Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse
Across the world, 150 million girls and 73 million boys are subjected to forced sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual violence (WHO, 2002). In the U.S. at least one out of four girls and one out of seven boys are sexually abused by 18 years old. Nearly 50 percent of all sexual assaults are against girls aged 15 or younger. Life outcomes often include poor school performance, depression, psychosis, promiscuity, teen pregnancy, prostitution, drug abuse, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, homelessness, suicide and homicide, and chronic disease.
The Mission of Stop the Silence is to expose and stop CSA and help survivors heal worldwide. Our overarching Goals are to: 1) help stop child sexual abuse (CSA) and related forms of violence; 2) promote healing of victims and survivors; and 3) celebrate the lives of those healed. Through our work, we aim to address the relationships between CSA and the broader issues of overall family and community violence, and violence within and between communities. Our focus underlines the importance of a shift in focus on positive development within our social complexes (e.g., the relationships between men, women, adults and children, cultural groups) to support peaceful – and to hinder violence-prone – relationships.
Support for services – In addition to having provided monetary and TA support to other groups providing direct service, Stop the Silence provides a virtual peer discussion group and is focusing on bringing more clinical services to a wider public.
Media Advocacy – a grant from the Department of Justice in 2005/2006 allowed Stop the Silence to broadcast public service announcements (PSA) in the U.S. and throughout the world. The International Race to Stop the Silence, held in various states and countries in collaboration with local groups, allows Stop the Silence and its collaborators to capture wide-based mass media attention. A global advocacy, education, and information program in collaboration with Durbin Institute of Technology and a technology firm, The Global Lesson Foundation, funded by these partners, is in process.
Training for service providers – Stop the Silence staff and partners (Survivors Healing Center) have provided CSA and related training for the police in Zambia; in collaboration with the Cornell University, advocacy centers, various service groups, and with various Latino immigrant and others populations in California and elsewhere. The training has been shown to increase understanding of CSA and related issues.
Training for judges and other court-related personnel – Under DHHS, Ford Foundation, and DOJ awards, Stop the Silence has been providing local- and national-level information and training for judges and other court-related personnel. The training transcends legal systems.
Education and outreach – Stop the Silence reaches out to schools, day cares centers, houses of worship, etc. to catalyze a community response to prevention and healing. Also, an HHS-supported colloquium, Stopping the Silence about Intimate Violence, with Naomi Nontombu Tutu and Riane Eisler, was held in 2005 with policy and NGO personnel to increase understanding.
From the standpoints of survivor's, the non-abused public, or policymakers, CSA is wrapped in discomfort, shame, stigma, and fear. Stop the Silence focuses on CSA, as opposed to "child abuse and neglect" to bring it out of the shadows. The words "child sexual abuse," were consciously built into our name so that people learn to say them. We build awareness as a base for training, education, policy development, and more.