It takes courage to speak up–especially if what you have to say is something that others would rather not hear spoken out loud.
Holding your tongue can be a virtue—except if the goal is to protect a guilty person.
Elders deserve our respect—but sometimes they need to be held to account.
Sexual assault is an under-reported crime in part because it is such an unspeakable one. It is a terrible thing that people hurt each other in such ways. It is indefensible that children are victimized.
But we must speak about it if we want healing. Victims and perpetrators deserve better than a community which looks away from their pain and struggle.
Can survivors of sexual victimization come to you for help? Are you willing to help?
In the CNMI, April is designated as “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” and a local paper ran a story this week about the harmful effects a “culture of silence” can have on survivors. (see Marianas Variety, April 8, 2019)
Many fears can keep a victim of sexual assault from speaking up: Will the perpetrator act on any of the threats he (or she) issued? Will the victim-survivor cause pain to their loved ones by coming forward? Will it make any difference?
One of the primary obstacles to victims coming forward is the suspicion that if they do, no one will believe them or perhaps even care. This needs to change, and the sooner the better.
With the introduction of the VIRTUS program, the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa has instituted formal training protocols and requirements in order to keep our children safe. Education is one way to address the scourge of sexual abuse because the more people know what to look out for, and the more accountability we can promote, the safer our children will be.
So this week ask yourself this question: are you a safe person to confide in? Can someone who has been victimized, whether a child, a woman or even a man, approach you for help… and will they find what they are looking for?
Will you speak up for victims? Will you direct them to resources and people who can help?
Karidat operates the only 24-hour Victim Hotline in the CNMI (234-5100).
“There is nothing hidden which shall not be openly seen; nor anything secret, which shall not be known and come into the light of day.”
“The truth will set you free.”
The Guma Esperansa shelter is free and welcomes people of all creeds, class, ethnic background or immigration status who are in need of help.
Our staff Victim Advocate helps to navigate the process to obtain court-ordered restraining orders and provides moral support and guidance.
Call Karidat or visit us during regular office hours for more information or to see how we can help. (234-6981)