Survivor shares story sheds light on 700 new child abuse cases - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Survivor shares story sheds light on 700 new child abuse cases

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Alarming numbers show 700 new cases of sexual and violent child abuse against children reported across our southeast Missouri towns. 

That's according to Beacon Health Center. 

Survivors say it happens far too often. That's why one woman is speaking out. 

"It's just the most despicable thing," said Rachel Nation, now a 22 year old college student. 

Nation publicly shared her story for the first time to shine line and awareness on sexual violence happening right in our back yard.

"I just want people to know there is hope," she said. "The younger they are it just breaks my heart. I was a kid so I didn't know what to do. I just kind of never said anything."

She says sexual abuse started at the hands of her stepfather around age five.  

"I knew it was something we weren't supposed to be doing," said Nation. "He would act like he was sleeping."

He would pretend nothing happened.

"The next day would come and he would ask if he did something wrong, and I just didn't say anything," said Nation. "He was the only dad I knew at that time and I didn't know how to speak up."  

It stopped when she was 11, but she kept the secret bottled up inside her for almost a decade. 

He actually found out, she remembered years later when he found her diary and tried to apologize. 

"That didn't go well," remembers Nation. 

She says she became distant and scared to start new relationships. 

As a teenager she says she would be outgoing and yet closed off all at once. 

"I was sad a lot," she said. 

Finally she told her mother just over two years ago, 10 years after the abuse had stopped. 

Her mother immediately left her father, and soon after Nation filed charges. 

He was convicted and now serving time in Farmington Correctional Center. 

"The younger they are the more my heart goes out to them," she said. "As an adult I got up there and balled like a child when I testified. It's always hard. But there is hope." 

"I did feel like it was my fault for the longest time," said Nation. "There's always somebody to help you. I couldn't have done it without my victim's advocate and my counselors at Beacon Health Center. I did survive all of that and it got so much better after." 

At Beacon Health Center, Executive Director, Kim Williams told Heartland News the problem has always been an epidemic and we can't ignore it. 

"We can't pretend like it's not happening," said Williams. "We can't turn our eyes away because these are our kids. The help here is free. They need to know there are resources. Children usually only find that safe person and are brave enough to report it once. It's key that that individual goes to an investigator because the sooner the child gets help and everyone gets involved the better." 

She says awareness leads to more cases reported but we have to make more progress. She says no child is immune. It can happen to anyone. 

"It can happen in any school, any church, any town," said Williams. "There are no boundaries for sexual violence or physical abuse. It's everywhere. Truly everywhere." 

Beacon Health Center hears of cases through authorities. No fee is involved. Beacon Health Center is a 501c3. 

Each case is provided a forensic interview, an exam, and counseling at no charges. 

For more information go to Beacon Health Center's site at: http://www.beaconhealthcenter.com/

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