Treasure Coast teacher helps student come forward about alleged sexual abuse
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (CBS12) —
A student had been allegedly abused and living in fear for years. But thanks to a school teacher, there's now hope for a Treasure Coast child who was fighting a secret battle.
The student told their teacher they'd been sexually assaulted for years and their sibling was sexually abused as well.
"This is our reality. No matter how much we ignore sexual abuse, no matter how much we ignore rape, it happens in our community," said Mindi Fetterman, the Executive Director for the Inner Truth Project, a nonprofit organization that helps survivors of sexual abuse. "It doesn’t matter what community you live in sexual violence is prevalent everywhere and ignoring it isn’t gonna help."
Two people were arrested in connection to this case. CBS12 is not releasing their names or showing their pictures to protect the identities of the children involved.
According to an arrest report, this child came forward after that child's teacher said, "as you get older, you will have cuts in life that will eventually heal, but if you don't open up and tell someone, they will keep hurting and never heal."
Fetterman said it takes a tremendous amount of strength for a victim to come forward. She said, "there are some people that never tell. I know some survivors that have kept that secret into their seventies."
She added some victims don't even realize anything is wrong, which could have been the case with this child.
"They don’t always know that what’s going on in their house or that this isn’t okay, that it isn’t normal because they don’t know what’s going on in their neighbors house so if we’re not talking about it they think this is what’s supposed to happen," Fetterman said.
That's why Fetterman said having these conversations is crucial.
"We have to be able to empower adults to talk to children about these really uncomfortable topics," she said. "So they feel safe enough to come forward."
Fetterman hopes talking about this incident will help save another person's life because, according to Fetterman, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys experience some form of sexual assault before the age of 18.
She said sexual abuse is a silent epidemic and it needs to have a voice.