My path to healing started with these three words, I BELIEVE YOU.
I decided to report my childhood sexual abuse 30-some years after it had happened. I thought I had resolved it, or at least tried to resolve it. My older cousin sexually abused me. He promised me he had never hurt anyone else. I was the only one. I wanted to believe him, but I had my doubts and tried to let it go. Years later, I was still not coping well. I kept listening to all of the background noise in my head: “You need to let it go.” “You need to forgive him.” “It was so long ago why do you still let it bother you?” After telling a family member about the abuse, I was told, “I hope you never told anyone about this because you could ruin his life!” and “You’re not praying enough about it. You need to find peace!” I was warned to stay quiet.
I grew up in a religion that does not believe in medical care or seeking any kind of professional help. So, I had no medical care or counseling. Going to the police was not an option, because we would never turn in a member of our religion or family. You cannot “falsely accuse” a member of our church. It is the victim’s responsibility to forgive and to “get over it!” I had never talked back to anyone before in my life. I was always too timid and scared to hurt anyone’s feelings.
I became depressed and suicidal. I went against all odds and decided to report the abuse. I know it was unlikely anything could be done, because so many years had passed, but I needed to do it for myself. I got up my nerve and called the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office and made my report. I met with Aleshea Boals, the Victim Witness Coordinator and Detective Jennifer Maund. I was finally able to tell my story and I was believed!
They were amazing and heroes in my eyes. I wasn’t told to get over it. I was heard and treated with love, understanding and compassion, and that was powerful. I’ll just say again, I WAS BELIEVED! It made all the difference in the world. Aleshea helped me find a counselor, set me up with Crime Victims Compensation, something I never knew existed. She didn’t stop there though! She continued to check on me and ask me how I was doing. Her loving support continues to this day. I am finally free! I am so grateful for the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office and all they do for victims. They go above and beyond to help, they Start by Believing! That simple statement gives victims a new sense of hope, comfort and the courage to fight on. So, if you are here, you are headed in the right direction toward healing and finding resolve. Trust the process, and please encourage others to talk and to report abuse. If I could help but one person, all of the pain and sorrow I’ve gone through would be worth it to me. You never know how your story could help someone else.