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Coos Bay groups raise awareness of child sex abuse, how to recognize signs

Advocates for abuse victims want people to know what signs to watch for in children and to know that resources are available in the community.

Posted: Sep 14, 2021 9:23 PM
Updated: Sep 15, 2021 1:03 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Organizations in Coos Bay are speaking out to bring awareness to the realities of all types of abuse, including sexual abuse of children.

Julie Marshall is the operations coordinator with Kids’ Hope Center. They help create a safe, neutral space for children and families to come when there has been allegations of abuse.

“Typically, the victims that we serve here at the Kids’ Hope Center, their offenders are well known to them, as their family members, their friends or people close to them,” Marshall said. “So it doesn't always feel as if it's something bad. The reality is every child has a voice. It's just a matter of them being comfortable enough to produce it.”

The center offers a training program called Darkness to Light that gives all of the elements of what families should be looking for, ways to prevent child sex abuse and ways to respond to it.

“It’s a very important piece of a disclosure for a child. So just really a few basics: when you see changes in their appetites or how they're feeling just in general, or when a young child who was previously potty-trained and is now just reverting back. Oftentimes, kids will just give you little bits and pieces of information that are only a disclosure just to see how you respond. That's a really important piece to be mindful of when a child is talking to you, just totally listen and pay attention," Marshall said.

The Kids’ Hope Center is launching a new training for internet safety.

“Social media is so out there and utilized, so just being aware and always knowing what your kids are doing, whether it's online or with friends,” Marshall said. “That's that's a huge prevention that you can take as a parent.”

Rachael Espy is the executive director of The Hope Project. They support survivors of multiple types of abuse, and it is 100% confidential.

“We are not mandatory reporters, so we are not affiliated with any other agency or Coos County,” Espy said.

Espy said the sole purpose is to provide services to the survivor, because they understand their safety better than anyone else.

“They get to decide what their safety looks -- if they want to make a police report, or we can support them through that process,” Espy said. “If they would like to get an exam done at the hospital, we can support them through that process. But if they don't want to do those things and they just want advocacy and they just want to speak to somebody, then we would just provide that for them as well. We don't pressure clients to come forward or make a statement or be the poster child for survivors. Every survivor has a different story and a different idea of what they want their safety to look like.”

Espy said power cannot be abused.

“Anyone who's in a position of power over someone has to be aware of that power differential between themselves and whoever they're working with, or whoever they're serving in the community,” Espy said. “They have to be held to a higher standard of behavior because folks around them are more vulnerable to abuse because of that power differential.”

This comes as longtime Coos Bay police officer Terry Scott Rogers is facing a long list of charges alleging he sexually abused a child over the course of many years.

RELATED: LONGTIME COOS BAY OFFICER ACCUSED OF SEXUALLY ABUSING CHILD FOR YEARS

Coos Bay resident Brandon Ludwig shared his thoughts.

“It’s a good thing they got him,” Ludwig said. “If you're abusing your power, then you need to be held absolutely responsible and the consequences should be fierce.”

Rogers was arraigned and released from jail Monday after posting bail in the amount of $50,000, 10% of the total $500,000 security. He will be back in court on Oct. 4.

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