‘Resiliency Project’ Highlights Horror Of Child Sexual Abuse

CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a sad, staggering statistic – every year, the city of Chicago has some 2,000 reports of child sexual abuse.

People who help those children want you to understand how serious it is, and as CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports, they have taken their message to Daley Plaza.

The dawn-to-dusk art exhibit is called “The Resiliency Project.” It has special meeting for one mother and daughter, who asked to have their identities as they shared their own stories of abuse.

“I would rather that my life had been taken that to have this happen to my children,” the mother said.

The woman’s daughter held her mother’s hand as she shope.

“I was 13,” she said.

That was the age her stepfather began sexually abusing her and her three sisters.

“When he wasn’t that person doing those things to me, he was the best dad in the world,” she said. “I didn’t want to lose that,” she said. “I’m like, OK, this is the price you have to pay.

Continued her mother: “Broken legs; broken arms heal. Your heart, your mind, are the hardest things to heal. The spirit of a child was taken.”

Child sexual abuse happens more often than you may realize. The Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center says it sees five to seven new cases each and every day.

“They need to know that the numbers are real,” the mother said.

To make the point of just how serious, and alarmingly frequent, abuse takes place, the Children’s Advocacy Center has placed a public art in Daley Plaza, composed of 1,000 children’s desks and chairs.

The chairs are split up into two groups. One group has a blue ribbon attached to each of hundreds of hard plastic, stacking classroom chairs, with a child’s name and age. That group represents the number of reported cases of sexual abuse.

Sexual Abuse Awareness

These children's desk represent unreported cases of child sexual abuse. (Credit: CBS)

The second group is made up of wooden desk chairs with no names or ribbons, and represents the number of child sexual abuse cases that go unreported.

At the front of the exhibit is a chalkboard, which points out the horrifying statistics – one in three girls and one in six boys is sexually abused by the age of 18.

It’s called the Resiliency Project.

“Part of it is an awareness builder, first and foremost, about child sexual abuse,” said Trevor Peterson, director of grants and government relations for the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center. “It is something that, as a community, we need to speak about.”

Through the display, they want families to know that after the pain, there is help, healing and hope.

“Our prayer as a family is that by us supporting things like this, it will put people in a position to talk about it,” the mother said.

“I hope they see those desks and know they’re not alone,” the daughter added.

She also hopes those suffering from the pain and trauma of abuse can speak up, and ask for help.

The exhibit comes on the eve of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

  • sabina aarnold

    I am also a sexual abuse survivor. Mine happened 40 yrs. ago and I struggled for many yrs to just live. It wasn’t until I was 25 yrs old that I finally got therapy and spent 5 yrs in therapy dealing with the memories and feelings.
    My life was destroyed and it took many years to get it back on track. I am currently a Culinary Arts graduate, a full time student working towards my hospitality degree, mother of 3 grown boys, and grandmother of 4. I have come a long way and proud of it.
    Anybody can survive it if you have the right support through it all and take the outreached hand that is offered. Don’t try and survive it on your own.

  • Let Go Let Peace

    The Let Go…Let Peace Come In Foundation is a nonprofit with a mission to help heal and support adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse worldwide. We are seeking adult survivors who would be willing to post a childhood photo and caption, their story, or their creative expressions to our website http://www.letgoletpeacecomein.org. By uniting survivors from across the globe we can help provide a stronger and more powerful voice to those survivors who have not yet found the courage to speak out. Together we can; together we should; together we NEED to stand up and be counted. Please visit our site for more details on how you can send us your submissions. Remember, you are not alone!

  • http://www.chicagocac.org/recent-news/the-resiliency-project-makes-waves-at-daley-plaza-and-on-the-airwaves/ The Resiliency Project makes waves at Daley Plaza and on the airwaves! | Chicago Children's Advocacy Center

    […] a courageous family who received services at the CCAC and Director of Development Trevor Peterson (LINK).  The video played—to the gleeful cheering of CCAC staff—on the CBS jumbotron that overlooks […]

  • Jules

    I wish I could say that when I told I was protected as a child; but as a child it was made clear that to talk about such issues was forbidden. So I just assumed that this was “normal”. As an adult, when I finally started asking for help in my 30’s my past was dismissed as inconsequential. I was given drugs and started having severe psychiatric issues from them. This justified being labeled as “mentally ill”.

    Today I am free of the drugs but not the physical damage done by them. The mental health and social welfare system made more than a million dollars on my children and I being institutionalized by them after I was crippled by the drugs and unable to function in any capacity. Yet because of the label of “mental illness” no attorney will take my case. Why? Because psychiatrists are notorious for changing records to suit their purposes is what I’m told. There is not a chance in hell I could win even if the statute of limitations hadn’t run out in the 2 years following being forced into severe withdrawals by yet another psychiatrist.

    Most people can’t believe this stuff is happening and its easier to say “she’s mental” than it is to look at America’s public mental health and social welfare systems. Today I am 52 years old. I did not get “therapy” for my sexual abuse until I was 49 even though I had requested it numerous times in the beginning of my imprisonment by psychiatry to the new form of institutionalization; poly-pharmacy.

    So yes. I was raped as a child. Repeatedly. And when I turned to the mental health and social welfare system for help I was raped again and again as my mind and life was taken from me.

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