Minors make up 70% of reported victims of sexual assault - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Minors make up 70% of reported victims of sexual assault

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The Mafnas case involving the rape of a 10-year old girl, a couple accused of forcing a 12-year-old into sexual situations, an archbishop found guilty by the Vatican of child sexual abuse-- these stories, as saddening as they are, shed light on just how serious of a problem child sexual abuse is on Guam. 

"I think it's rather alarming," Cynthia Cabot with the Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assualt and Family Violence said.  

She's been with the organization since it's inception, back in 2006. Together with their community partners from organizations like VARO, the Healing Hearts Crisis Center,  Sanctuary and the Guam Police Department to name a few they are on the front lines providing services to victims and survivors as well as awareness about sexual assault and family violence. 

The recent cases that have made headlines are just a glimpse of the bigger problem happening in our community.  "These are unfortunate cases that come to light by the time it comes to the media you never know how many times that child that adult that individual has been assaulted and its finally come to your knowledge, the community's knowledge," Cabot said. "Quite frankly, there are so many more cases that go unreported and that being the case many of our cases are unfortunately our victims and survivors are minors." 

According to statistics from the Healing Hearts Crisis Center in 2018 there were a total of 138 sexual assault cases reported, 93 cases or 70 percent involved Guam's children ranging from the ages of 2-17 and a majority of those perpetrators were family members or acquaintances of their victims. 

KUAM: When you see the numbers, the victims, a lot of the victims are minors, it seems, it looks like we're dealing with a mental health problem. 

Cabot: For pedophilia it is. It's a medical condition. Like addiction for example. I don't want to compare it to cancer because these are totally different situations, but it's almost like a cancer that can't be cured. There may be remedies to alleviate it or there may be programs to suppress it but these are situations where a perpetrator is a perpetrator is a perpetrator in that regard.  Especially recently because of all the cases that we've had and it' like oh my gosh when is it going to end?  So we raised a lot of awareness we do all this work and then more cases come out sometimes it feels like there even worse than the last one that you report on. And it's almost like opening Pandora's box in that regard and so it's like how can we do more for those who are vulnerable.

KUAM: And, so then maybe not just your organization, but how can we all do more, what message do you want to get out on how WE can all do more? 

Cabot:  By doing more is by knowing more. So that we can say no more. Whether it's reporting sexual abuse against minors or adults, Cabot says it's important for people to talk about it, to report it. And even if you are a victim and don't want to report it, at least avail yourself to the services that are out there so then you can begin to heal.
 

For more information about the work of the coalition visit their website at guamcoalition.org or pacificregionresources.org

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