Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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To end sexual abuse, we have to talk about it

To the editor:

We want to thank those in the community who supported and/or attended all or some of the events we organized at the end of October addressing sexual abuse. The performance in Easthampton of the play “What She Knows,” and the workshops that followed, gave community members a chance to consider how to respond to sexual abuse, a topic in the local news in recent weeks. There is more to sexual abuse than a case going to court, a conviction being handed down and a sentence being imposed.

For us, the reverberations are just beginning. We began working last spring, with important help from others, to encourage a public conversation about our collective responsibility as adults and community members, to do whatever we can to prevent child sexual abuse. A study by the Institute of Medicine says, “It is unreasonable to expect that people will change their behavior easily when so many forces in the social, cultural and physical environment conspire against such change.” Undeterred, we began that change — talking about what we can do individually, as organizations and as a community to prevent child sexual abuse.

The response was overwhelmingly positive and the turnout from the community was heartwarming. Participants acknowledged their new commitment to talk about the issue, to help break the silence; others talked about creating a code of conduct for their organization; many simply appreciated the openness of talking about a taboo subject. The forums also allowed us to highlight the rich resources we have in the Pioneer Valley and how to access them. To us, this is what makes our communities great — our ability to grapple with the hardest issues and still find hope and healing. We could not have done this alone. Thank you to all who cared enough to talk about child sexual abuse, to come to the events and celebrate our Valley’s strengths.

Joan Tabachnick, Rob Okun,
Oran Kaufman, Donna Jenson,
Will Bundy, Beth Tabor Lev

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