COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- “Even though now that i’m older I realize there’s a lot more people that go through it, male and female.”
Victoria Burnett will never forget her teenage years.
” When I was 15 years old, I was molested by someone very close to me. And for 2 years I was silent about it. And I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to hurt anybody,” said Burnett.
It took a toll on her emotionally. Even after telling her grandmother, the wounds still lingered.
“The hurt, the shame because even though there’s nothing that you do, you still have a shame for it. You have trust issues. You feel alone…where you don’t feel like there’s anybody who quite understands exactly what it is you’re going through,” said Burnett.
According to the National Child Abuse Statistics, there are more than 3 million reports of child abuse in the United States. Patricia Rives, staff attorney in Lowndes County, sees cases all the time. Many of them involve family members.
“The victim didn’t see the abuse and she ignored it. In this case her own child was hit by her dad. Dad had punched her in the nose. But there was no proof or anything in regards to the other 2 children so this child was eventually placed by this court with her grandparents. She was taken out of the situation but the other 2 children remained,” said Rives.
Rives says it’s important we continue raising awareness about the epidemic.
“It doesn’t matter what your education is, doesn’t matter what your wealth is, it doesn’t matter what your last name is…domestic abuse happens across the board. People have to be aware that there are options out there. That they don’t have to live with this,” said Rives.
For those going through abuse, Victoria knows it’s a terrible ordeal, but hopes her story can help others move forward.
“Just understand that you’re not the only person going through it. There are other people, seek help. There are hotlines. If you feel like you can’t go to a person, you can go to your school counselor. If you feel comfortable with your pastor or Sunday school teacher talk to somebody. By getting it out, you can start the process of healing,” said Burnett.
If you know of a child being abused, you can contact the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-222-8000. You can also contact the Lowndes County Department of Human Services: Division of Family and Children’s Services at (662) 245-4612.