A local woman shares her story about being sexually abused as a child

Amber Jones said she suffered in silence for years,  living with the pain and shame of sexual abuse at the hands of a close family member

GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Miss. (WCBI)- The month of April is set aside each year by advocacy groups social service agencies as time to raise awareness about two very painful and traumatic experiences; child abuse and sexual assault. Amber Jones said she suffered in silence for years,  living with the pain and shame of sexual abuse at the hands of a close family member.

Jones said breaking her silence was the beginning of a healing process; one she hopes will help other victims living with the same painful secret.

Seven years ago,  Jones opened up on Facebook, sharing her deepest and darkest secret of being sexually abused as a child..

Jones says she was nine-years-old when someone she describes as near and dear to her first touched inappropriately. She said the abuse continued until she was 16. At the age of 28, she decided to open up to her family and then the world on social media; she shares that same post every April.

“Every year I want to share my story. I want somebody to come out of that dark place because it’s a lonely place you’re pretty much in a place where you’re not yourself you feel alone and when you’re able to free yourself from the guilt and shame that you’ve been carrying that’s not yours to carry any ways it’s freedom it’s peace,”  said Jones.

During the tough, lonely years, Jones said she relied on her faith.

“I knew that God was always with me throughout every circumstance and every obstacle in my life and he’s here with me now,” said Jones.

Jones’ story is one the counselors and staff at Sally Kate Winters in West Point hear all too often. That’s why they put extra emphasis on spreading awareness during the month of April.

“Child abuse prevention month and child abuse awareness is so important because people don’t like to talk about it it’s a tough topic especially for those that have been a victim to some form of child abuse but it’s also a tough topic for the families,” said clinical program coordinator Sara Gollman.

Gollman said in 2022 alone they’ve done 82 forensic interviews.

Child protective services and or law enforcement will get the initial call about the reported abuse they will then send that information over to Sally Kate and they will come in the conference room to watch the interview live on this monitor as the child is being interviewed by the forensic interviewer.

“We go by child first protocol and we don’t force them to talk about anything that’s happened to them When we talk to the child we don’t introduce any of the information we basically talk to them about things that they may introduce during the interview then we’ll explore that information that they give to us,” said lead forensic interviewer Penny Peralto.

Jones said coming forward takes courage and faith, but knowing you’ll have a strong support system is key.

“Consult a counselor first, get with someone you trust and let them know your secret what’s going on so you can develop a plan.. and determine how you’re going to come forward to your family or whomever you need to,, the police or whomever to let them know what’s going on with you,” said Jones.

Jones encourages anyone going through child and or sexual abuse to think of a plan to tell someone they trust.

People can call the child abuse prevention hotline (866)-367-5444 or the National Sexual Assault hotline (800)-6564673.

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