know they can do their part to make that call, to make that report, or to check in with that child and ask how they’re doing,” Wahl says.
She adds that one small step might be enough to put an end to the abuse for at least one child.