Editor:

In light of recent news stories about the sexual assault of a local teen, Response and River Bridge want our community to know that we are here to help children, families and adults affected by sexual assault. River Bridge Regional Center in Glenwood Springs provides collaborative services to child abuse victims and their families in a supportive environment that reduces trauma and promotes dignity, justice and healing. Response works with our community to end domestic and sexual abuse and supports survivors in achieving their safety and empowerment. Response can support teens and can work with children under 13 with the consent of their parents.

Talking to your children about sexual consent and assault, early and often and with age-appropriate information has tremendous power to shape their attitudes and responses around abuse. Here are a few tips:

Talk openly about sexuality so that this topic is not seen as “secret”.

Teach your child about physical and emotional boundaries, particularly surrounding sex.

Clearly define what sexual assault is and provide concrete examples.

Give children permission to talk about strong emotions – not having a way to vent strong feelings can sometimes drive people to violate others.

Encourage children to be allies and ‘upstanders’ who intervene if they see something wrong.

Share the stories of survivors.

Don’t be afraid to let them ask questions.

If they are not ready to talk – give them time and patience.

 

When an assault does happen it is important to remember that sexual assault by a juvenile is just as serious as an offense committed by an adult. Sexual abuse thrives in secrecy and there are many factors that can keep a victim from reporting, such as threats from the perpetrator, self-blame, embarrassment, and fear of not being believed. However, if the offender is not held accountable they may go on to harm others. Juvenile offenders who are not held accountable often go on to become adult offenders.

 

Victims become survivors when they speak out and are supported and believed by their community. Stand with us in supporting survivors and ending sexual abuse in our community.

 

You can reach Response at 970-920-5357 or our 24-hour crisis helpline at 925-SAFE and www.responsehelps.org and River Bridge at 970-945-5195 and www.riverbridgerc.org.

 

Shannon Meyer

Executive Director, Response

Blythe Chapman-Tardie

River Bridge