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One in five girls are abused

PUBLISHED: 17:41 25 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:06 11 August 2010

TWO MUMS who started a charity to help young victims of rape and sexual assaults have revealed the shocking number of children abused in our borough. It is thought that around one in five girls and one in nine boys are abused before they turn 16, yet the

TWO MUMS who started a charity to help young victims of rape and sexual assaults have revealed the shocking number of children abused in our borough.

It is thought that around one in five girls and one in nine boys are abused before they turn 16, yet the true number is not known as so many cases go unreported.

The charity, called Step Up, based in Rainham Road South, Dagenham, was founded by Shelley and Anne after they met at an NHS family Consultation Service.

Both of Anne's daughters and Shelley's daughter had been abused and the two women helped each other through many difficult times.

A few years later they set up a website for parents suffering similar ordeals and after getting funding Step Up was launched in 2003.

Shelley said: "Discovering your child was abused is the most horrendous thing you can ever go through.

"The complete rage, anger and pain you feel is something you cannot cope with on your own.

"Having Anne there and just knowing she knew how I felt gave me strength.

"We decided to set up our charity to help parents and victims. Because if the parents can't cope how are the children ever going to?"

The victims are actively involved in raising awareness - writing poetry and songs and even creating a DVD called "Our journey into the Light".

Many youngsters have written about their horrifying experiences.

Some were so young they have only hazy memories, others were older and remember their nightmare vividly - detailing thoughts of suicide and self-harm in their harrowing stories.

The aim is to raise awareness of sexual abuse and let children know about the grooming process, as often victims are threatened not to tell anyone.

Shelley said: "If you look at the statistics it means that in an average class of 35 kids, two boys and five girls have been sexually abused.

"We want to raise awareness among parents, children and professionals because often the abuser is someone they know.

"You teach your kids about stranger danger but not about the bad things daddy might do.

"It is something most parents don't even want to think about but if your child does come to you, please believe them.

"Above all these children need support."

Step Up focuses on helping children to overcome their horrifying pasts and reach their full potential - making them survivors.

For more details contact Step Up on 020 8517 5888.


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