Child Abuse Awareness Month: Signs to look out for and ways to help victims become survivors

SALISBURY, Md. – If you’ve been outside in Wicomico County, you may see pops of blue around town and that’s because April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.

Blue pinwheels have been planted in Salisbury, which are the national symbols for child abuse awareness and prevention.

Life Crisis Center has placed 500 pinwheels at the Salisbury Moose Lodge, each and every single one representing the victims they have served. The advocacy center says abuse cases have risen over the years. Life Crisis partners with the local advocacy centers but they are separate coalitions of various agencies on behalf of the child.

They say 80% of the cases happen in one adult and one child situations and almost 90% of the time, the family knows the abuser.

47 ABC spoke to Abby Marsh, the Executive Director, who says these pinwheels are a way to start a conversation. “We encourage people to have difficult conversations with their children, with their families and we want you to protect the child and believe, don’t protect the abuser,” Marsh tells us.

Because local matters, we wanted to dive a bit deeper and to hopefully prevent this from happening to your loved one. In child abuse cases, the sex offender does a grooming process. And the grooming process is a way to bring the child’s defenses down and normalize the situation, such as starting off with some back rubs or showing pornography.

But Life Crisis’ Clinical Director, Donna Leffew says, the offender doesn’t just groom the child, they also groom the family. “Doing nice things and gaining the families trust and being like a family member gaining their trust and so that child see a lot of that person as well, so they are less likely to tell because their family loves that person,” Leffew tells us.

We’re told a big sign for parents to notice something is potentially wrong is a change in behavior. Life Crisis says if you’re child discloses something to you, it’s important to stay clam and to believe them. The advocacy center says they provide clinical and trauma informed therapy to help victims become survivors.

If you know anyone that needs assistance, their hotline number is 410-749-4357 and all your information is confidential.

Categories: Local News, Maryland