Healing Hearts Rape Crisis Center encourages discussion - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Healing Hearts Rape Crisis Center encourages discussion

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In some communities, rape is considered a taboo subject. But according to Guam's only rape crisis center, the only way to heal is to talk about it.

In the last year, 111 cases were treated at the Healing Hearts Rape Crisis Center. The year before, there were 113 and in 2012 there were 153 reported cases treated at the two decades-old establishment. "Because national statistics are that 60-80% of all rapes go unreported, so what we're seeing is only the tip of the iceberg," explained Dr. Ellen Bez, medical consultant for Healing Hearts.

These are some of the statistics she presented to the Rotary Club of Guam as part of an outreach of the center's services. "Of that some allegation of touching on the skin, so about half of those are done, we do forensic medical examinations where we treat the victims, take care of the victim, we offer counseling treatment, antibiotics, whatever support systems that they need and that's the medical end of the program," she continued.

While the figures of reported rapes on Guam alone is alarming, Dr. Bez says of the total cases, 85 percent of victims are minors. "The more we get the word out, the more we tell people it's okay to talk about, the more disclosures we get and another big part of our program is doing this kind of thing is outreaches, with schools, and community groups and try to tell people it's okay, we're here and we've got to talk about it to try to heal from it," she stated.

She says often after discussion on the "good-touch/bad-touch" program in schools, a student will come up to a teacher and report of their experience. And with a small island community, how does such a heinous crime occur or go unreported? "We're a close-knit group, and we have some communal living and there are families who have multiple families living in one place and it may promote having extended family that perhaps can be perpetrators. Also, in this community people don't talk a lot - you're supposed to not necessarily tell your business to other people and that makes it a little more difficult to get disclosure,
 she said.

Dr. Bez concluded, "Really, all the data will tell you the only way to heal from this is disclosing it, talking about it, getting it out, getting some therapy. At Healing Hearts, we give free counseling and free therapy, all our services are free."

For more information or to avail yourself of the services of Healing Hearts, call 647-5351. They are available 24 hours, 7 days a week. They can also be reached through the Crisis Hotline at 647-8833. 
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