Saturday morning, the North Township Trustee’s Office hosted their third annual No More Secrets Symposium at Purdue University Northwest. The yearly event aims at shining a light on the serious issue of child sexual abuse in Northwest Indiana.
“The mission here is to honor those survivors who have found their voice and encourage anyone still going through the process to find their voice,” said Frank J. Mrvan, North Township Trustee. “We also want to educate the community as a whole, giving them the tools necessary to advocate for the end of child abuse.”
In his opening remarks, Mrvan noted the challenges of maintaining momentum in the campaign for awareness.
“It’s challenging to have these types of dialogues, especially when it comes to children,” Mrvan said. “But they are so necessary. Secrets can be lethal, and when the community begins to open up avenues for those conversations and provide true support for victims, that is when healing begins.”
The event featured several presentations and survivor testimonies, lunch, and a training session on child sexual abuse. Survivor Amee Liptak, Operations Manager at Fair Haven Rape Crisis Center, shared her personal story of overcoming her abuse and transforming herself from a victim to a victor.
“I thank everyone here for listening to my story,” Liptak said. “If ever someone confides in you that they were a victim or a survivor, it’s important that we not judge them. Simply say, ‘I believe you,’ because the moment you say those words, you just joined their team, and can connect them to the resources they need.”
Isha Haley, also a survivor, came in from New York to share her story.
“This is a conversation that can be very unsettling and uncomfortable, but we have to do the hard work because there are children waiting for us,” Haley said.
Haley had a special message for any children suffering from abuse, as well as for their parents.
“I want these children to be encouraged, and know that they can be happy, healthy, and whole again one day,” Haley said. “I want their parents to know that it is not their fault, and that they can still be there to help their child.”
Following the survivor testimonies, Rebecca Emerson, Direct Services Coordinator at Fair Haven Rape Crisis Center, gave a presentation highlighting federal legislation in place to protect sexual assault victims on college campuses across the country. Emerson addressed Title IX, The Clery Act, and The Campus SaVE Act, educating the community on the policies and processes of reporting acts of sexual assault.
“We’ve been a part of this symposium for three years now,” Emerson said. “I think it’s really important to educate people, so we’re very excited to be here to reach out to the community in this way.”
To join the conversation and learn more about the available resources for child sexual abuse, Fair Haven Rape Crisis Center at www.asafeport.org or contact North Township at (219)932-2530 Ext. 329.
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