(WLNS) – April is National Child Abuse Awareness month and those who work with abused children or have personally experiences abuse say speaking up is the best way to combat it.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has a list of signs to look out for in children who may be abused.
The list includes signs such as lack of supervision, hunger, inappropriate dress, bruises, bite marks, low self-esteem, pain and itching.
No matter what the signs may be though, local survivors and those who work with survivors say there is no reason not to report it.
“If you think that a child is being abused, if you think even for a second, then there is no excuse not to deal with it,” Abuse survivor and Exec. Director of Firecracker Foundation Tashmica Torok said.
Torok was sexually abused as a child by her father, and she says despite multiple forms of healing, it has affected her into her adult years.
“I didn’t know how to define my trauma, I didn’t know how bad it was until I went to therapy as an adult,” Torok said.
One in three girls, and one in six boys, will be abused before they turn 18, and those who work with these children say abuse can become a cycle.
“Whatever idea that they have of adulthood that they come in here with, it is about changing that and showing them a different view of adulthood that maybe can help break that cycle that started with them,” Volunteer at St. Vincent Catholic Charities Josh Lown said.
One way to break that cycle is giving kids a safe way to report abuse. Attorney General Bill Schuette helped create the OK 2 SAY program, where kids can report any form of abuse.
“It really helps us talk to kids in a way they understand, it’s all on the phone or on an iPod or Android, and it is really where kids are, and kids feel more comfortable talking to you when they don’t have to be seen talking to an authority figure,” Attorney General Press Secretary Andrea Bitely said.
Torok agrees, saying to trust children when they do speak up.
“It is important to listen to them when they say there is a problem,” Torok said.
MDHHS has a hotline where anyone who has seen or experienced any form of abuse can call to get resources and help: 1-855-444-3911.