The Iola Public Library in conjunction with Humanity House, Hope Unlimited and the Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center is bringing a series of sessions discussing sexual assault and abuse that begins at 3 p.m. today at the Flewharty Annex. These monthly sessions will focus on bringing a message of hope and empowerment. Todays session will define what sexual abuse is, who is affected, and how you can help or find help.
Sexual abuse is not a new thing. Forty years ago it was not spoken of. Shame, fear, and guilt and victimization and self-blaming kept many from speaking out. Now we talk about it, but the same feelings keep people from coming forward. Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, at any age from infancy to old age. It can be a one-time occurence or it can happen every day. It can be physically violent or mentally torturous, or both. It is for the most part not a stranger lurking in the dark, but a trusted family friend or family member, the clergyman, teacher, lawyer, psychologist, banker, your best friends parent or sibling, a boyfriend, a husband or wife.
When a person is a victim, either through incest, sexual abuse from a stranger or someone known to them, fear is the first dominant emotion. Everyone you meet becomes someone who could harm you. It takes great courage to come forward and relate these events when you feel powerless.
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