SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Every child deserves to be loved, cared for, and kept safe. However, alarming data shows that nationally, approximately one in five children will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. This robs them of their childhood innocence and exposes them to pervasive, detrimental effects that can have a lifelong impact on their physical, psychological, and behavioral health.
According to the Younique Foundation, children are most vulnerable between the ages of seven and 13. Minors living with disabilities are three times more likely to be the victims of sexual abuse and in 80% of sexual abuse cases, children know their abuser. In Utah, 21% of high school-aged girls report having been sexually assaulted in the last 12 months.
But the pain and injury doesn’t end there. The impact and effect of that trauma on survivors often last long after the abuse has stopped. Experts say 85% of children who are sexually abused are likely to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder as adults and nearly 30% of survivors will attempt suicide at least once before the age of 30.
In honor of National Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, survivors Rachelle and Grant, who are also mother and son joined ABC4’s Nick McGurk for an In Focus discussion. They opened up about their traumatic experiences, whether they sought help or resources right away, how they came forward to their family, how they’ve helped each other through their healing process, and what their message is to other survivors.
Chris Yadon, Executive Director of the Younique Foundation talked about the background of their nonprofit organization, their services and resources, the free retreats they offer to survivors, their “Defend Innocence” campaign, and why they believe parents and caregivers need to be educated about this issue.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Rachelle, Grant, and Chris, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.