Monday, November 24, 2014

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Sex abuse reporting often delayed

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Albany/HV: Sex abuse reporting often delayed
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The alleged abuse that took place between Bernie Fine and a former ball boy was first reported years too late, at least according to the law. Because should the accusations turn out to be true, criminally, there is nothing police can do. YNN's Erin Clarke tells us why victims think that law should change.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- "You constantly feel like an outsider. You constantly feel like you don't belong. You constantly feel guilt and anxiety," said Edward Columb.

He felt like that for years. From age seven to fourteen Edward was sexually abused, but, like so many others, his story went unheard.

"Children who have been sexually abused and adults who have been sexually assaulted often delay reporting. There's tremendous stigma, shame that people experience when they've been victimized," said Vera House, Executive Director, Randi Bregman

Often times, once they've built up the courage to tell authorities what happened, it's too late.

"People have five years, or two years, or they might have five years from the date that the child has become 18 for a child victim," said Bregman.

Victims and their advocates think the statute of limitations works in favor of the abuser.

"They know I'm not going to talk for years and years and years, so it's to their benefit," said Columb.

A situation that often re-traumatizes.

"It's extremely frustrating. It's just one more thing taken away from you,"

But Edward found a place that helped him take his life back.

He turned to Vera House. After six years in individual therapy and seven years in a men's group, Edward says he's in a better place.

Bregman says with the law seemingly against the victim, it's important to create a safe space for people to tell their story as soon as possible.

"The best we can do is make sure that every child and every adult that's been sexually assaulted knows that there's help available, that they'll be believed, there are people in this community who are here to serve," said Bregman.

Empowering even victims who were hurt years ago.

"There may be victims coming along behind them and that if we can deal with that case that's come forward in their thirties maybe we can protect a number of vulnerable children in the future," said Bregman.

For Edward, talking changed it all and now he's working to help others begin their journey of healing.

"There's light at the end of the tunnel. There really is. I'm proof of it, right here. Don't be scared, you're not alone," said Columb.

To reach Vera House's 24 hour crisis and support line, call (315) 468-3260 or visit their website at: www.verahouse.org.

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