Child abuse is a crime that often leaves victims suffering in silence. But Wednesday dozens of people took a pledge to shine a light of hope into the darkness.
The West Virginia Child Advocacy Network launched the SHINE Campaign. It is part of a national effort to build better support systems for child abuse survivors.
“As we remove that stigma from abuse, as we eliminate that darkness, that secrecy, that silence that perpetrators exploit to take advantage of vulnerable children, we’ll remove that darkness and that stigma and we’ll empower children to heal and thrive and come forward and receive the help they need,” said Robert Peters, a child abuse survivor from Fairmont, WV. Peters said he hid his own abuse for years. He was inspired to come forward after witnessing others tell their stories.
During the launch event representatives from child advocacy centers across the state came forward and pledged to be part of the SHINE campaign. They received a pin to wear showing their support.
Last year West Virginia child advocacy centers served 4,445 survivors and according to the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network the current estimate of kids in West Virginia who are victims is almost 10 times the number actually served. Right now the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network serves 42 counties with plans to expand services to all 55 counties over the next five years.
To learn more about the SHINE campaign click here .