Experts say guilt, shame among reasons abuse victims wait to speak up

Guilt, shame among reasons abuse victims wait to speak up

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – With potential for more victims to come forward in the case against James Nesmith, many may wonder why it takes victims years to speak up.

According to the Little Rock Police Department, the first victim in this case came forward nearly 12 years after the alleged abuse happened when he was 14. Nesmith was a doctor at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and met his alleged victims through his church, Covenant Presbyterian.

Executive Director for Center of Healing Hearts and Spirits Joyce Raynor said speaking up after so many years later is not uncommon. In fact, it is the norm for many victims of abuse.

"’They're not going to believe me. This is a doctor! Or, this is a police officer! This is my dad. Who would believe that,"’ Raynor said.

She said thousands of abuses go unreported every day. The Center for Healing Hearts deals with about 250 victims of sexual violence per year.

"A lot of people don't want to talk about something as invasive as rape. Something as invasive as sexual assault," Raynor said.

She said in almost all cases victims will not speak up because they feel ashamed.

"A lot of time individual blame themselves. They're ashamed of what has actually happened and then they feel guilty,” Raynor said. “Did I say something? Did I do something that sort of sent a signal to them that it was okay to do?"

But reporting the situation can still be difficult even decades later.

"They didn't believe it, so they tried to suppress it. Years later, there are little tidbits that surface and as you learn better you can speak up," Raynor said.

Encouraging others to speak up can be seen through the #MeToo statuses on social media, empowering thousands of people who are victims of sexual abuse or harassment to share their story.

Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast McKayla Maroney is just one example of how the Me Too campaign encouraged so many to come forward years after their alleged abuse. Maroney shared her story on Twitter Tuesday night saying she was molested by an Olympic team doctor in 2012. The message read 'Silence has given the wrong people power for too long and it's time to take our power back.'

But with so many more cases going unreported every day, now has never been a better time.

"It's never ever too late. Come forward Step forward. Because your story can help someone else," Raynor said.

If you or someone you know would like to get help or report a sexual violence case, call the Center for Healing Hearts and Spirits at 1-855-643-5748 or contact the Little Rock Police Department.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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