Becca Korby wants everyone to know: Hope for healing from abuse is available by seeking help from her agency.
Korby is executive director of Healthy Families, which helps people heal after traumatic sexual experiences. Serving eastern and central Clallam County, it helped 111 people last year - 32 children and 53 adults who had been sexually assaulted, plus 26 survivors of childhood sexual assault.
Victims were both male and female with no ethnic, race or socioeconomic boundaries.
But, as Korby adds, those were only the reported cases. One stumbling block to reporting such crimes is shame. Victims often think they did something wrong and feel dirty.
Korby wants them to know the shame belongs on the perpetrator, not the victim. She runs workshops for both law enforcement and Olympic Medical Center personnel to teach them how to respond so victims don't feel further victimized. She says she's very impressed by the response from both law enforcement agencies and OMC.
Little state money
Now, Korby says, more people understand how pervasive and devastating sexual assault is. However, the state gives Healthy Families only $8,500 a year to help victims.
The agency gets funds, though, from the local Exchange Club, which focuses on preventing child abuse, plus three local Soroptimist clubs - Soroptimist International of Sequim, Soroptimist International Jet Set and Soroptimist International of Port Angeles noon club.
The city of Sequim, moreover, supports a therapist once a week for individual and group therapy.
Healthy Families also sends a therapist into Sequim schools once a week to help victims and to teach classes on dating violence and healthy peer relationships.
Seldom a stranger
Korby says sexual abuse is not a "death sentence." The sooner abuse is addressed, the better the chances for healing.
Sexual assault is not only rape and it does not always involve a stranger. In fact, 75 percent of sexual assaults are committed by friends or family members.
Not all of Healthy Families' help is therapy. It offers parent outreach and education for parents to teach prevention skills to their children to protect them from becoming victims.
Healthy Families also runs support groups for victims to help them build skills to stay safe, plus skills for working with courts and medical personnel. And the agency shelters victims and families in emergencies.
"We empower the victim to find the strength and skills to address the debilitating effects of this horrible crime," Korby says.
How to help
Korby wants the community to understand that rape and sexual violence don't affect only the victims but also their families and the whole community. For instance, children who have been sexually abused are likelier to abuse drugs and alcohol, to commit crimes and to sexually assault others.
Community members can help by:
• Believing people who say they have been sexually assaulted and getting them to the help they need.
• Contributing to Healthy Families, the only domestic violence and sexual assault agency serving eastern and central Clallam County
• Building the tools and skills for you and your children to not tolerate abusive and inappropriate behavior.
These crimes will stop only when every adult opens eyes, ears, hearts and purses, Korby says. They must not be hidden behind a curtain of shame.
Only then can victims come forward, she says, and the assailants be punished.
At a glance
What: Readings from Dauna Coles Shattered Mind and Barbara Richards Dancing on His Grave
Who: Readers Theatre Plus, sponsored by Healthy Families
When, where: 7 p.m. Friday, April 9, at the Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 E. Seventh St., Port Angeles; 7 p.m. Saturday, April 10, at Faith Lutheran Church, 382 W. Cedar St., Sequim.
How much: Free
Reach Dana Casey at email@example.com.
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